New Kelley School study finds psychological toll of Madoff fraud case went far beyond the victims

Bernard Madoff

Bernard Madoff, U.S. Department of Justice photograph, 2009

Millions of people are expected to tune in to tonight’s ABC broadcast of a miniseries about Bernie Madoff, who is serving a 150-year sentence for running one of the largest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history.

Among them will be Noah Stoffman, an associate professor of finance in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, who suspects that some of Madoff’s victims will be watching as well.

Like other successful Ponzi schemes, Madoff’s took advantage of what researchers call an “affinity relationship.” Madoff is Jewish, and nearly everyone who was “invited” to invest with his firm was Jewish. Many were active within the Jewish philanthropic community.

In a new paper, Stoffman and two co-authors set out to study where Madoff’s fraud case left its deepest impact and on whom — not just among his direct victims, but also on how others viewed the trustworthiness of financial markets.

“The cost of a fraud like this is much larger than just the money that was lost by the victims,” Stoffman said. “We showed that about $430 billion was moved out of risky assets and into bank accounts as a result of this fraud. That has a huge potential economic impact.”

In other words, because of what happened to Madoff’s victims, their neighbors, friends and others in the same “affinity group” may have left perfectly good investments, costing themselves higher financial returns, at a time when returns potentially were very high.

Stoffman and associates, Umit Gurun of the University of Texas at Dallas and Scott Yonker of Cornell University, used court documents to get a complete list of Madoff’s victims and then created a map of affected areas. That was then used to perform a statistical comparison of outcomes, in terms of who invested in riskier assets versus cash deposits in banks.

Noah Stoffman

Noah Stoffman

In areas of the country where many of Madoff’s victims resided – such as the Northeast, South Florida and Southern California – they found a precipitous decline in the use of registered investment advisors, people who provide service to access financial markets.

At the same time, using data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Stoffman and his colleagues found higher levels of bank deposit activity in those same areas.

“We saw this shift in areas that were more affected by the Madoff shock,” said Stoffman, who studies the role of social interactions in investment decisions. “We saw a shift from risky investments to safe investments. Among those people who somehow are more exposed to the fraud, it affects their investment behavior.

“We can’t track person by person to see what they did with their money, but we have a sense in the aggregate that this money was shifted from risky assets to cash and probably ended up earning lower returns than it would have.”

The paper, “Trust Busting: The Effect of Fraud on Investor Behavior,” will be presented in March at the Conference on Financial Decisions and Asset Markets, hosted by the Wharton School’s Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research. It also was presented recently at a meeting of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Behavioral Finance working group.

They did find that the same people had more trust in investment advisors, who provide additional services – such as financial planning and tax services – face to face, and thus build a deeper relationship with clients.

In the past two decades, the Securities and Exchange Commission has investigated more than 360 Ponzi schemes, but the Madoff scheme dwarfed them all and provided the researchers with a good “testing ground” to study trust.

The Madoff case directly affected many geographically dispersed investors whose trust was shaken — as shown in the 113 victim impact statements, which mention “trust” 45 times. Because the fraud targeted a particular group of investors, Stoffman and his colleagues were able to study how trust shock was transmitted through social networks.

Stoffman suspects that the miniseries starring Richard Dreyfuss and Blythe Danner may lead some to revisit the emotions they had in 2008, when Madoff’s actions came to light.

“It’s entirely possible that people who either had previously been affected, whose trust was diminished in the past, may be reminded now of this event, and it may well have another effect in that more people may want to shift their assets to something that’s less risky now,” he said.

Madoff victims

This map from Stoffman’s paper shows the number of Madoff’s victims by county.

Talking shop: Retail experts to assemble at IU for a full-day forum

Guest post by Karen Land, who normally writes at the Art at IU blog:

The Retail Studies Organization at Indiana University Bloomington has a special day in store Feb. 9. Its annual retail and design forum will feature a lineup of industry leaders from DSW Inc., Google, Kohl’s, Under Armour and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union.

Janis Shaffer, a faculty adviser for the organization, said the forum offers all IU students the chance to learn more about current industry challenges and opportunities.

Janis Shaffer

Janis Shaffer

“The executives will be speaking about intriguing topics, and they represent some of the most successful companies in the retail industry. It is a tremendous gift to IU students that they volunteer their time, talents and financial resources to come to campus,” said Shaffer, a senior lecturer in the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Design.

In fall 2016, the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Design will join studio arts programs in the new School of Art and Design, which will remain in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Students leave this event with a newfound passion for retail every year,” said Alex Larson, president of the Retail Studies Organization.

Members of the organization also can sign up to attend small-group sessions with the visiting speakers. More information on these sessions appears on the group’s website.

Retail and design forum speakers

9:30 a.m. — Katherine Finder, vice president of product development at Kohl’s, “Brand Clarity and Connecting with the Customer”

10:45 a.m. — Julie Krueger, retail industry director at Google, “My Life Before and After the Internet”

noon — Panel discussion featuring all of the speakers

1:15 p.m.Adam Peake, executive vice president of category management at Under Armour, “Marketing in a Global Retail Environment”

2:45 p.m.Fred Bedore, senior director of business strategy and sustainability at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., “How Resource Scarcity and Technology Could Redefine Retail”

4 p.m. — Brian Seewald, vice president of transformation at DSW Inc., “Challenges in Operationalizing Innovation.”

