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In Brief


Debate Society Posts Banner Year

The Emergence of St. Augustine the Writer

GSE Dean Regis Bernhardt Takes Top Post at Kutztown University

Lecture Explores the Role of Imagination in Christian Life

More than 1,000 Students Chow Down at Midnight Breakfast

Dumpson Colloquium: Trauma, Neglect Can Alter Child’s Brain

Prison Awareness Week Panel Highlights the Problem of Police Brutality

Debate Society Posts Banner Year

A Fordham Debate Society team placed 15th at the American Parliamentary Debate Association’s national tournament, the highest ranking for any Jesuit university team. In all, 77 teams from across the country qualified for the tournament, held April 10 and 11 at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

“The Fordham Debate Society is ranked 17th in the world out of 373 teams,” said junior Kat Hyland, president of the society. “Not only have we grown as individuals, we have grown intellectually as a group of well-rounded, spirited debaters who understand that positive team dynamics help us to represent Fordham in the strongest way possible.”

Fordham sent three teams to nationals: seniors Monica Zabrouski and Angelo Carusone; seniors Mike Burke and John Whitehouse; and Hyland and senior Mike Dumitru, who earned 15th place. In addition, Zabrouski was ranked as the fourth-best speaker in the tournament. This is the first time in 10 years that a Fordham debater has received such a distinguished speaker award and that a Fordham team broke into the final round at nationals.

"Debate is the only activity that embraces the entire college experience,” said team member Whitehouse. “From socializing and developing deep friendships to exercising the mind in the Socratic tradition, it fulfills the Jesuit image."

Founded in 1852, the Fordham Debate Society is the eighth oldest collegiate debate society in the United States and the oldest club on the Rose Hill campus.

— Elizabeth Sanders

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The Emergence of St. Augustine the Writer

One of Christianity’s most prolific writers, St. Augustine penned several spiritual and philosophical classics, including the Confessions, City of God and Christian Doctrine. But his birth as a writer delivering God’s message with grace and authority didn’t occur until his rebirth as a Christian, according to Jennifer Ebbeler, Ph.D., assistant professor of classics at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to that, St. Augustine, a fourth-century Roman Catholic bishop, saw himself more as a reader and often referenced the work of others in his writings.

“In the Confessions, books one through eight, Augustine the writer is almost entirely absent,” said Ebbeler in a lecture titled “Augustine the Writer: From Doctrina to Scientia,” delivered April 22 on the Rose Hill campus. The lecture was part of the Sapientia et Doctrine series, established in celebration of the inauguration of Joseph M. McShane, S.J., the 32nd president of Fordham University.

St. Augustine's construction of himself as a reader is apparent from the start of the Confessions, when he invokes the words of the Psalms, said Ebbeler. In Book 1, he describes himself as a reader of Virgil and various philosophical texts, and recalls his time as a student and professor of rhetoric in very negative terms.

But by the end of Book 8, according to Ebbeler, St. Augustine, post conversion, emerges as a writer with scriptural and exegetical authority. In Book 9, he writes about his job as chair of rhetoric in Milan, describing the experience as God freeing his tongue and allowing him to write. His use of dialogue signaled his transition from reader and speaker to writer.

“As writer, St. Augustine becomes a correspondent of the Divine,” said Ebbeler. “In the final books of the Confessions, he transforms from student to teacher and from passive reader to active mediator between God and His people. It is God who reads his heart, and fellow Christians who must read his work.”

— Elizabeth Sanders

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GSE Dean Regis Bernhardt Takes a Top Post at Kutztown University

After 11 years as dean of the Graduate School of Education (GSE) and 33 years total at Fordham University, Regis Bernhardt, Ph.D., is leaving to become dean of the College of Education at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.

Bernhardt began his Fordham career in 1971 as an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Supervision. He later became associate vice president for academic affairs and was named dean in 1993. One of his fondest memories is of getting the call from past president Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., offering him the GSE dean position on Easter Sunday.

“My wife and I had just returned home from Mass when Father O’Hare called with the offer,” said Bernhardt. “The theme of the Mass had been new beginnings, so the timing was just perfect.”

Highlights of Bernhardt’s career include increasing external GSE funding from $400,000 in 1993 to $4 million today, and successfully guiding the school through the accreditation process.

“Under Dr. Bernhardt’s leadership, the Graduate School of Education has risen in the national rankings; its programs have received praise for their creativity and excellence; and its faculty has grown in stature,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., the 32nd president of Fordham University. “Moreover, Dr. Bernhardt has lent his considerable talents to a wide range of University initiatives. Therefore, we will be the poorer for his departure."

The borough of Kutztown, with a population of 4,500, is located about an hour from Bernhardt’s hometown of Lancaster. Bernhardt is scheduled to begin his new job on July 1.

— Suzanne Stevens

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Lecture Explores the Role of Imagination in Christian Life

Imagination, poetic sensibility and wisdom are integral to Christian efforts to improve the human condition, according to Wendy Wright, Ph.D., professor of theology at Creighton University.

