OIT works on CIF system after Dec. crash

first_imgThe University’s Course Instructor Feedback (CIF) system experienced problems at the end of last semester, resulting in the entire student body receiving their grades at the earliest time, Erin Hoffmann Harding, associate vice president for Strategic Planning, said. “For a period of about three hours on the last night of the CIF window for most undergraduate courses, the OIT server supporting the CIF system experienced a slow down in performance,” Hoffmann Harding said. “The system never crashed, almost 1,000 surveys were successfully submitted during this time and no information was lost.” Some students who tried to access the system could not complete their CIFs, she said. Beginning during the 2009 fall semester, completing CIFs allowed students to view their semester grades seven days early. “The system slow down prevented some students from successfully submitting their CIFs,” she said. “Unfortunately, it was not possible to reopen the survey system prior to the beginning of final exams. It was also not feasible to identify which students had been affected by the slowed performance.” Administrators decided to modify the grade holding policy for the fall semester only, Hoffmann Harding said. OIT is investigating the system problems, and the early grade incentive will exist again in the spring. Hoffmann Harding said the CIF system is still in development, and the next priority is to solve the performance speed. “The system will also soon have the ability to provide more customized information to students in e-mails about which CIFs they still need to complete and when their individual survey windows close,” she said. “We welcome suggestions about other enhancements that would improve students’ ability to offer feedback to their professors.” The response rate was 78 percent for all of the fall 2010 courses, she said. This rate was lower than fall 2009, but exceeded the response rate for fall 2008. Dennis Jacobs, vice president and associate provost, said feedback from CIFs is integrated into the classroom through feedback given directly to departments and faculty. “Instructors are provided with a detailed summary report of the CIF data collected for every course section they teach,” Jacobs said. “For each CIF item, the instructor can see the distribution of student responses, a calculated mean score, and a comparison to the scores received by other faculty who teach similar courses at Notre Dame.” Professors also see the open-ended answers, but they cannot see student names, he said. This allows for anonymity. “Many faculty members reflect on thoughtful CIF feedback from their students as they consider ways to improve their teaching in future semesters,” he said. Past improvements to CIFs have provided more incentive for students to complete them, Jacobs said. “Five of the questions appearing on the CIF were written together by students and faculty with the purpose of providing more information at the time of course selection,” he said. “The results to these five items are displayed within Class Search on the Registrar’s website.” Only students who have completed their CIFs the previous semester can view these results, Jacobs said. “This enhancement to Class Search along with gaining earlier access to grades provide two valuable incentives for students to complete all their CIFs,” he said.last_img read more

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Ethiopia distributes wheat and oil to millions facing hunger

first_imgEthiopia’s government has started distributing rations of wheat and oil to people facing hunger in the north and northeastern parts of the country.The government is now supplying 15 kilograms of wheat and half a litre of cooking oil per adult in the areas hit by drought conditions, according to Mitiku Kassa, secretary of the Ethiopian Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee.More than 8 million people require urgent food assistance, and the Ethiopian government says there is enough food aid to feed them through December.Sisay Gebrselassie, a resident of Wukro town in Northern Ethiopia who recently moved to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, said he believed one in five families in his hometown lost their crops. “They have now left their farmlands for their cattle to scavenge whatever they can get from it,” he said, adding that many farmers are selling their cattle before they die.The UN says the scale of the developing emergency exceeds resources available so far.The food insecurity is fuelled by the failure of Ethiopia’s spring rains that resulted in poor crop yields.last_img read more

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Discovering a home and a heritage: Director of El Centro Chicano shares his experience with the USC Latinx community

