2020 Gittler Prize awarded to racial stress, trauma expert

The 2020 Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize was awarded to Howard C. Stevenson, an expert on racial stress and trauma with over 30 years of experience in clinical psychology. Stevenson will undertake residency at Brandeis from Nov. 10 to 12 that includes his prize lecture, during which he will be presented with a $25,000 prize and a medal, according to a Jan. 13 BrandeisNOW article.

Stevenson’s areas of expertise include violence and bullying prevention, racial/ethnic socialization and “how educators, community leaders, and parents can emotionally resolve face-to-face racially stressful encounters,” per his faculty profile at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. He is Penn GSE’s Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education. Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz told BrandeisNOW that Stevenson’s scholarship has “brought a better understanding of the detrimental effects caused by racial stress and trauma” and Stevenson himself “actively leads the way in improving the lives of people affected by these issues.”

Stevenson is the executive director of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative at Penn GSE, which studies and promotes “racial literacy and health in schools and neighborhoods,” as stated on the organization’s website. REC explains that racial literacy includes “[d]ecoding racial subtexts” in racially stressful situations, using “racial mindfulness” to reframe racial stress, and resolving the encounters healthily.

Stevenson is also the co-director of Forward Promise which aims to support boys and young men of color through what it calls “healthy village-making,” or the “creation and strengthening of support systems for the youths,” per its website.

The National Institutes of Health has funded two of Stevenson’s research projects, according to the BrandeisNOW article. The first project, “SHAPE-UP: Barbers Building Better Brothers Project,” trains Black barbers to educate young Black men about how to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The “Preventing Long-term Anger and Aggression in Youth Project” combines basketball and educational components in a training program that aims to help young Black men “cope daily with rejection from teachers, peers, police, family, and neighbors,” a description of the 2020 program explains.

The Gittler Prize, which the late Prof. Joseph B. Gittler created in 2007, “recognize[s] outstanding and lasting scholarly contributions to racial, ethnic and/or religious relations,” per the prize’s website. Stevenson joins recent prize recipients John Paul Lederach and Beverly Daniel Tatum. On Jan. 14, Liebowitz invited the Brandeis community to nominate candidates for the Gittler Prize (deadline April 1) as well as the Richman Distinguished Fellowship in Public Life (deadline March 1). 

ITS alerts University to phishing email scam

Information Technology Services sent an email on Jan. 10 alerting some members of the Brandeis community to an email phishing scam. The subject of the scam email, sent on Jan. 8, was “Part-Time Intern!” and impersonated a member of the Brandeis community. 

ITS warned against communicating with the sender or giving out the personal information asked for by the scammer. The sender’s email address is ‘drew_project@fastmail.com.’

The scam email was sent on behalf of the Association of Higher Education and Disability, which does not exist at Brandeis, and offers a part-time position as a job administrator.

ITS advised in its email that students who responded to the request for personal information “cease any further correspondence with the sender … do not respond to additional requests for personal, sensitive or financial information” and “do not answer calls from an unknown number.”

ITS advised students who did not respond to the email to “not respond to the message” and “delete the message and permanently delete the message from your ‘trash’ folder.”

Health Center warns against nearby measles outbreak

The Brandeis Health Center notified Brandeis community members in a Jan. 10 email of a measles outbreak in the Boston area, the source of which is a student from Northeastern University. 

The Health Center’s email said that students who were at any of the locations listed in the email could experience symptoms through Jan. 27. They urged students to visit the Health Center if they believed they were exposed. 

Symptoms of measles include a cough, high fever, runny nose and red, watery eyes, according to the Massachusetts Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences fact sheet. The Bureau fact sheet also warns that measles is an airborne virus and can remain present in the air for two hours. The email sent out by the Brandeis Health Center named the locations where anyone in the Boston area could have been exposed to the virus. The first symptoms of the disease can appear 10 to 14 days after someone is exposed to the virus. 

The Bureau website said that to prevent the spread of the virus, people should get the measles vaccine in a shot called measles, mumps and rubella. Brandeis collects proof of the shot from all incoming students, and according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both doses of the MMR vaccine are 97 percent effective, while one dose is 93 percent effective. 

According to the CDC, measles was eliminated from the United States in 2000 with the development of the measles vaccine. Most people in the United States are protected against the virus, but travelers from other countries can sometimes bring the virus into the United States. Because measles is highly contagious, those who are unvaccinated are at a higher risk of spreading the virus. 

In an email to the Justice, Diana Denning, Administrative Director of the Health Center, said that the Health Center is “challenged in that some students don’t complete [the health] records before they come to school.” Denning added that “large numbers of students without records would make it hard to manage an outbreak if a student arrived at school here with an active measles infection.” In the event of an outbreak, Denning said that the Health Center keeps “a list of students who can’t immunize (usually for medical reasons) and would reach out to them directly in the event of an active case.”