University of Oregon

Photo: A grouping of variously-sized ancient sandals found at the Fort Rock excavation.

Focus on Footwear
Since before recorded history, humans have fashioned shoes in an almost infinite variety of styles and materials, optimized for thousands of specialized purposes. That breadth is captured in a new book of photos, 10,000 Years of Shoes (University of Oregon, 2011) by Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalist Brian Lanker (1947–2011). Accompanying the images are three essays; in the one excerpted below, “Luther Cressman and the Fort Rock Sandals,” Thomas J. Connolly, MS ’80, PhD ’86, director of archaeological research at the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History, tells the story of the world’s oldest known shoe.

Roughly 15,000 years ago, as the Ice Age waned, humans migrated into the Americas from northeast Asia. By land or by sea, this migration was impossible without clothing that protected people from the cold, including footwear. Some of the earliest evidence for humans in the Americas comes from the Great Basin—a region that spans parts of Oregon, Nevada, and California. People camped at Paisley Caves in central Oregon almost 14,500 years ago. To the north, Fort Rock Cave overlooks a broad basin that once held a huge lake where wave erosion carved numerous caves and rockshelters at the water’s edge. When the first Americans arrived on the continent, the massive lakes had shrunk to shallow marshes. Rich in edible plants and game animals, the area attracted people who sheltered in these caves.

Millennia later, these dry and dusty Great Basin caves also attracted archaeologists—and there they found some of the world’s oldest shoes. Archaeological excavations at Fort Rock Cave in 1938 by the University of Oregon’s Luther Cressman led to the discovery of nearly 100 sagebrush-bark sandals buried by wind-blown silt and later by Mazama ash from the cataclysmic volcanic explosion that created Crater Lake. At the time of their discovery, these sandals could not be precisely dated, but their position below Mazama ash suggested that they were truly ancient.

Luther Cressman was a professor of anthropology and founded the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. However, he could scarcely have predicted where his life and research would take him. Cressman grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania and attended Pennsylvania State University, where he earned a degree in English. After a brief army stint in World War I, he trained for the Anglican ministry and completed graduate studies in sociology at Columbia University. There he was mentored by the influential anthropologist Franz Boas and also met and married his first wife, Margaret Mead (1923–27), who later became a world-famous anthropologist. He later married Dorothy Cecilia Bloch and in 1929, at the age of thirty-two, moved west to take a position in sociology at the University of Oregon.

Cressman’s first step into archaeology was more by circumstance than planning. In 1930, he was invited to investigate several Indian burials exposed in a farmer’s field near Gold Hill in southwest Oregon. Awed by the opportunity to learn of “human beings and their works,” he acknowledged that the endeavor was neither the sociology nor cultural anthropology with which he was familiar. Recognizing his shortcomings in geology, botany, zoology, and other fields critical to interpreting archaeological sites, he sought the help of specialists in a multidisciplinary approach that marked his entire career.

Cressman followed his serendipitous entry into archaeology with a plan to systematically document Native rock art. He wrote to postmasters throughout Oregon to contact people who knew of petroglyphs and pictographs, followed by an extended field trip in 1932. Talking with ranchers and amateur historians, he learned of caves and rock shelters with the potential to hold a long record of human history.

Today, it is difficult to appreciate the obstacles Cressman faced in pursuing fieldwork in the 1930s. At that time, there were only two paved highways in eastern Oregon; a north-south route along the base of the Cascade Range from the Columbia River to the California border, and an east-west route from Bend to Boise. Neither provided access to the areas that drew his interest, where detailed maps were nonexistent.

In 1935, Cressman planned his first excavation at Catlow Cave, south of Burns. The site produced a wealth of twined basketry of a distinctive type now known as “Catlow Twine.” Three years later, he and his crew spent a week at Paisley Caves and another week at Fort Rock Cave and found artifacts well below Mazama ash. At the time, most archaeologists considered the Oregon cave materials to be less than 2,000 years old. However, Paisley Caves produced artifacts that appeared to be directly associated with the bones of extinct horses and camels, animals that disappeared from North America more than 10,000 years ago. These associations provided evidence that people were present in the region thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

Cressman’s colleagues remained skeptical until 1951, when the new method of radiocarbon (14C) dating vindicated him. When first found, the age of the nearly 100 sandals from beneath the Mazama ash layer at Fort Rock Cave could not be precisely known. Radiocarbon dating showed that the Mazama ash was deposited about 7,600 years ago. Cressman directly dated a sandal, buried deep beneath the ash, to more than 9,000 years ago. Subsequent 14C dates have shown that Fort Rock–style sandals were made between about 10,250 and 9,300 years ago—the oldest directly dated shoes in the world!

Cressman and his crew carefully plotted the position of many of the sandals as they found them. They were distributed in an arc around a living area, suggesting people threw them away. Excavations of nearby sites show that brush shelters were often built in caves to conserve heat and protect people from icy winds. Such a shelter may have been present in Fort Rock Cave.

The Fort Rock sandals may have been winter wear, since the Klamath Indians who still live in the area historically made shoes from tule reeds stuffed with dry grass that provided comfort even when walking in icy marsh waters. Most of the sandals from the cave are heavily worn, and many are fragmentary, supporting the idea that they were discarded rather than stored for later use. Seeing them as a group, it is impossible not to be moved by the people and community they represent. There are large adult shoes for men and women, child-sized shoes, and those for mothers and uncles, sons and daughters, cousins and grandparents—the extended family who made the cave their home 10,000 years ago. Some sandals are caked with mud, others are mud-free, illustrating the varied environments they visited for hunting, food harvesting, or play. Many sandals are worn through at the balls of feet or at the heels, allowing you to trace the toes and other features of the feet that occupied them. Looking at one pair with well-worn soles and tiny char marks on the toe flaps, one can visualize sparks rising from a crackling hearth fire, as their wearer added fuel or paced the floor as a grandmother might.

Found in caves throughout southeast Oregon and northern Nevada, Fort Rock–style sandals are stylistically distinctive. They disappear by about 9,300 years ago, after which other sandal forms take their place.

