Dear Friends & Colleagues,
Thank you to all who came to Bloomington for the highly succcessful 25th anniversary celebration, and to those who were there in spirit at least! I’m writing to all to tell you about a fundraising challenge that was issued at the banquet by Rich Shiffrin and his wife Judy, and to tell you about another initiative that we have launched to help strengthen the network of IU cognitive scientists — which means you! — as well as to fill you in on the events themselves.
First the challenge: At the banquet, Rich announced that he and Judy are generously matching up to $5,000 in new contributions made to the "Richard M. Shiffrin Cognitive Science Student Support Fund” before June 1 of this year. Since the inception of this fund at the beginning of the year, we have raised over $23,000 and are thus very close to the $25,000 minimum amount required to permanently endow the fund with the IU Foundation. Meeting Rich’s challenge will put us significantly over that threshold and allow us to initiate our first scholarships and fellowships during the coming academic year. I’m particularly excited by the ability to create a special scholarship for incoming DAP (direct admit) students as this will help put cognitive science on the radar screen for the very best high school students who are trying to find the degree program that is right for them.
So, if you have not already contributed (or even if you have, but can spare a little more!), please click on “Give Now” link at the right, and follow the instructions there, making sure that you make the selection for the "Richard M. Shiffrin Cognitive Science Student Support Fund” where it says “Make a selection.” If you prefer to contribute by the old-fashioned method of a paper check, please use this form.
At the awards ceremony Thursday evening, we honored the outstanding achievements of our undergraduates and graduate students, and awarded the first ever distinguished alumni award, jointly to Ravi Bhatt, Jim Brink, and Steve Hockema, co-founders of Branchfire, Inc. You can read more about them by clicking on the menu item on the left.
On Thursday evening, I also unveiled our new effort to strengthen and represent the dense network of connections that exists among faculty and students of the program at http://cogsci25.cogs.indiana.edu/graph.html. We are still gathering data for this so if your information is incomplete or missing, please drop me or Ruth Eberle firstname.lastname@example.org a line via email. Please also send us names of anyone you think we’ve missed, and suggestions for what else you’d like to see represented in this graph.
On Friday morning, Doug Hofstadter “hit the nail on the nose” by entertaining us all with verbal errors that reveal how multiple influences blend to cause our behavior. The subsequent directors' panel filled us in on the history of the program and inspired us with broad and inclusive vision of those who created the program. After lunch, the alumni panel similarly reinforced the importance of a broad training that nevertheless accommodates the kind of rigor and technical specialization that enables careers crisscrossing between the academic and business worlds. And then Mark Steyvers gave us a glimpse of how cognitive modeling, one of the real strengths of the IU program, is being married to neuroscience in a way that allows us to make sense of the huge amounts of data that have become accessible using MRI, EEG, and other brain measurement techniques. The intelligent systems open house and the evening poster session and reception gave good opportunities to learn more about some of the projects of alumni and current students and faculty, capped off with the banquet at which Rich and Judy issued their generous challenge.
Those of us who were in attendance came away from the events inspired to keep the great and inclusive tradition of cognitive science at IU going strong. In my four years as director, I can’t tell you how much confidence it has given me to walk into various meetings with peers and administrators knowing the respect that they hold for the program, and for this we all owe the former directors, Rich especially, a huge vote of thanks.