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January 12, 2000 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-12

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 12, 2000 - 3


'U' plans for personalized,
portal Website for students

MSU senior
found dead in
Colorado park

. ®

1 A Michigan State University senior
died during a winter break trip to
Gunnison National Park in Colorado.
The body of Michael Tansy Jr. was
found by a search helicopter Dec. 26
at the bottom of the 1,800 foot Black
Canyon, located in the park.
East Lansing Police Officers began
searching for Tansy after his father
filed a missing person report Dec. 22.
Park rangers found Tansy's car by
the canyon Dec. 21 and was identi-
*ied two days later.
Colorado police said they do not
suspect foul play. Police have not yet
labeled the death an accident or a sui-
Harvard institute
faces dissolvement
After a six-month investigation
ocusing on scandal and mismanage-
ent within Harvard University's
Institute for International
Development, a task force suggested
last week that the institute be elimi-
The institute, which was developed
more than 30 years ago to counsel
foreign governments, has a budget of
more than $34 million a year and has
offices in more than 20 areas outside
of the country.
The Harvard Corporation and
(Jarvard University President Neil
Rudenstine are expected to give a
final decision later this month after
reviewing the task force's recommen-
Harvard University spokesperson
Joe Wrinn said the institute's
resources and initiatives be incorpo-
rated into other university schools
such as the School of Public Health
*nd Kennedy School of Government
by the end of this academic year.
Wrinn could not confirm that all of
the institutes programs would contin-
In the last few year's the school has
received unfavorable media attention
including reports of a federal investi-
gation of improper use of grant
money by institute employees.
prah reflects on
at Northwestern
After completing her first course
as an instructor at Northwestern
University's Graduate School of
Management, television talk show
host Oprah Winfrey said she would
like to teach the course again next
Winfrey, who shared teaching
duties with boyfriend Stedman
Graham for the course, "Dynamics of
Leadership" graded her effort a B.
The courses' guest speakers
included civil rights leader Coretta
Scott King, ABC network chairman
Bob Iger and former Secretary of
State Henry Kissinger.
U. Nebraska
%gent challenges
pro-life leaders
A University of Nebraska regent
.has challenged local anti-abortion
rganization leaders to discuss the
university's use of fetal tissue for
research in their medical center.
In a letter to the directors of
Rescue the Heartland, Nebraska
*ght to Life and Metro Right to
Life, Regent Drew Miller suggested
they debate the issue in front of a
group of citizens.
Miller offered to not seek re-elec-
rtion if the debate's audience voted to

ban fetal tissue research.
All of the anti-abortion advocates
accepted Miller's offer to debate but
did not support the condition of an
audience vote.

By Robert Gold
Daily Staff Reporter
In an attempt to offer students a
Website separate from, more interac-
tive and user specific than its current
homepage, which receives 20 million
hits each month, the University plans
to unveil an interactive and customiz-
able Website later this year.
"We were one of the first institutions
to have a Website, (but now) we don't
have a state of the art Website," said
Jose-Marie Griffiths, chief information
officer for the University.
The project's plan is to eventually
allow students, faculty, staff and other
University affiliates to tailor the site's
content and design to their personal
interests, said Gavin Eadie, project
manager and director of strategic tech-
nology of the Office of the Chief
Information Officer.
The initial system will be separate
from the University Website, because
the University wants to "get out a per-
sonalized Website very quickly," Eadie
said, adding that the goal is to incorpo-
rate the two sites in the future.
"The idea is people can go to (stan-
dard sites) directly or through the por-
tal," Griffiths said.
The Website's organizers and cre-
ators consist of a group of ITD staff
members and the Office of the Chief
Information Officer. The endeavor,
nicknamed Project Janus after the
Roman god of doors, beginnings and
endings, has been allotted $250,000
funding by Griffiths' office for the cur-
rent fiscal year.
An initial student prototype will be
available in April at

www my. umich.edu. Garnering feed-
back from various focus groups and
steering committees, project officials
look to develop a more comprehen-
sive site by the end of the summer, Eadie
Gordon Leacock, co-manager of
Project Janus and director of planning for
ITD, said the team plans on developing
content relevant to staff, faculty and other
University affiliates in the future.
Eadie said the current University
Website, which has remained
unchanged for the past three years, is
insufficient in satisfying the needs of
students, faculty and staff.
"The biggest criticism is it's really
hard to find things. It's a very static
site" Eadie said. "Three years is like a
Eadie said some future options
include allowing students to access
grades, e-mail and weather from a sin-
gle site.
LSA junior Debbie Helfman said she
uses the University Website frequently.
She said she is satisfied with the content
but a customizable site may save time.
"Everything is run through the com-
puter," Helfman said. "It would be very
convenient to have everything on one
Eadie said while few universities
currently have personalized
Websites, many are considering the
Universities that offer similar
Websites in New York include the
University of Buffalo in New York.
Harvard University and the
University of California at Los
Angeles. America Online, Yahoo! and

