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Bloomington Herald-Times articles

Aug. 3, 2007

IU, ChaCha partner on new search engine
IU staff will be expert guides in venture that 'leverages the power of human intelligence'

By Steve Hinnefeld
August 3, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University officials said a strategic partnership with ChaCha, an Indiana-based search company, will provide the IU community with essential tools for making sense of the vast and growing quantity of information available on the Web.

Officials announced the arrangement Thursday in a news conference at University Place Conference Center at IU-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

"This Hoosier partnership promises to keep people at the heart of education just as it advances the economy of our state," said Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for information technology.

Under the agreement, IU will gradually move to ChaCha's Internet search platform for various types of computer searches of the IU system. And university libraries and information technology staff members will serve as ChaCha "guides" for IU searches.

Scott A. Jones, a Carmel inventor and entrepreneur, and partner Brad Bostic launched ChaCha last fall, describing it as a "radically different search engine that leverages the power of human intelligence."

ChaCha makes use of human experts, called guides, who chat online with users and direct their searches to produce the best and most meaningful results. Founders said it's a response to users' frustration with the glut of information provided by automated search engines such as Google.

"What ChaCha does is merge, or fuse, technology with brain power," Jones said at the news conference. "You want to be able to get the answer, and that's what human intelligence does for you."

Jones, an IU graduate, started his first company, Boston Technology, in the 1980s and invented a digital voice mail system that's said to now be used by half a billion people. In the 1990s, he started Escient — later called Gracenote — one of the first companies to develop music recognition software.

Bostic is also an Indiana graduate.

IU President Michael McRobbie said in a statement that the ChaCha alliance is one of several partnerships he hopes to make with Indiana-based businesses to promote economic growth.

"Great universities of the 21st century will master and integrate digital information as an essential part of research and learning," said McRobbie, who came to IU in 1997 as vice president for IT. "Our alliance with ChaCha creates a strong and capable partnership to research these digital frontiers and develop leading tools for the IU community."

Wheeler said the partnership will provide better tools for searches of IU information, including automated Web searches and personalized services such as Knowledge Base and Ask a Librarian.

The staff who will serve as IU ChaCha guides, he said, are already answering questions and facilitating searches. "They'll just be doing them with a different set of skills," he said.

The university will share any revenue that's generated from the IU searches, he said.

Jones said the partnership will help ChaCha develop its search platform and gain experience working in online communities, where some of the most powerful searches can be conducted.

"What this does for us is, it allows us to work with a close community, an academic community," he said.

IU officials have been watching ChaCha's progress since the company launched its alpha version last September. The company now employs 50 people and has 30,000 guides in its network, Jones said.

Wheeler said the potential for the partnership struck him when, writing a speech, he struggled to track down a vaguely remembered quote. He was impressed when IU's Ask a Librarian service found the quote, from former Harvard President James Bryant Conant, within hours. But a ChaCha guide got it in two minutes.

"That's where my head about exploded," he said. "I realized this is our core problem for the 21st century."

Wheeler said the partnership is about "people-powered education," combining intelligence and expertise with technology.

"We are pioneering," he said. "We are finding a path here. We are imitating no one in this alliance."

Daniels names four IU trustees

By Steve Hinnefeld
August 3, 2007

Steve Ferguson will return to the Indiana University board of trustees, joined by a new student trustee and two members with backgrounds in life sciences and business, areas of strategic importance for the university.

Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the appointments Thursday, ending a month of speculation about who would join the IU governing board.

Ferguson, a Bloomington resident and chairman of the board of Cook Group, was named to his fourth term as trustee. Daniels also appointed:

Jack Gill, a Houston, Texas, scientist, philanthropist and entrepreneur.

Derica Rice, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Eli Lilly & Co.

Student trustee Arthur D. King, an IU Bloomington undergraduate.

Daniels said university trustee appointments are some of the most important decisions he makes as governor.

"When I say we must aim higher, it especially applies to our universities," he said in a statement. "Jack and Derica are world-class talents with appreciation for the centrality of science and technology to our future and the greater place IU can play in it."

Ferguson, Gill and Rice will serve three-year terms. King will serve for two years.