Luther Cressman’s excavations un-earthed shoes that tell us about the people who wore them, the environments they lived in, and the community that sheltered in Fort Rock Cave—providing future generations the opportunity to study, interpret, and admire the oldest shoes in the world.

Hello Yellowstone

When an expected three million vacationers roll into Yellowstone National Park later this year, they will see the geysers and grizzlies and other natural wonders for which the park has been renowned since its founding in 1872. And now, thanks to an extraordinary effort by a team of UO geographers, those visitors will also have access to the most comprehensive and data-rich compilation of information ever assembled about Yellowstone.

The Atlas of Yellowstone (University of California Press, 2012) includes more than 830 maps, charts, graphs, and photos in nearly 300 large-format pages. The project, which took eight years to complete, involved contributions from about 100 “topic experts” specializing in areas such as physical geography (the land and its attributes such as volcanoes, rainfall, rivers, and geology), plants and animals, and the early Native American inhabitants and ever more complex human interactions with the environment that have marked more recent times. These experts came mostly from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Oregon, Montana State University, the University of Wyoming, the Museum of the Rockies, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Headwaters Economics, and the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center. 

Shaping this wealth of information into an atlas was the work of the UO’s Department of Geography and its InfoGraphics Laboratory, which also produced the award-winning Atlas of Oregon (UO Press, 2001). Lab director James E. Meacham ’84, MA ’92, managed a team of fifteen paid geographers and cartographers—most of them students—aided by another five cartographers at Allan Cartography in Medford. Overseeing the entire effort was UO professor of geography W. Andrew Marcus, who says of the epic project, “It was like coordinating a small army.”

Graphic: Much of a two-page spread from the Atlas of Yellowstone on the topic of income (reduced in size to fit here)
Much of the two-page spread on the topic of income (reduced in size to fit here)—a good example of the many layers of information presented in the Atlas of Yellowstone.

Girls Will Be Boys and Boys Will Be Girls
Americans have long cherished romantic images of the West and its colorful cast of characters. According to Peter Boag, PhD ’88, who holds the Columbia Chair in the History of the American West at Washington State University, that cast of cowpokes and saloon keeps, farmers and ranchers, sheriffs and “soiled doves” might well also include cross-dressers, male and female. In his extensively researched Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past (University of California Press, 2011), Boag explores the historical and cultural setting of the time, recounts the stories of many of these western denizens, and discusses why they have largely faded from our collective memory of those much-celebrated days. One of these stories is excerpted below.


Photo: A group of female friends dressed in men’s suits, ca. 1910
Gussied Up A group of female friends dressed in men’s suits, ca. 1910

Most sources suggest that Joe Monahan turned fifty-three in 1903. By then he had made his home for almost four decades in and about the Owyhee Mountains of extreme southwestern Idaho. The last twenty or so of those years he resided on Succor Creek, a small stream that tumbles westward, down from the Owyhees, before it meanders out into the deserts of neighboring southeastern Oregon. In the last days of 1903, just as late autumn turned to early winter, Monahan contracted some unspecified malady. As he led an otherwise solitary existence, his enfeebled condition led him to seek refuge at the home of Barney and Kate Malloy, who lived just down a spot, on the Oregon side of the state line. . . . Unfortunately, as the new year arrived at the Malloy ranch, Monahan’s sickness only worsened. A virulent coughing fit overcame him during the evening of 5 January 1904. Sometime later that night, Monahan’s otherwise obscure life slipped away.

Similar stories—the sad passing of a weakened and relatively aged pioneer—were stuff of the everyday in the West by the turn of the twentieth century. But this tale turned out to be among the more newsworthy: when Monahan’s neighbors began to prepare his remains for burial, they discovered that their pioneer friend had the body of a woman. Troubled by exactly what to do, they administered a rather perfunctory funeral. A local from nearby Rockville, Idaho, who had for some time known Monahan, later wrote in dismay to a Boise newspaper when he learned about how Monahan had been treated in death. “Not a word was spoken, not a word read, not a prayer offered,” the concerned man lamented. And yet, in his mind, “‘Little Joe’ never did anyone harm . . . so far as is known her life was pure, although disguised as a man. . . . And who can say they never sinned more than ‘Little Joe,’ and who knows the cause that made her do as she did? A cause that might have made [any] one of us a vagabond, a drunkard or a criminal. So let us pray that ‘Little Joe’s’ soul has been received at the ‘Pearly Gates’ as we would wish our’s to be received.”

As this Rockville correspondent’s words evince, despite the fact that Joe Monahan had resided for many years in this remote corner of the Idaho-Oregon borderlands, few there knew a great deal about him. What seems certain about this Idaho pioneer, in fact, composes a rather short list. Monahan shows up in southwestern Idaho as early as the 1870 federal census. He was born about 1850; the census over the years varies somewhat on the exact year. Most sources identify his birthplace as New York . . . Monahan voted in the Republican primary on 28 August 1880 some sixteen years before women in Idaho received suffrage rights. When he died, his estate included about one hundred head of cattle. . . .

Over the days following the deathbed mystery of Monahan, locals in the Idaho-Oregon border country began to relate to the press additional bits of information that they claimed to have learned over the years about their secretive neighbor whose national celebrity was now growing. These stories pretty much held to 1867 as the year that Monahan originally showed up in Silver City. They explain that he began working there first in a livery, followed by a stint in a sawmill. He struck it big in mining, accumulating upward of $3,000, but he had the misjudgment of entrusting the sum to a shady mining superintendent to invest in the business’s stock. Instead, the rascal departed the country, absconding with Monahan’s life savings. Doggedly starting anew, Monahan began selling milk from a cow and eggs from a few chickens he still retained and worked odd jobs here and there until he had accumulated somewhere between $800 and $1,000. He held on to his money this time, taking it with him when he left Silver City and moved across the divide to Succor Creek in about 1883. There he built a rather mean cabin, which some described as little more than a chicken coop while others likened the shack to a dugout. He fenced in forty acres and hired, at least for a short time, a Chinese laborer to help cut grass to feed the one cow and one horse he had brought with him to his new homestead. Over the years Monahan saw his stock increase, tending it about as carefully as he did his earnings. He became known as something of a miser, living sparingly in his cabin, dressing poorly, and often denying himself food, though availing himself of the hospitality that neighbors gladly and often provided. During these years, Monahan also took his civil duties seriously, reportedly voting in every election and serving several times on a jury. Locals also recalled that he could well handle a revolver and a Winchester rifle and that he had become an accomplished horseman.

