Unification News for May 2001

UN General Assembly President Gives Address

by Geetha Tharmaratnam

Harri Holkeri, president of the 55th session of the United Nations General Assembly, gave a lecture February 22, on campus. The focus of his speech was on restructuring the Assembly to become more effective and to acknowledge the use for such a body, as it has come under increasing fire from the international community for being too slow and doing too little.

Holkeri, the president of the so-called Millennium Assembly of the UN, served as Prime Minister of Finland from 1987 to 1991 and has been in domestic and international politics for over 40 years. He was given an honorary British knighthood, Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, in 1999 for his involvement and achievements in the Northern Ireland peace process. He succeeded Theo-Ben Gurirab, the former president of the General Assembly, who visited the University last year.

Holkeri underlined the necessity to "open the United Nations to civil society at large and to have continued and enhanced dialogue with academic communities."

He affirmed that "the United Nations system needs to be strengthened and reformed to carry out the tasks entrusted to it." He sees the need to develop the core strengths of the agencies as part of his legacy.

Echoing an earlier statement issued by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Holkeri said that "the United Nations has made a couple of mistakes—big ones. We can start with Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina. But we have had some successes like East Timor." The former Indonesia-occupied island was reclaimed with the help of the UN Security Forces almost 25 years after troubles began.

Holkeri believes that the Millennium Assembly must spearhead the obvious need to adapt by establishing new priorities as a body, and this, he said, "requires compromise from all parties at member level." There are currently 189 member countries of the UN, and he anticipates before this year’s end that East Timor will be welcomed as the 190th.

The Millennium Summit and the Millennium Charter that resulted from the summit, Holkeri said, is the third-most important document in the UN, after the Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights. The Summit called for a "comprehensive reform of the Security Council in all aspects" and for it to be "more representative of the contributing members and more legitimate."

Role of Religion in Society Draws Large Crowd

by Harumi Kawamura

A recent public dialogue on campus on the role of religion in society was very well attended, suggesting that the issues surrounding religion are very much on people’s minds. After speaking at the evening forum, Fairfield University Professor Ronald M. Davidson commented on the refreshing international character of the UB community. The event was undeniably a show of the diversity UB’s students and faculty, as panel speakers sought to answer the question "Does religion have a role in shaping a moral globalizing society?"

The program presented the answers from seven different perspectives. For nearly two hours, atheism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Unificationism made their cases in front of an audience of nearly 130 people in Carlson Hall.

The moderator, Professor Timothy Eves, kept the evening charged with humor and anticipation as he introduced both a student and an expert to represent each perspective. Referring to such beliefs and practices as the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism and the dietary laws of Judaism, as well as the key element of the family in Unificationism, all religions said "yea" to religion’s positive role. Atheism, naturally, said "nay," referring to, among other reasons, religion’s shady role in historical conflicts.

The program did not seek to reach a conclusion or spotlight a particular perspective, and for this reason all seven outlooks worked with an equal share of time. The result was the realization that religion plays a variety of roles in human society. The successful interaction and dialogue among the different perspectives seemed to say "nay" to the clashes of civilizations predicted by such political scientists such as Samuel Huntington.

Engineering Graduates Command the Top Starting Pay

Latest census figures confirm what engineering schools have been saying for years—a college degree in engineering launches a career that virtually guarantees a high starting salary and a secure and lucrative future.

Graduates with a four-year degree in engineering command an average of $50,000 annual starting salary, latest studies show, which is currently the highest level among college graduates.

The School of Engineering and Design at the University of Bridgeport offers students graduate and undergraduate degrees in computer science and engineering, industrial design, interior design, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.

Recently, alumni of the Industrial Design program were able to showcase some of their work, ranging from watches to postage meters, at the First Annual Industrial Design Alumni Show in the University Gallery.

Sponsored by the Connecticut chapter of the Industrial Design Society of America, the show ran until April 30, and featured the step-by-step process that award-winning designers from UB’s ID program employed to bring a new product to market. All phases of development, including initial drawings; computer simulations; plastic, foam, or wooden models; blueprints; and final products, were displayed.

Exhibitors include Peter B. Clarke, who graduated summa cum laude in 1990 with a B.S. degree from the Industrial Design program. He is the founder and president of Product Ventures, Ltd., of South Norwalk, a design and development-consulting firm with 15 employees.

