Newsletter

President David W. Burcham & Scholarships

In an effort to relieve the increasing financial pressure felt by families and students seeking an LMU education, President David W. Burcham launched in October 2012 a three-year, $100 million scholarship initiative.

The initiative is unusual among college fundraising campaigns in that LMU aims to raise donations solely for student financial aid, via the endowment and directly funded scholarships.

"There is no lower-cost substitute for the type of teaching and learning that LMU is committed to delivering," Burcham said. "In order to strengthen our dedication to academic rigor, maintain a diverse student body, and uphold our core commitment to transformative education, we must make sure every student admitted to LMU can afford to attend."

Burcham's announcement came as LMU faces a nationwide affordability crisis, with more and more families forced to take out ever-larger private loans to cover the costs of tuition.

At the same time, colleges and universities are confronted with spiraling costs, including employee health care and pension obligations. For public institutions, state tax revenues continue to be diverted away from higher education as cash-strapped Legislatures scramble to balance their budgets, in California and elsewhere.

"While we have implemented budget cuts, held tuition increases to a minimum, and directed a larger proportion of our operating funds to student aid, the costs of higher education keep rising," Burcham said. "We cannot continue to live in a world where many students are priced out of an LMU education."

The university has so far raised $5 million toward the $100 million goal during this academic year. Burcham's goal is to add $65 million to the endowment through the scholarship initiative.

 

WLC Had a Busy Fall

WLC ended summer 2012 by delving into a bit of ornate history with a tour of the spectacular designs of Peter Carl Fabergé, the master goldsmith and legendary jeweler still celebrated for his inventive designs and meticulous craftsmanship, in a special exhibition, "Fabergé: Imperial Jeweler to the Tsars at the Bowers Museum" in Santa Ana, CA. Highlights on our private tour included an extravagant tiara, the magnificent "Fire Screen" picture frame, and the famed "Nobel Ice Egg," one of the few "Imperial-styled" eggs in private hands.

In the closing hours of the "Under My Skin" run at the Pasadena Playhouse, a group of WLC members and friends were treated to a pre-performance reception and "meet and greet" with the play's acclaimed writers and producers Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser, and producer Marla McNally Phillips. "Under My Skin" can best be described as a transparent look at today's healthcare system, the unrelenting stream of apathy running amuck, the discourse between male and female dynamics, the difficulties of being single parents raising children, children caring for the elderly, and the harsh truth that life is fraught with challenges, setbacks, and an unrelenting pursuit of accepting that perhaps we've given up on our dreams along the way. We only hope this play goes to Broadway, so that the WLC@NYC group can see this marvelously hilarious play!

As we wind down from the 2012 presidential election, with the future of America still hotly debated every day, discover how our nation's founders managed to build a strong and resilient republic—even in the face of political turmoil in their own time. For those of you not able to come with us last October on the marvelous private tour of "Creating the United States" with Skirball Cultural Center Director Robert Kirschner, the exhibition runs through February 17, 2013. The WLC thanks LMU professors Richard Fox, Evan Gerstmann, and Cassandra Veney from the department of political science for their thought-provoking presentation that followed the tour on "The Evolving Constitution."

We ended 2012 on such a wonderfully symbiotic note! WLC was introduced to the new tenure-line professors from the LMU Department of Women's Studies, Traci Brynne Voyles and Jade Sasser. They were introduced by Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, and Stella Oh, department chair. Presenting on the topic, "Women and the Environment: Local and Global Struggles for Justice," they each presented amazing examples on how the effects of man's usage of the earth and its resources is having profound ramifications of the peoples and areas as local as the Navaho reservations in southwestern United States, to as far away as Africa.

WLC@NYC Fall Event - WLC@PHX to Launch

Our WLC@NYC group enjoyed a private guided tour of the newest blockbuster at the New-York Historical Society in October, "WWII & NYC." "WWII & NYC" is an account of how New York and its metropolitan region contributed to Allied victory. The exhibition also explores the captivating, sobering, and moving stories of how New Yorkers experienced and confronted the challenges of "total war."

The exhibition examines the experiences of New Yorkers on the home front and those who served. Installed throughout all floors of the New-York Historical Society, the exhibition features more than 400 images and objects, including artifacts, paintings, maps, photographs, posters, music, radio broadcasts, and thirteen short films made for the exhibit, many featuring interviews with actual participants. The exhibition draws upon extensive collections at the New-York Historical Society and on important loans from the U.S. Navy, the Museum of WWII, Boston, the Smithsonian Institution, the Mariners' Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other institutions. The exhibition runs through May 27, 2013.

On the heels of success from the launch and growth of our first WLC off-shoot for the New York tristate area, we are thrilled to announce the launch of WLC@PHX, a branch of the WLC for LMU alumnae, parents and friends in Arizona. For the last several months, we have met with an enthusiastic task force who are excited to offer the kind of incredible programming that we have produced in Southern California and New York. We will share more details of their first kick-off event soon (scheduled for Fall 2013).