As the news related these bits and pieces of Monahan’s life, papers farther afield described the revelation of his successful masquerade as causing a local sensation. An Olympia, Washington, publication, for example, explained with the certainty of an eyewitness that “when friendly neighbors were preparing the body for burial, the community was given a decided shock when it was announced that ‘Joe’ Monahan was a woman.” In reality, that Monahan turned out to be physically female caught hardly anyone in and about the Owyhees off-guard. . . . [Friend] William Schnabel . . . explained rather sensitively that “it was always surmised that Joe was a woman. . . . He was a small, beardless, little man with the hands, feet, stature and voice of a woman.”

The 1880 census lends credence to Schnabel’s story. That year, a local farmer and father of six by the name of Ezra Mills served as the census enumerator for District 29 Owyhee County, Idaho Territory, the very census tract in which both he and Monahan resided. . . . For Monahan’s sex, Mills recorded “M” (male) in the appropriate column but took the time to pencil in next to it the editorial comment “Doubtful Sex.” Clearly, for years locals had suspected that Monahan was a woman. But, as Schnabel explained, “no one could vouch for the truth of it. . . . He never would reveal his identity and all cowboys respected him. . . . He never told a word to his best friends who he was and what he was.”

. . . [R]esidents of the Owyhees, although they might have wondered for years and maybe even “surmised” that Joe was a woman, nevertheless had long accepted Monahan as a man, one who was deeply enmeshed in their community. Moreover, the cowboys of the area, to use Schnabel’s words, “treated him with the greatest respect, and he was always welcome to eat and sleep at their camp.”

Expanded web version of Bookshelf, with selected new books written by UO faculty members and alumni and received at the Oregon Quarterly office. Quoted remarks are from publishers’ notes or reviews.

Along the Trail to Thunder Hawk (CreateSpace, 2011) by Sharon Rasmussen ’67 and George Gilland. “A novel based on the true adventures of a young man trying to embrace his White and Lakota (Sioux) heritage while finding a place in the rapidly changing America of the early twentieth century.”

The Archaeology of North Pacific Fisheries (University of Alaska Press, 2011) edited by professor of anthropology Madonna L. Moss and Aubrey Cannon. “Covering Alaska, British Columbia, and the Puget Sound, The Archaeology of North Pacific Fisheries illustrates how the archaeological record reveals new information about ancient ways of life and the histories of key species.”

An Archaeology of Desperation: Exploring the Donner Party’s Alder Creek Camp (University of Oklahoma Press, 2011) by Julie M. Schablitsky, senior research archaeologist at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, Kelly J. Dixon, and Shannon A. Novak. “Centered on archaeological investigations in the summers of 2003 and 2004, this book includes detailed analyses of artifacts and bones that suggest what life was like in the survival camp.”

Becoming Who We Are: Temperament and Personality in Development (Guilford Press, 2011) by Mary K. Rothbart, professor emerita of psychology. In her latest work, Rothbart “not only explains basic and advanced concepts of temperament, but also beautifully shows how a temperament framework can enrich understanding of social development.”

Countercultural Conservatives: American Evangelicalism from the Postwar Revival to the New Christian Right (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011) by Axel R. Schäfer, MA ’89. “Carefully examining evangelicalism’s internal dynamics, fissures, and coalitions, this book offers an intriguing reinterpretation of the most important development in American religion and politics since World War II.”

Evensong (Truman State University Press, 2011) by Ingrid Wendt, MFA ’68. A book of poems that showcases this classically trained musician-turned-poet’s talent for “making poems sing.”

Evolutionaries: Transformational Leadership: The Missing Link in Your Organization (Inkwater Press, 2011) by Randy Harrington, PhD ’92, and Carmen E. Voillequé ’97. Evolutionaries “describes the characteristics of evolutionary leaders—people who lead organizations through transformational change.”

Fascinating Mathematical People: Interviews and Memoirs (Princeton University Press, 2011) by Gerald L. Alexanderson ’55 and Donald J. Albers. Including informal interviews and memoirs with sixteen leading members of the mathematical community, this book illustrates the unifying power of math.

Hidden History of Civil War Oregon (History Press, 2011) by Randol B. Fletcher ’80. While “many Oregonians think of the Civil War as a faraway event or something that happens when the Ducks and the Beavers tangle,” Fletcher “explores the tales behind the monuments and graves that dot” the state’s landscape.

In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society (Oxford University Press, 2010) by Mark Carey, Robert D. Clark Honors College assistant professor of history. Winner of the Elinor Melville Prize for Latin American Environmental History, this book explores Peru’s Cordillera Blanca mountain range where global climate change has resulted in “severe environmental, economic, and social impacts,” killing 25,000 people since 1941.

Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway (Navel Institute Press, 2011) by Elliot Carlson ’61. This biography is “the first to be written about the officer who headed Station Hypo” at Pearl Harbor. It’s the book that, critics say, “all who are interested in the Battle of Midway have literally been waiting decades to read.”

Northwest Coast: Archaeology as Deep History (Society for American Archaeology Press, 2011) by Madonna L. Moss, professor of anthropology. An overview of archeology along North America’s northwest coast, this book offers the argument that the area’s hunter-gatherers were complex food producers worthy of further modern study.

Oregon Archaeology (Oregon State University Press, 2011) by C. Melvin Aikens, professor emeritus of anthropology; Thomas J. Connolly, MS ’80, PhD ’86, director of archaeological research at the UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History; and Dennis L. Jenkins, PhD ’91, the museum’s senior research archaeologist. Called “an essential reference” for those interested in the field, Oregon Archaeology “incorporates new archaeological research, telling the story of Native American cultures in Oregon.”

