Sept. 21-27, 2001
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University community comes together
U.Va. offers expertise in light of terrorist attack
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Students share in nation's sorrow

Professors find a teachable moment in terrorism
Ethics & society talks
Institute makes a practice of ethics

U.Va. offers expertise in light of terrorist attack

By Fariss Samarrai

Almost immediately after the terrorist strikes on New York and Washington, D.C., the news media began calling the U.Va. News Office, seeking experts to help explain what had happened. The News Office made several calls around Grounds and quickly developed a list of expert sources from several disciplines to provide perspective on the breaking news. Within hours, U.Va. faculty members were on television and radio, and being quoted for the next day’s newspapers.

Other U.Va. experts who have responded to media calls

Timothy Naftali is an expert on intelligence and espionage who has taught international relations courses, including one on the Cold War in the Third World. An associate professor at the University, he directs the Presidential Recordings Project and the Kremlin Decision-making Project at the Miller Center of Public Affairs.

Philip D. Zelikow, director of the University’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, is an expert on U.S. foreign policy who has written about catastrophic terrorism.

Ambassador W. Nathaniel Howell is an expert on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Director of the Institute for Global Policy Research at the University, he was a career diplomat who served as ambassador of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait from 1987-91 while it was under siege during the buildup to the Persian Gulf War.

John Norton Moore, the Walter L. Brown Professor of Law, is director of the Center for Oceans Law & Policy and of the Center for National Security Law. On the faculty since 1966, he is an authority in the fields of international law, national security law, and the law of the sea. From 1991-93, during the Gulf War and its aftermath, Moore was the principal legal adviser to the Ambassador of Kuwait to the U.S. and to the Kuwait delegation to the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Commission. From 1985 to 1991, he was chair of the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace, one of six presidential appointments he has held.

• Clinical psychologist Peter Sheras, a Curry School professor of education, has developed an adolescent stress index that takes into account many things, such as crushes, dating and peer relationships, as well as the impact of violence. As one of the lead faculty members in the Virginia Youth Gang and Virginia Youth Violence projects, he counsels schools nationwide on factors that can trigger violence among youth.

Dewey Cornell, a Curry School professor of education, is the author of Designing Safer Schools for Virginia: A Guide to Keeping Students Safe From Violence, which describes several programs, such as reducing bullying that promote school safety. He also offers counseling to schools coping with emotional issues.

Haydn Wadly, associate dean for research at the University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, works with the U.S. Department of Defense on new defensive technologies.

Edward T. Burton, a visiting professor in economics, is a private investment banking consultant and former chairman of the Virginia Retirement System for state employees. He has commented on the impact on financial markets, investments.

Robert I. Webb, a professor at the McIntire School of Commerce and expert in futures markets is a former financial futures and options trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He has served as senior financial economist at the Executive Office of the President and the Office of Management and Budget.

“We have a mandate as faculty members to serve the public and contribute to the public dialogue on contemporary issues,” said Yacov Y. Haimes, director of the Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems at U.Va.

Haimes has spent his career studying and providing reports for the federal government on the interconnectedness and interdependency of infrastructures, from computers to water systems. His interest in public policy has its roots during his sabbatical year in 1977-78, when he was a Congressional Science Fellow, serving on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and on the House Science and Technology Committee.

The day of the terrorist attacks he was interviewed by the Knight-Ridder News Service, USA Today and he visited the Channel 29 studio for a live report.

“I want to help the news media, and therefore the public, to better understand some of the complex problems that we are facing in the modern world,” he said. “For years our center has been producing important reports on the threats of terrorism and our vulnerabilities. The recent events unfortunately have brought these issues to the forefront of the national agenda.”

Ruhi K. Ramazani, retired U.Va. professor emeritus of government and foreign affairs, is a renowned expert on Middle East politics. He has been providing insight to the news media for many years. Immediately after the terrorist attacks he was interviewed by the Daily Progress, Ch. 29, WINA radio, and was contacted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“Our public service mandate includes talking to the media, to help deepen knowledge and understanding of the issues behind the headlines,” he said. “To maintain a democracy, we need an educated public. The reason I went into education is because the survival of democracy is dependent on our enlightened self-interest.”

Anita K. Jones, Lawrence R. Quarles Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, is a computer scientist and national security expert. As a former head of Research and Development at the Pentagon, the government and the media often consult her for her insights on national security. She too believes that faculty have a duty to communicate with the public through the media when appropriate. She spoke recently with the Cavalier Daily, the Chicago Tribune, WFIR radio in Roanoke, and was contacted by other media.

“Call it sympathy, empathy, patriotism, I talked to the media after this tragedy because I feel I have a particular insight on national security given my technology expertise and my time in the Pentagon,” Jones said.

Kirk Martini, associate professor of architecture and a civil engineer, said, “I spoke live on the set of Channel 29 to help people understand why the twin towers may have collapsed. This was on the day of the disaster, so there was little hard information. I could only provide speculation. One of the University’s roles is to provide knowledge to the public.”

“As faculty, we have a responsibility to bring some depth and sophisticated understanding to contemporary issues,” said Michael J. Smith, professor of government and foreign affairs. Smith, an expert on ethics in international relations, spoke at some length with an editorial writer at the Ottawa Citizen who was looking for perspective on the laws of war and on any American response to the terrorist strikes.

“I served as sort of a sounding board for the editor who was trying to write something thoughtful. It was a mini-seminar over the phone. The writer was looking for much more than simply a quote to pop into a news story,” Smith added.

Sidney Milkis, an expert on the American presidency and professor of government and foreign affairs with the Miller Center of Public Affairs, spoke immediately after the attacks with the Daily Progress, the Cavalier Daily, and Ch. 29.

“I like to help out the local press,” he said. “As a scholar, I wanted to put the terrorist attacks into a broader philosophical perspective. I compared the attacks to Pearl Harbor, how these events were similar and very different. These terrible events are so emotional — people are seeking some understanding. I hope to help tell the story of America, what we are about, why we are a target, and why we have so much responsibility in the world.”

Also at U.Va. is the Critical Incident Analysis Group, a consortium composed of scholars, law enforcement officials (including the U.S. Justice Dept. and FBI), and professionals, such as therapists and psychiatrists, who seek “to analyze, anticipate, prevent, and mitigate critical incidents.”

Lawrence E. Adams, research director of the group, has studied the interaction of religion and politics and spoke to the local press about political responses to the crisis and rebuilding efforts. He has worked previously at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.

Of special note is a recent publication from the group, “Threats to Symbols of American Democracy,” which is available online at

* * * * * *

“A terrorist may choose a target with some symbolic meaning, but he is not really out to harm a particular person or destroy a particular object. His purpose is to cause terror. Nor does he seek to terrify just those who are directly harmed or threatened by the terrorist attack. He aims to frighten a much larger audience: often… an entire nation.”

from “Threats to Symbols of
American Democracy” publication


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