In The News

By The Editors / March / April 2005
August 10th, 2007

Tough Calls

What do you do when a serial killer asks to be put to death and 81 percent of respondents to a state poll agree he should die? If you’re U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny ’73, you delay administering the death penalty until you are sure the killer is competent to be calling off his appeals against execution. Four years ago Chatigny made a similarly impolitic call when he ruled that the state’s popular sex-offender registry violated criminals’ rights to due process, a ruling that was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. “This unelected judge,” the president of ThrowAwaytheKey told the New Haven Register in February, “is using ridiculous legal mumbo-jumbo to protect a serial killer of girls and young women, adding unspeakable pain to the victims’ families.” The speaker of the Connecticut house of representatives, a strong supporter of the sex-offender registry, defended Chatigny: “I don’t agree with the judge … but he is a judge and, while he sits in that chair, he has the right to make decisions.”

Watch Out, Crusty Old Guys

Few people were surprised when Jane Long ’70 ScB became the first woman ever named chief of energy and environment at Lawrence Liver-more Laboratory a few months ago—a position that, among other things, is responsible for the nuclear waste depository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Long, after all, has been a pioneer for decades. At Brown she was the only female engineering concentrator in her class, and years later she became the first—and only—female dean of a mining school. “I think,” she told a reporter for the Contra Costa (California) Times in January, “that there were crusty old mining guys who were sort of wondering, ‘How do I deal with this?’ but that’s part of the fun.”

And We Don’t Even Have a Journalism School!

In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that Eric Pooley ’81 was about to become the new managing editor of Fortune. Pooley, who has long been a journalistic star at Fortune’s owner, Time Inc., took the job after a stint as editor of Time Europe and several years as a political reporter at Time. By the way, the Journal reporter, who described Pooley as “a hard-working and demanding editor,” was fellow alum James Bandler ’89.

Ask, Tell, Forbid

Thanks to a law known as the Solomon Amendment, the federal government for the past decade has been able to withhold money from colleges that prohibit the military from recruiting on campus. This seemed so unjust to Kent Greenfield ’84 that he organized representatives from more than two dozen law schools into the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR), which in December prevailed in the U.S. Court of Appeals to have the Solomon Amendment struck down. According to the judges, the policy violated the schools’ First Amendment right to ban recruiters who discriminate against homosexuals. The court’s decision, Greenfield told the Chronicle of Higher Education, could “end up being a landmark case vindicating the rights of educational institutions to decide their own educational philosophy.”

Spirited Grilling

“Being a chef is one of the most repetitive jobs on Earth,” Suzanne Goin ’88 told the New York Times in December. Goin, the highly praised chef at Lucques and A.O.C. in Los Angeles, eases the tedium by doing a lot of her cooking on a grill. “It’s the most instinctual part of how I cook,” she said. Goin has come a long way: the Times reported that she tried to start her first fire by dousing the logs with a half-bottle of Scotch. “I didn’t have lighter fluid,” she explained.

Move Over, R2-D2

Twenty years ago Ayanna Howard ’93 was watching The Bionic Woman on TV. Now, as a senior robotics engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., she’s making her own robots. Early next decade, a spacecraft may head for Mars carrying her latest invention: an autonomous Mars rover. “I want to plop a rover on Mars and have it call back when it finds interesting science,” Howard told IEEE Spectrum in February. “Like a geologist, it should wander around until it sees something that might be interesting. Then it should be able to investigate further and decide if it’s really interesting or just another rock.” And what’ll she do for an encore? “I have a bigger vision in terms of what I want to do when I’m 50. It’s being an administrator at NASA headquarters or being president of a major university.” Bionic indeed.

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March / April 2005