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UC Davis experts: Inauguration and first 100 days

January 9, 2009

The following UC Davis experts are available to comment on the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, from inaugural music and fashion selections to the impact on the gay community of Rick Warren's invocation, as well as on the challenges that the new president will face during his first months in office -- from welcoming a new dog into the household to delivering an effective economic stimulus program.

INAUGURAL ADDRESS AND THE FIRST 100 DAYS -- Political science professor Larry Berman, a nationally recognized expert on the American presidency, can compare Obama's inaugural address to others in history. He can also comment on executive-congressional relations, the power position of a president who begins his administration with the same party controlling all branches, and likely key legislative initiatives of the new administration. Berman is the author or co-author of 12 books and numerous articles on the presidency and foreign policy. He has been featured on the History Channel’s “The Presidents: To the Best of My Ability,” C-SPAN's "Book TV," and Bill Moyers' PBS series "The Public Mind." He directs the UC Davis Washington Program and is teaching an undergraduate seminar on the first 100 days of the Obama administration. Contact: Larry Berman, Political Science, (530) 752-3076, (202) 974-6352 lsberman@ucdavis.edu.

PARALLELS TO PREVIOUS INAUGURATIONS -- Eric Rauchway, professor of history and director of the UC Davis Center for History, Society and Culture, can compare the Obama inauguration to those of other presidents whose elections promised significant generational, social or policy shifts. Rauchway's books on American politics, globalization, the Great Depression and the New Deal include "Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt's America," "The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction" and "Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America." He writes a biweekly online column for The New Republic and has contributed to Slate and The American Prospect. Contact: Eric Rauchway, History, (530) 752-6380, earauchway@ucdavis.edu.

INAUGURAL MUSIC -- Music professor and composer Pablo Ortiz can comment on the selection of musical performers for Obama's inauguration (from the United States Marine Band to vocalist Aretha Franklin and violinist Itzhak Perlman), the role of music in important public ceremonies, and the enduring appeal of patriotic songs, among other topics. The Argentinean-born Ortiz recently completed a new arrangement of the classic American song, "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean," and composed music for the early American silent film "Ramona;" both will be part of a Jan. 25 concert, "Americana--Themes in Music and Film," by the UC Davis Empyrean Ensemble, which specializes in avant-garde music. Ortiz's many awards include a 2008 Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Contact: Pablo Ortiz, Music, (530) 304-0094 (cell), pvortiz@ucdavis.edu.

INAUGURAL FASHION -- Susan Taber Avila, professor of design, can comment on the gown that Michelle Obama wears on Inauguration Day, as well as on the Inauguration Day fashion choices of other members of the new first family. Avila teaches courses in the history of fashion and conducts research on identity in dress. She lectures widely on such topics as shoes, experimental fashion, and cultural identity through fabric and thread. She curated a provocative sustainable fashion exhibit last year at the UC Davis Design Museum. Contact: Susan Avila, Design, (510) 303-3137 (cell), stavila@ucdavis.edu.

RICK WARREN, GAY COMMUNITY -- Psychology professor Gregory Herek, an internationally recognized authority on prejudice against lesbians and gay men, anti-gay violence and AIDS-related stigma, can talk about issues related to the incoming administration and the gay community, including the choice of Rick Warren as invocation speaker at the inauguration. Herek can also discuss opportunities for the new president to impact such issues as gay marriage, gays in the military and HIV/AIDS policy. Herek has assisted the American Psychological Association in preparing amicus briefs in numerous court cases, including cases that challenged the constitutionality of state sodomy laws, military policies excluding lesbians and gay men, state anti-gay ballot measures, anti-gay discrimination by the Boy Scouts of America, and laws restricting legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Contact: Gregory Herek, (530) 752-8085, gmherek@ucdavis.edu.

FIRST FAMILY AS CULTURAL ICONS -- Michelle Obama is the black woman most black girls were raised to be: well-educated, well-dressed, well-coifed, professionally successful and devoted -- to an almost pre-feminist degree -- to her children and husband, according to Patricia Turner, professor of American studies and African American and African studies. Turner can also comment on the proliferation of quilts being made to celebrate the first family, as evidenced by an exhibit of Obama quilts on display throughout January at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and the display of an Obama quilt as part of a January exhibit in Paris, France. Turner's books include "Crafted Lives: Stories and Studies of African American Quilters," and "Whispers on the Color Line: Rumor and Race in America." For her next book, she is gathering stories from Americans about where they were when they first learned that Obama had been elected the nation's first black president. Contact: Patricia Turner, American Studies, African American and African Studies, (530) 752-6068, paturner@ucdavis.edu.