“The various [imaginative] capacities with which human beings are endowed are given to them precisely so that they might participate in divine creativity,” said Wright, who delivered a March 30 lecture, “The Word of the Wise: Faith and Poetic Imagination,” in Flom Auditorium. “It is never enough for human beings to simply survive—to eat, reproduce and protect ourselves. We are hungry for meaning. We must dream. We must build physical and mental universes of wondrous invention.”

Discovering imagination within ourselves means cultivating a poetic sensibility that explores the finite details of our particular world, the nuances that are the “poetry of our lives,” said Wright. Our imagination is nurtured through wisdom, which allows us to become fully rounded human beings, and through the ability to embrace the “empty seasons” in our lives.

“We need not be afraid of emptiness, of silence, of dark times, but we do need to learn to listen in them,” said Wright. “Not merely to our own voice, but to the wind, the stillness of new fallen snow, the faint stirrings in the heart, the weeping of the world, the subtle movement of the spirit and the whispering of God. It is in these times that newness germinates.”

Wright’s presentation was part of the yearlong Sapientia et Doctrina lecture series celebrating the inauguration of Joseph M. McShane, S.J., the 32nd president of Fordham University. Prior to her lecture, Wright was awarded the Sapientia et Doctrina medallion, given to individuals who are uniquely qualified to lead the University in a discussion of wisdom and learning.

— Suzanne Stevens

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More than 1,000 Students Chow Down at Midnight Breakfasts

Fordham University students turned out in droves for the annual Midnight Breakfasts held on May 6 at Marymount College, May 10 on the Lincoln Center campus and May 11 at Rose Hill. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., the 32nd president of Fordham University (shown below), and other University administrators and staff dished up free breakfasts of pancakes, sausage, eggs and more. Co-sponsored by the president’s office and the food and facilities-management company Sodexho, the Midnight Breakfasts are designed to give students a well-deserved break from studying during finals week.

Dumpson Colloquium: Trauma, Neglect Can Alter Child’s Brain

The emotional scars for victims of child abuse are well documented, but increasingly, researchers are discovering that a child’s brain can be physically or chemically altered by trauma or lack of social interaction. That’s according to Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally recognized authority on the relationship between trauma and child development.

“Abnormal or extended trauma or neglect adversely affects the development of a child’s brain by denying the proper stimuli for development,” said Perry, while delivering the keynote lecture at the inaugural James R. Dumpson Child Welfare Colloquium on Friday, April 16.

From left: James R. Dumpson, Ph.D., Peter Vaughan, Ph.D., and MaryAnn Quaranta, D.S.W.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

To illustrate the point, Perry compared a brain scan of a child raised in a nurturing, stimulating environment with that of a child who had been kept in a cage until he was three years old. The healthy child’s brain scan showed a colorful array of activity, whereas the scan of the abused child exhibited large, dark areas. Other tests have shown that the brains of abuse victims sometimes fail to mature to their full size.

The changes often manifest themselves as various forms of antisocial behavior, but those behaviors do not have to be permanent, said Perry, who is the senior fellow at the nonprofit ChildTrauma Academy in Houston, Texas. They can be corrected with early intervention and therapy.

The colloquium, named after the first dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service, was developed to bring together experts in mental health and children’s services to discuss issues related to traumatized youth in the child welfare system. Future colloquia will be held every other year.

Dumpson, who served as dean from 1967 to 1976 and is currently a visiting professor at the school, attended the colloquium with the only two other deans to lead the highly regarded graduate school, Dean Peter Vaughan, Ph.D., (2000-present) and former Dean MaryAnn Quaranta, D.S.W., (1976-2000).

— Michael Larkin

Prison Awareness Week Panel Highlights
the Problem of Police Brutality

When Lt. Christopher Green began his law enforcement career 24 years ago, the use of brutal force against those who disrespected a police officer was commonplace.

“As long as the officer was wearing a badge, he was in complete control,” said Green, a Bucks County, Penn., corrections officer, during a panel discussion on police brutality, held April 15 in Keating Hall. “I’ve learned that if officers are not held accountable for their actions, then bad behavior manifests itself.”

The panel discussion was part of Prison Awareness Week, sponsored by the Prison Reform Committee of Progressive Students for Justice. Other events included a speakerphone conversation with death row inmates in Illinois, and a showing of The Life of David Gale, a film about a death penalty opponent who finds himself on death row.

The problem of police brutality received a lot of media attention prior to Sept. 11, 2002, said panelist Steve Yip, head of the October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Since 9/11, however, police have been elevated to hero status, and people are much less likely to question the use of force.

“Police brutality is on the rise,” said Yip, whose group co-publishes Stolen Lives, a compendium of more than 2,000 cases of people killed by law enforcement agents in the United States since 1990. “We’ve got to fight against the feeling that this is a bad time to discuss the issue.”

Panelist Eric L. Adams, a corrections officer who has studied international law enforcement practices, agreed. “Don’t think that if we get a bad cop off the corner, we’ll solve theproblem,” said Adams, who urged students to become politically active.

“Change happens through people of your generation. And if you are not in the game today to bring about positive change, you’ll never be in the game.

— Suzanne Stevens

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