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A Little ‘Thank You’ Goes a Long Way

Research by Costas Panagopoulos, Ph.D., indicates that voters return to the polls more frequently after having been thanked.

As scholars and pundits deplore the low rates of voter participation in the United States, Fordham political scientist Costas Panagopoulos, Ph.D., has discovered a deceptively simple way to get more citizens to the polls:
Say thank you.

In three randomized field experiments conducted over the past year, Panagopoulos found that thanking voters for having participated in a prior election boosts the likelihood that they will vote in a subsequent election. His research showed that turnout rates were 2 to 3 percentage points higher for voters who had been thanked, compared to those who were not.

The three experiments took place in Staten Island for a February 2009 special election to fill a City Council vacancy; in New Jersey for the gubernatorial contest of November 2009; and in Georgia for primary elections last July.

In the Staten Island study, one group of voters, chosen at random, was assigned to receive postcards that reminded them about the upcoming election and encouraged them to vote. Another group received postcards that also thanked them for voting in a previous election and urged them to vote in the upcoming one. The control group received no mailing.

On Staten Island, Panagopoulos found that 1,978 voters who were assigned to receive the so-called “gratitude postcard” voted at a 2.4 percentage rate higher than the 8,540 who received no mailing and 2 percent more than the 398 who were assigned to receive the so-called “reminder postcard.”

The results were similar in New Jersey, where 11,499 voters who were assigned to receive the gratitude postcard voted at a 2.5 percent higher rate than those 29,802 who received no postcard. There was no “reminder postcard” in this study.

In Georgia, 6,005 voters who were assigned to receive one of three versions of the gratitude postcard voted at rates 2.4 to 3.1 percentage points higher than the 71,040 who were assigned to the control group.

“It turns out that gratitude expression is an effective motivator of pro-social behavior like voting,” said Panagopoulos, assistant professor of political science.

—Syd Steinhardt

Faculty Honored by Orthodox Church

George Demacopoulos, Ph.D., (left) and Aristotle Papanikolaou, Ph.D., flank Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Oct. 27, 2009.

Photo by Jon Roemer

George E. Demacopoulos, Ph.D., and Aristotle Papanikolaou, Ph.D., associate professors of theology, were installed as Archons at an Oct. 31 ceremony held at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan.

“His All Holiness Bartholomew could not have chosen better in elevating Dr. Demacopoulos and Dr. Papanikolaou as Archons,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham.

“In their ecumenism, scholarship and devotion to the Ecumenical Patriarch, they representwhat is best at Fordham. We celebrate their installation not merely for Telly and George’s sake, but because it represents yet another tie between Fordham and our Orthodox brethren.”

Demacopoulos and Papanikolaou are founding co-directors of Fordham’s Orthodox Christian studies program, the first of its kind at a major university in the United States. The program includes an interdisciplinary minor in Orthodox Christian studies; the annual Orthodoxy in America lecture; and a triennial conference dedicated to a historical and theological analysis of the Orthodox/Catholic rift.

“This is a very high honor that the church presents to Orthodox laymen who have distinguished themselves in service to the church,” said Anthony J. Limberakis, the national commander of the Archons.

The title of Archon dates to ancient Greece and was appropriated and transformed by the Christians of the Byzantine Empire.

According to the Archon website, an Archon is sworn to defend and promote the Orthodox Christian faith and tradition. His special concern and interest is to serve as a bulwark to protect and promote the Sacred See of St. Andrew the Apostle and its mission. He is also concerned with advancing humanity’s inalienable rights whenever they are violated—and the well-being and general welfare of the Christian church.

“By honoring Telly and George, the Ecumenical Patriarch wanted to also honor Fordham and its president for enthusiastically advocating a dynamic synergy of Orthodox and Catholic thought in an academic world,” said Father Alexander Karloutsos, Protopresbyter, Ecumenical Patriarchate.

When someone is elected to the Order they are given specific titles, which reflect offices from the time of the Roman Empire. Papanikolaou’s, in translation, is “Defender of Letters,” which should be interpreted as “Defender of Church Teaching” or “Defender of Doctrine.” Demacopoulos’ is “Teacher of the Nations.”

—Gina Vergel

It’s a Dog’s Life

Students in Fordham College at Lincoln Center got some stress relief of the fluffy variety on Oct. 27 when several trained “pet therapy” dogs and one rabbit made an appearance at McMahon Hall. The animals were there to help the students decompress after taking exams, courtesy of Bideawee. Roughly 200 students attended the event. Photo by Leo Sorel

View the complete photo gallery.


This Month in Fordham History
Rose Hill Students Try New Game Called ‘Baseball’

Frankie Frisch, the Fordham Flash

Esteban Bellán

On Nov. 3, 1859, when Fordham was still known as St. John’s College, nine of its students took to the field for a new game that was gaining in popularity across the country. Evolving from an earlier game called rounders, the new game was called baseball. The Nov. 3 game, consisting of only six innings, was reportedly the first college baseball game with nine players per team.

The St. John’s College team, called the Rose Hills, defeated St. Francis Xavier College 33 to 11, and went on to amass an impressive record of victories. Today, Fordham baseball has won 4,000-plus games, more than any other Division I team. Its alumni include Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch, the Fordham Flash; Esteban Bellán, the first Latin American to play professional baseball in the United States; and Vin Scully, the legendary broadcaster known as the Voice of the Dodgers.

—Chris Gosier


Fordham honored Scully in 2000 with an honorary doctorate (and a special Fordham uniform).


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