Prior terms ended July 1 for Ferguson; for Clarence Boone and Jeff Cohen, who weren't reappointed; and for student trustee Casey Cox, who graduated from law school. Continuing on the board are Sue Talbot, Pat Shoulders, Tom Reilly Jr., William Cast and Phil Eskew Jr.

IU President Michael McRobbie issued a statement welcoming the appointees.

"They bring a great deal of experience and talent to the board, and there is no doubt they will all be great contributors," McRobbie said. "On a personal note, I particularly appreciate that the governor worked very hard to find and select new trustees whose significant accomplishments in both academia and the professional worlds ensure that they will be able to help us achieve our ambitious objectives."

Ferguson, an IU trustee since 1998, is an attorney, a former state legislator and a former member of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. He is a graduate of Wabash College and the IU School of Law and has been president of the trustees the past two years.

Gill earned a doctorate from IU in 1962. He is co-founder and managing director of Vanguard Ventures, which helps build life-science and technology companies, and has served on dean's advisory boards for IU's Kelley School of Business and College of Arts and Sciences. The Gill Foundation, which he and his wife, Linda, started 10 years ago, supports education and research efforts, including the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science at IU.

Rice, of Carmel, was named Lilly's CFO in 2006. He joined the company in 1990 and previously served as general manager of Lilly's United Kingdom affiliate and director of its European operations. He has an undergraduate degree from Kettering University and a master's in business administration from IU.

King, a junior from Columbus, is majoring in accounting and finance in the Kelley School, with a minor in classical studies. He is a student in the Hutton Honors College and a member of the Board of Aeons, a student advisory group.

With Rice's appointment, the trustees continue to have one black member. Talbot is the only woman on the board.

The IU trustees' next meeting is Aug. 16-17 at IUPUI. At that meeting, Ferguson is expected to be elected president and Shoulders vice president.

Powers eligible for pretrial diversion

By Marcela Creps
August 3, 2007

Indiana University football player Blake Powers is eligible for the pretrial diversion program after he was arrested Monday relating to a water balloon prank.

Powers, 22, faces a charge of battery after a water balloon was thrown at an off-duty police officer. Powers is the No. 2 tight end for the Hoosiers.

According to paperwork filed with the court, the prosecuting attorney determined that Powers was eligible for the program. Powers must meet with the pretrial diversion director to determine if he is eligible for the program.

If the director finds that Powers qualifies, he will enter into an agreement. Powers must abide by all terms of the agreement and commit no criminal offenses for charges to be dismissed after one year. He must also pay fees totaling $365 and complete two days on road crew.

Not-guilty plea likely in exorcism case
Lawyer for Edward Uyesugi II says his client plans to become doctor and will soon graduate from IU

By Marcela Creps
August 3, 2007

The attorney representing a man accused of beating a Monroe County teenager during a religious ritual exorcism said Thursday his client expects to enter a not-guilty plea before Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Marc Kellams at an initial hearing set for Aug. 10.

Edward Uyesugi II, whose bond was set at $5,000 surety, $500 cash, paid his bond and was released about an hour after he turned himself in at the Monroe County Jail Wednesday, jail records show.

Uyesugi, of 208 W. Campbell St., Paoli, faces preliminary charges of confinement and battery after he was accused of beating a 14-year-old autistic boy in an attempt to cast out demons.

Uyesugi was booked into jail at 12:32 p.m. Wednesday. According to jail staff, he was released at 1:48 p.m.

Matt Blanton, Uyesugi's attorney, said he has yet to talk to the Monroe County prosecutor about the case.

"What's been relayed to me versus what I've read isn't necessarily consistent," Blanton said.

"As with everything, there are varying recollections of what occurred on the day in question."

Blanton said Uyesugi has never been in trouble with the law. The 22-year-old is a student at Indiana University and has plans to become a doctor. He said Uyesugi is scheduled to graduate from IU in December.

Public talk to be part of Dalai Lama's visit; center now debt free
Supporters of Tibetan Buddhist leader give money to save local cultural center

By Mike Leonard
August 3, 2007

Arjia Rinpoche smiled broadly Thursday afternoon and intoned, "In Asia, we have a saying that good things happen together."

The first, he said, is the culmination of two years in planning this October's visit to Bloomington by the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. The Nobel Peace Prize winner and spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism will give three days of Buddhist teachings at the Indiana University Auditorium Oct. 24-26, culminating in a public talk at Assembly Hall at 2 p.m., Oct. 27.