Oregon Coast Bridges (North Left Coast Press, 2011) by Ray A. Allen ’65. With more than 200 pages, this book showcases black-and-white photography alongside historical anecdotes about forty of “the most interesting and significant bridges along the Oregon Coast Highway, from Astoria to the California border.”

Sanderlings (Tupelo Press, 2011) by Geri Doran, assistant professor of creative writing. Doran’s second collection of poems offers a “variety of expression” with pastoral, oracular poems that “don’t fix on a single way to regard our sense of living.”

Social Perspective: The Missing Element in Mental Health Practice (University of Toronto Press, 2011) by Richard U’Ren ’60. The author “shows the ways in which the organization and dynamics of society contribute to either personal well-being or distress,” concentrating on the relationship between mental health and social class.

Excerpted in this issue

10,000 Years of Shoes: The Photographs of Brian Lanker Edited by Jon Erlandson and Sarah McClure (University of Oregon, 2011). The book is available at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History and the campus Duck Store for $34.99. To order by mail, contact Ashley Robinson at the museum, 541-346-5331.

Atlas of Yellowstone by W. Andrew Marcus, James E. Meacham, Ann W. Rodman, Alethea Y. Steingisser (University of California Press, 2012)

Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past by Peter Boag (University of California Press, 2011)

Graphic: 10,000 Years of Shoes: The Photographs of Brian Lanker Edited by Jon Erlandson and Sarah McClure, Atlas of Yellowstone by W. Andrew Marcus, James E. Meacham, Ann W. Rodman, Alethea Y. Steingisser, and Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past by Peter Boag

News, Notables, Innovations

Rerailing the Brain Train
UO’s Brain Development Lab helps underprivileged kids stay focused.


Photo: Child wearing brain-monitoring headgear performs a task.
Head Start UO researchers study children’s brains and teach kids to overcome obstacles to learning.

UO psychology professor Helen Neville and her research team take human, sheep, and dog brains to the Oregon Country Fair and Eugene Ems baseball games. They encourage the public to examine them up close and ask questions. They promote their DVD on brain development and hand out sponge brains to anyone who wants one. Their take-home message is this: Environment and experience can change the brain. Biology is not destiny.

Neville is the director of the Brain Development Laboratory. Experiments carried out by her team of postdoctoral researchers, PhD and MS candidates, and undergraduate research assistants show that children from relatively well-off families have better-developed brains than children from poor families. A critical consequence is that underprivileged kids have difficulty in focusing their attention on important information and tuning out distractions. Without the ability to concentrate, they frequently endure a lifetime of diminished literacy, numeracy, attention span, and emotional development.

Recent U.S. census statistics show that the number of people living in poverty has increased during the past four years and is now at a historical high. More than nine million Americans families—with nearly sixteen million children—are affected.

“Eighty-three percent of kids living below the poverty line don’t graduate from high school,” Neville says, adding that “there are crucial quality of life issues for individuals and great economic costs to society,” increasing the likelihood that “they don’t get jobs and commit crimes.”

Not satisfied with simply observing low cognitive function in poor kids, Neville’s team has devised strategies to overcome it. They teach at-risk kids how to focus their attention on classroom tasks. They also teach parents how to help their kids at home. “After only eight weeks of intervention, underprivileged children show brain function for attention similar to that found in peers from higher-income parents,” says postdoctoral research associate Eric Pakulak ’90, MA ’97, ’01, MS ’02, PhD ’08.

Neville says her group is one of a handful studying how to help children develop their brainpower to stop the poverty cycle. University-based cognitive neuroscientists often ignore this segment of society, finding research subjects by offering academic credit or cash to undergraduate psychology majors. “These are high socioeconomic status kids,” Neville says. “It’s not accurate or scientific to characterize the brain based on this small proportion of the population.”

Many children suffer from chronic stress brought on by living in poverty. This stress, asserts Pakulak, is a major culprit behind their cognitive disabilities. “It’s toxic,” he says. “It shrinks the part of the brain associated with learning, long-term memory, long-term planning, evaluating choices, and inhibiting bad ones.”

Neville began recruiting three-to-five-year-old children for neurological assessment in 2004 through Lane County’s Head Start preschool program, which promotes intellectual and emotional development in at-risk children. At the start of the fall, winter, and spring terms, Neville and her team meet with parents, explain their work, and encourage them to participate.

For the children who are signed up, the brain development staff makes sure they have a fun time while in the lab. A research team member escorts parents and their children into a room decorated with Winnie- the-Pooh stickers. A toy box filled with books, puzzles, blocks, and puppets awaits exploration. The kids are encouraged to play and munch on Goldfish crackers.

As a child who has come for testing settles down, a research assistant slips a perforated swim cap over his head. The cap bristles with thirty-two electrodes, which shoot out in all directions. Once the child is accustomed to the hat, he is escorted into a second room and seated in a cushy chair that faces a video screen. Speakers sit at ear level on shelves to the right and left of the chair. The researcher gathers the wires leading from the cap’s electrodes and plugs them into an amplifier. “We tell the kids it’s like a stethoscope, but we’re listening to their brain-beat, not their heartbeat,” says research associate Courtney Stevens, MS ’03, PhD ’07.

The child is then asked to watch a cartoon and focus on the narration coming from the right speaker. Simultaneously the subject hears a different story, which has no connection with the cartoon, coming from the left speaker. By examining specific brainwaves recorded by the electrodes, researchers can distinguish how well the child can tune out the distraction coming from the left speaker and tune into the story line coming from the right speaker.

Typically, kids from higher socioeconomic families suppress distractions better. Kids from low-socioeconomic backgrounds struggle. “It’s basically impossible for a child to learn in a classroom if she can’t tune into what her teachers are saying and tune out other students’ disruptive behavior,” Stevens says. “That’s why we believe selective attention is so important. Learn to focus your attention, and you are then prepared to learn anything.”

