Teaching Dollars & Sense

William E. Lewis, distinguished lecturer in finance at KU, teaches a personal finance course that addresses fiscal topics traditionally tied to college life — budgeting, paying bills, renting an apartment — but also helps students prepare for tasks that lie ahead — saving for retirement, investing, buying a home. Watch video »


BIG LOBBYING BUSINESS: Research by Raquel Alexander, assistant professor of business; Stephen Mazza, associate dean of academic affairs in the School of Law; and Susan Scholz, associate professor of business, that shows big companies that spent millions of dollars on lobbyists got a 22,000 percent return on their investment has been reported widely, including a piece in the New York Times.

The research examines a tax break Congress enacted in 2004. ''It calls into question what Congress did in 2004,'' Mazza said. ''It clearly is a very lucrative field for lobbyists. Congress wanted to create jobs, and what they probably did was create jobs for the lobbyists.''

AUTISM AND EMPLOYMENT: Wendy Parent, associate research professor at the Bureau for Child Research, was quoted in a recent U.S. News and World Report story about teenagers with autism and their families’ decisions on how they will live as adults. She said one of the best approaches is not to guilt employers into hiring individuals with autism, but to show how they can be an asset to the company. "A lot of your obsessive-compulsive behaviors are a real asset on the job," Parent said. "It's always framed in a business sense. We're not asking for charity. We're saying this person can work for you."

LONG LIVE THE BRIDGES: Work by faculty at KU’s Transportation Research Institute to prolong the life of bridges has been widely reported, including a piece in the Homeland Security Daily Wire. “A major part of the Obama administration's stimulus package is directed toward rehabilitating the aging U.S. infrastructure. It is thus good to read that a team of University of Kansas engineers is testing a new class of devices that could double the life of America's existing bridges using composite materials,” the article reads.

Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, associate professor of aerospace engineering, was quoted. “This is the kind of technology that will allow our existing infrastructure — as well as new bridges — to be safer for longer. The use of composites can double or more the life of these steel structures, and the application is created with an eye toward cost and ease of use."

TAKING THE FIGHT TO THE NET: Alesha Doan, assistant professor of political science, was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal story about abortion opponents increasingly taking their cause to the Internet. Doan said the efforts might be having an impact. “"Certainly, there's a preaching-to-the-choir effect, but I don't think you can discount the effect on society over time," she said. "They've altered the parameters of the discourse."

CAPITOL COUNTRY CITATION: A recent Los Angeles Times story recounted musician Linda Ronstadt’s testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, asking for government support of the arts. Ronstadt cited research by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and associate dean of the School of Fine Arts. “Music programs have a very discernable positive effect on our children’s education,” Ronstadt said. “Johnson conducted a landmark study comparing test scores of students in a music program with students who had no music. Professor Johnson later testified before Congress, presenting some eye-opening data: students of all regions and socio-economic backgrounds who studied music scored significantly higher on math and English tests than students who did not study music.”

CITIZENS RISE: David Perlmutter, professor of journalism, was quoted in a recent Denver Post story about "The Rise of the Citizen Journalist" and the decline of mainstream media. "In a sense, the Hatfields and the McCoys got married," Perlmutter said of the increasing presence of blogs and their relation to mainstream media. "Bloggers are getting professionalized now. They are becoming a part of the traditional mainstream. Every mainstream journalist is blogging and twittering. Their merging is the bigger story than the attacking was before."

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