Fourth-year Leah Rand will use her Marshall Scholarship next year to study medical ethics at the University of Oxford. (Photo by Heather Eidson)

University news

Gift for economic research, diversity awards, and developments in the 53rd Street development.

Proven innocent The Law School’s Exoneration Project has helped free one of five men wrongfully convicted in the 1991 rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. James Harden, 16 at the time, left an Illinois prison on November 3 after DNA evidence tied the crime to a serial rapist. Tara Thompson, JD’03, a Law School lecturer and Exoneration Project staff attorney, led a group of students who traced the DNA sample taken from the victim to convicted rapist Willie Randolph.

The gift of economic research Andrew and Betsy Rosenfield made a $25 million gift to the University in November, supporting the Law School’s Institute for Law and Economics, the Becker Friedman Institute, and research using Chicago Price Theory and economic field studies. Andrew Rosenfield, JD’78, a University trustee and a Law School senior lecturer, came to Chicago to study economics in addition to law. As a second-year law student, he cofounded the consulting firm Lexecon Inc., serving as chief executive for more than 20 years.

Iconic economists connect A new Chicago Booth website aims to create “the world’s best economics department” through a forum for scholars to participate in public-policy debates. On the Economic Experts Panel at the Initiative on Global Markets website, 40 senior professors from elite US universities respond to a weekly question on topics such as the exchange rate of Chinese currency, the effect of vouchers on public education, and the impact of increasing the top marginal income-tax rate. 

Diverse achievements Shayne Evans, director of the University of Chicago Charter School, and Sylvia Puente, AM’90, who leads the Latino Policy Forum, have received the University’s 2012 Diversity Leadership Awards. Urban Education Institute director Timothy Knowles calls Evans “relentless in terms of his expectations” on students. Puente “saw a need in society and created projects and entire organizations to address the void,” says Susan Gzesh, director of the University’s Human Rights Program.

United for Chinniah Nim Chinniah, vice president for administration and CFO, has been named one of 44 Business Leaders of Color by the advocacy organization Chicago United. Joining UChicago in 2007, Chinniah oversees more than 950 staff members in several departments and serves on the University’s Diversity Leadership Council.

Rajan’s research rewarded Raghuram Rajan, the Eric J. Gleacher distinguished service professor of finance at the business school, was named the winner of India’s $100,000 Infosys Prize in Economics and Social Sciences in November. Recognized for his research on financial development’s role in economic growth and the potentially harmful effects of incentives that lead to excessive risk taking, Rajan is the author of Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy (Princeton University Press, 2010).

Music to their ears Court Theatre received two Joseph Jefferson Awards for Porgy and Bess at a November 7 ceremony honoring the best Chicago productions. Artistic Director Charles Newell won Best Director of a Musical, and longtime Court collaborator Doug Peck won for Best Music Direction.

The story of Ira Glass’s life Ira Glass, host of the radio program This American Life, offered advice to 100 creative-writing undergrads during a two-hour campus workshop in October. Glass told the students that storytelling is “not about emotion, primarily. It’s about the motion of action—this thing happened, which led to this thing.” Creating narrative suspense, he added, makes a story irresistible.

Historic honor for Richards Robert J. Richards, PhD’78, the Morris Fishbein distinguished service professor of the history of science and medicine, has received the History of Science Society’s highest honor, the Sarton Medal for Lifetime Achievement. A 2004 Guggenheim Fellow, Richards most recently wrote The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought, which received the 2011 Gordon J. Laing Prize from the University of Chicago Press.

Zimmer joins science board President Robert J. Zimmer was sworn in December 13 for a six-year term on the National Science Board. Nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate, Zimmer joins the organization that provides funding for about 20 percent of federally supported academic research.

Onward to Oxford Fourth-year Leah Rand has received a Marshall Scholarship to study medical ethics at the University of Oxford. A research assistant to professor of pediatrics William Meadow on a medical-ethics study—and the 2012 Scavenger Hunt head judge—Rand is majoring in HIPS (History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine) with a minor in art history.

Courting development A November 16 ceremony marked the beginning of construction on a 3.3-acre Harper Court development. President Zimmer joined Andrew Mooney, AM’77, the city’s commissioner of housing and economic development, and Alderman Will Burns, AB’95, AM’98, to kick off the 53rd Street project. To be completed in 2013, Harper Court will include a 150,000-square-foot office tower, a three-story retail building, and a Hyatt Place Hotel.