Back at Head Start, children continue their normal curriculum during the day. But one night per week for eight weeks, they return for two-hour enhanced-learning sessions accompanied by their parents. Scott Klein, a Brain Development Lab research assistant with ten years of grade-school teaching experience, coaches parents on communication skills. He advises them to create routines. Daily rituals allow kids to predict what will happen and how to respond, Klein says. Their stress levels go down. And when children cooperate, parents’ stress levels also go down.

Klein teaches parents to give their kids choices: Do you want to put on your pajamas first or brush your teeth first? Do you want to pick up your toys before or after dinner? “This is a huge first step in gaining kids’ attention,” Klein says. “Choices engage the thinking process.”

Klein also developed the “Brain Train,” the method used to increase kids’ concentration skills. Initially, the children sit with crayons and color. Then, they learn what distractions are, usually through puppet shows and role-playing. At the next level, one group of kids will color while others stand at the edges of the classroom and play with balloons. Head Start teachers encourage the children to keep coloring. The groups switch their roles. At the end of the eight weeks, kids are able to color while others are standing right next to them bouncing balloons in their hands. Neville attributes children’s increased ability to remain focused not only on these exercises but also on the change in their parents’ behavior.

Single parent Matt Dillender says the intervention provided him with group support from other parents and taught him new ways to communicate with his child. “Over time I have seen a clear, positive impact on my son’s emotional health as well as my own.”

The Brain Development Lab is a busy place. Every eight weeks, new recruits come in for initial brain-wave measurements. Children who have been tested previously and completed the intervention return for follow-up measurements. The Neville team has worked with about 400 families so far. They made a DVD, called Changing Brains, which explains their research. Neville hopes the program can continue and help more kids.

The Institute of Education Sciences recently awarded her grants to follow Head Start kids long term and translate the entire research project into Spanish. She’s previously received funding from the National Institutes of Health. However, Neville now calls the funding organization “broken” because grants are increasingly difficult to come by. She admits that the Brain Development Lab may not attract sufficient funding to continue supporting its thirty full-time employees. Neville says she is frustrated with the situation.

Forty or fifty years ago, scientists thought that brains were fixed, unchangeable. Researchers in the Brain Development Lab have not only helped to dispel that myth, but they are now exploiting the organ’s changeability to level the playing field for disadvantaged children. “Our research is being used to make a difference in the world,” Neville says.

—Michele Taylor MS ’03, ’10

WEB EXTRA: To see the Brain Development Lab’s video production Changing Brains, visit

Preserving Arabic Manuscripts
Scholars scramble to save threatened texts.


Photo: A page of preserved Arabic manuscript.
Concern for Culture An international network of scholars works with resolve as time and political instability imperil the long Yemeni tradition of producing, owning, and making marginal comments in texts.

An international team of scholars is racing against time to digitize thousands of Arabic-language texts from Yemen—some dating to the eleventh century—and make them available online before the original manuscripts either fall to pieces or are confiscated or destroyed. The texts—law, history, literature, and grammar—reflect a tradition in Islam practiced by the Zaydi sect of Shi’ites. Some of the manuscripts exist nowhere in the Muslim world outside this Arabian Peninsula country, where the Zaydi tradition has been out of favor since Yemen’s current borders were established in the 1960s.

For two of the scholars, Ahmed Ishaq and Abdul Rahman Alneamy of the Imam Zaid bin Ali Cultural Foundation, located in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, it’s nothing short of a mission to preserve their cultural heritage, page by digital page. They’ve been laboring for more than a decade, obtaining manuscripts by donation, loan, or purchase from mosques and private collections. Even so, 10,000 manuscripts have disappeared during that span of time before they could save them, according to another team member, David Hollenberg, UO assistant professor of Arabic language and literature. “I’ve interviewed families who have had their entire libraries seized” by religious extremists, he says.

Hollenberg regards Ishaq, Alneamy, and the entire staff at their foundation as heroes. He learned of their work in 2006, while he was in Yemen as a doctoral student to conduct his dissertation research. At the time, they were only working with a simple digital camera. Four years later, when Hollenberg was an assistant professor at James Madison University in Virginia, he teamed up with the digital collections specialists at Princeton University to obtain a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for the foundation. The grant created the Yemeni Manuscript Digitization Initiative (YMDI), which Hollenberg directs from his current post at the UO, where he has taught since 2010.

The grant money enabled the foundation to buy an archive-quality digital camera, lighting equipment, hard drives, and a generator, and receive professional training in archiving and cataloging. Nevertheless, many circumstances in Yemen make their work difficult, if not flat-out dangerous. For one thing, electricity is unreliable, which severely limits the amount of time they can devote to scanning. (“I was very lucky today, we had power for two hours,” Ishaq wrote by e-mail from Sana’a when contacted for this story.) They have the generator for when the power goes out, but that requires fuel, another scarce resource. Last year, when the wave of popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, known as the Arab Spring, swept through Yemen and ultimately toppled a president who had held power for three decades, their work came to a halt because their foundation was located in the heart of the civil unrest.

Whenever they do manage to fill a hard drive with digitized manuscripts, there’s still the logistical challenge of getting it to Princeton, whose library houses the YMDI collection. Direct commercial shipping is out of the question, following a November 2010 incident when Yemen-based terrorists attempted to ship parcel bombs to the United States via the courier company DHL, causing DHL and other freight companies to discontinue service. So the first hard drive had to be routed through Saudi Arabia. They’ve found other resourceful methods, too. Clifford Wulfman, Princeton’s coordinator of library digital initiatives, says the Yemen-based members of the team once gave a hard drive to a man in Yemen who happened to be on his way to New Jersey, and Wulfman drove to the volunteer courier’s home to pick it up. “Since then,” Wulfman says, “we’ve managed to make contacts with the diplomatic corps” through a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen who works at Princeton. The contact has enabled Ishaq to send material out via diplomatic pouch. (Diplomatic relations between the United States and Yemen have been strained since the DHL incident. Nevertheless, says Hollenberg, “the U.S. Embassy in Yemen has been very helpful to us.”)

