Life, family and faith among African-Americans and Latino families

January 29, 2016

Nick Wolfinger, a U professor of family and consumer studies, this month released research about faith and family life among nonwhite Americans in a new book, “Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love & Marriage Among African Americans and Latinos.” By 2050, a majority of Americans will be minorities, yet we know little about faith and family life among nonwhite Americans, according to Wolfinger, whose book details interesting aspects of family life. “Soul Mates” offers a positive portrait of black and Latino families. Most African-Americans will marry at some point in their lives, a majority of African-Americans are coupled when they have children, and most black couples are happy and monogamous. Most Latinos will marry at some point in their lives, a majority of them are married when they have children, most Latino couples are happy, and divorce rates are lower among Latinos than for the country as a whole. One reason so many families of color are thriving is that they tend to be more religious than average Americans. Wolfinger is available to talk to media about the book and some of its surprising findings. Nick Wolfinger, office 801-581-7491,


Law school “rock star” Erwin Chemerinsky to speak at U

December 11, 2015

He’s the closest thing the law school circuit has to a rock star. And now Erwin Chemerinsky is headed to the University of Utah, scheduled to speak Feb.4 as part of the 50th Annual Leary Lecture at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, the U announced this week.  Chemerinsky is a well-known professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Previously, he taught at Duke Law School for four years, during which he won the Duke University Scholar-Teacher of the Year Award in 2006. He also taught for 21 years at the University of Southern California School of Law, UCLA School of Law and DePaul University College of Law. His areas of expertise are constitutional law, federal practice, civil rights and civil liberties, and appellate litigation. He is the author of eight books, including The Case Against the Supreme Court published in 2014, and more than 200 articles in top law reviews. He frequently argues cases before the nation’s highest courts, including the United States Supreme Court, and also serves as a commentator on legal issues for national and local media. He writes a weekly column for the Orange County Register, monthly columns for the ABA Journal and the Daily Journal, and frequent op-eds in newspapers across the country. In January 2014, National Jurist magazine named Dean Chemerinsky as the most influential person in legal education in the United States.  His lecture is expected to be a huge draw at the U for the legal community, where he’ll reflect on the last half century of constitutional law.  He is available for media interviews prior to his visit.  Those interested in attending can RSVP here.
S.J. Quinney College of Law, 6th floor moot courtroom, 383 South University Street, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.


Context from Campus: Nov.9 -13

November 6, 2015

Trending Topics:

How toxic is social media?
This past week, a 19-year-old Instagram model Essena O’Neill with over 800,000 followers made international headlines when she announced that she would quit social media. O’Neill has since re-captioned many of her old photos to reveal the amount of effort and sponsorship that went into seemingly effortless and spontaneous moments. She also spoke out on the toxic effects social media had on her self-esteem and perceptions of reality. It’s undeniable that social media is an unavoidable aspect of Americans’ lives and have many benefits such as keeping distant friends and family members connected. However, there are many negative effects too, such as unrealistic expectations and unhealthy comparisons. Avery Holton, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Utah, is available to comment on O’Neill’s recent actions, motivations and social media’s impacts in general.
Avery Holton Phone: 801-585-1067| Email:

Utah Legislative Preview: What will be the hot issues in 2016?
Medicaid expansion, LGBT rights versus religious freedoms, the right to use medical marijuana and a host of other issues took center stage during the 2015 Utah legislative session.
What’s on deck for 2016?  Jason Perry, interim director of the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah, is available to offer commentary on the notable political events of 2015 as well as predictions for what’s to come in 2016.
*To schedule an interview with Jason Perry, contact Natalie Tippets, Phone: 801-581-8514 | Email:

Link between family history of Alzheimer’s disease and financial planning
A new study from University of Utah researchers asserts that the people most likely to see expert financial advice and to delay retirement are those whose families People whose families have a history of Alzheimer’s disease. The study, by U researchers Cathleen Zick, Robert Mayer and Ken Smith, suggests that people who may be prone to Alzheimer’s are perhaps more in tune to the costs of institutionalized care and therefore plan more. The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, found people whose families had a history of Alzheimer’s were 86 percent more likely to have visited with a wealth management professional and 40 percent less likely to retire before age 65 in comparison to people without a history of Alzheimer’s in their families. The study has been submitted to American Journal of Alzheimer’s disease & Other Dementias and will be published in coming weeks. Researchers are happy to discuss their findings.
Cathleen Zick Phone: 801-581-3147 | Email:

