June 6, 2001 Class Notes

1917-1930
1931-1940
1941-1950
1951-1960

1961-1970
1971-1980
1981-1990
1991-2000 & Graduate School

Class Notes Features:

Shattering the glass ceiling
Karen Rothenberg ’73 *74 heads the University of Maryland law school

Big, bad PR
Sheldon Rampton ’82 uncovers the underbelly of the industry

A moral victory
William Russell ’87 fights for NYC public school kids


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Shattering the glass ceiling
Karen Rothenberg ’73 *74 heads the University of Maryland law school

Rothenberg launched the now top-ranked Law and Healthcare Program at Maryland.

Though not yet a teenager when The Feminine Mystique ignited the women’s movement, Karen H. Rothenberg ’73 *74 took Betty Friedan’s message to heart. “Back then,” says the dean of the University of Maryland School of Law, “women were struggling with the question: Is it OK to be smart?”

Rothenberg has spent her life shattering preconceived notions about women while following her passion — health care. A member of Princeton’s second class of women, the Long Island native earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in male-dominated public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School by age 21. Today Rothenberg, who was named dean a year ago, is the first woman to head Maryland’s law school in its 184-year history.

Spurred by mentor Uwe E. Reinhardt, a professor of political economy, Rothenberg had planned a career in government, shaping public health-care policy. Instead, she earned a J.D. at the University of Virginia School of Law, practiced law, and, in 1983, found her niche in academia. She had been a law professor at the University of Maryland just four years when she launched the now top-ranked Law and Healthcare Program.

While planning that program, the Marjorie Cook Professor of Law says, “I had a full teaching load, two-year-old Andrea at home, and plans to have another child, but that was my dream.” Realizing professional goals has never stopped Rothenberg from fulfilling personal ones. She and her husband, child psychologist Jeffrey Seltzer, who welcomed a second daughter, Rebecca, in 1984, have always made time for family. “We’ve taught our daughters that they have to have a passion in something, but they also need balance in their lives,” said Rothenberg.

A tireless scholar, the dean has shared her work on genetics testing, AIDS, and women’s health issues in lectures, publications, congressional testimonies, and media appearances. She also continues to teach, even as she tackles curriculum reform and the building of a new campus law facility.

“Having a lot of balls in the air creates excitement and shows you different perspectives,” says the Bethesda, Maryland, resident. “It lets you see how everything connects.”

By Regina Diverio

Freelance writer Regina Diverio is the former editor of Drew Magazine.

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Big, bad PR
Sheldon Rampton ’82 uncovers the underbelly of the industry

Rampton’s latest book attacks scientists whose work is bought and paid for by corporations with a stake in the studies.

In the early 1990s, Sheldon Rampton ’82 listened as John Stauber — a fellow Wisconsin activist — proposed a publication to track the seamy underbelly of the public relations industry. Stauber got the idea after encountering a 300-pound, former military man with a crew cut who was paid by a PR firm to infiltrate liberal groups and tape their discussions. Rampton was impressed, but he wondered whether they could find enough articles to sustain a publication. “In retrospect,” Rampton says, “I feel naive, because we’ve never run out of material. Actually, we’re kind of swimming in it.”

Rampton and Stauber now publish PR Watch (www.prwatch. org) and they write books. The first, Toxic Sludge is Good For You!, detailed, among other things, how the sewage-handling industry tried to replace the term “sludge” with a less fear-inducing coinage, “biosolids.” Their newest book, Trust Us, We’re Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future, attacks scientists, often known as “independent experts,” whose work is bought and paid for by corporations with a stake in the studies and promoted by PR firms.

Though the duo’s tone leavens combative outrage with humor, Rampton makes clear that PR can sometimes be good, even necessary. “It would be oversimplifying to say that all PR people are doing bad stuff,” he says.

A Las Vegas native, Rampton majored in English at Princeton, graduating three years late due to a Mormon missionary stint in Japan. (He is no longer a practicing church member.) On campus, Rampton gravitated toward progressive causes, especially the conflicts in Central America.

With PR Watch, Rampton considers himself “a blend of journalist and activist,” though he stays away from electoral politics. “Everyone I support tends to lose,” he says. The books have done better. Toxic Sludge is Good For You! was a critical success and is still selling “pretty well.” Now, he says, some college PR courses make his books mandatory reading.

By Louis Jacobson ’92

Louis Jacobson covers lobbying, law, and public relations for National Journal in Washington.

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A moral victory
William Russell ’87 fights for NYC public school kids

Russell worked on the case that found New York’s funding formula for public schools unconstitutional.

The decision made headlines around the country — in January, a New York State Supreme Court Justice ordered the state to change how it gives out money to its public school districts because the current funding formula, which is based largely on the value of real estate, deprives millions of New York City schoolchildren of a “sound, basic education” and is unconstitutional.

William T. Russell, Jr. ’87, was one of eight lawyers from the Manhattan firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who worked pro bono on the landmark case for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the nonprofit group that sued the state in 1993. A politics major at Princeton who later attended New York University Law School, Russell was asked to pitch in just six months before the case went to trial in October 1999. “It was an easy decision,” says Russell, although his wife, Holly, was pregnant at the time, and gave birth to the couple’s first child, Liam, as he worked nights and weekends on the case. In fact, he missed much of his son’s first year.

As the firm gathered evidence that the city schools — the nation’s largest school system with 1.1 million students — lacked enough state money to properly educate its students, Russell studied the condition of school buildings, finding that many were overcrowded and had crumbling walls and shoddy science labs. In the 182-page decision by Justice Leland DeGrasse, the judge included “adequate and accessible” school buildings as one of many resources needed so that children can learn.

“It was a great feeling,” Russell says of the legal victory, which is being appealed by the state. “My wife cried when I told her because she knew how much the case meant to us, the personal sacrifices that everyone made.

“The decision, if upheld on appeal, will go a long way toward insuring that future children will have the opportunity for a sound, basic education, which is their constitutional right,” says Russell.

The fight for a more equitable funding formula is far from over, but thanks in part to Russell, New York City public school students may be one step closer to a better education.

By Theola S. Labbé ’96

Theola S. Labbé is a reporter in Albany, New York, for the Times Union.

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