Brickpile Briefs

Brian Jersky, dean of the School of Science since 2006, is leaving the College to become a faculty member in the statistics department at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, beginning in January. Physics professor Roy Wensley will be interim dean beginning Jan. 1, 2010, until a new dean is appointed.

Provost Beth Dobkin praised Jersky for his work to advance teaching and research excellence and for contributing to the Lasallian mission of the College.

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Roy Allen, dean of the School of Economics and Business Administration, will return to the faculty on Aug. 1, 2010. Professor Larissa V. Genin was appointed interim dean effective Oct. 15.

Provost Beth Dobkin noted that under Allen's leadership, the school established the first faculty-student research center in the College's history, secured an endowment for the Elfenworks Center for the Study of Fiduciary Capitalism, strengthened international initiatives in undergraduate and graduate programs and advanced the College's relationship with international Lasallian business schools.

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Saint Mary's College took an active role in successfully urging the state Legislature and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to save the Cal Grant program for its incoming students. The program was threatened in the long dispute over the state budget, but ultimately it remained intact.

Brother President Ronald Gallagher wrote an open letter to the governor noting the program's importance to Saint Mary's students, and other faculty, staff and administrators sent letters or called their legislators to urge its preservation. Brother Ronald also wrote an op-ed piece for the Contra Costa Times on the program, and Vice President for Enrollment Michael Beseda appeared on "Comcast Newsmakers" to advocate for the Cal Grants.

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Saint Mary's hosted two candidates forums — one for the primary and one for the general election — in the special election to replace 10th District U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, who was appointed under secretary of state for arms control. The heavily attended forums, held in the Soda Center in August and October, were also sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley and the Contra Costa Times. The election is Nov. 3.

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Food waste from Oliver Hall is being diverted from the landfill, ground into a paste-like material and then fed to a biodigester at East Bay Municipal Utility District that converts it into energy. The College is not only being more environmentally friendly, but it is also saving money that it would have spent on hauling and landfill fees. Saint Mary's is the only Bay Area college in the pilot project.

"Most of our food waste now is being turned into electricity," says Shawny Anderson, associate dean of liberal arts. "We are completely thrilled to get this going."

The program started in the summer with kitchen waste, including peels, cores and other discarded scraps. After Oliver Hall reopened in September following a $16 million renovation, post-service waste was added as well.

Anderson said more specific information on the amount of waste diverted and the money the College is saving will be available in the coming months. Prior to the program being started, Oliver Hall generated about 11 tons in food waste a week.

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SMC's Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism is working with other campus organizations, including the Mission and Ministry Center, on interfaith projects throughout the 2009–10 academic year.

In September, it sponsored a talk on "Acts of Faith: Building an Interfaith Youth Movement" by Eboo Patel, a White House advisor on faith-based partnerships and the founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based institution dedicated to building a global interfaith youth movement.

Other events include workshops on interfaith leadership in the Lasallian tradition and an interfaith day of service during De La Salle Week next April.

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