North Central News

North Central faculty experts and key campus events capture media attention during a busy spring

Kelly Murphy

May 31, 2022

North Central College closed out the 2021-2022 academic year in noteworthy fashion on a media front. The College’s subject matter experts (SMEs) continue to garner media attention across Naperville, Chicago and throughout the nation. From stories of international conflicts to leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinions, the College’s political scientists have had their fingers on the pulse of breaking news. In addition, North Central’s economic and health science faculty have generated quite the buzz among media outlets both regionally and locally. And annual events like Honors Day, Commencement and student theatrical productions made welcome in-person returns to provide good news in the Naperville area. Here are the highlights from North Central College in the media in April and May 2022:

Chod examines the history of women filling their late husbands’ political seats in The 19th

Since the early 20th century, women have filled seats in Congress left vacant by the death of their partners. If Jennifer Carnahan of Minnesota wins her race, she could be the 49th such woman in U.S. history.

Carnahan’s husband, Rep. Jim Hagedorn, died of kidney cancer in February. In a March statement announcing her intent to run, Carnahan said: “Though my heart is still heavy after Jim’s passing, the encouragement I have received from throughout southern Minnesota has inspired me to carry on his legacy by running to complete the remainder of his term. In the final weeks before his passing, Jim told me to keep forging ahead, to keep reaching my dreams, and to win this seat.”

Suzanne Chod, professor of political science, interviewed with Mariel Padilla of The 19th, where she examined the history of women fielding political seats following a family tragedy.

“Women tend to adopt this gendered psyche: that arena isn’t for me; I’m not good enough even if I’m more qualified than the men who are winning; my yardstick for qualification is different than everybody else’s,” said Chod. “Some of that is internal sexism.”

Read the full story on The 19th.

Decker discusses turbulent stock market and its impact on personal finances on WGN-TV

The S&P 500 registered five consecutive weekly declines, its longest streak of losses since June 2011. The financial markets are coming to grips with the Federal Reserve’s policy change, as geopolitical factors complicate the outlook for the global economy. Many Americans are questioning how the turbulent stock market will impact their households.

Dr. Ryan Decker, assistant professor of economics and finance, interviewed with WGN-TV to provide clarity on the fluctuation.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now with the war, rising gas prices, rising interest rates, COVID shutdowns and the supply chain issues,” said Decker. “With all this uncertainty, investors don’t like it and so what we’re seeing is a lot of people thinking the market will drop even further. As a result, they’re selling now, which is self-fulfilling to cause the market to continue to drop.”

Watch Dr. Decker’s appearance on WGN-TV on May 13, 2022.

Watch Dr. Decker’s appearance on WGN-TV on May 19, 2022.

Caliendo shares takeaways from Illinois gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin’s press conference on ABC 7 Chicago

Republican candidate for Illinois governor and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin went on the offensive about Governor JB Pritzker's handling of the LaSalle Veterans Home COVID crisis. But he also frequently found himself on the defensive during his first Chicago-area news conference since launching his campaign nearly four months ago.

In response to the news conference, Pritzker’s campaign spokesperson Natalie Edelstein said, “Richard Irvin’s cowardly attempts to deflect focus from his inability to answer straightforward questions gave us a preview into what his administration would look like: incompetent and chaotic.”

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, interviewed with ABC 7 Chicago, where he shared his takeaways from the news conference.

“I don’t think his team is probably scrambling right now saying, you know, how do we deal with that disaster of a press conference we just had,” said Caliendo. “Certainly, they’re going to want to talk to him about handling things a little bit differently; but he said the things he wanted to say.”

Watch the full interview on ABC 7 Chicago.

Chemist-turned-baker Mirachelle Anselmo ’16 shares her story on Chicago’s NPR affiliate WBEZ-FM

North Central College graduate Mirachelle Anselmo ’16 is a chemist by training but a food scientist by temperament.

As an undergraduate student she conducted research on the Maillard reaction — the scientific name for the browning of food — to see if different kinds of sugars formed different products post-reaction. While working toward her master’s degree in organometallic chemistry at DePaul University, she helped customers at Floriole, a patisserie in Lincoln Park.

When Chicago went into lockdown during the spring of 2020, Anselmo, like many others, began baking more at home. She progressed to braided chocolate babka and other enriched dough pastries and started selling her baked goods at local fundraisers. Eventually, Anselmo set her sights on what food writer and chef Claire Saffitz declared “the highest achievement in all of pastrydom”: the French croissant — with a nod to her own Filipino roots.

Read the full story about Anselmo on WBEZ-FM.

Caliendo and Chod analyze leaked SCOTUS opinion on Roe v. Wade across Chicago TV networks

The news site Politico sent shockwaves across the country in early May when it published what appeared to be an initial draft majority opinion — written by Justice Samuel Alito and reportedly circulated inside the court — suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court intends to strike down Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the document in a statement but said it does not represent the court's final position. He's also ordered the Supreme Court marshal to investigate the leak.

Stephen Maynard Caliendo and Suzanne Chod been at the forefront of the breaking news developments on this national story. Both subject matter experts have fielded numerous media inquires seeking sources to help analyze the impact of this leaked opinion and the overall impact of striking down Roe v. Wade could mean for the nation moving forward.

Watch their full media interviews:

North Central College’s Commencement ceremony makes headlines

North Central College celebrated its graduating Class of 2022 with an in-person Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 8. This year’s ceremony returned to its traditional format, with a single ceremony honoring all graduates at the College’s Residence Hall/Recreation Center.

North Central College’s Class of 2022 included 581 graduates who received their bachelor's degrees, and 173 graduates who received their master’s degrees. Notable graduates include:

  • 120 first-generation college graduates
  • 30 first-ever graduates from the College’s engineering program with degrees in computer, electrical and mechanical engineering
  • 16 international students representing nine different countries (Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, Japan, Nepal, Norway, Spain, Turkey, and Vietnam)
  • Five U.S. military veterans and two ROTC cadets

Media outlets throughout Naperville and Chicago featured North Central’s ceremony:

North Central’s spring theatre production of “The Addams Family” captures Naperville media attention

This spring, North Central College’s theatre program brought a musical comedy to the stage for family and friends alike to enjoy. “The Addams Family” is a “comical feast” (based on the characters created for television by Charles Addams) and embraces the wackiness in every family.

Audiences enjoyed an original story that is every father’s nightmare. Here’s a synopsis from the program: Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family—a man her parents have never met. And if that wasn’t upsetting enough, Wednesday confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. So Gomez Addams decides to do something he’s never done before—keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia.

The show, which was directed, crewed and acted by North Central students, was previewed in multiple local media outlets:

North Central MOT student and professor featured in various media outlets

A unique class at North Central College in Naperville has helped patients recover from a stroke while giving students hands-on experience.

Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other (SSEEO) and North Central College have worked in tandem as part of a new program that provides free therapy for patients. The program has been very successful and emotional for both students and patients.

Kelly Frystak, assistant professor of occupational therapy, and graduate student Bailey Milet ’23 were featured on WGN-TV to talk about the work the College’s master of occupational therapy students have done through this partnership.

“Our partnership helps students see patients see people rather than a case in a textbook or on paper,” said Frystak. “They really took them through the entire therapy process all the way from evaluation to discharge.”

Media placements included:

Chod discusses why retiring from politics is more complicated for women in The 19th and other national outlets

Over the past couple of years, there has been a stream of reporting and rumors about the mental capacity of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who at 88, is currently one of the oldest members of Congress. Most recently, multiple colleagues told the San Francisco Chronicle that they no longer believe Feinstein is fit to serve, with one saying the senator forgot who they were multiple times during a conversation.

Most Americans who continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, when people qualify for Medicare benefits, do so because they cannot afford to stop. In an AARP survey of older adults from 2018, money was cited as one of the most common reasons respondents put off retirement. 

Suzanne Chod interviewed with reporter Sara Luterman of The 19th, where said Feinstein choosing to stay in the Senate well into her 80s could be making up for lost time in the political sphere.

“Women in politics have historically started their careers later than men,” said Chod. “The gendered expectation is that you need to be home with your children. Women in the Senate have a lot they want to accomplish. By the time they get in and they’ve worked a few years, get reelected and develop institutional memory, by the time they build up seniority, they’re going to be older.”

Read the full article in The 19th.

The article published in The 19th was also repurposed in the following publications:

Tedeschi provides analysis on how older women voters may play a big role in 2022 midterms in The 19th

Women voters over 50 are dissatisfied, particularly with the state of the economy, a new AARP poll found. These women account for more than a quarter of all registered voters and, with a high voter turnout rate, they have also accounted for nearly a third of all ballots in recent elections. Yet, despite their influence, the vast majority are disgruntled with their elected leaders and have yet to decide who they will vote for in November.

The survey, conducted between February and March, found that these women are most worried about rising living costs and insufficient savings, and the majority said the economy is not working well for them. Nearly half of respondents ranked “rising cost of living” as the most important issue facing the country. The second most pressing issue for them is the lack of unity in the country — ranked above crime, immigration, COVID-19 and government spending.

Gwendolyn Tedeschi, chair and professor of economics at North Central College, interviewed with reporter Mariel Padilla of The 19th, where she addressed concerns whether Social Security is sustainable.

“My own mother always assumed that Social Security wouldn’t be there by the time she retired,” said Tedeschi. “Since women generally live longer than men, it doesn’t surprise me that they are more concerned.”

Read the full article in The 19th.

Keating shares her recent book with local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and is featured in the Daily Herald

On April 9, the Ansel Brainerd Cook Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, was honored to present Ann Durkin Keating, Dr. C. Frederick Toenniges Professor of History, and her program "The World of Juliette Kinzie: Chicago Before the Fire."

Her subject for her latest published book, Juliette Kinzie (1806-1870), was one of Chicago's founding mothers. She was a historian, writer and author, and one of Chicago's most influential women.

Keating's program—which was featured in the Daily Herald—captivated members of Ansel Brainerd Cook. Her extensive sources for the book, including hundreds of personal letters written by Kinzie, offered an insight into the birth of Chicago. They were Kinzie's story in her own words. The Kinzie family helped develop Chicago, both socially and though civic involvements.