Peter exhibited all phases of the development of a Cascade dish-detergent bottle, a Schick Xtreme III convenience razor, and an angioplasti radiation unit for the US Surgical Corporation.

Also displaying his award-winning products was David W. Kaiser, (B.S. ’76), founder of Anderson Design of Plainville, Connecticut, where he is a designer and project manager. Three houseware products designed by David were shown—an electric hand-mixer, an electric can opener, and a rechargeable electric knife. They are part of the Ergo Line of products, named for their ergonomic improvements and designed for Applica Consumers Products, Inc.

David’s display included concept sketches, product descriptions, foam models, pictures using Pro-ENGINEER software, Alias software renderings and the final products.

"The thing I remember most about the UB program is that it was challenging and very thorough. It prepared me well for the real world," said David. "As consultants, we come across some very demanding clients, and my experience at UB helped prepare me for that."

The Industrial Design program at UB started in 1949 as a night school program under the guidance of Professor Gordon Florian. In 1955, Professor Emeritus Robert Redman played a key role in establishing the current degree program. Graduates of the UB program have designed many famous household items, such as the "Dustbuster" vacuum, and UB graduates continue creating award-winning designs at GM, Chrysler, United Technologies, Lucent Technology and other companies.

All The Voices

by Professor Dick Allen

Recently, my wife and I watched the television presentation of Disney Studios’ Pocahontas. At one point, during the lovely song, "All the Colors of the Wind," we simultaneously turned toward each other and said, "It’s like UB!" The song’s lyrics go on: "You think the only people who are people / Are the people who look and think like you. / But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, / You will learn things you never knew you knew."

That is teaching at what is perhaps America’s most truly international mixture of college undergraduates, at UB. We have increasingly grown accepting of the differences and similarities in nations, cultures and people. When I give a guest lecture or poetry reading at some other much less heterogeneous college or university, I often feel out of place, for I’m speaking to what has become to me a non-representational segment of global undergraduates. Where are the Russians, the Nigerians, the Japanese, the South Americans, the Chinese, I wonder? During question-and- answer sessions, why don’t I hear wonderful mixtures of differently accented English? Why doesn’t my audience look like a rainbow, painted "with all the colors of the wind"?

What’s so distinctive about UB is that here the international students are not isolated in pockets nor are they the "different" ones in a classroom. They are here in such numbers that they do not feel out of place or "foreign," and the campus is as truly theirs as it is the Americans’. International students and American students work side by side, sharing responsibilities in virtually all campus activities, from Student Congress, dormitory government and the campus newspaper to S.C.U.B.A. (our campus intellectual organization) and dozens of clubs.

How else to describe it?

Imagine being in an "Introduction to Poetry" class where a South American Dental Hygiene major flawlessly reads a poem by Pablo Neruda in the original Spanish and then helps the rest of us understand the nuances we miss in our English-translation version. Imagine too a discussion about communism, when an American student puts forth the advantages of Marxism, two Russian students strenuously advocate capitalism, and then one quietly observes, "Communism seemed fine in theory, but why did my country have to try it?"

Imagine talking about Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, when a Muslim student from Malaysia raises her hand to say she understands and admires the American family-values of the nineteenth-century, for her family’s values are like that today; and what happened to American morals in the interim?

"Maybe it’s television," an American student answers. "Or all of your cars," a student from the Dominican Republic puts in.

Imagine a discussion of urban poverty as an American student from the inner city Bronx and a student from Bangladesh swap vivid stories, and the American student becomes appalled at a depth of slum poverty he’d never imagined. "Maids?" he says, "you hire maids as a way of helping the poor?" And then it strikes him that without such a job an entire family might starve.

Imagine speaking about war and there’s a marvelously gifted Bosnian Muslim student, already a published poet, who has experienced war firsthand. She quotes the Nobel Prize- winning Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska to help the class understand war’s unreality and horror. At UB, she has not only very close American Catholic friends, but is close friends with those who come from Croatia and Serbia.

Dick Allen, who has taught at UB since 1968, is the University’s director of creative writing and the Charles A. Dana Lifetime Endowed Chair Professor of English. In 1996, he was chosen by students and faculty as the University’s "Outstanding Professor of the Year." He is one of America’s leading poets, with over 800 publications in national and international magazines as well as nine published books, including his latest, Ode to the Cold War: Poems New and Selected (Sarabande Books, 1997). At UB he teaches courses in creative writing, literature, and the Capstone Senior Seminars, and is the current president of the UB Faculty Council.

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