first_imgEveryday he wakes up with a burning desire to help Latinx students at USC. As the director of El Centro Chicano, Billy Vela leads the cultural center for Latinx students. Like many Latinx students at USC, Vela went through many hardships growing up. Vela was born in 1972 to Guatemalan immigrant parents and grew up in Highland Park.“We were on welfare but [my mother] was working like a mad woman,” Vela said. “At that time just because you were on welfare did not mean you were coasting.” Despite the challenges he faced, Vela graduated from Franklin High School and went on to attend Occidental College where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Vela said he has always been an advocate for Central Americans. At Occidental College, Vela co-founded the Central American Student Association.He then attended Columbia University, Teacher’s College and received his master’s degree in Student Personnel Administration with an emphasis in Multiculturalism.After graduating from Columbia, Vela worked as a resident director at UC Berkeley and as the director of Chicano Latino Student Services at Loyola Marymount University. Vela joined USC as director of El Centro Chicano in 2005, recruited by Corliss Bennett-McBride, former director of  the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs. Since then Vela has used his experiences to encourage and support students facing the struggles he faced as a first-generation Latinx student.“As leaders of this center, I am glad we are here to advocate,” Vela said. “To make sure El Centro feels welcoming and has murals and images that make people feel included.” Along with providing a place for Latinx students to visit and do work, El Centro Chicano also hosts the “El Sol y la Luna” Latino Floor in Fluor Tower. Created in 1974-75, the Latino Floor residential program is an opportunity offered to first-year students looking to connect with other students with similar interests and cultural backgrounds. Angeles Medina is one of the many students who found home as one of the residents of The Latino Floor. Now a rising sophomore, she said she feels fortunate to have worked with Vela.“Billy is the kind of person who makes you feel comfortable, but he pushes your thinking,” Medina said. “He’s woke. He is very progressive and inclusive. He stays informed politically and encourages students he encounters to do so as well.” Alberto Bravo, a sophomore majoring in history, is a special projects assistant at El Centro. He works closely with Vela and also was a resident on the Latino Floor.“I think Billy is the kind of Latinx who is proud of his culture, but he [also] acknowledges outdated views and adversity our community face,” Bravo said. “And he wants to push his community out of that mentality and way of living.”Along with aiding Latinx students at USC, Vela said he finds much of his inspiration from his mother and his family. He said that, like him, many Latinx students try to succeed because of their family.“There’s not a student without family,” Vela said. “There’s not a student without mom, without dad, without your tia or your tio or your abuelita. Whoever it was. People are people, but Latinos — we’re family based. It’s so important to us.” As for the future, Vela hopes to obtain his Ph.D and continue to advocate for diversity and inclusion. Vela states that one of his greatest accomplishments is finding his path and passion for education. “[One of my greatest accomplishments] has been finding my identity. Finding my history. Becoming a whole person because that was a big thing that was missing and I think it’s missing for a lot of us,” Vela said. “At the same time while that’s happening finding out a way to help others because that’s what my mom taught me.”last_img read more

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Beach volleyball continues to serve streak of success

first_imgThe USC beach volleyball team is no stranger to winning.After going 34-2 overall and finishing last season on a 30-match winning streak to capture the sport’s first-ever NCAA championship title, the Trojans’ golden success on the sand has transferred over seamlessly into their 2017 campaign.The top-ranked Trojans currently own an unblemished 25-0 record this season and have since extended their program-record win streak to a remarkable 55 consecutive matches, with wins in 87 of their last 89 duals. In fact, USC hasn’t lost a match in nearly 400 days, dating all the way back to March 11, 2016.With a streak of that magnitude, you might expect there to be some added pressure to remain “perfect.”For the Trojans and head coach Anna Collier, however, the focus is not on the streak, but rather on playing good, high-quality beach volleyball every time they step out on the court — a style of play that Collier simply brands as “USC volleyball.”“We try not to focus on those winning streaks because we’ve obviously been down that road before,” Collier said. “Last season was last season, and after winning back-to-back national championships, the target is definitely on our backs. But what we’re just trying to do is play the best volleyball we can, and if we can do that, then the byproduct will be that three-peat.”And this year’s new-look Trojans are certainly poised to make another big run in the postseason. In addition to Collier, who is the first and only collegiate beach volleyball coach to reach 100 career victories with a 133-17 overall record (.886), USC has relied on a roster filled with experienced upperclassmen to lead the way.Perhaps the most impressive feat this year, however, has been the fact that the Trojans have maintained that success even with shuffled pairs and multiple injuries.The current lineup is comprised of five seniors, three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman. All but one of those five pairs had played together before the start the season, though, as the No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 pairs were all newly formed this year. And yet, with about half of the regular season completed, all four of those new pairs have already reached double-digit wins despite battling multiple injuries on each court. The one constant for USC has been at the top court, where seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes have steamrolled over their competition. The All-Americans and the winningest pair in NCAA history have played together since the beginning of the 2015 season and have since compiled a 122-4 all-time record (.968). They also had a nice streak of their own, winning an incredible 103-consecutive matches dating back to April 2, 2015. It’s this type of consistency and big-time play from top to bottom that has helped position the Trojans well for a chance to win their third consecutive national title this spring. Claes acknowledged that the depth of her team and their willingness to compete and win has been a big factor to USC’s success this season.“We all knew coming into the year that every single team would be gunning for us,” Claes said. “But that was something we all really embraced. Every team we face is going to be playing their best against us no matter what, and we’re up to that challenge and ready to prove why we’re the best team in the nation.”In retrospect, the last four years of the collegiate beach volleyball scene have been dominated by USC and its senior class. Claes, Hughes, Sophie Bukovec, Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler — all starters since the day they arrived on campus — own a combined record of 110-5 overall for an impressive .957 career winning percentage. With about a month left in the season, though, Hughes and the rest of the Trojans are eager and ready to defend their title in the upcoming tournament.“Staying on top is definitely the mantra this year,” Hughes said. “There were so many amazing firsts last season, like winning Pac-12s and NCAAs, and the streak has been pretty cool too. But while we’re really proud of what we accomplished, this season we have to work even harder to win them again. The ultimate goal has always been to win a national championship at the end of the season. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re ready to fight and we want to go out with a bang.”last_img read more