Dr. Jana Klauer '68 on Women & Health: "Sweet Tooth Management"

Sweet foods are a pleasurable way to obtain energy and nutrients for our bodies. Berries, honey and fruits supply vitamins, nutrients, and more calories than vegetables. In evolutionary terms, perhaps our ancestors evolved the preference for sweets to distinguish from the poisonous foods that we perceived as bitter. It is interesting to note that across all cultures, females crave sweets more strongly than males. For our ancestors, this may have been an evolutionary advantage by causing a female to seek out the higher calorie foods and thus supply energy for pregnancy or for lactation.

Genes play a role in how we perceive sweet taste. A marker of genetic variation in taste is the bitterness of the chemical, 6-n-propylthiouracil. Those who sense the chemical as being very bitter perceive sweetness more intensely. Sweet taste is also influenced by age, exposure during childhood, diabetes and addiction.

The American Sweet Tooth

Americans consume the highest amount of sugar in the world, approximately 100 lbs. per person per year or over 8 lbs. per month. Sucrose and high fructose corn syrup are the most frequently eaten types of sugar. I have no objection to a small amount of sugar in the diet, and we all have favorite desserts at this time of year. But many of us are overdoing it. Many studies indicate that eating sweet foods in excess increases our desire for sweet taste. Sweets are less satisfying and stimulate the regions of the brain that are associated with cravings.

Too much sugar causes dental caries, mood swings and weight gain. If a high sugar diet is consumed over a long period of time, the end result can be insulin resistance or diabetes.

Sucrose & Fructose

All sugars are carbohydrates. Table sugar, or sucrose, contains two types of sugar molecules: glucose and fructose. During digestion, table sugar breaks into its constituent molecules of glucose and fructose.

Fructose is naturally found in fruits. High fructose corn syrup is also made of glucose and fructose, but the molecule is produced by a process call enzyme-catalyzed isomerization that changes some of the glucose in corn syrup into fructose. It is available in three grades - HFCS-42, HFCS-55, and HFCS-90; the numbers indicate the percentage of fructose present. Introduced over 30 years ago, high-fructose corn syrup is a major sweetener in the American diet now. In fact, the consumption of high fructose corn syrup has increased over 1000% since 1970. It is less expensive than table sugar and present in almost all snack foods and soda. It has been noted that the rise in obesity is correlated with the incorporation of high fructose corn syrup into the American diet.[1]

The problem with fructose is its metabolism. When we digest glucose, it is directly absorbed into the blood from the small intestine – immediately raising blood glucose. But fructose is metabolized through the liver. The liver metabolism of large amounts of fructose increases very low-density lipoproteins and raises triglycerides – bad news for the heart. Additionally, fructose effects the hormones involved with appetite – gherlin and leptin – so that we do not sense fullness as well.

Artificial Sweeteners

In an attempt to lower their consumption of sugar, people turn to artificial sweeteners which supply sweet taste without adding calories. Here is a run down of the more popular sweeteners:

  • Saccharin (Sweet n' Low), 300 times sweeter than sugar, first became popular during World War I because of sugar shortage. The FDA proposed a ban on saccharin in 1977, when it was thought to cause bladder cancer in rats. The food industry was able to keep saccharin on the market, but a warning label read, "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals". After numerous studies were unable to repeat the finding, the warning was removed. According to the National Cancer Institute, there has been no consistent evidence that saccharin causes cancer in humans. The National Institutes of Health also removed saccharin from its list of cancer causing agents. Saccharin cannot be used in cooking and has an after-taste.
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), 200 times sweeter than sugar, is synthesized from two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Individuals who are unable to metabolize phenylalanine should avoid aspartame. While recognized as safe by the FDA and internationally, there have been concerns regarding safety. Earlier this year, an Italian study raised quite legitimate concerns of safety and the potential for cancer from aspartame. Even though it was only an animal experiment, the study was large and involved fairly realistic doses of the sweetener. Aspartame does not have the distinct aftertaste of saccharin. Aspartame cannot be used in cooking.
  • Sucralose (Splenda) is created in a multi-step process that begins with sugar. Most of the product passes through the body unchanged. The FDA and the World Health Organization recognize sucralose as safe for all consumers, pregnant women, children and people with diabetes. Sucralose is heat stable, allowing it to be used in cooking and baking.
  • The sugar alcohols, (sorbitol, mannitol, maltilo, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt) are used in many products labeled "sugar free." Don't let the name fool you - sugar alcohols do not contain sugar or intoxicating alcohol! Sugar alcohols are not calorie free, but have fewer calories than sugar. Many people experience gas, bloating, diarrhea, and unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms from the sugar alcohols.

What is the bottom line? As with all things, moderation is the key. If you are consuming the American sugar average of 100 lbs. per year – then you need to cut back. If you like sweet tastes, use a small amount of sugar or honey and keep in mind that you have "spent" the calories. If you are unable to enjoy the natural flavors of food and find that you are adding excessive amounts of artificial sweeteners – then you should cut back. Our drive for sweetness is increased by excess consumption, even if there are no calories involved. And, as any gourmand will tell you, too much sweetness obscures taste complexity.

Good Health To You,

Jana Klauer, M.D.

[1] Bray GA, Nielson SJ, Popkin BM, Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity, Amer. J. of Clin. Nut., 79,4:537-534.

Dr. Jana Klauer '68 is the author of the New York Times best-seller "How the Rich Get Thin" and is part of the WLC@NYC Task Force. Her recent book, "The Park Avenue Nutritionist's Plan," is available online and in bookstores.