When Wulfman receives the hard drives, he adds the images to Princeton’s already-extensive digital library of Islamic manuscripts, and catalogs their descriptive information (what digital archivists call metadata) so that search engines can find them. Here at the UO, Hollenberg teams up with the Wired Humanities program to convert them from static, read-only images into interactive documents that allow readers to click on sections of text, open pop-up windows, and log descriptive information such as the scribe’s name, when and where the manuscript was written, and who its various owners have been over time.

These technical operations may lack the intrigue and adventure animating the work of the people at the Imam Zaid bin Ali Cultural Foundation, who brave revolution and dodge the authorities to usher their culture into the digital age. But the YMDI is slowly building into a dynamic teaching resource that Hollenberg is thrilled to make available for students and scholars of medieval Islam. “This is like going back to grad school for me, because I’m reading everything again,” he says. This past winter term, students in his Arabic literature course began transcribing pages (in Arabic) to create word-searchable versions of the texts. During one class session, they had the unique opportunity to converse with a scholar in Yemen familiar with the manuscripts and their relevance in contemporary Zaydi society via a digital link provided by the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a.

Hollenberg’s fascination with these manuscripts lies in the Zaydi tradition of incorporating the commentaries of intervening generations of readers when interpreting the meaning and significance of texts. When he brings up some of the images on his desktop computer, this commentary tradition literally shows up in the form of notes handwritten on blank pages and crammed into margins at odd angles and patterns in every conceivable color of ink. They were written by the people who owned the manuscripts over the years—often centuries—since they were bound and published, and they offer interpretation and other commentary on text passages. Contemporary Zaydi adherents reading the manuscripts today, says Hollenberg, treat the commentaries as important insights that they have to know to understand the text. (Contrast this, he says, with a strict fundamentalism—in any religion—that insists on relying solely on the original text for meaning.)

Suppression of Zaydi texts in Yemen since the 1960s caused a decline in this commentary tradition, says Hollenberg. However, he adds, “a lot of young [Zaydi] scholars are picking up the mantle again,” and he believes YMDI has the potential to help this revival along. The means for doing this may cause academic purists to cringe, but Hollenberg is enthusiastic about the phenomenon of crowd-sourcing (à la Wikipedia and other public-input sites). He envisions the YMDI manuscript collection being accessed worldwide by readers of Arabic, who would be given free rein to provide online transcriptions. “Young Yemenis might be very interested in this,” he believes, especially those who are taking part in the Zaydi revival, and he plans to pass the word along if he ever gets another chance to visit Yemen. That could happen as soon as this summer if the situation there calms down, but friends have warned him that the current postrevolutionary atmosphere is too volatile to be considered safe.

That sounds like a much different David Hollenberg than the doctoral student who originally went to Yemen for some quiet research in a mosque library, and he admits to being inspired by the sense of mission driving his Yemeni colleagues. “This is an important moment in these peoples’ history, and I feel privileged to help with their aims,” he says. The manuscripts embody “a profound intellectual heritage,” he adds, and insists that “it would be a tremendous loss for everyone if these texts were to be lost.”

­—Dana Magliari, MA ’98

WEB EXTRA: See a video of David Hollenberg discussing the Arab text preservation project at

Higher Education
Stunned UO Says Goodbye to Lariviere, Welcomes Berdahl Back


Photo: ChinaVine website.
Former UO President Richard Lariviere at an emergency meeting of the statutory faculty on November 30 at Mac Court

The UO community was shocked in late November when the State Board of Higher Education voted unanimously to terminate the contract of UO President Richard Lariviere at the end of December, thirty months after he became the University’s sixteenth president. The action came a week after board chairman Matt Donegan told Lariviere that his contract would not be renewed, causing many UO faculty members, alumni, and students to rally against that decision and in support of Lariviere.

Robert Berdahl, a former professor and dean at the University of Oregon; an administrative leader at the University of California, University of Illinois, and University of Texas; and a national leader in higher education has been named interim president by the state board.

Lariviere had clashed with Oregon University System chancellor George Pernsteiner and the board on issues that won him great support among University faculty and staff members and alumni. He was the leading advocate for the combination of proposals known as the New Partnership that would have created a local governing board for the UO and established a new and potentially more stable system of funding the University (see He allowed the UO’s union employees to make up wages lost to state-mandated furloughs by working overtime. And he approved pay raises for faculty members and administrators without board approval.

“This turn of events is a result of the ongoing difference of opinion over the future of the UO,” Lariviere said in a message to the campus community.

The University Senate Executive Committee called an emergency session on November 23 and initiated a petition to support Lariviere that garnered more than 6,000 signatures in less than a week. A letter to the state board from the senate said, “The spontaneous and widespread outcry of support for President Lariviere . . . demonstrates that he inspires deep and passionate commitment among those who carry out and support [the] UO’s teaching and research mission. . . . The state board’s plan to remove President Lariviere without first consulting the [U]niversity community demonstrates a profound lack of understanding about [the] UO’s educational mission.”

“I am humbled by your support, but your cause should not be my employment status,” Lariviere said in a November 27 e-mail to students and faculty and staff members. “Your cause must be how institutions like the University of Oregon can be strong in a state with weak public resources.”

Last spring, the UO gave pay raises to 80 percent of tenure-track faculty members, 20 percent of nontenure-track faculty members, and 33 percent of administrators to address issues of equity and retention. That may have been the final straw for board members, who in June 2011—before the raises were announced—had already demonstrated frustration with Lariviere by adding conditions to his contract limiting his advocacy and requiring more participation with the state board.

Governor John Kitzhaber, who supported the board’s action, said of the pay raises, “[Lariviere’s] decision not only undermined the board, it undermined my own directive and the credibility of my administration with the other campuses that complied with the agreement” not to raise salaries. At the board hearing when Lariviere’s contract was formally terminated, board chairman Donegan spoke of a “deeply dysfunctional dynamic” between Lariviere and the board. “This has been brewing for so long,” Donegan said. “It’s horrific, like you are seeing a train wreck.”