Seewald, who assumed his present title in the DSW Office of Innovation in 2015, said retail customers now expect “omnichannel engagement.” In other words, customers want the ability to purchase goods both in stores and online.

“We realize now that ‘omnichannel’ is really just retail, that it isn’t something that differentiates your brand. The difference now is that we have to make that experience consistently excellent regardless of how the customer chooses to shop us,” he said.

“We have a few accomplishments under our belts, but there is a long way to go, and it is the most exciting work I have done in my career.  I can’t imagine a more exciting time to be in retail.”

Two successful IU alumni among those in Forbes’ ’30 Under 30′ lists in tech and music

Tarun Gangwani

Tarun Gangwani

With more than 600,000 alumni, it’s understandably difficult to come up with a fairly short list of successful Indiana University graduates.

Many publications and news organizations are fond of such “best of” lists, where, once again, IU alumni are making their mark.

Two IU alumni were included among Forbes’ new “30 Under 30” lists in enterprise technology and music: cloud computing innovator Tarun Gangwani and music business executive Jake Udell, respectively.

A “proud IU alumnus,” Gangwani earned a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science in the IU College of Arts and Sciences and a master’s degree in human-computer interaction design from the School of Informatics and Computing at IU Bloomington.

While at IU, Gangwani spent a lot of time at University Information Technology Services as a technical team lead and as a researcher in IU’s language and memory labs.

Udell graduated in 2011 with a degree in entrepreneurship from the IU Kelley School of Business. He got involved with music as a student and briefly pursued his own career as a performer before getting involved in management and promotion.

After graduation, he worked for a year as the chief marketing officer for Campus Candy before founding the music label Th3rd Brain.

As part of Forbes’ “30 Under 30,” Gangwani and Udell find themselves among interesting company.

A big part of IBM’s Bluemix

Others with Gangwani in the enterprise technology category include the founders of innovative tech companies such as Bench, Dragos Security, Enplug and Doctolib.

Since receiving his master’s degree in 2013, Gangwani’s been involved with cloud computing at IBM, leading its business strategy, design execution and product quality activities.

As offering manager, he leads multi-disciplinary product development teams within IBM’s $9 billion cloud business and was a pioneer in designing IBM’s cloud developer platform, Bluemix, which the company launched via a $1 billion investment.

Bluemix has since become the largest open-source deployment in the world. He joined IBM in 2013 as part of the company’s first wave of designers, which is now 1,000-strong. His work has been recognized in numerous outlets, including The New York Times.

Colin Allen, former director of undergraduate studies at IU Bloomington’s Cognitive Science Program, met Gangwani and his family in 2007 while the fledgling tech leader considered transferring to IU from another university.

“Tarun and his parents were a bit nervous about him studying something as eclectic as cognitive science, but he was determined, and it certainly seems to have paid off,” said Allen, today an IU Provost Professor of cognitive science and history and philosophy of science.

Allen added that Tarun himself credits his IU education for “giving him an advantage at IBM by providing a broader vision about what is desirable and possible from technology.”

Using what he learned at Kelley to “Play Hard”

Others with Udell in the music category of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 include Jon Batiste, bandleader for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”; Leon Bridges, an old-school soul singer whose debut album “Coming Home” generated a lot of buzz; pop star Selena Gomez; DJ Snake; and Krewella, a duo Th3rd Brain manages.

Jake Udell

Jake Udell

In early 2012, Udell co-founded Th3rd Brain, which he says is “dedicated to collaborating with artists to define their vision and develop a strategy to market it.”

His most successful clients are sisters Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf, who today make up the duo Krewella, whose 2012 EP “Play Hard” rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Radio Airplay chart.

Last summer, they performed with Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow and Fergie on “Love Song to the Earth,” an all-star collaboration to raise awareness about global warming.

Udell’s firm also manages other popular electronic dance music acts Zhu, Gallant and the Danish/Norwegian duo Pegboard Nerds. Since graduation, he’s been back on campus for Recess, a music and arts festival for college students just a few years removed from his days at Kelley, who are budding entrepreneurs participate in a pitching contest similar to “Shark Tank.”

“Our goal is to not be everyone else. Our goal is to be different. Our goal is to build our own lane and every artist deserves that customization,” Udell said at last year’s International Music Summit’s “Engage” conference in Los Angeles, where he was joined by music industry leaders Chuck D. of Public Enemy, Seth Troxler and Quincy Jones.

Tatiana Kolovou, a faculty member at the Kelley School, jokes that she was Udell’s first professor. He had her 8 a.m. business presentation class as a freshman in the fall of 2007. She became one of his mentors and they’ve remained in contact.

She noted that Udell is skilled at networking and that at age 26 he has contacts in the music industry that rival those twice his age.

“He’s had his own lane since he was a freshman in my class,” said Kolovou, a senior lecturer at Kelley. “There’s something special about him. He’s very creative, moves fast and he thinks out of the box. He’s also very intuitive, which is a huge asset in his industry.

“I have always said that he’s our next Mark Cuban.”

Helping fifth-graders understand the relationship between saving rainforests and language

Classroom image

Students at University Elementary and six other schools saw a vivid slideshow of people and wildlife affected by rainforest deforestation.

Like many of his Indiana University faculty colleagues, David Stringer has had a lot of final papers to read lately, by the 66 students in his Language Hotspots and Biodiversity class.

However, unlike many of his peers, Stringer has had something else to read: letters from another group of people impacted by his course — 8- to 10-year-olds at local elementary schools.

Many of the children wrote to thank Stringer and his students for coming to their schools to talk about destruction of the world’s tropical rainforests and how it affects the people living there, their cultures and their languages.

“I really got affected when you showed us places that had a lot trees cut down and it made me think I want to stop people cutting down the rainforest,” wrote one fifth-grader. “Maybe we could fund a project for replanting so many trees and eventually grow a forest.”

Another student told them, “I never really thought about this, but humans are endangering humans.”

Stringer, an associate professor of second language studies in the IU College of Arts and Sciences, took his students to seven Bloomington elementary schools in November and December: Binford, Childs, Fairview, Templeton and University schools in the Monroe County Community School Corp., The Project School and St. Charles Boromeo School.

His students showed a vivid and colorful slideshow of people – particularly children – and some of the wildlife now being affected, such as birds of paradise, tree kangaroos, Pinocchio frogs and the newly discovered Yoda bat. Classroom discussions with the kids, mostly fifth-graders, followed.

Developing a sense of awareness of biocultural diversity

Stringer first became acutely aware of the issues involved when he spent a year studying in South America, including several months in the Peruvian Amazon.

Creating a project where IU students had to explain ideas of biocultural diversity to children helped them better understanding the concepts.

Creating a project where IU students had to explain ideas of biocultural diversity to children helped them better understand the concepts.

“While I used to see the questions of endangered languages and endangered species as separate, I’ve become convinced that language revitalization in traditional cultures needs to be tied to ecosystem conservation,” he said. “If we are going to stem the current tide of mass extinction, we need to develop awareness of biocultural diversity as a unifying concept.”

He believes it’s important that people at a young age develop a sense of wonder about the beauty and diversity of life on Earth – both linguistic and biological. It’s also crucial that they are aware of the fragility of nature.

“I have kids of my own, and I wanted to leave them with a message of hope,” he said. “In a really fundamental way, the future of bicultural diversity is in the hands of people younger than you and me. … What really got me was how intelligent some of the responses were and how advanced they were in the grasp of these concepts.

Over the fall semester, Stringer’s students examined linguistic diversity and biodiversity in the context of the current global mass extinction of languages and cultures, and how language revitalization can be tied to ecosystem conservation.

“When the College of Arts and Sciences announced a call for proposals for more interdisciplinary courses for freshmen, I saw this as a great opportunity to develop what I believe may be the first course at a U.S. university to examine biocultural diversity from a linguistic perspective,” he said.

“I also wanted to raise awareness of cultural and biological sustainability among freshmen, before they choose a major, so that some of them might later consider taking advantage of more specialized courses in related area such as linguistics, anthropology, ethnobotany and environmental studies.”

Benefits of the course to IU and elementary students

One language disappears every two weeks, he said, comparing it to “a library of traditional knowledge going up in flames.” Over the next 50 years, nearly half of the 7,000 languages spoken today will vanish, and within 100 years, that figure is expected to grow to more than 90 percent.

Stringer, fourth from the left, and his students visit Fairview Elementary School.

Stringer, fourth from the left, and his students visit Fairview Elementary School.

“There are multiple pressures on indigenous cultures. Some of it is social, acculturation policies by governments, but our focus has been on one of the main offenders, which is rainforest destruction,” Stringer said.

Every minute, about 55 acres of rainforest around the world are cut down.

Many organizations in the past decade have tied together biodiversity conservation with the maintenance of language and culture. During the semester, Stringer’s students interviewed Luisa Maffi, co-founder and director of Terralingua; and Regina Harlig, a Bloomington native who is a senior manager at Conservation International.

This semester, Stringer’s students examined 45 grassroots projects in the Amazon, the Congo and New Guinea and discussed what made some of them successful and others less so.

Lucy Fischman, principal of Binford Elementary, said the student presentations enhanced her school’s efforts around science and social studies.

“I think elementary students respond very well to college-age students. They are young, friendly faces, and our students look up to them. We love taking advantage of having IU right down the street,” Fischman said. “This project has the potential to grow into a deeper collaboration, between our students and Dr. Stringer’s students, with extension activities after students view the presentation.”

Stringer, one of about 100 IU faculty members in IU’s Integrated Program in the Environment, said the benefits of the project for his IU students are obvious.

“If you can explain these ideas to a 10-year-old child, it means that you’ve understood them yourself,” Stringer said. “I think creating a project where students had to explain ideas of biocultural diversity to children really helped their own understanding of these concepts for their studies at IU. It worked both ways.”

When the course is taught again next fall, Stringer expects to partner with NGOs to create an essay and poster competition for the elementary school students. The IU Office of Sustainability awarded him a $5,000 grant to help create the course, and he hopes to continue to develop the outreach initiative for children in the local community.

In new memoir, IU professor reflects on growing up in Africa, as a person between two worlds

From the age of 3, Carol Claxon Polsgrove has been a person between two worlds.

As a child, she accompanied her parents from Kentucky to West Africa, where they served as Baptist missionaries. After a dozen years of growing up mostly in Nigeria, she returned to the United States, where many people thought that experience to be strange.

Carol Polsgrove

Carol Polsgrove

“I did my best to pass as American without ever quite succeeding,” Polsgrove, a retired Indiana University professor wrote in the introduction to her new memoir, “When We Were Young in Africa, 1948-1960” (Culicidae Press).

“When my mother asked me in her last days, ‘Do you appreciate your African childhood?’ I replied with cruel honesty, ‘Yes, but now I don’t belong in America.’”

In the weeks following her mother’s death, Polsgrove wrote she poured out her memories and explored “the childhood I had tried to put behind me.”

This is her fourth book. Her others as an IU scholar are “It Wasn’t Pretty Folks, But Didn’t We Have Fun Esquire in the Sixties” (1995), “Divided Minds: Intellectuals and Civil Rights Movement” (2001) and “Ending British Rule in Africa: Writers in a Common Cause” (2009). She is a former editor at The Progressive and Mother Jones.

It is her first book for a more general audience. “I’ve always hoped that one day I’d write a book that friends would actually want to read and not simply professional historians or journalism people,” she said with a laugh during an interview.

While very readable, “When We Were Young in Africa” is not a lightweight reflection. Over 160 pages, she presents a complex coming-of-age story amid a contrast in cultures that framed her views of race, social justice and religion.

“In this memoir, brimming with the sounds and smells, the voices and spirits of over 60 years ago, Polsgrove comes to see the unity that links the two continents of her life and, in doing so, to embrace her becoming as it shapes her ongoing,” said George Ella Lyon, Kentucky’s poet laureate, in a comment written for the book’s cover.

Polsgrove writes about growing up with parents who weren’t prosperous, but in their 30s took a “big leap” and in 1948 went to Africa for the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. Taking a ship across the Atlantic to Ghana, and then known as the Gold Coast, was “an adventurous thing to do,” she said in the interview.

In subsequent years, her family lived on mission compounds in Nigeria, where she was not as involved in local life as she had been in Ghana. She and her brother also struggled with health issues. As a teen, she attended a boarding school for missionary children.

cover imageShe returned to the states and attended college in North Carolina and earned a doctorate at the University of Louisville. She taught journalism at universities in Kentucky and California and retired in 2008 after 19 years at IU.

A story many years in the telling

Polsgrove said this is a book she’s been trying to write for decades. “I would write memories down and I would keep them in a file. It wasn’t until after my mother died that I felt really free to write the story.

“Probably I’m not alone in this, among missionary children, that I carried some resentment that we grew up in such different circumstances from the people that we would ultimately live among; that is, other Americans,” she said. “Going through this process of writing the book and getting to know my parents in a different way, really as a historian, was healing.

“I understand what the church meant to my parents, as well as I can, and I respect what it meant to them, so I don’t feel resentful or hostile toward my growing up in a religious family,” she added. “I think it has a lot to do with the sense of social responsibility that I feel and the ways that I have been political in my life … My parents were really motivated by desire to do some good for the world.”

She found resources at IU’s Lilly Library to be invaluable. Her parents, Emma and Neville Claxon, regularly wrote “voluminous accounts” in detailed letters to family members in Kentucky, who held onto them.

Her mother put 685 of those letters into chronological order and donated them to the Lilly Library. After her mother’s death, Polsgrove and her brother donated another 5,000 items from their parents’ days as missionaries in Ghana, Nigeria and Benin.

“I was able to draw from my memories, but also put those together with the daily accounts of what Mother wrote home,” Polsgrove said. “They were almost like journals as a way to connect with the folks back home and the life they left behind in Kentucky.

“She was very frank and forthcoming and I knew her well and I would say she told what was happening as she saw it,” she added. “It was very helpful to have the letters.”

As a result, Polsgrove decided what her story would be as she went along and found new insights and understandings of what had happened to her. Her memories weren’t like “pebbles or marbles that you pull out of your pocket,” she said.

“I had to understand the story and what it meant and the relationship of this child to the life that I later lived,” she said.

It has been decades since she has been in Africa, but Polsgrove said she feels a kinship when she encounters Nigerians. “I haven’t been back in a very long time, but I know that there’s a part of me that was shaped in those surroundings.”

New ‘Star Wars’ movie awakens marketing memories for IU Kelley School faculty member

Paul Palmer Jr. II was a senior brand manager for Hasbro Inc. and its product line for episodes I and II of "Star Wars."

Paul Palmer Jr. II was a senior brand manager for Hasbro Inc. and its product line for episodes I and II of “Star Wars.”

Paul Palmer Jr. II admits that as a 10-year-old growing up on the west side of Indianapolis in 1977, he used to evade theater ushers so he could stay for multiple screenings of “Star Wars.”

Like so many people, including me, he would go back to see the movie anytime someone would take him.

“In the first month, I literally saw ‘Star Wars’ 30 times, at least,” said Palmer, a lecturer in marketing and an MBA diversity coach in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. “Every time you saw it, something different blew your mind.”

Today, Palmer has a unique perspective on the Dec. 17 release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens“: He was a senior brand manager for Hasbro Inc. and its product line for episodes I and II of the classic science fiction franchise in from 1999 to 2003.

“It was crazy,” he said. “We had an opportunity to be a part of the rebirth, for the next chapter in truly an evergreen saga that resonates with fans and moviegoers across a broad spectrum around the world. It was exciting that I could be part of something that I was passionate about 20 years earlier.”

After earning an MBA in 1996 from the Kelley School, Palmer went to work for consumer products giant Procter & Gamble as a brand manager. The “big kid at heart” left for Hasbro two years later.

He initially worked on several special feature girls’ items — “anything that poops, pees and eats food” — including the McDonald’s Happy Meal Doll. He also worked on dolls and action figures for the movie “Titanic,” the Spice Girls, My Little Pony and Pokémon.

From My Little Pony to “Star Wars”

In spring 1999, a few weeks before “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” opened, Palmer was invited to join the team working on the franchise’s toys. He worked with “Star Wars” products until he left to explore other opportunities in another Hasbro division in 2003.

Palmer led the marketing and product plans while managing key licensor relationships with Lucasfilm, Walt Disney and Cartoon Network. As such, he had early access to storylines and initial film footage of “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones,” to help decide what characters and items would be among the toys for young fans, those young at heart and collectors.

Palmer's team team created more than 60 action figures, including this one of Boba Fett, signed by the actor who played him.

Palmer’s team created more than 60 action figures, including this one of Boba Fett, signed by the actor who played him.

While working on products for “Episode II,” met with members of creator George Lucas’ team, particularly Howard Roffman, head of licensing for all Lucasfilm properties. Members of the team were on the set during filming to “make sure that we get good ideas from the movie that would turn into toys.”

His team created more than 60 action figures, lightsabers and vehicles. But its biggest success was an interactive toy version of the R2-D2 droid, which was named toy of the year in 2002.

“We looked at doing a C-3PO, but because of the way he’s physically structured and because of the gait by which a droid would have to walk, it was going to be difficult to execute that toy in the manner he needed to be,” Palmer said. “The technology didn’t exist and would be too costly, so we went with the R2-D2.”

They worked with a design team in England to develop the technology to bring the 18-inch R2-D2 replica to life.

In 2002, he returned to his hometown to participate in Celebration II, an official “Star Wars” convention at the Indiana Convention Center. There, he was joined by Carrie Fisher, who reprises her role as Princess Leia in the new movie; Peter Mayhew, better known as Chewbacca; Anthony Daniels, who is C-3PO; and Jeremy Bulloch, who played Boba Fett in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”

Lessons for current Kelley students

In 2010, he returned to the Kelley School as a faculty member and serves as a mentor for students in the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management. Students in his marketing classes appreciate his career anecdotes, but he doesn’t dwell too much on his experience with “Star Wars.”

Among the lessons Palmer shares is an appreciation that “Star Wars” is one of the few franchises that resonates today as much as it did 38 years ago. He noted that its popularity has “transcended” at least three generations: adults and their children who saw the original three movies, millennials who grew up with the second trilogy and young people who will travel to a “galaxy far, far away” next week. They include Palmer’s two children aged nine and 11, “who are excited.”

In 2012, Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion, a marriage of two marketers who appreciate the significance of fan experiences. “I tell students watch out, this has the opportunity to rewrite any of the records that exist — not only just first-week box office but total movie box office,” he said.

But the bar for satisfaction can be set so high that anything less than a blockbuster smash will seem like a failure. As compared to when he saw the initial “Star Wars” movie repeatedly as a child, because it was “so new and so fresh,” today’s audiences have been seeing previews and leaked photos for nearly a year.

“The expectation now is that this movie better be mind-blowing and take me to places where I’ve never gone before, or people will feel dissatisfied. It cannot be good; it has to be great,” Palmer said.

Palmer is concerned that the price points for many of the current “Star Wars” toys are higher than they should be, remembering the royalties and profit projections from Hasbro days. The fact that the new “Star Wars” video game, “Battlefront,” is available only on new Xbox One and Playstation 4 consoles limits “the opportunity for people to engage in the saga and the fantasy” (There is a PC version, too.)

“We forget that times are still tough for many people in this country, so asking Mom and Dad to buy a new videogame platform and invest that deep in the franchise could be a stretch,” he said.

In between his time at Hasbro and when he returned to Kelley, Palmer led the alternative card business at American Greetings, where he was instrumental in developing a successful partnership with comedienne Ellen DeGeneres. That project was the grand winner of the 2007 American Greetings Chairman’s Awards for Innovation.

“I’m amazed at the direct impact that a faculty member can have on a student,” he said of his current role at Kelley. “To just see students learn and thrive and grow and come out of their shell and start understanding the potential that’s there never gets old.”

As revealed in new book, retired IU professor is ‘at home with Ernie Pyle’

Over the past 17 years, Owen V. Johnson has pored over hundreds of letters and articles written by the acclaimed journalist and Indiana native Ernie Pyle. He’s spoken with many of the writer’s family members and friends and walked in his footsteps.

9780253019059_lrgAs a result, it’s almost as if the retired Indiana University journalism professor knew Pyle personally. In fact, Johnson said he’s even had some people tell him that he “spends far too much time with ‘him.’”

Johnson’s new book, “At Home with Ernie Pyle” (IU Press), draws upon some of those letters and brings together Pyle’s writings about Indiana and its people during the first half of the 20th century.

Growing up in the state of Washington, Johnson had read several books about and by Pyle and like many people was an admirer of his work for many years. But it wasn’t until 1998 that an assignment for students in an IU intensive freshman seminar helped him realize the value of re-examining Pyle through his personal letters.

“I had heard that there were some Pyle letters in the Lilly Library, so I created an assignment where the students had to read a couple of letters – one during peacetime and one during wartime – a couple of columns – one peacetime and one wartime – and an article in some kind of popular publication like Life or Look magazine,” he recalled.

“They came back and they were really excited,” Johnson added. “These letters also showed another side of Pyle that they hadn’t imagined. Some of them were very raunchy, very honest and very direct.”

As a result, Johnson began working on a book about Pyle’s personal correspondence. But after collecting copies of more than 1,300 letters in more than 3,000 pages of manuscript, he realized the project was too immense.

Pyle remains the best-known journalist produced by the Hoosier state. Many remaining members of the “Greatest Generation” – veterans who fought during World War II – still fondly recall how Pyle told their stories. His death by a Japanese machine-gunner in the waning years of the war in 1945 on Ie Island, just west of Okinawa, sealed that legacy.

“We had these myths about Pyle,” Johnson said. “Supposedly he was praising the heroism and how we were fighting for such a good cause, but he didn’t really write that at all. He was just presenting the experience from the perspective of ordinary soldiers and sometimes from people like Generals Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower.”

Owen V. Johnson/Photo credit: Steven L. Raymer

Owen V. Johnson/Photo credit: Steven L. Raymer

On this, his first book about the person who many deeply associate with journalism studies at IU, Johnson worked with staff at IU Archives and the IU Lilly Library and students in The Media School. It reveals Pyle as much more than a Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent.

The book contains all the columns he wrote when he was in Indiana and others about the Hoosier state and its people he encountered elsewhere. Some are well-known and others hadn’t been reprinted since their original publication.

“Together, they tell us about his family and about the lives of people in and from the state. More than one might have expected, Pyle found Hoosiers in other places, so much that he noticed it,” Johnson wrote in the book’s introduction. “These columns and Pyle’s life mirror Indiana’s change from a primarily rural, agrarian society to a modern, industrial one.

“They are important because Pyle grew up in Indiana, found his standard there and respected it all his life.”

Pyle studied at IU from 1919 to 1923 and left a semester early to accept his first job as a journalist. He returned in 1944 to receive the first honorary degree of humane letters ever presented by IU.

“At Home with Ernie Pyle” contains chapters about Indiana cities Indianapolis and Evansville, as well as about the artists’ colony of Brown County. He writes about politics and politicians, writers and artists and frequently his family and people in his hometown of Dana.

Today, Pyle is memorialized with a museum in the small Vermillion County community, and at IU with a lifelike sculpture in front of Franklin Hall, the future home of The Media School. Pyle’s name also is on the building where journalism has been taught at IU for six decades.

This new collection of Pyle’s Indiana writings includes a chapter about people with IU ties; it contains just one article about his visit to the Bloomington campus after leaving to begin his career.

“Pyle wanted to remember IU the way it was. He wanted to freeze it in time because what he learned here and what he did here was so important to his formation,” Johnson said.

Johnson hopes that “At Home with Ernie Pyle” will be followed by other books, including a thorough look at the writer’s early formative years, a topic not emphasized in previous biographies.

The 408-page book is now available from retailers as well as from IU Press.

A Monday morning quarterback’s view on the kick-off of the holiday shopping season

Black Friday has come and gone. While many shoppers again camped out for the deals, most gift buyers have feasted on the special sale prices throughout the month of November offered online. Many others were content to wait until Friday to hit the mall or go online today, Cyber Monday.

Retailers have decided that it’s fine for shoppers to spend Thanksgiving feasting on turkey and dressing, watching football and spending time with their families.

None of this is a surprise to John Talbott, associate director of the Kelley School’s Center for Education and Research in Retailing.

The nation’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, which for years set the bar for everyone by opting to offer the deals on Thanksgiving Day, offered “pre-Black Friday” deals and competitors followed suit.

“It’s interesting that we’ve found equilibrium as opposed to that march backwards into Thanksgiving,” Talbott said, describing how retailers responded to customer sentiment about the holiday.

Rather than feel pressured to begin the holiday shopping season earlier in their stores, retailers have been taking advantage of the digital domain to generate sales though the month of November and even in late October.

John Talbott, associate director of the Center for Education and Research in Retailing in IU's Kelley School of Business

John Talbott, associate director of the Center for Education and Research in Retailing in IU’s Kelley School of Business

“They’ve realized that the way to handle early shopping is not so much with physical locations but to utilize the Web,” he said, adding that operationally it’s more profitable.

Outdoor outfitter REI generated some buzz when it announced that it would be closed on Black Friday as well as Thanksgiving. The company suggested through its “#OptOutside” campaign that its customers spend time with friends and family.

But REI is not Wal-Mart, Target or Sears. Unlike those companies, it is a co-op not owned by shareholders.

“They can get away with it because the people they are answering to is not Wall Street,” Talbott said. “It’s their customers and their employees. If a traditional corporation walked away from Black Friday sales, they would probably see a 1 to 2 percent drop in their November numbers and they would be crushed by Wall Street.”

While “Black Thanksgiving” may be as unappealing as leftover turkey to many, Talbott isn’t sure whether customers will reward stores that remained closed on Thursday. That’s a tough question to answer.

In previous years, much has been written about the “battle” between traditional brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers. Talbott said it’s time to declare that war over — customers today like shopping in both settings, especially when traditional retailers effectively use the Internet.

“We shouldn’t even be talking about ‘e-commerce’ anymore; it’s just ‘commerce,’” he said. “Today, the single largest location for most traditional brick-and-mortar retailers’ is their website. They are just as interested in online sales as the traditional pure-play guys like Amazon.

“And Amazon’s opening stores, so it’s just retail again.”

Companies have realized that there is value in having a tangible element of their brands, said Talbott, a former top executive at two apparel merchandisers.

“In some cases, it’s probably cheaper to acquire customers by building an appropriately sized physical space – in many cases just a showroom – than keyword and SEO marketing on the Web today, because the Internet is a very, very crowded place right now,” he said. “There have been studies suggesting that strategically placed physical locations can create a groundswell.”

Earlier this month, Talbott and the center released the latest survey findings in the FINdex, a fashion innovation index based on what college-age female shoppers are saying. The survey found that brick-and-mortar stores remain the most important places for these women to shop.

“Clearly these women embrace the evolving nature of retail today and are channel agnostic in terms of their choice of shopping destinations,” Talbott said. “The type of product or the particular purpose of the shopping trip likely drives the selection of store versus Web.

Amid the bleakness of the Paris attacks, an IU professor finds hope through his research

Vado Diomande, left, and IU Professor Daniel Reed.

Vado Diomande, left, and IU Professor Daniel Reed.

In the West African language of Mauka, the word “kekene” simply means “oneness.”

Appropriately, it’s also the title of an annual performance series showcasing Ivorian immigrant Vado Diomande, director of the New York-based Kotchegna Dance Company. This year, it took place at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, where he teaches.

“It’s an expression of unity through music and dance,” explains Daniel Reed, an Indiana University associate professor of folklore and ethnomusicology who for nine years studied has studied Diomande and three other immigrant performers from Côte d’Ivoire for an upcoming book.

What intrigues Reed are the efforts by Diomande to promote unity by interweaving diversity on the stage.

While framed as a traditional performance of Côte d’Ivoire dance, dancers in the Kotchegna Dance Company come from diverse backgrounds. They include Americans and others from the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.

“He’s very deliberately formed a multicultural music and dance company to perform traditional Ivory Coast dance, because he believes that music and dance can bring people together,” Reed said.

Reed’s research of Diomande and three of his contemporaries was the reason why the IU associate professor of folklore and ethnomusicology happened to be in Paris on Nov. 13, the day of the terrorist attacks carried out across the city by members of ISIS, killing 130 people.

Daniel Reed

Daniel Reed

But it also was a source of comfort for Reed. Like those who launched the attacks, Diomande is a professed Muslim. Unlike them, he wants to bring people together, a message the IU professor was happy to share in Paris.

“I started reflecting on the purpose of my visit there,” Reed said, reflecting on his feelings on the night of the attacks. “I started thinking about how ironic it was that I was there.

“He’s been Muslim his whole life and that’s a very important part of his identity, but it’s very much integrated into the rest of his life,” Reed said. “And he’s very intent on spreading his ideological message of unity and oneness through his performances.”

Reed was a presenter at the academic conference, “Orchestrating the Nation: Music and Dance and (Trans-) Nationalisms,” which brought together about 50-70 scholars in ethnomusicology and dance studies from around the world.

He gave one of the final conference presentations, and left the Maison des Cultures du Monde at about 8:30 p.m., just a few minutes before the attacks began.

After briefly returning to his hotel, Reed decided to stop for dinner at a French bistro about a mile away from where terrorists opened fire on diners across the Seine River.

Unknowingly, Reed returned to his hotel to researching music venues where he might be able to hear African music that evening.

“Many of those clubs, of course, are in the area where the attacks occurred,” he said. “I turned on the TV as background, looked at the soccer game for a moment and ended up on news … Suddenly news of the attacks started coming out.”

Diomande in performance at a Kekene performance.

Diomande in performance at a Kekene performance.

Like so many others, Reed sheltered in place in his fourth-floor hotel room, texted family, posted a Facebook update and stayed up all night “watching things unfold” on television.

“But a light bulb went off in my head, in the middle of the night, when I realized that at this very important moment, when the tendency so often is to have a backlash, is to see the world in very simple, binary terms – Islam vs. the West – … the fact that we have this person who is Muslim and who is spreading this discourse of unity is really important,” Reed said.

The name of Diomande’s dance company comes from the Mauka word for “messenger.”

At the age of 17, Diomande became one of the founding members of Côte d’Ivoire’s national ballet in 1974. During his tenure with that company, they mastered the art of taking the music and dance traditions from the more than 60 ethnic groups in a nation the size of New Mexico and merged them into a unified, nationalized art form.

Eventually, Diomande became one of the ballet company’s lead choreographers before leaving to form his own ensemble. In 1994, he immigrated to the United States and today lives in New York City. He performed at IU this summer as part of an opening for an exhibit at the art museum.

Since returning from his first trip to Paris a week ago, Reed has reached out by phone to the person who he today counts as a friend.

“He was in the middle of a rehearsal but he took the time out to hear me out and listened to me and respond and he just said, ‘Thank you, thank you. This is great. I’m so glad that my message was heard.”

Top Indian government official commends IU’s strategic initiatives in his nation

Deepender S. Hooda

Deepender S. Hooda

For the last 20 years, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business has welcomed nearly a dozen highly successful leaders to campus as a Poling Chair of Business and Government.

Like the late Harold “Red” Poling, who as chief executive of Ford Motor Co. established the leader-in-resident program in 1993, many of them have been proud IU and Kelley alumni.

This past week, Deepender S. Hooda, a 2003 Kelley graduate and a member of India’s parliament since 2005, joined that select group.

During his visit, he lectured to classes at Kelley and the IU Maurer School of Law. He dined with undergraduate and graduate students from across the university, including many from India.

IU President Michael McRobbie, IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel and deans and administrators this week have sought his input about IU’s growing efforts in the world’s fastest growing society.

Hooda also did things most IU alumni do. He attended an exciting IU-Michigan football game and introduced his wife Sweta to the beauty and vibrancy of the IU Bloomington campus and nearby Brown County.

During his visit, Hooda gave several presentations, including this one to Kelley's Dean's Council.

During his visit, Hooda gave several presentations, including this one to Kelley’s Dean’s Council.

“I just love being here,” said Hooda, who represents Rohtak, a city in the state of Haryana, and serves as party whip of the Indian National Congress in the lower house of India’s parliament. “I’m really happy to see how the campus has changed over the last 13 years.

“I really like the direction in which the university leadership is taking the university,” he said, citing the new School of Global and International Studies and several infrastructure projects on campus, including Hodge Hall. “That is going to provide a great competitive advantage for IU in days to come.”

Among the “marvelous initiatives” that Hooda said IU has undertaken in India is its Gateway Office in Gurgaon, a suburb about 20 miles southwest of New Delhi and in the legislative district that Hooda represents.

“The IU Gateway is the facility that all the programs and all the schools within the university are using to establish their relationships with their counterparts in India,” he said. “IU is ahead of the curve as far as its India strategy is concerned and compared to most universities in the U.S.”

He cited the Kelley School’s partnerships with the Indian Institute of Management campuses at Lucknow and Rohtak and O.P. Jindal Global University’s collaborations with Kelley, Maurer and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

“From a business school point of view, my estimate is there are just five top business schools in the U.S. that have laid out their own India strategy. These five include the Harvard Business School, MIT, Stanford, Duke and Kelley,” he said.

Dr. Devi Singh, right, director of IIM-Lucknow, watched in May 2012 as Dan Smith, then dean of the IU Kelley School of Business, signed a partnership agreement between IU, Kelley and IIM-Lucknow.

Dr. Devi Singh, right, director of IIM-Lucknow, watched in May 2012 as Dan Smith, then dean of the IU Kelley School of Business, signed a partnership agreement between IU, Kelley and IIM-Lucknow.

IU has also formed strong and productive partnerships with several other top Indian universities, including the University of Hyderabad, Symbiosis International University, Elite School of Optometry and SHODH: Institute for Research and Development.

Hooda was among those on the crest of a wave of international students who are studying at U.S. colleges and universities. According to a recent report from the Institute of International Education, about 975,000 people today come from other nations to study at American institutions and Indiana University is one of the top 20 places they attend.

Indian students are big reason for this trend and today more than 1,100 are enrolled at IU. There also are about 4,300 IU alumni affiliated with India, who, along with the hundreds of scholars, dignitaries and students who have visited IU campuses, comprise IU’s ever-growing global community.

Hooda also is an example of the many international students who return home and provide important contributions in their countries after earning an IU degree, and then loyally work with the university to provide similar opportunities to others.

In addition to IU’s educational quality, Hooda acknowledges other benefits for Indian and American students alike, namely increased awareness and understanding.

“One of the profound experiences that I had on campus, when I was a student, was 9/11,” he said. “I was about one month into my stay in the U.S., one month into my student life, when 9/11 shocked all of us.

“The reactions that event invoked in all of us helped me understand the diverse perspectives that each person can have … based on where that person is coming from,” he added.

This is profoundly clear, in light of recent world events in Paris, Beirut, Egypt and elsewhere.

“The global events we’ve seen recently also tell us that the world is becoming increasingly integrated,” Hooda said. “On many levels, that’s a good thing, but at the same time the problems of the world will also be shared. The world has to come together to address these problems … in ways that we have not been able to do in this century.

“An experience in Bloomington prepares you for something like that.”

In 2007, IU students met with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

In 2007, IU students met with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

Over the years, Hooda has worked to facilitate many opportunities for IU and Kelley students, arranging for them to meet top government officials and business executives in Delhi and elsewhere in the country.

In 2007, students met with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, who at the time was the country’s minister for external affairs and a member of the cabinet.

“Those were wonderful visits,” he said. “There is no replacement for that. You cannot learn about a culture or a country by television or by reading books … That’s what I’ve noticed with all of the groups that I’ve hosted over the years in Delhi.

“I can see, from the kinds of questions that these students begin asking, while they are there, that their level of understanding expands in the matter of a week or 10 days,” he added. “

Previous Poling Chairs have included alumni such as Randall Tobias, a former top executive at Eli Lilly and AT&T and the current chair of the IU Board of Trustees; Elizabeth Acton, retired chief financial officer of Comerica and a former vice president and treasurer of Ford Motor Co.; Frank Popoff, former CEO and chairman of Dow Chemical Co.; and Dale Pollak, chairman and founder of vAuto, Inc.

Hooda will return in the spring, when again he’ll be given the charge to stimulate discussion in critical areas of leadership, policy, competitiveness and economic growth.