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Stories this week at Wake Forest University

February 11, 2009

Melissa Rogers, director of the Center for Religious and Public Affairs at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, has been appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Rogers has spent many years working on constitutional issues surrounding the separation of church and state, and has been active in discussions about religion’s role in policy and public life. “The government should not subsidize or promote religious activities,” she says, “but it should subsidize and promote programs that feed the hungry and help people move from welfare to work, for example.” In December, Rogers and E.J. Dionne, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, issued a report calling on the new president to welcome partnerships with religious as well as secular organizations and to increase funding for programs that work, but listed many recommendations for reforming these partnerships. Rogers is available for interviews. She is based in Washington, D.C.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.


IF HE ONLY HAD A HEART:  MELLOWTRON THE STUFFED ROBOT VISITS TOY FAIR FOR VALENTINE’S DAY – MellowTron, a melancholy plush robot who was returned to the factory after proving unfit for normal robot duties, will spend Valentine’s Day looking for love at the Toy Fair in New York City.  His creators, Jessie Vogel and Bill Smith, were freshmen studio art students at Wake Forest five years ago, when Jessie sewed together and stuffed her first plush robot as a gift for Bill.  He loved it and so did everyone who saw it, so they decided to start a company: was born.  Still partners inbusiness and in life, the 2007 graduates are working to scale up production as Fifth-Year Fellows, an award offered by Wake Forest’s entrepreneurship program to help the founders of promising ventures make the transition from part-time to full-time business ownership.  Brown and Vogel are available to talk about the challenges they face as a tiny, new toy company competing in a huge, well-established industry during a tough economy with new regulations on the way.

Contact: Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5237.


WAR POET BRIAN TURNER TO READ AT REYNOLDA HOUSE Iraq war veteran Brian Turner, a poet who spent seven years in the U.S. Army, will read from his award-winning debut collection “Here, Bullet” at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at Reynolda House Museum of American Art.  The event, which is free and open to the public, is presented by the Dillon Johnston Writers Reading series at Wake Forest.  A book-signing and reception will follow the reading.  “Here, Bullet” has won numerous accolades, including the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award and the 2007 Poets Prize, as well as being selected a New York Times “Editor’s Choice.”  Turner earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oregon and lived in South Korea for a year before serving in the Army.  He was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq, beginning November 2003, with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.  Prior to that, he was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1999-2000 with the 10th Mountain Division.  His poetry has been published in Poetry Daily, The Georgia Review and other journals, and in the Voices in Wartime Anthology published in conjunction with the feature-length documentary film of the same name.  He received a 2006 Lannan Literature Fellowship and a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Poetry.

Contact: Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5237.


STUDENTS DISCUSS THEIR IMPACT ON THE POLITICAL PROCESS – Student leaders from the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties, as well as independents, will discuss the impact of young voters in the recent election at 5 p.m. Feb. 17 in Benson University Center, Room 401. The panel discussion, “Looking to the Future: Will Young People Stay Involved in Politics?”will also look at the young activists’ likelihood of continued engagement with the incoming administration. The panel discussion is the final event in the month-long speaker series, “Challenges Facing the New President,” organized by the political science department. The event is free and open to the public. Student panelists are available for interviews.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.

FEMINIST LEGAL EXPERT TO DISCUSS SEX EQUALITY ISSUES – Catharine A. MacKinnon, Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, will deliver a lecture, “Gender:  The Future, Children, Prostitution, and Pornography,” at 7 p.m. Feb. 17 at Wake Forest’s Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312.  Her keynote presentation, which is free and open to the public, is part of a multi-event speaker series on “Women and Militarism” sponsored by Wake Forest’s Women’s and Gender Studies program, the WFU Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, the Wake Forest School of Law, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of the Provost and the sociology department.  “Catharine MacKinnon is among a handful of the legal academy’s most controversial thinkers, but she is also among its most brilliant,” said Shannon Gilreath, Wake Forest Fellow for the Interdisciplinary Study of Law and one of the organizers of the event.  “Professor MacKinnon's pioneering work in the area of sex equality has had an enduring influence on most of the equality law scholars writing today, myself included.  Her visit to Wake Forest marks an incredible moment in the intellectual life of our community.”

Contact: Lisa Snedeker, or (336)758-5719


CLINIC HOSTS ‘ASK A LAWYER’ DAY – The Wake Forest University Community Law and Business Clinic will host “Ask a Lawyer” Day from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 18.  Entrepreneurs, whether nonprofit or for-profit, who lack access to other professional services and are located in the Triad can receive assistance free of charge.  Participants can speak to a third-year Wake Forest School of Law student and receive business consulting.  To schedule an appointment, contact the CL&BC at(336) 631-1953.  For more information, visit

Contact: Lisa Snedeker, or (336)758-5719.

WHAT MAKES TEENAGERS MORE RESPONSIBLE? – Programs for youth that include boring or difficult tasks are more likely to develop responsibility in teenagers than those that are all fun and games, according to a study of youth programs and responsibility by Dustin Wood, assistant professor of psychology.  The study appears in the January/February issue of the journal Child Development. “Some programs for young people probably focus so much on entertaining members that they shy away from the activities that are most likely to help members become more responsible,” Wood said. “Our research is a reminder that getting youth to do hard work for a purpose is a key to moving them toward becoming responsible adults.” He and his colleagues surveyed 107 high school students in 11 extracurricular programs. The programs included 4-H and FFA chapters, a high school production of “Les Miserables,” a community-based youth activist group, a school-based media arts training program and a variety of other school and community groups.

Contact:  Cheryl Walker, or (336) 758-5237.

EXPERT ON KASHMIR TO SPEAK AT WAKE FOREST – Chitralekha Zutshi, associate professor of history at The College of William and Mary, will present a lecture, “Re-Visioning Kashmir as Borderland in South Asian History,” at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 in Tribble Hall’s DeTamble Auditorium at Wake Forest.  The lecture is free and open to the public.  Time will be reserved after the speech for questions and answers.  The Kashmir region is a disputed territory located between India, Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China, with each nation claiming administration of portions of the region.  India and Pakistan have fought several declared wars over Kashmir, and the dispute remains tense. Zutshi specializes in modern South Asia, with particular interests in Islam in the Indian subcontinent.  She received her doctorate from Tufts University.  She is the author of “Languages of Belonging:  Islam, Regional Identity, and the Making of Kashmir,” which has been published in India, Great Britain and the United States.  Zutshi’s lecture is part of the “Borderlands in World History” series, sponsored by the Department of History.

Contact: Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5237.

SCANDALOUS WOMEN AND RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS – The seventh annual Phyllis Trible Lecture Series at Wake Forest will examine the role of women in world religions March 3 - 4 in Brendle Recital Hall at the Scales Fine Arts Center. The lecture series honors Phyllis Trible, an internationally known biblical scholar and member of the founding faculty of the Wake Forest School of Divinity. “This year we’re looking at the history of women in religious traditions, focusing primarily on Christianity, but reaching out to the ancient world, the Middle Ages, the modern and contemporary world,” says Trible. “We hope that it will deepen people’s understanding of the role of women in the world’s religions.” Trible has published groundbreaking feminist works, including “God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality” and “Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narrative.” She provided expert commentary for Bill Moyers’ public television series, “Genesis: A Living Conversation.” A full schedule, with information about other presenters at the series, is available online at Trible and other panelists are available for advance interviews.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.

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