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Provost's Challenge to Campus: Read this Book
Reading Project chooses Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains as its first cross-campus read

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 25, 2006) -- University at Albany Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Herbst has launched the first University at Albany Reading Project, a program to engage the entire University community in reading a common text. The undertaking is designed to bring all students, faculty, and staff together for reflection, analysis, and debate, reinforcing the University's shared enterprise as an intellectual community.

As its first reading project, the University chose Mountains Beyond Mountains by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Kidder, which tackles race, poverty and the role of the United States in the world. The work offers opportunities for discussion from multiple perspectives - public health, epidemiology, anthropology, language and cultural studies, foreign policy, economics, medicine, and ethics. At a time when desperation on the island nation of Haiti is once again on the front pages, the book tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer and his medical aid organization in Haiti, Partners in Health, and poses the question of whether a single individual can make sustained contributions in combating seemingly intractable and distant public health problems.

The provost's office recruited individuals, including faculty and students, to serve as leaders for small discussion groups that will meet during the semester. Some 2,500 copies of Mountains Beyond Mountains have been distributed on campus. Faculty members have also suggested films, exhibits, panel presentations, and other activities during the semester, related to the book.

Program elements will culminate in a March 23 campus visit by Kidder, who won a Pulitzer Prize for The Soul of a New Machine and is the author of Among Schoolchildren and Hometown.

The project is supported by the UAlbany-based New York State Writers Institute and University Auxiliary Services. For additional information, visit the Reading Project page.


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