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Chronicles and Newsmakers

Ken Dautrich, associate director of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, has been awarded a Media Studies Center Fellowship for fall 1997 and spring 1998.

Dautrich will use the grant to write a book on the public's opinion of the news media. "One of the things it will examine is whether the media provides enough information to the public to become informed citizens," says Dautrich, who also is an assistant professor of political science. The book will cover areas such as the public's understanding of the First Amendment; the importance of this amendment to the public; and changes in the public's attitudes about the media.

Dautrich says he got the idea for the book while working on his latest book, The Failure of the News Media to the American Voter, which will be released later this year.

Dautrich, one of 11 fellows, will join Jon Meacham of Newsweek, Richard Reeves of The New Yorker and Robert Shogan of the Los Angeles Times, to examine the media's effects on society.

The center, a program of The Freedom Forum since 1985, brings journalists, scholars and media industry executives together to improve the understanding of media issues by the press and public.

The Discovery Channel has chosen Carl W. Rettenmeyer, retired founding director of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History at UConn and a pioneer of tropical research, to answer questions about army ants on its Wild Discovery Wired/ Nature section of the Discovery Channel Online web site at This weekly "ask an expert" series is a bulletin board that allows people to post questions and check for replies. The site receives one million visits per month. Rettenmeyer, a retired professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, decided to become an entomologist at age 7.

Chandra Roychoudhuri, founding director of the Photonics Research Center, received the 1997 Documenting Solutions for Connecticut Award from Xerox of the Northeast. The annual award recognizes a UConn professor who has developed an innovative solution or who has used technology in a way that helps Connecticut businesses. Roychoudhuri, who received the award during the 1997 Critical Technologies Conference on June 20, was honored for facilitating the establishment of a cluster of 140 existing and emerging companies in Connecticut that are involved in photonics, the field of focusing light energy into beams that can be used for communicating, illuminating, cutting and drilling and medical surgery. His effort is unique because it was developed from the grassroots rather than in response to government initiatives. The cluster is expected to have a profound impact on Connecticut's economy. Xerox of the Northeast is the local sales office of Stamford-based Xerox Corp.

Polly Fitz, a former professor and dean of the School of Allied Health, last month became the 80th president of the nearly 70,000-member American Dietetic Association (ADA), the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Fitz is now co-owner of Health Training Resources, a company that specializes in training programs and products for health professionals. She has an extensive record of public and professional service, including having served as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Professions Advisory Committee and as chair of the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for dietitians and dietetic technicians. She also has been director and president of the American Society of Allied Health Professions; member and vice chair of the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences; commissioner of the American Physical Therapy Accreditation Agency; and chair of the Connecticut Department of Public Health and Addiction Services advisory council.

Robert Gray, dean of fine arts, has been appointed a member and co-chair of the Windham Ad-Hoc Capitol Theater and Fine Arts Commission. The commission will serve as a steering committee to develop a theater and arts program in downtown Willimantic that will establish a cultural dimension to complement the industrial and architectural transformation already taking place in the city. The commission will be co-chaired by Jayne Fawcett, representing the Mohegan Tribe. Other organizations represented are the Bushnell Theater, the Connecticut Humanities Council, Eastern Connecticut State University Fine Arts Department, Goodspeed Opera House, the Town of Windham, the Willimantic Downtown Revitalization Task Force, and the Windham Theater Guild.