Lariviere received three extended standing ovations during a brief appearance at an emergency meeting of the statutory faculty on November 30 at Mac Court attended by more than 1,000 members of the University community—as well as Chancellor Persteiner and state board member Lynda Ciuffetti, who fielded angry questions and comments from audience members. That assembly passed motions condemning the firing of Lariviere and calling for UO involvement in the search for a new president, for an independent governing board for the University, and for the UO Senate or its executive committee to recommend someone to serve as interim president.

Lariviere, who is a tenured faculty member at the UO, plans to return to teaching next fall.


Berdahl Steps In

Within days of the board’s decision to terminate Lariviere’s contract, Robert Berdahl emerged as the only candidate supported by the University Senate to serve as interim president. He was appointed by a unanimous vote of the state board on December 9, despite the fact that he had written a strongly worded criticism of Lariviere’s dismissal in The Register-Guard nine days earlier. “The chancellor and board have recklessly ignored the wishes of donors, alumni, faculty, and students,” he wrote. “They have signaled the academic community throughout the nation that innovative, courageous leadership will neither be sought nor tolerated.”

In a message to campus after his appointment, Berdahl vowed, “I am . . . moved to carry forward the important agenda President Lariviere has outlined for the campus.”

Berdahl was a history professor at the UO from 1967 to 1986 and served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1981 to 1986. He then spent seven years as vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, four years as president of the University of Texas at Austin, and seven years as chancellor at the University of California at Berkeley. He became president of the Association of American Universities in May 2006 and served until his retirement in June 2011. Last fall, Lariviere, who had worked with Berdahl at the University of Texas, persuaded him to come out of retirement to take a part-time advisory position at the UO.

In a state of the university address in January, Berdahl, who has agreed to serve only until September 2012, outlined the three priorities of his presidency: First, to assist in the process of hiring “top-notch” faculty members, building on momentum begun under Lariviere to “seize the moment to hire the very best.” Second, doing all he can to ensure the hiring of a “strong, visionary leader” to be the next president. And third, to advance the project of gaining an independent governing board for the UO, which he said was essential to maintain morale, to attract the best faculty members, to make the most effective use of UO resources, and to recruit a strong new president.

A twenty-one person search committee for the new president was formed in early February. Headed by Allyn Ford, a member of the State Board of Higher Education and president of Roseburg Forest Products, it included three UO students and ten faculty or staff members.

As Oregon Quarterly went to press, Governor Kitzhaber and a committee of the state legislature were supporting a plan that could lead to consideration of local governing boards in the 2013 session.

—Guy Maynard ’84

Web Extra: Read UO Interim President Robert Berdahl’s complete state of the university address at

THE BEST . . .
. . . Place to Nap


Photo: Brit McGinnis napping in the Taylor Lounge, with a young man on the couch behind her playing guitar.

A world away from the noisy, bustling food court of the Erb Memorial Union, the Taylor Lounge sits neatly tucked between a staircase to the EMU Ballroom and glass doors leading to the Mills International Center. The size of a classroom (with soft carpet underfoot), the lounge features tall windows that allow friendly sunlight to flow inside. Here, a student can slip away from the stressful world of academia and take a peaceful rest, without leaving the campus completely. When it’s cold and rainy outside, the room can be a refuge for an entire flock of wet, weary students.

Long ago, this space was known as the Leather Lounge, due to its collection of prim and proper leather chairs. But it was renamed to honor the memory of Thomas H. Taylor ’41, who died while commanding a bombing raid in France in early 1943. His portrait now hangs in the lounge, kitty-corner to a patchwork quilt created collectively by members of University’s clubs. The lounge has grown cozier as the years have gone by, and it is now filled with plush couches and chairs, some so worn that the fuzz is now flat. Add in artificial plants, and the Taylor Lounge looks like a student’s funky basement apartment—the perfect place to crash on a couch.

What’s amazing is how strongly the unspoken no-talking rule is enforced. If a cell phone goes off or people start chatting loudly, many dirty looks are thrown. There is no sign on the wall. There is no book of regulations for the Taylor Lounge, but if a group is loud while others are trying to work or sleep, a wave of narrowed eyes will fly their way.

The Taylor Lounge is a safe place, where students scrunch up their faces in concentration and even the most self-conscious “cool kid” feels free to sleep sprawled out, vulnerable to the world. When the weather turns cold, someone will occasionally light a fire in the fireplace, sealing the room against the rainy world outside.

—Brit McGinnis

“The Best . . .” is a series of student-written essays describing superlative aspects of campus. Brit McGinnis (napping above in the Taylor Lounge) is a senior psychology major.

Image: Around the block, the UO in Portland

Miller’s Courts

Arthur R. Miller has had the sort of career that would take most people three lifetimes to achieve. A noted legal scholar and accomplished law professor, he is perhaps most widely known outside legal circles for his role as a celebrity television jurist. On April 13, the Oregon Law Review and the University’s law school will welcome Miller to the White Stag Block for a daylong symposium dedicated to Miller’s impact on the law and questions of access to civil courts. Law Review editor in chief Nadia Dahab writes, “[Miller’s] work, at bottom, is about empowering individuals in the civil justice system. The general theme of our symposium, therefore, is access to justice, and we will address that theme in the context of emergent rights particularly relevant to the Oregon civil law landscape. In Oregon, and at Oregon law, access to justice in our civil courts is especially resonant with the public interest and environmental causes that many of our lawyers undertake.”

Miller spent thirty-six years as the Bruce Bromley Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where his fierce, dramatic teaching style and notoriously demanding course work made him the stuff of law school legend—an experience numerous Oregon law professors can attest to personally. He has written more than forty books, including the landmark Federal Practice and Procedure (with coauthor Charles Alan Wright). With his sharp wit, encyclopedic knowledge of civil procedure, and trademark red pocket squares, Miller spent two decades as on-air legal editor for Good Morning, America and has won numerous awards for his work as a moderator of seminars exploring public policy and legal issues on PBS and the BBC. He currently teaches at New York University and also serves as Special Counsel to Milberg LLP, a pioneer in the field of class-action lawsuits.