The second good thing cited by Arjia, the president and director of the Tibetan Cultural Center, had just been divulged by TCC treasurer Sudhaka Koneru:

"I am happy to report that we are completely debt-free," Koneru said. As recently as two years ago, the center faced a crushing, $1.7 million debt and serious concerns as to whether the institution, founded in 1979, could continue to function.

"A group of His Holiness's supporters donated the money on (the Dalai Lama's) wish to save the center," the TCC treasurer said. Koneru said reconciling the debt, incurred before the current board of directors was constituted in 2005, will enable the center to focus on its mission of preserving and showcasing Tibetan culture and engaging in outreach to other religions and the general citizenry.

The TCC was founded by the Dalai Lama's eldest brother, Thubten J. Norbu, a retired IU professor, on 108 acres south of Bloomington donated by Tom and Kathy Canada. The Dalai Lama has visited the site and given teachings four times in the past three decades. His last visit came in September 2003, when he was joined by former boxer and peace advocate Muhammad Ali. At that time, the Tibetan Buddhist leader dedicated the new Chamtse Ling temple, a building envisioned as an interfaith meeting place.

When the Dalai Lama returns to Bloomington in October, it will come on the heels of receiving the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States Congress, the Congressional Gold Medal. He will receive the medal in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 17, in recognition of his contributions to peace, nonviolence, human rights and religious understanding. Previous recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include George Washington, the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, Dr. Jonas Salk, Robert Frost, Sir Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

The settlement of the TCC's previous debt was a topic representatives were eager to talk about and put behind them on Thursday. They did not attempt to assign blame for the financial deficit, explaining that after the Dalai Lama's brother fell ill from a series of strokes, the task of operating the center fell mainly on Norbu's family, which did not have the financial expertise or organizational expertise of the board of directors installed by the Dalai Lama's office in 2005.

"It says a lot that the Dalai Lama asked Arjia to come here from California to lead the effort to restructure the TCC," said Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp, a spokeswoman for the TCC and vice president of what is now called the Kumbum Chamtse Ling temple. "He wants this place to succeed, not because of his brother and not because of his family, but because of his belief in what has been started here and how the larger community here has embraced both the cause of the Tibetan people and the interfaith outreach of this place."

Still, Irwin-Mellencamp said, some people misunderstand the missions of both the TCC and the Kumbum Chamtse Ling temple. "The TCC is about culture and the Chamtse Ling is about Buddhist philosophy. But they're both here for everybody. You don't have to drop your religious beliefs at the gate when you come here. It's a place of peace and enlightenment."

Asked about her own belief system, Irwin-Mellencamp said, "I identify as a Christian who benefits greatly from Buddhist philosophy. I bring my boys (Hud and Speck) out here and we learn things from a different educational and philosophical viewpoint than I was brought up with in the Lutheran church."

Koneru said, with a chuckle, that he remembered Irwin-Mellencamp once saying that Buddhist teachings made her a better Christian. "You can't have enough emphasis on compassion and desire for peace in your life," she said in response.

Irwin-Mellencamp noted that, with the TCC's debt out of the way, fundraising has begun to take the Kumbum Chamtse Ling temple to the next level -- a full-fledged monastic college linked to the Kumbum Monastery in Tibet. Both Thubten Norbu, the Dalai Lama's brother, and Arjia Rinpoche have served as abbot of the famous Tibetan monastery.

The Buddhist teachings that the Dalai Lama will lead at the IU Auditorium will be based on "Atisha's Lamp for the Path of Enlightenment." Atisha was an 11th-century Indian Buddhist scholar and saint whose approach to spiritual enlightenment has been incorporated within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. "You'll have to come to this with some background," Irwin-Mellencamp advised.

The public talk at Assembly Hall will likely follow previous such talks by the Tibetan leader, who, incidentally, has passed along his previous responsibilities as the political leader of Tibet in exile to a Tibetan prime minister. He will speak on the topic of "Compassion: the Source of Peace" and answer questions from the audience afterward. Tickets for the public talk will become available as early as next week through Ticketmaster or the IU Assembly Hall box office. Tickets for the auditorium teachings are available through the auditorium box office or by calling 336-6807.

Additional information as it becomes available will be posted at the TCC Web site at