Nice guys can finish first
Do nice people have a greater ability to motivate others to cooperate? Or is competence the most important factor at play when it comes to organizing cooperation? Those questions are at the forefront of new research published by University of Utah anthropologist Shane Macfarlan and co-author co-author Henry F. Lyle of the University of Washington in the journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. After spending several months studying the dynamics of people in Dominica and Peru, Macfarlan and Lyle uncovered new information about how people respond to different characteristics among leaders. “The gist is this: do competent or “nice” folks have a greater ability to motivate others to cooperate? While nice guys are nice and everyone likes them, we may not believe they are capable of getting the job done and therefore they may have difficulty getting others to contribute to collective endeavors,” said Macfarlan. “It might feel good to help Forrest Gump because he’s a nice guy; however, he’s not the guy you want to organize cooperation because he doesn’t seem so competent. The information is relevant to ongoing debates over what makes a strong leader, said Macfarlan. He noted that society continually debates whether they prefer leaders who can get the job done, —or who are cooperative. Macfarlan is available to speak to media about the findings of his study.
Shane Macfarlan | Phone: 510-295-9282 | Email:

New York Mets star and U alum George Theodore remembers
He was nicknamed “The Stork.” At 6 feet 5 inches tall, George Theodore stood out among the 1973 New York Mets. He moved well on his long legs, making him a dynamite first baseman and a quick outfielder. Today, as a school social worker, he towers above the elementary students with whom he works, yet his warm demeanor, quirky sense of humor, and terrific baseball stories make him easily accessible to both kids and parents. During his senior year of college – upon the recommendation of his aunt – Theodore applied to the U’s Master of Social Work (MSW) Program. Shortly after being accepted, he was drafted by the New York Mets in the 31st round of the amateur draft. He eventually returned to the U in 1976 and finished his degree, embarking on a lifelong career in social work. Theodore recently shared his story with the College of Social Work and is happy to speak about the role the U played in shaping who he is today.
Jennifer Nozawa, public relations specialist, University of Utah College of Social Work | Phone: 801-585-9303 | Email:


Saturday, Nov. 7
Religious freedom in a changing world

Religious freedom: it’s a topic that has received intense national attention in recent months, following the actions of Kentucky Court Clerk Kim Davis —who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because of her religious beliefs. Davis spent five days in jail after ignoring a court order that she issue marriage licenses to all couples, following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2015 that legalized gay marriage. Her actions drew both ire and support, and the high profile case is one example of many cases before legislatures and courts that have addressed conflicts between civil rights and religious liberties. In Utah, other issues of religious freedom have also made headlines, including this week’s announcement by the LDS Church on membership of same-sex couples and their children. Continued attention on the topic is one reason students at the S.J. Quinney College of Law are helping to organize a symposium discussing the issue. Sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, the event will feature discussion by attorneys, faith community leaders and a legislator on various topics related to religious freedom. Cost is $10 for the general public and $5 for students.
S.J. Quinney College of Law, 383 South University Street, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 9
Evidence-based decisions for policy: The case for eyewitness identification

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law on will host a symposium dedicated to better understanding eye witness identification through the use of science for decision-making about public policy. The event at the law school takes place at the Flynn Faculty Scholarship Room (6500) on the sixth floor of the law building. “Evidence-Based Decisions for Policy: The Case for Eyewitness Identification,” will feature a lecture by Joanne Yaffe, a professor at the University of Utah College of Social Work. In late 2013, the National Academies asked Yaffe to help with a fast-track study examining eyewitness identification.  For 11 intensive months, she collaborated with a multidisciplinary team of well-known experts from across the country, examining the issue through the lenses of law enforcement, the judiciary, and social sciences.  The National Academies later released the group’s report, which urged caution in handling and relying upon eyewitness identifications in criminal cases. The group also recommended best practices for law enforcement and courts.
S.J. Quinney College of Law, 383 South University Street, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 10
The authors and illustrator of “March,” the best-selling graphic novel series that narrates U.S. Rep. John Lewis’s account of the civil rights movement, will speak at the U Nov. 10. Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell will discuss the books and their goal to educate and inspire young people to understand the power of nonviolence. They will participate in a book signing immediately following the event.
Libby Gardner Hall, 1375 Presidents Circle, 11 a.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 11
The U will honor 11 Utah veterans, including Chris Haley, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and lost a leg while trying to aid another injured solider, at its 18th annual Veterans Day commemoration ceremony. The tribute includes a panel discussion, “Forgotten and Abandoned Vietnam Veterans,” a 21-cannon solute, an awards ceremony and a concert.
Union Building, Ballroom, 200 S. Central Campus Drive, 8:30 a.m.-Noon

Thursday, Nov. 12
“The Case Against 8”

The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah will host a public screening of the Sundance film, “The Case Against 8” draws back the curtain on one of the most contentious legal cases of recent years that paved the way for the ultimate Supreme Court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage. The film will give audiences the opportunity to experience this historical journey in an in-depth and intimate way. The director Ryan White will lead a Q&A session immediately following the screening.
Salt Lake Film Society’s Broadway Centre Cinemas, 111 E. Broadway, 7 p.m. 

