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Wildcats are taking over the late night network television lineup. CBS announced that Northwestern University alumnus Stephen Colbert ’86 will succeed David Letterman as host of “The Late Show” when the veteran host steps down in 2015.


As Colbert enters the late night fray, he faces competition from other Northwestern alumni working on comedy talk shows on the other major networks. Fellow School of Communication alumnus Seth Meyers ’96 recently left his post as head writer of “Saturday Night Live” to get behind the desk of “Late Night” on NBC. Over at ABC, School of Communication alumna Jill Leiderman ’93 has served as executive producer of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” since 2006. Other Northwestern alumni have also served a variety of roles on many of these shows over the years, including Leiderman as a segment producer for "The Late Show" and Jena Friedman ’05 as a writer for "The Late Show” and now a producer for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."


The Northwestern infiltration of the competitive late night television landscape is a testament to the well-rounded education alumni receive from the School of Communication, said William Bleich, a senior lecturer in the school’s radio/television/film department who also wrote for David Letterman early in the comedian’s career.


Read the full story in Northwestern News.

An audience of nearly 400 alumni, faculty, administrators, family and friends gathered to celebrate Northwestern University’s 81st annual Alumni Awards April 12. The top award of the program, the Alumni Medal, was given to Dennis H. Chookaszian '65, a University Life Trustee and retired chairman and CEO of CNA Insurance Companies. Watch the tribute video to Chookaszian below.



The Alumni Medal is the mark of highest distinction granted to a Northwestern alumnus or alumna who has achieved eminence in his or her community and field of endeavor and who has rendered exceptional service to the University, bringing honor to Northwestern. This year’s winner, Chookaszian, credits his time at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science with launching a career that culminated in his becoming chairman and CEO of CNA Insurance Companies. “It gave me the confidence to know that there wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do,” he says. “No business problem seemed complicated to me after studying engineering.”


While his career did not follow a traditional engineering path, he says courses on creative thinking and entrepreneurship gave him the tools to succeed in business. He held several executive roles during his 26-year tenure at CNA, including serving as chief financial officer, chairman and CEO, and chairman of its executive committee, and was named the Financial Times’ Outstanding Director in 2010. Chookaszian also served for five years as chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council. Since retiring, he has served on the boards of 11 public companies and 50 private companies.

Chookaszian has given back to the University in many significant ways. He serves as a Life Trustee and is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at the Kellogg School of Management, the McCormick Advisory Council and the Northwestern Memorial Foundation’s Board of Directors. He and his wife, Karen, have given to several areas of the University, including McCormick and the Kellogg School of Management.


Read more about the 2014 Northwestern Alumni Association Awards at

An audience of nearly 400 alumni, faculty, administrators, family and friends gathered to celebrate Northwestern University’s 81st annual Alumni Awards April 12. The top award of the program, the Alumni Medal, was given to Dennis H. Chookaszian, a University Life Trustee and retired chairman and CEO of CNA Insurance Companies.


Photos from the event are now available.


Visit the event website for more details.

Datu Ramel (WCAS73) remembers a time when diversity first became an important concept in higher education.


Does Pluto care if it’s labeled a “planet?” Is any child ever born bad? What insight can you gain from spending 12 years at a university? These were just a few of the issues addressed at TEDx NorthwesternU, a day dedicated to ideas worth spreading.


Attendees packed the McCormick Tribune Center Forum on the Evanston campus April 12 for three separate sessions featuring speakers from the Northwestern community. Students, faculty members and alumni presented polished 15-minute talks on a range of topics, from interdisciplinary teaching to tackling issues of human rights. Livestreaming of the sessions was viewed in nearby Fisk Hall by scores of registered guests.

“I thought of my talk as sort of a tribute to Northwestern,” said speaker Marissa Jackson '06, who spoke about how her family roots in Ghana inform her work as a human rights attorney. “For me to be able to come back, that speaks to the work the University has been doing. I think it should serve as an encouragement.”

Other presenters included: Northwestern faculty Eli Finkel (professor, psychology, Weinberg); Shane Larson (professor, astrophysics/CIERA, Weinberg); Linda Van Horn (professor, preventive medicine, Feinberg) and Xavier McElrath-Bey (recent researcher, public policy). NU alumni speakers included Ayesha Chowdhry '04; Zack Johnson '10; and Stephen Dowling '13. NU students included Parag Gupta (McCormick Ph.D candidate); Jackson Walker ‘17; Michael Silberblatt ‘14 and Neha Reddy ‘16.

Event organizers including 11 student members on the executive board selected the roster of 12 speakers from more than 100 submissions received earlier this year.

TED, a nonprofit devoted to Technology, Entertainment and Design, operates national conferences covering a wide scope of issues. The organization also encourages and licenses independent self-organized “TEDx” events around the country, combining video and live speakers to spark discussion and connection.

Contributions to Northwestern's event came from multiple corners of the campus community, further illustrating the day’s theme, “Crossing Paths.” Student volunteers from several academic schools pitched in. Performances punctuating each session highlighted student groups Thunk A Capella, Brownsugar, Treblemakers, Mee-Ow comedy group and Mariachi NU.

Visit the Northwestern News Center for the full story.

Time is running out to sign up for NU Day at Wrigley! Join the NU Club of Chicago and 1,250 undergraduates April 22 to watch the Cubs take on the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The first pitch is at 7:05 p.m., but the fun begins before then — enjoy a free beer and a surprise guest before the game at Mullen’s, 3527 North Clark Street.

Tickets are on sale now through Our Northwestern. Club members can buy tickets for themselves and up to three guests.

The Northwestern Alumni Association and several regional clubs are hosting a wide variety of other events in the Chicago area and elsewhere over the next few weeks. Check out the links listed below for more information.

        April 24, Evanston (Registration deadline is April 18.)

        April 26, Chicago

        May 1, Grand Rapids, Michigan (Registration deadline is April 25.)

        May 1, Boston (Registration deadline is April 24.)

Registration for A Day with Northwestern will close April 20, meaning there’s only a few days left to sign up for one of the Northwestern Alumni Association’s most popular events.


The annual all-day seminar features prominent faculty and alumni speaking on a variety of topics. This year’s event will be held Saturday, April 26, on the Evanston campus.


The event — a highlight of the NAA’s educational programming — draws about 500 alumni, parents, friends and current and prospective students to campus every year.


“The day showcases the incredible breadth of expertise we have at Northwestern, with fascinating talks by faculty, distinguished alumni and even students,” said Bob Cox ’75, past chair of A Day with Northwestern’s Executive Board. “Many attendees come year after year because each new lineup of speakers is so varied and the topics so timely.”


Attendees can choose from two keynote presentations and 12 breakout sessions. The featured speakers include experts in the fields of politics, medicine, art, economics, law, journalism and more.


Geoffrey Baer ’85 MS will deliver the early afternoon keynote, a look at architecture in Chicago, the city that invented the skyscraper. Rikki Klieman ’70 will deliver the late afternoon address, an inside look at the media’s coverage of high-profile trials and legal proceedings.


A Day with Northwestern will be held on Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston. The event is open to the Northwestern community and the general public, but registration is required. For more information, including a full list of speakers and a registration link, please visit

Northwestern is offering alumni a unique, free MOOC — or massive online open course — about content strategy.


Whether you want to develop your knowledge of content strategy to improve your job performance and advance your career — or even if you’re just curious about Northwestern’s role in the field — this MOOC is for you.


When you enroll, you’ll join a global learning community tailored for adults. Your clients, colleagues, family and friends can also join.