“Miller’s Courts: Media, Rules, Policy, and the Future of Access to Justice” will feature a broad roster of distinguished speakers and panelists from academic, legal, judicial, and media backgrounds. Students, alumni, and interested members of the public are encouraged to attend. For more information, and to register, visit

—Mindy Moreland, MS ’08

Photo: Ameena Matthews, right, violence interrupter, from the documentary The Interrupters
Vivero en Lusso by Vanessa Calvert — Transverse, 2010, Worksound

Portland2012: A Biennial of Contemporary Art | March 31 – May 19, 2012

The White Box visual laboratory at the UO’s White Stag Block in Portland will be one of several exhibition spaces around the city showcasing contemporary art by local and regional artists (among them UO faculty members).

For details about Portland2012 visit

Yvonne Braun
Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies

Photo: Yvonne Braun, Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies

Li-soo-too. That’s how to say the name of the country where Yvonne Braun has based her research for the past fifteen years. Even though the southern African nation (spelled Lesotho) is more than 10,000 miles from the University of Oregon, Braun has no problem making a place smaller than Maryland interesting to her students.

“At the start of the term, they very often don’t know where Lesotho is or how to pronounce it,” she says. “They’re usually pretty intrigued by my work there because it’s got so many dimensions. It lends itself well to teaching.”

Specifically, Braun focuses on the local influence of the multibillion-dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project, the biggest World Bank–funded dam in Africa. “People are being resettled and losing land and livelihoods,” she says of the project. “It’s radically reorganizing resources in the region.” These examples of literally life-and-death importance inspire energized and engaged conversation in the classroom when Braun presents her work from the frontlines of modern sociology.

“I find my students have a real desire to think in applied ways,” she says. “That can be really fun in terms of seeing them think about how to take abstract ideas and to design projects that allow them to see those issues in the world.”

A proponent of group work, Braun cites an example from 2009 as her most successful use of taking learning outside class. She and her Sociology of Africa students created an exhibit for African Cultural Night, an annual celebration hosted by the UO’s African Student Association that typically attracts 500 to 600 people.

“The students actually exhibited the group projects that they did for class,” Braun says. “They were at their stations and got to talk to all of these different people. They became part of the night.”

The response, she recalls, was amazing. Instead of simply focusing on the images of disease, poverty, and famine commonly associated with Africa, Braun had her students explore the continent’s positive changes such as education growth and economic development. The result: audience members walked away excited by how students “complicated the way in which Africa is represented.”

A memento from the evening, a promotional poster, still hangs in Braun’s office. After pointing it out on the wall, she explains why projects like African Cultural Night are important to her.

“Part of what I love about teaching is getting students excited thinking about the world,” Braun says. “Wherever they decide to focus their passions, I just want them to realize that they can be active in creating the kind of world that they want to have, whatever that looks like for them.”

Name: Yvonne Braun

Education: BA ’94, State University of New York at Geneseo; MA ’00, University of California at Irvine; PhD ’05, University of California at Irvine.

Teaching Experience: Joined the UO faculty in 2005.

Awards: Recipient of the 2010–11 Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Off-campus: The mother of a three-year-old, Braun volunteers at her daughter’s school and local nonprofits like Food for Lane County.

Last Word: “My goal is to get students thinking about being active in the world rather than simply seeing the world as something that they’re just in.”

—Elisabeth Kramer

In Brief

Photo: Vice President for Student Affairs Robin Holmes (center) talks with potential future Duck Jerel Rogers of Murrieta, California.

Of Roses and Recruiting About 500 prospective students from across Southern California attended an information session hosted by the UO Office of Enrollment Management before the UO Alumni Association’s Rose Bowl pep rally at the Santa Monica Pier on New Year’s Day. Here, Vice President for Student Affairs Robin Holmes (center) talks with potential future Duck Jerel Rogers of Murrieta, California.

Student Scholars Shine

In a first-ever honor for a student from the UO, Katie Dwyer ’10 has won a prestigious Mitchell Scholarship for academic excellence, leadership, and community involvement. Dwyer, a second-year master’s student in the UO School of Law’s conflict and dispute resolution program, will study international human rights law as a Mitchell Scholar in Ireland.

Seven Oregon student athletes have recently earned national Academic All-American standing, making a total of fifty-nine Ducks ever to achieve the honor.

Ducks and Bucks

The UO Institute of Neuroscience has received a $16 million grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute for five years of continued funding of ZFIN, the zebra fish model organism database, a vital resource for biomedical researchers worldwide.

Phyllis ’56 and Andy Berwick ’55 have committed $10 million in support of a planned renovation and expansion of the Erb Memorial Union and Student Recreation Center.

By earning $7.5 million in license income on $115.6 million in research expenditures, the UO was ranked sixteenth nationally among colleges and universities in “innovation yield” (the rate at which research is turned into revenue) by the Association of University Technology Managers.

The Historic Preservation Program in the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts has received a $2.8 million gift from Art DeMuro, a Portland-based developer and salvager of neglected buildings. The gift will substantially advance preservation studies at the UO.

UO a ‘Best Value’

The UO is one of the 100 best values among more than 500 public colleges and universities because of “its high four-year graduation rate, low average student debt at graduation, abundant financial aid, a low sticker price, and overall great value,” according to the annual ranking by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

Honored by Peers

Two UO professors, Michael Haley (chemistry) and Craig Young (marine biology), are among 539 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science named this year. Chemistry associate professor Marina Guenza is among 238 scientists selected as 2011 fellows by the American Physical Society. The National Academy of Science has awarded UO professor emeritus of psychology Michael Posner the 2012 John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science for his contributions in the area of children’s brain function and for his pioneering research on brain imaging.

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John Bauguess.
VIDEO | Learn more about the Arab text preservation project in this interview with assistant professor David Hollenberg.

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