CHOOSING THE FIRST POOCH – President-elect Obama soon must fulfill a campaign pledge to two of his most ardent supporters – the promise to daughters Malia and Sasha of a family dog for their new home in the White House. Yet even this pleasant task will be fraught with political risk. As Vice President-elect Joe Biden recently learned, the nation will be watching whether the new First Pooch is a purebred or mutt, comes from a breeder or an animal shelter, and is a lap pup or a guard dog. If it is a puppy, the Obamas may also need tips on socializing and training it. Melissa Bain and Rachel Malamed, both veterinary behaviorists at UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, can offer advice for the Obamas and other future dog owners on selecting the breed or type of dog best-suited to their family and living situation, training the new dog, introducing it to any other household pets, and preventing and dealing with behavior issues. Contact: Melissa Bain, Veterinary Medicine, (530) 752-6226 or 752-1393, mjbain@ucdavis.edu and Rachel Malamed, Veterinary Medicine, (530) 752-1393, rmalamed@ucdavis.edu or Pat Bailey, News Service, (530) 752-9843, pjbailey@ucdavis.edu.

POST 9/11 JUSTICE -- Obama's promise to close Guantanamo is not enough, argues law professor Diane Marie Amann; he also must end abusive U.S. policies of detention, interrogation and rendition elsewhere at home and abroad. Amann helped to draft two documents, signed by dozens of legal experts from around the country, that have been presented to the presidential transition team: the “Scholars’ Statement of Principles for the New President on U.S. Detention Policy: An Agenda for Change” and “Human Rights at Home: A Domestic Policy Blueprint for the New Administration.” The documents set forth a plan for ending post-9/11 abuses and for protecting human rights at home in situations like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Amann co-authored two amicus briefs pertaining to post-9/11 military commissions and in December observed commission hearings at Guantánamo on behalf of the National Institute of Military Justice. Amann also served on the Obama campaign's international law/human rights policy advisory committee. (She is also a former law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens, who will administer the oath of office to Vice President-elect Joe Biden on Inauguration Day.) Contact: Diane Marie Amann, School of Law, (415) 867-3874 (cell), dmamann@ucdavis.edu.

CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP IN SCHOOLS -- Closing the achievement gap between children of different ethnicities and incomes should top the new president’s education reform agenda, says Harold Levine, dean of the UC Davis School of Education. The goal calls for more federal money for basic research on child learning, improved teacher preparation and professional development to create a professional class of teachers, and more flexible No Child Left Behind assessment requirements, according to Levine. Levine serves on the California superintendent of public instruction's P-16 Council, charged with developing strategies to close the achievement gap and improve education for preschool through college students statewide. He also serves as associate provost for education initiatives for the University of California, responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating collaborations among the 10 UC campuses and public preschool through 12th-grade schools. Contact: Harold Levine, School of Education, (530) 752-4663, hlevine@ucdavis.edu.

ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE -- U.S. technological leadership in many industries is under threat and the new president must seize the opportunity of the current financial crisis to create millions of new, useful, well-paying and sustainable jobs to build the economy of the future, argues sociologist Fred Block, senior author of a white paper, "Building on Success: Reforming the U.S. Innovation System." Block presented the paper at a December conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the Breakthrough Institute, the UC Washington Center, and the Ford Foundation. The report calls on the new administration to direct at least $3 to $5 billion dollars in the stimulus package toward nondefense research and development, and urges creation of a cabinet-level "Department of Innovation." Block specializes in economic and political sociology. Contact: Fred Block, Sociology, (530) 752-5893 or flblock@ucdavis.edu.

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For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 31,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $500 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science -- and advanced degrees from five professional schools: Education, Law, Management, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine. The UC Davis School of Medicine and UC Davis Medical Center are located on the Sacramento campus near downtown. 

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