Thursday, Nov. 12
Reflections on the 2015 UK parliamentary election
You may know all about how election day shook out in the U.S. this month, but do you know how the 2015 UK parliamentary election changed the political landscape across the pond? Here’s your chance to find out: The Hinckley Institute of Politics hosts “Reflections on the 2015 UK parliamentary election.” John Francis, a professor of political science, will host a panel exploring the recent election.
Orson Spencer Hall, Room 255, 260 Central Campus Drive, 9:10 to 10:10 a.m.

Snapchat: A new way to reach your audience

October 30, 2015

ICYMI, Snapchat is the newest, hottest social media platform in the world. Fueling this growth (67% in 2014) are college students, of which 77% use the mobile application every day. Overall, 100 million people use Snapchat on a daily basis. The app’s robust creative tools and its near invisibility to search engines make it a hit among its core demographics. Now, Fortune 500 companies, media conglomerates and even higher education institutions, have jumped on the band wagon. Scott Troxel, the University of Utah’s director of web, interactive, and social media, is available to discuss Snapchat’s popularity and how organizations are utilizing the new technology.

Scott Troxel Phone: 801-209-5988 | Email:

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

October 9, 2015

This October, the U is participating in National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a collaborative effort to teach students, staff and faculty how to keep their online lives safe and secure. The Internet plays a big factor in everyone’s lives at work and at home, and no one is immune to cyber threats. Over the next four weeks, U Information Technology will cover how to be aware of the many threats to your online security and the proactive ways to avoid them. Dan Bowden, chief information security officer for the U, is available for interviews.

Phone: 801-213-3397 | Email:

Recession recovery

October 2, 2015

What are the most and least recession-recovered cities in the U.S.?  WalletHub recently released an analysis on the issue and University of Utah labor economist Peter Philips can speak about the findings —and why some areas of the country are rebounding faster than others. Philips can also speak on what community leaders can do to make communities “recession proof.”

Phone: 801-599-2374 | Email:

Religion and social justice

September 21, 2015

The LDS Church this week examined the question of how to provide assistance to refugees in need and how to galvanize its church members to do the same. The question brings up a broader issue across all belief systems: how do different religions intersect with social justice issues? Christina Gringeri, a professor at the U’s College of Social Work, has researched the topic of social justice and religion. She is available for commentary on the subject.
Phone: 801-581-4864 | Email:  

Sept. 8 is International Literacy Day

September 9, 2015

Kathleen Brown is the director of the University of Utah Reading Clinic, which has helped more than 11,000 children improve their reading and retention skills since 1999. Brown believes reading is the cornerstone of academic and socioeconomic success in our society, and children who struggle to learn to read often fall into a negative spiral of learning problems, low grades and poor self-esteem. Brown specializes in methods for teaching at-risk and struggling readers and has developed intervention models designed to meet the needs of struggling readers from diverse backgrounds.
Phone: 801-541-4594 | Email: 

College of Law to launch mobile home park help line

August 21, 2015

Law students this fall will play a role in a new initiative at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. Students will staff the mobile home park help line, providing information to residents and owners of Mobile Home Parks about their rights and responsibilities under the Mobile Home Park Residency Act. Since mobile homes are so expensive to move, it is crucial that disputes within the park be resolved and evictions and loss of major investments be avoided. A small team of students will work with supervising attorneys and clinical program director Linda Smith. The help line will provide students with hands-on experience with the intersection of technology and the practice of law. The project is funded in part by a grant from the Utah State Legislature.

Linda Smith | Phone: 801-581-4077 | Email:

Why don’t people talk about miscarriages?

August 7, 2015

That was the question posed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg when he and wife Priscilla Chen announced they are expecting a child, and detailed the three lost pregnancies they have had prior. Dr. Erin Clark, an expert in the field of maternal fetal medicine, is available to talk about the causes of miscarriage and why it is somewhat stigmatized in society. For interviews, please contact Libby Mitchell in the Health Sciences Office of Public Affairs.
Phone: 801-587-0945 | Email: