KU News: Family hopes sharing story and establishing KU research fund will reduce stigma of addiction

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Honoring a life: Family hopes sharing story and establishing research fund will reduce stigma of addiction
LAWRENCE — A year after Patrick Guthrie’s death from complications related to alcohol use disorder, his family hopes that sharing his story and creating a fund for addiction research will fuel discoveries and reduce the stigma of substance use disorders. The goal of the Patrick Guthrie Hawks for Hope Fund is to encourage, elevate and reward postsecondary addiction research at the Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research & Treatment, a part of the KU Life Span Institute.

KU musicology professor receives 2021 Chancellors Club Career Teaching Award
LAWRENCE — Paul Laird, professor of musicology at the University of Kansas, is known for his creative, energetic teaching style filled with movement and music. He will receive $10,000 as the recipient of the 2021 Chancellors Club Career Teaching Award. Since joining the KU faculty in 1994, Laird has gained the admiration and trust of countless students he has taught, mentored and guided through undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral endeavors.

Study: Social media can learn how to regulate speech from online gaming
LAWRENCE — As social media giants like Facebook and Twitter come under increasing criticism for how they approach what type of speech is allowed on their platforms, another type of online group navigated similar struggles more than a decade ago, according to two University of Kansas scholars who have written a new article proposing that social platforms model their approaches on speech regulation based on lessons from the gaming community.

Scholar helps bring renewed focus to Italian filmmaker
LAWRENCE – Five years after the death of renowned screenwriter and filmmaker Ettore Scola, a scholar of Italian culture at the University of Kansas is contributing to a renewal of interest in Scola’s cinematic career through an article on the critical reception of Scola’s films in the United States during the prime of the filmmaker’s career (1970-87). Edward Bowen labels Scola a “statesman for Italian cinema” in the article for the journal Bianco e Nero.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Jen Humphrey, Life Span Institute, 785-864-6621, [email protected], @kulifespan
Honoring a life: Family hopes sharing story and establishing research fund will reduce stigma of addiction
LAWRENCE — Gayla Guthrie remembers her brother Patrick Guthrie for his wicked sense of humor and his intense love of his family and the University of Kansas.

“I remember his obsession with rock music, his insane culinary skills and his tender heart,” she said. “He gave the best hugs.”

A year after Patrick’s death from complications related to alcohol use disorder, Gayla hopes that sharing his story and creating a fund for addiction research will fuel discoveries and reduce the stigma of substance use disorders. The goal of the Patrick Guthrie Hawks for Hope Fund is to encourage, elevate and reward postsecondary addiction research at the Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research & Treatment, a part of the KU Life Span Institute.

Establishing a fund for KU was a natural fit for several reasons, Gayla said.
“The Cofrin Logan Center’s mission really combines all of the things we hope for in addiction advocacy,” she said. “They look at the entire issue, from research and education to services and outreach.”

In addition, the family has a strong attachment to the university, with alumni among her parents and three brothers. They share a long history of attending KU athletic events. Patrick attended KU, taking coursework in film and media studies.

Only 20 months apart in age, Gayla and Patrick had a close relationship and shared many of the same interests, including a drive toward creative pursuits. She describes how Patrick enjoyed pushing boundaries, pulling pranks and joking around. He was extremely well-liked among his peers and was one of the most popular kids in high school. Classmates were drawn to his infectious personality, quick wit and charm.

“Between Patrick’s incredible charisma and unique style, he was too cool for the rest of us,” Gayla said, grinning widely.

Gayla, the youngest of the four Guthrie children, began dancing at the age of 3. As Patrick’s popularity and magnetism soared, her dancing turned pre-professional, and she prepared for a future performing career.

“He had such respect for my talent and my tenacity in pursuing my dream,” she said. “Even through difficult family experiences and the craziness of adolescence, he was still my biggest fan and seemed larger than life to me.”

When the family moved from Hutchinson to the suburbs of Kansas City, the transition was particularly tough for Patrick. It was around this time, in middle school, when he began experimenting with drugs and alcohol, Gayla said.

As he aged, he developed an early passion for rock music. The edgy, rock star lifestyle was part of the attraction; Patrick craved the energy and excitement of the music scene.

He found his calling in the restaurant industry while working at the Jazzhaus, a bar and music venue in downtown Lawrence. Gayla fondly recalls how without any formal culinary training, he launched an array of small plates to enhance live shows at the establishment and keep patrons lingering at the bar. The experience combined Patrick’s love of music with his natural ability in the kitchen.

His career blossomed when he returned to Kansas City as the assistant manager of La Bodega, a Spanish tapas restaurant. He was known for creating experiences around food, doting on patrons to ensure they enjoyed all aspects of their meal. By 2008, he and a business partner had plans to open their own restaurant: They had the architectural renderings, the financial backing and the menu.

The economic crash that year upended their plans. In an industry where businesses open and close routinely, those with the tools to deal with that loss might have been better able to bounce back.

“For someone who never developed healthy ways to cope with stressful life situations, whose brain and physiology were already altered by years of addiction, it was absolutely devastating,” Gayla said. “It sent the drug and alcohol abuse in a different, more dangerous direction.”

During his 20 years in the restaurant industry, the long hours, job insecurity and exposure to alcohol took their toll. Troubling symptoms of his addiction emerged. In 2015, Patrick told his family that he had a problem with substance abuse. Extensive treatment, recovery and multiple relapses followed.

During an extended period of sobriety, he became interested in addiction research. Gayla said he fundamentally knew that to treat addiction, a better understanding of the development of the disease was needed. His interest further solidified the family’s decision to support addiction research at KU.
“We need a deeper understanding of the many factors that lead to addictive behaviors and how they relate to and drive one another,” Gayla said.

“Discoveries in root causes and how addiction evolves will change the dialogue we have around these problems.

“We need to break through the stigma, shame, guilt and embarrassment that are so prevalent and treat addiction like the disease that it is, like we treat cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.”

In 2020, Patrick was one of more than 90,000 people in the United States who lost their lives to alcohol use disorders and related complications. Gayla said she and her family are not content to merely share his story — they want to effect change.

For Gayla, one of the most lasting impressions of Patrick was that she could count on him to be in the audience at her dance performances.
“He would say to me, ‘I’m so proud of you.’ He was magical, just the most supportive,” she said.

It is with the same love and appreciation that Gayla and her family choose to honor Patrick’s legacy at KU through gifts to KU Endowment.
“His fund is not the end of his story,” she said. “It is the beginning.”
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Contact: Michelle Strickland, KU Endowment, 785-832-7363, [email protected]; Michelle Keller, KU Endowment, 785-832-7336, [email protected]; @KUEndowment
KU musicology professor receives 2021 Chancellors Club Career Teaching Award
LAWRENCE — Paul Laird, professor of musicology at the University of Kansas, is known for his creative, energetic teaching style filled with movement and music.

After a class at KU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the university’s continuing education center, Laird received a review from a participant that said, “Nail his shoes to the floor!”

Laird was undeterred. “I said, ‘Hey! I’ll just take ’em off. You’re not going to keep me in one place!’”

His enthusiasm and memorable style in large part earned Laird the 2021 Chancellors Club Career Teaching Award. Since joining the KU faculty in 1994, he has gained the admiration and trust of countless students he has taught, mentored and guided through undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral endeavors.

Robert Walzel, dean of the School of Music at KU, didn’t hold back when nominating Laird for the award.

“Professor Paul Laird is the single most outstanding university faculty member I have worked with or otherwise encountered in my 30-year career in higher education,” Walzel wrote in his nomination letter.

Laird is proud of being part of a large state university, which attracts students with varying life experiences — from farms and neighborhoods to high school graduating classes with single, double and even triple digits in metropolitan areas.

“When this job came up, I was really interested. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students who came from different backgrounds,” Laird said. “It seemed like the kind of democratizing place I wanted to be.”

Spencer Huston received his doctorate in musicology from KU in 2017, and Laird was his doctoral adviser. In his letter of support, Huston wrote that few professors capture students’ attention the way Laird does.

“Dr. Laird’s unselfish passion for sharing and teaching his subjects is mesmerizing, awe-inspiring and infectious,” Huston wrote. “Imagine an entire class eagerly soaking up every detail and then waiting in anticipation for 48 hours until the class meets again.”

The professional recognition the award brings is an honor, Laird said.
“When you’re as passionate as I am about teaching, to win an award like this is incredible,” he said. “It’s validation for what I’ve done with my life, and for students to take the time to write letters about me makes me very happy. It also is very humbling. There are so many deserving instructors at KU.”

Music absorbs much of Laird’s professional time. He teaches, plays Baroque cello, advises undergraduate and graduate students, writes and publishes books and research, and serves the university with performances and lectures outside of his faculty obligations. All of those things together build support and interest in the music and ideas that drive him.

“When you publish a book, somebody emails you to say something appreciative or ask you a question, and you realize there’s a conversation going on out there and you are part of it,” Laird said. “It’s even more thrilling in the classroom because it’s immediate. We’re talking in a class, and I see light bulbs go on, and it’s just thrilling to be part of forming that conversation about something I care about so deeply.”

The Chancellors Club was founded in 1977 and recognizes donors who give $1,000 or more annually to the Greater KU Fund. As an honoree, Laird will receive a $10,000 award.

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Contact: Mike Krings, KU News Service, 785-864-8860, [email protected], @MikeKrings
Study: Social media can learn how to regulate speech from online gaming
LAWRENCE — As social media giants like Facebook and Twitter come under increasing criticism for how they approach what type of speech is allowed on their platforms, another type of online group navigated similar struggles more than a decade ago, according to two University of Kansas scholars who have written a new article proposing that social platforms model their approaches on speech regulation based on lessons from the gaming community.

Harrison Rosenthal, doctoral candidate in journalism & mass communications, and Genelle Belmas, associate professor of journalism & mass communications, are co-authors of an article tracing gaming’s evolution to social media and recommending the latter take moderation approaches similar to the former. It was published in the journal Jurimetrics, the official law and technology journal of the American Bar Association.

The authors point out that social media evolved from games as places where people could communicate, and though there is not explicit gameplay involved, such sites are in fact a game of their own, with people seeking likes, retweets or other engagement. The gaming world eventually developed a community-based approach in which users set the standards and controlled what is acceptable, but social media is still struggling with top-down approaches in which executives decide what is allowable.

“Over time, the gaming world morphed from people caring mainly about the rules and outcomes of the game to being more about being online and interacting with people. Our argument is that in social media your representation, whether you like it or not, is an avatar,” said Rosenthal, an attorney who received his juris doctor from KU. “Speech is regulated in many contexts, but the way it is regulated is wildly misunderstood. People come to social media with a fundamental misunderstanding of their rights.”

Belmas, an avid gamer, shares one such successful community self-regulation example in which a friend was dubbed a “sentinel” in an online game. As a trusted player and community member, the sentinel was not an official from a gaming company but was allowed to intervene when other players became abusive.

“He was empowered to pull people out of the game and talk to them about how they played and treated other players,” Belmas said of the sentinel. “He was empowered to make regulatory decisions, and that system in which sentinels, or others that have guilds or users who make bottom-up decisions, work well, and social media could benefit from the same approach.”

Rosenthal and Belmas point out that some parts of the internet have adopted the approach with success already. Wikipedia and Reddit are two examples that allow trusted users who have gained “certification” on the quality and quantity of their posts, edits and corrections to have privileges of regulating what is allowed on the platform. This approach would work better than CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Jack Dorsey of Twitter implementing their own policies for several reasons, the authors argue.

First, no individual could anticipate all of the potential controversies that can arise on a given platform. The authors give two examples from Facebook, in which its policy of not allowing nudity backfired. The famous “Napalm Girl” photo from the Vietnam War in which a naked young girl is photographed running from a napalm attack, and the “Brelfie” movement, in which nursing mothers shared photos of themselves breastfeeding, were initially deemed unallowable on Facebook. But, after criticism, both decisions were eventually overturned. In terms of gaming, it is easy to regulate when the rules are fixed like that of the board game Monopoly or basketball. But if there were suddenly 10 baskets or 200 properties available, new officiating problems would arise. Such is the case with social media, the researchers said.

Similarly, the authors argued a bottom-up approach would work better because of economies of scale and cultural differences. Social media companies employ thousands of people to review potentially problematic posts and decide whether they are allowable. While many of those reviewers are located outside of the United States, social media executives and lawyers are largely based in Silicon Valley, so misunderstandings about what is acceptable in one culture and not in another are inevitable. Users are better positioned to understand what is acceptable and what is hateful, discriminatory or problematic in their own cultures, Rosenthal and Belmas said. Plus, users do not have a financial incentive.

“Social media companies will always capitulate if it serves their bottom line,” Belmas said. “The question is to what degree does speech give way to money, and the answer is always, unless you use the model in which users have the power.”

The authors also point out how speech is regulated in various professions as a matter of course. In law and medicine, to give two examples, professionals can lose their licenses or face discipline for speech that is detrimental to the field. As such, various social media communities could determine what is allowable for its own community, be it a community for professionals, gamers, hobbyists, people of certain political viewpoints or other groupings of people with similar interests or connections.

Criticism of social media’s current approach is nearly ubiquitous, and lawmakers across the political spectrum have called for changes to be made. Rosenthal and Belmas said that instead of allowing the government to dictate online speech policy, social media would be well served to empower trusted users and the community to regulate what speech they will tolerate. Online gaming went through similar struggles in the past and developed an effective way to handle problematic speech.

“Whether or not we like it, social media companies are getting more powerful, and the political will is that something needs to be done,” Belmas said. “One of the best approaches we can see is a user-generated, bottom-up approach. In such a model, social media companies are not giving up power. They’re redistributing it.”