Excite offer widely used commercial
portals with customizable features.
Last year, Northwestern University's
student government and technology
department developed a new student-
oriented Website, Associated Student
Government President Steve Spalding
The Website enables students to
check vital information such as e-mail,
grades, book exchange information and
"All freshman have it here now as
their default home page," Spalding said.
"It's been very successful."
Project members plan on developing
student focus groups next month.
Eadie said the project team has a long
list of ideas, but the final product
depends on what people want in a
"What we realize is you have to start
with the users," Leacock said. "If peo-
ple aren't motivated to use the site, why
use it?"
LSA senior Terrence Craion said he
uses the University Website regularly
and doesn't think the customizable
option is necessary.
"I think it's fine the way it is," Craion
Leacock said the prototype will like-
ly include news for students gathered
from a range of information holders on
He added that he does not see any
technical problems in implementing the
site, but the challenge is gathering
information from outside groups.
"If people have various databases,
they have a choice of whether they want
to share it or not," Leacock said.

University students exploring their options for winter rush check out the
Sigma Nu fraternity display in the Ballroom of the Michigan Union last night.
Fraternities, sororities
work to gain member-s
during winter term

Continued from Page 1
Robert Liera, a member of the
Lambda Theta Phi Latin
Fraternity, said the later intake
process "is a good way for the
fraternity to get to know prospec-
tive students and they get to know
The intake process for cultural-
ly-based fraternities and sorori-
ties is supplemented throughout
the year by many activities rang-
ing from community service pro-
jects to parties.
"We've held cultural dinners
where we bring food from differ-
ent backgrounds into dorms on a
Sunday night when dinner isn't
served to get to know people,"
Liera said.
Bryan Cook, advisor to the
Black Greek Association, said
many houses wait to recruit mem-
bers so that pledges have a better
idea of what college is like before

committing to a specific organi-
"First semester has generally
been used to get students used to
campus and get collegiate grade
point averages, so they're more
prepared when it's time to join,"
he said.
The average culturally-based
fraternity and sorority has six to
12 members, Cook said, although
they expect to see around 100
people turn out for the Winter
Rush Informationals, which allow
prospective members to learn
about the organizations history
and activities.
"We're different from the IFC
and the Panhellic Association in
that we don't do a lot of promo-
tion ,to get our name out," said
"Its (membership recruitment)
pretty much a year-long process
of doing the things we do and
putting forth an image of the

GM stops production of EVi
electric car, citing low interest

Voters may get to
decide voucher
issue in November

DETROIT (AP) -General Motors Corp. has stopped pro-
duction of its sleek EVI electric car, and will not likely build
more due to four years of waning interest from customers.
GM Vice Chair Harry Pearce said yesterday that GM's
attention was shifting from all-electric cars to vehicles
powered by hybrid fuel-electric systems and fuel cells,
which use hydrogen to create electricity. Pearce said the
company had a sufficient supply of EVIs on hand and
said while GM could build more, there was "no particu-
lar need."
GM will still lease EVIs in California and Arizona, but
will "recycle" used EVIs as their leases end, giving them
new battery packs or other updates.
"They literally last forever," Pearce said. "The more of
those vehicles that stay in the hands of customers, the more
data we have on real-world operation ... We're the only com-
pany that has put that kind of vehicle in the hands of cus-
tomers over a number of years."
GM announced it was building the EVI in 1996, and
hoped to eventually sell thousands of battery-powered vehi-
cles as pollution-free alternative transportation - especially
in warm-climate cities set by smog.
It spent $350 million to develop the EV I, and promoted it
heavily, delivering some of the first vehicles to celebrities
such as Sylvester Stallone. It billed the EV1 as a household's
second car for short trips, and set a goal of leasing 100 a
But after an initial flurry of interest, few buyers came for-
ward, and the EV1s limitations became clear. EV1 leases cost
between $400 and $600 a month, and for their money, own-
ers got a car with a range of 80 miles that needed several
hours to recharge. Of 703 prospects who went through a spe-
cial sales pitch for EVIs in the first three months, nearly 80
percent decided against it. GM increased the EV i's range, but
sales didn't improve.
Last year, GM leased 137 EVIs, and has leased about
600 since 1996. Pearce said the EVI appealed mostly to
die-hard fans of electric cars, and not a mass audience.
"Range, two seats, recharging ... those are very real con-
cerns that consumers have," Pearce said. "We have spoiled
customers with respect to motor vehicles. They want normal
range, they want four or five seats, they don't want to spend
any time recharging."

Despite the disappointing customer reaction, Pearce said
the EVI had been a valuable tool for the company.
"Right now, we think we are the leader in electric
propulsion systems and it's the result of 10 years of work
on the EV I," he said. "That was the whole concept
within GM; that was the foundationfor all the hybrid
and fuel cell vehicles."
Pearce also said GM was working with Toyota Motor
Co. on new power technologies, and said a hybrid vehi-
cle that would be a joint effort was possible. Hybrids use
an internal combustion engine mated to an electric',
GM and Toyota share a factory in California; Toyota will:
put a hybrid version of its Echo compact, called the Prius, on
sale later this year.
"I think Toyota has done an elegant engineering job with
respect to the powertrain in the Prius," Pearce said. "It prob.
ably needs to be beefed up a bit for this market in terms o4
performance. That's doable."
GM also showed off its fuel cell technology yesterday,
unveiling a fuel cell version of its high-efficiency Precept-
concept vehicle. The five-passenger sedan has a range of 50C-
miles, and an equivalent of 108 miles per gallon of gasoline
based on federal testing standards, Pearce said.
Fuel cells are attractive because the only byproduct is
water. One of the biggest hurdles to using fuel cells has been
ways to store liquid hydrogen in the car; it has to be chilled to
430 degrees below zero. Instead of liquid hydrogen, the
Precept's fuel cell uses a gel-like chemical hydride that fills
tanks below the rear seat.
"This is a no-excuses vehicle," Pearce said. "When this
vehicle is up and running - as I predict it will be by the end-
of the year-this vehicle will have performance of nine sec-
onds, zero to 60 (mph). It will have a top speed well in excess
of 120 miles per hour."
Byron McCormick, co-executive director of GM's
Global Alternative Propulsion Center, said fuel cells
will be ready for production by 2004, but more work
needs to be done to build fueling stations and other
"We're trying to set the stage to get millions of these out
there. ... You don't clean the air by putting just a few of these:.
on the roads," he said.

voucher proponents have collected
enough signatures to put the issue on
the November ballot, the group's
chair says.
Richard DeVos declined to say
Monday exactly how many people
have signed the Kids First! Yes! peti-
But he confirmed that at least
302,711 signatures have been collect-

"YOU've got to
get asafety
- Richard DeVos
Kids First! Yes! chair

ed, the minimum
Now the group
signatures in case
fied, DeVos said.
"You've got to
gin," DeVos said.

for getting on the
is collecting more
some are disquali-
get a safety mar-

&1IT profs. sue
Internet service


Two Massachusetts Institute of
Technology professors have filed a
lawsuit against Ask Jeeves, Inc., the
Internet Search Engine claiming that
the company is infringing on patents
that incorporate the use of natural
language to retrieve information from
e atabase.
W eather Staple, director of
Corporate Communications for Ask
Jeeves, said the company only uses
technology it has developed.
- Compiled from U-Wire reports
by Daily Staff Reporter Robert Gold.

"We right now are well into ...
determining what kind of safety mar-
gin we need to make sure we quali-
fy," he said.
The signatures may be enough to
guarantee the issue of a slot on the
ballot, but the campaign to pass it
faces a fight.
Michigan Gov. John Engler oppos-
es the effort, saying it has no chance
of winning in November, and various
public school advocacy groups are
gearing up their own anti-voucher
The Kids First! Yes! proposal
would require school districts with a
graduation rate lower than 66 percent
to offer vouchers that could be used
by parents to pay tuition at private or

parochial schools.
Residents or school boards in other
districts could vote to expand the
program to their districts.
DeVos said support for the cam-
paign appears to be growing,
although he wasn't sure if support
was equally strong across the state
when it hits the ballot.
A November poll by Mitchell
Research & Communications Inc. of
East Lansing showed 58 percent of
Michigan voters favored the Kids
First! Yes! ballot initiative and 22
percent opposed it.
Vouchers didn't come up during
Monday's 90-minute Republican
presidential candidate debate at
Calvin College.
But U.S. Sen. John McCain, maga-
zine publisher Steve Forbes and con-
servative commentator Gary Bauer
have said they support the Kids First!
Yes! proposal.
DeVos made his remarks following
the debate.

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