Among the MOOC’s benefits are:


  • Flexibility. You can take the MOOC at your own pace — all in one weekend or spaced out over six weeks. 
  • No tests or grades. The focus is on developing knowledge that will deepen your understanding of how to make all forms of print and digital content more impactful.
  • Access to experts. The course will be taught by 10 faculty members from Medill and Kellogg.
  • Top technology. The course was developed on Coursera, the largest MOOC platform in the world.
  • It's free. However, registration is required. To register, click here:

“This MOOC will give you actionable ways to create engaging content that others will value,” lead professor John Lavine said. “You’ll see best-practice examples from across the globe and gain unique insight by going inside the future of content strategy at IBM, the organization that is leading the field today. From social media to audience insights, you will understand the best ways to think about digital and print content in your organization.”


Those who sign up for the MOOC will learn how to communicate clearly and effectively, said Candy Lee, a professor in journalism and integrated marketing communications at Medill.


“We’re offering this free MOOC for you because you are a Northwestern alum and thoughtful about how you communicate,” Lee said. “Just think about your myriad clients, customers, friends, and colleagues who would appreciate knowing how to have far more impact with the information they want to get across.”


The MOOC will begin June 9 and run through July 20. Don’t pass up this exciting opportunity to learn how content is used and consumed in our data-rich world alongside other Northwestern graduates from around the world.


The MOOC is free, but registration is required. Register by clicking here:

If you don’t already have an account with Coursera, you will be prompted to create one. After signing up for the MOOC, you will receive an email with the course materials once they’re available.


If you have questions about the MOOC, please contact Northwestern’s Media Management Center at or 847-491-4900.

Rock musician Todd Rundgren, best known for his 1972 hit “Hello It’s Me,” visited Northwestern for a discussion with neuroscientist Nina Kraus about how music shapes the nervous system and improves communication skills.

Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Communication Sciences at the School of Communication, hosted the April 1 event in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, which she directs.

Rundgren — a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and record producer — toured the lab and met a young musician who had participated in previous studies. Later, he underwent testing to demonstrate the electric activity generated by a musician's brain.

“Hello It’s Me” and other best-known songs Rundgren wrote, such as “I Saw the Light” and "Bang the Drum All Day,” are in regular rotation on classic rock radio. Rundgren also has produced scores of hit records, including Meat Loaf's “Bat out of Hell,” which became a best-seller in the 1970s.

Rundgren and Kraus found common ground in a shared love of music and its effects on learning. They talked in detail about Kraus’ and others’ research exploring how music affects humans across the lifespan, especially by enhancing memory and the ability to understand speech in noise.

“This research makes a strong case for music education from a scientific perspective,” Rundgren said. “We frequently see studies about the ways in which making music can influence a student socially and academically — and obviously artistically — but this data involving brain development adds compelling evidence to support the importance of bringing music to all students.”

Visit the Northwestern News Center for the full story.

A book about the perils of stereotyping written by one of the nation’s preeminent social psychologists has been chosen as the One Book One Northwestern selection for the 2014-15 academic year.

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do, by Claude Steele, is a summary of Steele’s groundbreaking research on group identity and the ways in which stereotypes can undermine the performance of the people they target.

The book was published in 2010 as part of publisher W. W. Norton’s “Issues of Our Time” series, featuring books written by leading thinkers that explore ideas that matter in the new millennium.

The One Book initiative is Northwestern’s community reading program. This summer, all incoming first-year undergraduates will receive a free copy of Whistling Vivaldi as part of the program. One Book is sponsored by the Office of the President and includes dozens of lectures, films, and discussion groups related to the One Book selection. Many of these events are open to the public, and the entire community is invited to participate.

To enhance programming around the 2014-15 One Book selection and its themes, Northwestern has joined the YWCA Evanston/North Shore and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in presenting a widely praised traveling exhibition on race and identity titled “RACE: Are We So Different?”

Steele’s book explores what he calls “the stereotype threat,” which occurs when a person is in a situation that evokes negative stereotypes about the group to which he or she belongs.

In experiment after experiment, Steele has found that people’s fears of confirming a negative stereotype cause stress. That stress distracts them from the task at hand and, in turn, from completing the task to the best of their ability.

Steele is executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, Berkeley. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He has received numerous other honors, including the American Psychological Association’s Senior Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest in 1998. He has served as dean of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education and as provost of Columbia University.

Visit the Northwestern News Center for more information about Whistling Vivaldi and the One Book program.

A record number of Northwestern student-athletes have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors so far in 2013-14.


The Big Ten last month recognized 51 Northwestern student-athletes across five winter sports for their academic performance. Earlier in the season, the Big Ten honored a record 104 fall sports student-athletes from Northwestern.


That brings this year’s current total of Northwestern student-athletes with Academic All-Big Ten honors to 155, a new all-time high for the University.


Northwestern’s five eligible sports for the winter season are men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and wrestling. NU’s fencing program, which recently secured its 15th straight top-10 national finish at the NCAA championships, will be recognized during the spring at-large period.


Earning Academic All-Big Ten recognition requires student-athletes to be in their second year at the institution, letter in their sport, and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.

For more information, including a list of Northwestern's 51 winter season Academic All-Big Ten award winners, visit

After winter weather forced Northwestern’s lacrosse team to postpone its 2014 debut at Lakeside Field by more than a month, the Wildcats were hardly bothered by waiting one extra day before playing their home opener.

The rematch of last year’s NCAA semifinal game between Northwestern and top-ranked North Carolina was supposed to be played March 30 in Evanston, but travel problems encountered by the Tar Heels forced the game to be moved to March 31.

Once the game began, the Wildcats stifled North Carolina’s high-powered offense and delivered their biggest win of the year, beating the Tar Heels 7-5 behind three goals and one assist from senior Alyssa Leonard.

Northwestern’s win snapped the defending NCAA champions’ 15-game winning streak and amounted to a measure of revenge for the Wildcats, who lost to North Carolina in last year’s NCAA semifinals. That loss ended Northwestern’s streak of appearances in eight straight NCAA title games.

The March 31 win over North Carolina was the 300th victory in Northwestern lacrosse history. Seventy-nine of those wins came in the early era of Northwestern lacrosse, from 1982 to 1992.

Northwestern has two regular season games remaining — April 19 against Florida in Evanston, and April 26 against USC at Wrigley Field.

For more information on Northwestern lacrosse, visit

Join fellow alumni and Wildcats fans at the Northwestern Alumni Association's tailgate before the game against USC at Wrigley Field on April 26.

Northwestern wrestler Jason Tsirtsis set the bar incredibly high during his freshman season.

On March 22, Tsirtsis became the first freshman wrestler in Northwestern history to win an NCAA championship, earning a 3-1 overtime win over Oklahoma State’s Joshua Kindig in the 149-lb. title bout in Oklahoma City.

Earlier in March, Tsirtsis became the first Northwestern freshman to win a Big Ten wrestling championship, beating the conference’s top seed, Jake Sueflohn of Nebraska.

Tsirtsis, from Crown Point, Indiana, finished the season with a 32-3 record, winning his last 16 matches. InterMat named him the country’s Freshman of the Year, while the Big Ten named him the conference’s freshman of the year.

“I don’t think it’s hit me yet that I’m an NCAA champ,” Tsirtsis said. “I get to keep that claim for the rest of my life. It’s what you work for as a wrestler ever since you set your goals as a little kid.”

Visit for the full story.

A surprising new strategy for managing your weight? Bright morning light.

A new Northwestern Medicine® study reports the timing, intensity, and duration of your light exposure during the day is linked to your weight — the first time this has been shown.

People who had most of their daily exposure to even moderately bright light in the morning had a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) than those who had most of their light exposure later in the day, the study found.

“The earlier this light exposure occurred during the day, the lower individuals’ body mass index,” said co-lead author Kathryn Reid, research associate professor of neurology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “The later the hour of moderately bright light exposure, the higher a person’s BMI.”

The influence of morning light exposure on body weight was independent of an individual’s physical activity level, caloric intake, sleep timing, age, and the season of the year. It accounted for about 20 percent of a person’s BMI. 

“Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance,” said study senior author Phyllis C. Zee, M.D. “The message is that you should get more bright light between 8 a.m. and noon.” About 20 to 30 minutes of morning light is enough to affect BMI.

Zee is the Benjamin and Virginia T. Boshes Professor of Neurology and director of the Northwestern Medicine Sleep and Circadian Rhythms Research Program at Feinberg. She also is a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“If a person doesn’t get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could de-synchronize your internal body clock, which is known to alter metabolism and can lead to weight gain,” Zee said. The exact mechanism of how light affects body fat requires further research, she noted. 

The study was published April 2 in the journal PLOS ONE. Giovanni Santostasi, a research fellow in neurology at Feinberg, also is a co-lead author.

Visit the Northwestern News Center for the full story.

NASA has selected a Northwestern-led research team as one of 10 groups across the country to conduct investigations related to its unique “twin study” of how a year living in space affects the human body.


The team includes colleagues at Rush University Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The project is titled “Metagenomic Sequencing of the Bacteriome in GI Tract of Twin Astronauts.”


Scott and Mark Kelly — identical twins and veteran astronauts — will be participating in the study of the effects of long-term space missions, such as a mission to Mars. They are the only twins who have both been in space.


Beginning next March, Scott Kelly will spend a year at the International Space Station — the longest space mission ever assigned to a NASA astronaut — while his brother remains on Earth, at home in Arizona with his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.


“We are like little kids again — everyone wants to be a part of this fascinating study in space,” said Northwestern circadian rhythm expert Fred W. Turek, who will lead the team studying how the space environment affects the microbiota in the intestinal tract.


The complex ecological microbiology community that inhabits the human gastrointestinal tract (GI) tract influences normal physiology and behavior and susceptibility to disease, but the effects of spaceflight on the human microbiome remains unknown.


“It is imperative that studies be carried out on long-term missions in space so that any adverse changes can be identified and countermeasures can be employed to insure the safety and health of our astronauts on extended spaceflight missions,” Turek said.

Visit the Northwestern News Center and NASA's website for more information about the study.

Significant gifts announced this month will bolster integrative medicine at Northwestern and establish a new named professorship and debate series at the University’s Law School.

Northwestern Integrative Medicine will now be named the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University, in recognition of a multi-million dollar gift from San Francisco businessman Bernard Osher.

The gift will help the center advance medical education, collaborate on research initiatives, and create innovative clinical models of care, including supportive care related to cancer and heart treatment.

The gift will connect Northwestern with the three existing Osher Centers for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco; at Harvard Medical School with a clinical program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The integrative medicine program at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine also is becoming an Osher Center. All five institutions are committed to creating and furthering programs that focus on research, education and clinical care in integrative medicine.

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern is the University’s only official center for integrative medicine. It provides integrative medicine consults, integrative primary care, traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, body and energy work, health psychology, mind-body medicine, nutrition counseling, smoking cessation, and a diverse array of wellness classes.

Northwestern has also received gifts totaling $4 million to establish an endowment for a named Law School professorship in honor of Newton N. Minow, a Northwestern alumnus, life trustee and professor emeritus. The gifts will also be used to establish the Newton N. Minow Debates at the Law School.


The endowment is funded by a consortium of Minow’s personal friends, fellow Northwestern alumni, and colleagues at Sidley Austin LLP — an international legal services firm headquartered in Chicago, where Minow is senior counsel. 

The Minow Debates likely will be held at the Law School every other year and will engage outside experts, law school faculty and/or students in debate on important and timely legal topics. Minow is the originator of the televised U.S. presidential debates, which inspired the idea to honor his legacy with a permanent debate program at his alma mater.

In 1961, while serving as Federal Communications Commission chairman, Minow referred to television as a “vast wasteland” in a landmark speech still remembered today.

“Newt has been an integral part of the Northwestern family since his undergraduate days here, and since then has had extraordinary influence in the world,” said Northwestern President Morton Schapiro.

Minow earned his bachelor’s degree in 1949 and his J.D. in 1950, both from Northwestern. He currently is the Walter Annenberg Professor Emeritus at the University. He joined the Northwestern University Board of Trustees in 1975 and became a life trustee in 1987.

Visit the Northwestern News Center for more information about the Osher gift and the gifts honoring Minow.

Northwestern leaders expanded the University’s ties with Tel Aviv University and welcomed nearly 100 alumni to an event in that city during a recent trip to Israel.

Northwestern already has partnerships with Tel Aviv University (TAU) through a joint executive MBA program offered by the Kellogg School of Management and TAU’s Recanati Graduate School of Business, as well as a joint executive LLM program offered by Northwestern University School of Law and TAU’s law school, the Buchmann Faculty of Law. In addition, new exchange programs for undergraduate students and medical school students began this year.

During the trip, Northwestern Provost Dan Linzer and his TAU counterpart signed agreements calling for further cooperation between the two institutions, including student and faculty exchange programs, appointments of postdoctoral research fellows, and other academic activities.

This spring, seven undergraduate students from Northwestern are participating in a newly designed program at TAU. The program, led by Elie Rekhess, the Visiting Crown Chair in Middle East Studies at Northwestern, provides courses in public health and in political science and economics.

The delegation of senior academic and administrative leaders from Northwestern also visited the Weizmann Institute, one of Israel’s top scientific research institutions. Several of the scientists at the Weizmann Institute have collaborated with Northwestern faculty members or have done graduate work at Northwestern.

In addition to the academic meetings, Northwestern leaders also mingled with nearly 100 alumni and friends of the University during a Celebrate Northwestern event in Tel Aviv. Hosted by Northwestern trustee Robin Chemers Neustein, the event featured remarks by President Morton Schapiro and by Sally Blount, dean of Kellogg, and Daniel Rodriguez, dean of the School of Law.

Many of those in attendance were graduates of the Kellogg-Recanati joint EMBA program, with positions in Israel’s finance and technology industries, as well as in international consulting firms. In his talk to the group, President Schapiro noted the success of the graduates as a factor in expanding Northwestern’s reputation internationally.

“Northwestern clearly is on an upward trajectory, and the fact that so many of our graduates hold positions of leadership, not just in the United States, but around the world, is evidence of the strength of our academic programs,” President Schapiro said. “As I travel around the world, whether it’s in Europe or Asia or here in the Middle East, I always run into Northwestern alumni who are leaders in their field.”

Visit the Northwestern News Center for the full story.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti will deliver the main commencement address June 20 at Northwestern’s 156th commencement ceremony.

Muti is also one of five distinguished individuals who will be recognized with honorary degrees during the ceremony at Ryan Field.

The other honorary degree recipients are Sara Bloomfield, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Richard Easterlin, one of the most influential and imaginative economists of his generation; Emmy Award-winning actress Cloris Leachman; and legendary Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, musician, and producer Stevie Wonder.

Muti has been the music director at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2010 and is one of the preeminent conductors of our day. Born in Naples, Muti has also been music director of Florence’s Maggio Musicale (1968-1980), London’s Philharmonia Orchestra (1972-1982), the Philadelphia Orchestra (1980-1992), and Milan’s La Scala (1986-2005). He has had a close relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Salzburg Festival for more than 40 years. In 2004, Muti founded the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra to train young musicians. He is also the honorary director for life of the Rome Opera.

Muti’s vast catalog of recordings ranges from the traditional repertoire to contemporary works. He is the author of Verdi, l’italiano and Riccardo Muti: An Autobiography: First the Music, Then the Words. He has received innumerable honors from his native Italy, the United States, France, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Israel, Spain, Russia, Sweden, and the Vatican. He has conducted in many of the world’s most troubled areas to bring attention to and advocate for civic and social issues.

Oscar-nominated director Jehane Noujaim will be the keynote speaker at Northwestern University in Qatar’s May 4 graduation ceremony in Doha.

Visit the Northwestern News Center for the full story.