Volkwein Paper on How Campuses Deal with State Regulatory Climates Draws Praise

Fred Volkwein, director of Institutional Research and a faculty member in the Department of Educational Administration & Policy Studies, has been named year’s winner of the Association’s "Best Research Paper Award" by the Association of Institutional Research (AIR). The award is recommended by a national screening committee and is based on his national study of Administrative Satisfaction and the Regulatory Climate at Public Universities.

The study is co-authored with two doctoral students, Shaukat Malik and Michelle Napierski-Prancl, and appears in the February issue of the journal Research in Higher Education. Volkwein and his students will be formally recognized at the AIR’s national meeting this May in Minneapolis, Minn.

The three authors cooperated on a research project that was funded by the North East Association for Institutional Research, with supplemental funding from the Albany Benevolent Association and the Graduate Student Organization. The study merged the information from two surveys with data from an array of national databases, including the U.S. Census, USOE/IPEDS, College Board, and Guidebooks.

One survey collected information on the regulatory climate in each state, focusing on campus autonomy in conducting various academic, financial and personnel transactions. A second survey was completed by campus officials whose job titles suggested that they might be impacted by state control practices.

"The two surveys were supported by our telephone interviews with at least one state official and one campus manager in each of the 50 states," said Volkwein. "In all, 996 campus managers at 100 public universities responded."

The study first examines the extent to which various state and campus characteristics have an effect on the regulatory climate and administrative flexibility granted to these Universities. "Weak and insignificant relationships were found," said Volkwein.

Second, the research analyzes the dimensions of managerial satisfaction and tests the hypothesis that the state’s regulatory climate exercises an influence on the satisfaction levels of managers who are in functional areas impacted by state control.

"We found that the immediate work climate exerts a far greater influence on managerial satisfaction than does the organization’s environment," Volkwein said. "The effects of state regulation are insignificant. Instead, an atmosphere of administrative teamwork and interpersonal stress exerts the strongest positive and negative influences on administrative satisfaction."

Award Winning Research

Cathy Spatz Widom of the School of Criminal Justice, along with Michael Maxfield of Rutgers University, was presented in December with the 1997 Robert Chin Memorial Award.

Their winning paper, "The Cycle of Violence: Revisited 6 Years Later," was published in the April 1996 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. It presented estimates of the extent to which abused and neglected children are at risk for delinquent, adult criminal, and violent criminal behavior.

The Robert Chin Memorial Award is awarded by The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and its Robert Chin Memorial Award Committee. It is geared towards research and scholarship on child abuse.

Edna Acosta-Belén, distinguished service professor in the Departments of Latin American & Caribbean Studies and Women’s Studies, as received the Outstanding Faculty in Higher Education Award from the American Association of Higher Education.

Acosta-Belén is scheduled to receive her award at the Association’s annual meeting on March 22 in Atlanta, Ga.

A Good Deed at Christmas

The Division of University Advancement did a splendid job of "adopting" one family this Christmas, according to Albany County Department of Social Services’ "Adopt-A-Family" program.

In addition to 15 Advancement staff members who bought gifts for the family — whose own resources would have not have allowed gifts of clothing or toys this Christmas — the Division was able, through the program, to present the family with a $100 Price Chopper gift certificate, and individual Crossgates Mall gift certificates to the family’s grandmother, for $115, and to her two granddaughters, for $75 each.

"The case worker who delivered our gifts called immediately afterward," said Kathy Perry, secretary for the Advancement division. "She was in tears on the phone, describing how emotional and appreciative the grandmothers was for our gifts."

Interim Appointment

John Conway, associate dean of the School of Public Health, has been appointed as Interim Dean. Conway has been a member of the School’s faculty for five years and has directed its Professional Education Programs. David Carpenter, dean since the School’s founding 13 years ago, submitted his formal resignation on January 15, indicating his desire to return to full-time research.

Stating the Union Address

Kathleen Kendall of the Department of Communication, an expert on political communication and Presidential campaigning, was interviewed for 60 minutes on Jan. 28 on Wisconsin Public Radio in an assessment of President Bill Clinton’s "State of the Union Address."

Welcome Niles Lehman

Niles Lehman, an evolutionary biologist who has researched coyote populations across North America, joined the Department of Biology as an assistant professor this fall.