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The dynasty continues

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Stalactites is a long-standing icon of Melbourne’s Lonsdale Street Greek precinct, famous for its late-night souvlaki and homemade casseroles.It is a hub of precious memories, where Greeks from all generations have at some time or another shared a trapezi. Its also a place that reflects Melbourne’s diversity, Greek and non-Greek.New blood is pumping the heart of Stalactites. Origianlly established by her parents in 1978, 32-year-old Nicole Iliopoulos took charge of the business in 2006.She represents the arrival of a new generation of Greek-Australian family businesses: corporate-minded, savvy and refreshingly passionate.“I feel like there has been a torch handed down to me,” she says.“To see how much of my father’s life was spent fighting for this place, working so hard for so long. He doesn’t need to work anymore. It’s my job now.”A university graduate in business and marketing, Iliopoulos did not initially see the family business as a career path.That was, until she was commissioned as a marketing consultant for the City of Melbourne, which at the time was working on the Greek precinct project.“As I got more involved, I realised that the Greek precinct was something that I felt an attachment to, obviously being Greek-Australian, and that my family’s business was on the street,” she points out.“I saw that Lonsdale Street needed rejuvenation, and what better business to start with than Stalactites? I could see a lot of things that I believed could be done better.”From waiting on tables to cleaning the kitchen, Nicole learnt every facet of the business and has transformed it from a case of, ‘too many chiefs and not enough Indians,’ to a structured, management-driven company, “where there is some sort of accountability and responsibility.”She expanded the team from just 15 staff members to 55, and has worked diligently to brand the business, “as Stalactites, not just a souvlatzidiko.”Immaculately dressed in a muted pastel business shirt and black dress pants, Iliopoulos looks every part the new-generation entrepreneur.However she is modest of her innovations, which have cascaded through Stalactites’ brighter atmosphere and refined menu.“It’s not like I came in and said, hey guess what I’m the boss, it doesn’t work like that,” she says.“It’s a slow process and the way you do that is slow pressure. I basically had to work hard and prove to my family that I was worthy of taking on the responsibility. My father was hesitant and scared, but now in hindsight he says it’s the best thing that’s ever happened.”While she hopes to expand Stalactites in the near future, more pressing is her passion to keep Greek heritage alive on Lonsdale Street.She is currently serving as a board member of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne Victoria and the Lonsdale St Precinct Traders committee.“It’s a great location because of the traffic we get, and because of the investment of the council in the street. I think there’s a lot of potential for the precinct if we can bring more Greek businesses back here.”Stavros Konis who is now heading his family-owned business is quite the restaurant prodigy.The 29-year-old is the third generation owner of Greek restaurant Salona, on Swan Street in Richmond.Konis too has been tempted by the lure of the corporate life, an appealing alternative to family disputes and inter-generational resistance to change.Yet following a soul searching journey to Europe in 2004, Konis realised that, “it (the restaurant) is not something that you choose, it’s something that chooses you.”“Considering that I had gone to university, my parents saw it as a backwards step but I persisted…I didn’t see the restaurant as a job; I saw it as an extension of my home.”Konis is motivated by the passion to continue his family business and his wish to establish Salona as one of Melbourne’s top Greek restaurants.Salona was acquired in 1980 by Konis’ grandfather, Tony Atherinos, a young chef with movie star looks, and Konis’ father, Thomas Konis to “cater for the influx of Greek gamblers on Swan Street.”“Before Chapel Street, Swan Street was the hot spot,” says Konis.“We had customers like Alice Cooper and Bon Jovi. It was really popular back then.”The business however lost momentum following a family squabble between Atherinos and Thomas Konis, who opted out and did not return until 2000.Now on a journey in his own father-son business partnership, Konis describes himself as the captain and his father as the lookout of Salona.The waves of intergenerational challenges have been difficult, yet positive.“It is a typical Greek mentality that we don’t need to change and we don’t need to spend money on basic things,” says Konis.“For example my father thought that the food would sell itself but it’s not just the food it’s the lighting, the plate presentation, the street facade and so on. Because of the slow arduous process of explaining to my dad, it’s actually helped the new culture to prove itself against the old.”Taking his own experience in quality control, and drawing inspiration from mentor Con Christopoulos, owner of the Supper Club, The European and Gill’s Diner, Konis has transformed the concept, food and aesthetic of Salona.“Doing things a new way doesn’t necessarily been modernisig it, my take on the concept was to go deeper into tradition. For example, we’ve gone back to Greece and brought recipes back like zucchini keftethes, sourcing the best ingredients and suppliers.”“We are not trying to be different, we are just trying to give people real traditional food in a comfortable Melbourne restaurant setting rather than a tavern style.”last_img read more

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