“It is in the economic interest of the companies to do this, for one, and two, it can help keep incidents like ‘Napalm Girl’ or ‘Brelfies’ from blowing up,” Rosenthal said. “It would work better if the buffer were the people.”

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Don’t miss new episodes of “When Experts Attack!,”
a KU News Service podcast hosted by Kansas Public Radio.

https://kansaspublicradio.org/when-experts-attack
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Contact: Rick Hellman, KU News Service, 785-864-8852, [email protected], @RickHellman
Scholar helps bring renewed focus to Italian filmmaker

LAWRENCE – Five years after the death of renowned screenwriter and filmmaker Ettore Scola, a scholar of Italian culture at the University of Kansas is contributing to a renewal of interest in Scola’s cinematic career.

Edward Bowen, assistant teaching professor of Italian at KU, has contributed an article on the critical reception of Scola’s films in the United States during the prime of the filmmaker’s career (1970-87) to a special edition of Italy’s oldest film journal, Bianco e Nero, or Black & White. Bowen’s article, written in Italian, is in a section of the issue dedicated to the reception of Scola abroad. This publication follows the first English-language book dedicated to the screenwriter and director, “The Cinema of Ettore Scola,” (Wayne State University Press, 2020) which Bowen co-edited with Wake Forest University professor Rémi Lanzoni.

“Scola had an illustrious career,” Bowen said. “He made 27 feature films as a director in addition to short films, documentaries and episodes in anthology films. He’s best known for his films about Italian and French history as well as his contributions to Comedy Italian Style — satirical and grotesque comedies of the ’60s and ’70s that offer biting commentaries on the challenges of adapting to rapid changes in Italian society.”

Scola was nominated four times for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and he won the Best Director award in 1976 at Cannes for “Brutti, sporchi e cattivi” (“Ugly, Dirty & Bad”). Before he first sat in the director’s chair in 1964, Scola wrote dozens of comedic screenplays, including several masterpieces of Comedy Italian Style, Bowen said.

“In the 1970s and 1980s in the U.S., his films circulated regularly in specialized cinemas in New York, Washington, D.C.; Boston and Los Angeles. However, he’s someone who was a little bit off of the radar of scholars based in the U.S. publishing on auteur cinema,” Bowen said. “That said, he certainly was not off the radar of French scholars or Italians. Heading into last year, one could find a dozen books on him in Italian and three books in French, but none in English. That’s what prompted my colleague, Rémi Lanzoni, and I to put an edited volume together, for which we gathered 14 contributions from scholars based in five different countries.”

Bowen attributes some of the renewed interest in Scola to the author’s death in 2016, but he said it was growing even before then, noting DVD releases of two of the best-known films for which Scola wrote screenplays. The Criterion Collection has also released a DVD of 1977’s Sophia Loren-Marcello Mastroianni pairing, “A Special Day,” and included other Scola works in its streaming services,

Scola was a communist, and Bowen said his films reflect his personal anti-fascism as well as his criticism of exploitative capitalists and ineffective intellectuals and politicians, but never in a heavy-handed way.
“Scola used allegorical characters in his films to refer to different political leanings and utilized irony to emphasize the hypocritical traits and weaknesses of each,” Bowen said.

Because of his offscreen political activism in the last decades of his life — mainly in defense of sites of film production, exhibition and education (i.e., film schools and museums) — Bowen labels Scola a “statesman for Italian cinema.” He strongly believed in the role that cinema could play in the education of young people, especially in helping them to develop a more critical view of society. This is one of the qualities that Bowen, as a teacher of Italian cinema, admired most about the director.

For the past 25 years, Bowen said, professors like himself have used Scola’s masterpieces that revisit 20th-century history in Italy, such as “We All Loved Each Other So Much” (1974), “A Special Day” (1977) and “The Family” (1987).

“I know many professors who have found his films to be effective in introducing students to major moments in Italian history, but also in having them reflect on the effects that historical events have on individuals and their relationships,” Bowen said. “In recent years, people are starting to pay more attention to the fact that he wasn’t just a director who was capable of making a comment on society at a specific moment, or over a period of time, but that his signature style also contained many stylistic achievements, including his innovative use of flashbacks, long takes, visual transitions and voiceover as well as a broad range of comic techniques, including his use of the grotesque register,” Bowen said.

“Some U.S. critics in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Roger Ebert, struggled to accept some of Scola’s grotesque portraits of contemporary Italy and preferred his historical films, but this trend hasn’t persisted,” Bowen said. “The recent re-release of his grotesque comedy ‘Ugly, Dirty and Bad’ in New York theaters and in streaming by Film Comment attests to a growing reevaluation of his work.”
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