"We’re excited to have him in the department," said biology chair John Jacklet, "He brings an expertise in ecology and population genetics which is much needed to support our graduate thrust as well as our undergraduate program."

Lehman got his doctorate in biology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990, and was an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach from 1995 to 1997.

Lehman said he finds the Albany region "very attractive" for his work. There are fresh water lakes which support the Daphnia, better known as water fleas, that Lehman currently studies. And he said that there are many people in the capitol district—at RPI, The College of St. Rose, and other institutions," that are interested in the origins of life."

Lehman’s work centers on "the evolution of life on earth . . . how populations evolve and how populations change over time. We do this by looking at genes—we look at the genotype of many different individuals in a population and how much variation there is in a population. Then we compare one population to the next. From that we infer how different the populations are, and we try to reconstruct the evolutionary history of a population. It’s like trying to go back in time by looking at what exists in the present."

Although Lehman’s primary interest is in "fundamental evolutionary processes," he added that "there’s a conservation aspect of the projects that look at large animals. Assessing their genetic variations gives us information we need to manage the species."

Lehman’s graduate research on DNA fingerprinting of coyotes led to a comparative study which suggested that wolves and coyotes had been interbreeding at certain population boundary areas: "We looked at coyotes, comparing genotypes all across North America. A friend did the same thing with wolves." When coyote and wolf data was compared, "it looked like they were sharing genotypes, which wouldn’t be expected to happen between two species." Other researchers have since confirmed a pattern of interbreeding.

Jacklet said that Lehman’s research "fits well with what the department as a whole is doing, venturing into a new initiative called `comparative functional genomics.’" — a study which picks up where genome projects leave off.

The human genome project is the best-known effort to map the genes of a species, but as Jacklet pointed out, scientists are mapping the genes of many species. After the gene sequences are known, the next task is to determine their functions.

Lehman spent last semester laying the groundwork for new research. One of the projects he intends to pursue involves "in vitro evolution," or, as Lehman described it, "recreating evolutionary processes in a test tube." The University is remodelling laboratory space for his use. He began teaching this spring.

John LeMay

Champagne Innovative Lecture

Audrey B. Champagne of the Department of Educational Theory and Practice will be a speaker this week at the 1998 Annual Meeting of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Champagne will discuss an aspect of the topic "Kill All the Mosquitoes or Cure Malaria? Communicating Controversy to Citizens." She will be among some of the top researchers from a broad range of scientific fields. The theme for the 1998 Meeting is "Exploring Frontiers — Expanding Opportunities."

The AAAS celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 12, through Tuesday, Feb. 17, in Philadelphia.

Clyman Poland-Bound

Toby W. Clyman of the Department of Languages, Literatures & Culture will be presenting a paper, "Polish-Jewish youth Autobiographies of the 1930s," by invitation at the international conference on Ashkenaz: Theory and Nation, which takes place at the Jagelonian University in Krakow, Poland, from May 26-29.

Safety Comes First with Donohue

by Sullin Jose

Lisa Donohue from the University at Albany’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety has been awarded a plaque for Outstanding Professional Woman in Education. The award is presented by the New York State Association for Women in Education (NYASWE) "In Recognition of Demonstrated Leadership in and Commitment to the Advancement of Women in Education".

Donohue was awarded the plaque on Dec. 12 at a ceremony and reception held at the Alumni Center at RPI. "As the University’s Industrial Hygienist, Lisa Donohue is very dedicated to investigating employees’ work - related health and safety concerns," said Michelle McConville of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

According to McConville, Donohue takes a special interest in all campus safety issues, particularly women’s safety throughtout the University environment, including chemical safety in the laboratory. Says McConville, "She is a leading advocate of safety and awareness, and really makes it a part of her job".

Donohue received a Bachelor of Science degree from Albany and has worked as chemical safety officer at the University since 1982. She has also worked for the State Department of Health as a safety-training specialist and public health inspector. She was previously awarded the University’s Bread and Roses Award .

A participant in the campus’s annual Lighting Survey and its Blue Light Phone Program, Donohue currently sits on the executive committee of the President’s Task Force on Women’s Safety, as well as assisting in the inception of the Don’t Walk Alone Program.

The NYASWE meets several times a year to support and advance the efforts of women in education.