Click here to read more about Keating’s book and program in the Daily Herald.

Brandon Malone ’18 shares insight into his coffee business and the role played by the College’s Coffee Lab in Daily Journal

While the word “coffee” brings to mind name brands like Starbucks and Dunkin’, there is an emerging new name in coffee under the unique moniker Llama Bean Coffee Co. Bonfield, Ill. native and North Central College alumnus Brandon Malone ’18 uses the help of animals on his family’s farm to inspire his coffee company.

The llama, alpaca, pony, donkeys and emus are not grinding coffee beans on Malone’s parents’ Bonfield farm. Rather, one special animal, a 15-year-old llama named Barb, inspired the theme behind Llama Bean Coffee Co., with the artist’s friends custom designing the llama logo and artwork.

Malone shared details about the company in the Kankakee, Ill.-based newspaper the Daily Journal. His involvement with the college’s coffee project eventually led him down the path to starting his own coffee business in November 2020, he said.

“The project involved forming a direct-trade partnership with coffee bean farmers in Guatemala, traveling to meet with the farmers twice per year, and paying the farmers a sustainable wage above market price for their coffee,” Malone said.

24th annual Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research featured in Naperville media outlets

This year, North Central College welcomed world renowned climatologist and prize-winning physicist Dr. David W. Keith to deliver the keynote address at the 2022 Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research. The 24th annual event, which showcased scholarly work and presentations from undergraduate researchers of all majors, took place on April 21.

Dr. Keith is the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, and professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Throughout his career, he has worked to conserve and protect the planet at the intersection of climate science, energy technology and public policy. For his work, Dr. Keith has been honored with a medal from Queen Elizabeth II at her 2013 Diamond Jubilee and was named among TIME Magazine’s “Heroes of the Environment.”

The staple event at the College captured the attention of local Naperville media outlets:

Decker stresses the importance of having emergency savings and how best to spend your tax refund in USA Today

The 2022 tax season is swiftly coming to an end, but the IRS warned that many taxpayers could see delays in their refunds as the agency confronts a worker shortage and severe backlog of unprocessed returns. Inflation is at an ultimate high—nearly 8 percent compared to last year—and household savings are drying up as cash-strapped consumers take on more credit card debt to finance purchases.

Interest rates on credit cards, auto loans and mortgages have risen since the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in March 2022, the first time since the start of the pandemic. Borrowing money will become even more expensive as the Fed prepares to raise interest rates six times this year in a bid to lower inflation.

As a result, the question of ‘what to do with your tax refund?’ has many Americans looking to want to pay off debt; however, economists warn that if there is no financial reserves available, this could put people across the nation in a credit debt cycle.

Ryan Decker was quoted in USA Today, where he provided analysis on what to do with your tax refund.

“If you’re fortunate enough to have adequate emergency savings and minimal debt, consider putting some of your refund into a retirement account,” said Decker. “You can contribute to your 2021 traditional or Roth IRA through April 15, even if you’ve already filed taxes and received a refund.

Read the full story on USA Today.


Steve Macek and Shealeigh Voitl ’21 share insights on gender violence and inequality being underreported by for-profit news in Ms. Magazine

Steve Macek, professor and chair of communication and media studies, and alumna Shealeigh Voitl ’21 penned an article in Ms. Magazine. The column, published April 4, focused on the news stories that are being underreported and many of which focus on gender violence and inequality.

Here is an excerpt from their column:

Each year, Project Censored releases a list of news stories that went underreported in for-profit news. Too many are about violence against women. So, what can we do to promote gender equity in the news media? 

It often seems as though women only capture the corporate news media’s attention when they dress up in costume.

  • Photos in the New York Times featured women in seas of pink beanies at Women’s Marches in 2017 after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
  • A 2018 ABC News article included a dystopian still of 15 women cloaked in Handmaid’s Tale garb in the Senate office building during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.
  • The German women’s gymnastics team made headlines at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by donning full-body leotards to protest the sexualization of athletes in their sport.

These images are sensational and striking, yet they underscore how news coverage of women by the nation’s most prominent news outlets is consistently skin deep and fleeting.

Each year, Project Censored—a 45-year-old media-monitoring organization to which we both contribute—releases a list of 25 significant news stories that have gone underreported in the commercial, for-profit news. Featuring stories published by independent and alternative news outlets, Project Censored’s annual story lists often highlight stories about gendered injustices affecting women around the world—particularly women in racially minoritized and economically marginal communities.

Read the full column on Ms. Magazine.

Muck analyzes the Russian/Ukraine war throughout the months of April and May on major networks in Chicago and outlets nationwide

Russia’s war in Ukraine has stretched on for more than three weeks, a relentless bombardment of the country’s cities and towns that has led to more than 800 civilian deaths, destroyed civilian infrastructure, and forced more than 3.3 million people to flee Ukraine, creating a new humanitarian crisis in Europe.

Back in Chicago, William Muck, professor and chair of political science, continues to be in high demand from media outlets to help break down the war as developments continue to be underway.

Check out the media coverage below: