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Saint Louis University

DACA activists rally outside an event organized by U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay at St. Louis University. Nov. 10, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay said Friday that he won’t support the year-end spending bill necessary to keep the government running unless it includes provisions to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation.

The remarks came at a Saint Louis University forum organized by Clay to discuss the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave 800,000 young immigrants work permits and relief from deportation over the last five years.

Florence Pretz's original design for the Billiken, patented in 1908.
Saint Louis University Archives

If you walk through the Saint Louis University campus, you’ll almost certainly run into their unusual mascot, the Billiken, in some form. The Billiken is a pointy-headed, grinning imp covered in white fur, and it’s everywhere: banners, statues—even parking spaces outside the admissions office are reserved for future Billikens.

As SLU is in the midst of celebrating its founding 200 years ago, an in-depth look at the university's unusual mascot seemed timely.

What exactly is a Billiken?

A sampling of SLU students at the student center had a guess.

Andrew Oberle, a chimp attack survivor who helped create a holistic trauma program at Saint Louis University, shared his story at a live taping of The Story Collider in October 2017.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

In June 2012, Andrew Oberle, an aspiring primate researcher, was brutally attacked by two chimpanzees at a zoo in South Africa. The animals tore his flesh from head to toe and he nearly died.

But after 26 surgeries and extensive therapies at Saint Louis University Hospital, Oberle recovered. His ability to overcome his traumatic experiences led him to want to help others in who've experienced extreme physical injuries. Today, Oberle serves as the director of development for the Oberle Institute, a trauma care program at Saint Louis University that is supported by foudations. He helps raise funds for the institute and also serves as a patient advocate. 

Protesters stood silently with hands raised in the middle of Market Street near St. Louis City Hall.
File photo | Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

A simple concept underpins the American legal system: equal treatment.

But the ideal more often is missed than met — at least that’s what protesters argue during the near-daily demonstrations since the Sept. 15 acquittal of a white former St. Louis police officer in the 2011 shooting death of a black man.

The recent events once again have some local attorneys trying to square their faith in a system they’re supposed to respect despite its flaws.

Fred Pestello, president of Saint Louis University, joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the school's bicentennial and issues facing institutions of higher education.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In November 2018, Saint Louis University, the oldest university west of the Mississippi, will mark its 200th year in higher education. It is the second oldest Jesuit university in the United States. SLU is kicking off celebrations a little bit early, starting this Saturday

Children run past a box of welcome packets at new parent orientation at St. Ann Catholic School in Normandy on Aug. 10, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Catholic education is a tradition almost as old as St. Louis itself. Saint Louis University was founded by Jesuit priests in 1818, and is gearing up for its 200th anniversary.

Yet from kindergarten to college, Catholic education in the area is undergoing a shift due to declining enrollment and cultural evolutions.

This treehopper in a greenhouse at Saint Louis University would not normally have a purple horn or "pronotum." It was painted that color for identification purposes.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Researchers are studying countless plants and animals to understand how climate change could threaten populations. At Saint Louis University, scientists want to know if changes in temperature could affect the mating songs of insects.  

Biologists at SLU have received $480,000 from the National Science Foundation to study how temperature affects treehopper mating songs, which could provide clues as to how climate change could affect insect survival. The loss of insect species could adversely affect agriculture and many ecosystems that depend on them.

Trish | Flickr

Saint Louis University announced Friday it will cut 120 employees — or 4 percent of its workforce — because of a funding crisis.

University President Fred Pestello detailed the layoffs, which were expected for several weeks, in separate emails to staff and students.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Increasingly, college life is less about walking across the quad or stopping at the dining hall before sitting in a big lecture hall, and more about flipping open a laptop at home.

Take Royal Witcher, a St. Louis native and Army veteran who lives in Belmont, Mississippi. He completed most of his bachelor’s degree through the University of Phoenix, a fully online institution, but often felt like just a number.

When it was time for his MBA, the 45-year-old did his research — lots of it — and decided on Maryville University, which has a campus in suburban St. Louis. But he didn’t return to Missouri, instead taking advantage of an online degree.

Soumya Chatterjee, a scientist at Saint Louis University, peers into a microscope in his laboratory, where he studies pathogens, such as tuberculosis.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump's executive order last month reduced the cap of refugees allowed into the United States from 110,000 to 50,000. That means that fewer refugees will be resettled into areas like St. Louis.

But the cap also is curtailing disease research across the country. To understand diseases that are widespread in poor, war-torn countries, scientists study refugees from those nations that are infected with those diseases.

The rusty patched bumble bee pollinates a flower.
Christy Stewart | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

An executive order from the Trump administration has frozen the process that, for the first time, would have given a bee species federal protection. 

The rusty-patched bumblebee would have been officially listed under the Endangered Species Act today. But, according to a notice from the Office of the Federal Register, the temporary freeze has delayed the effective date until March 21.

Daniel Doerr, University of Missouri-St. Louis' assistant director for international studies, advises students about the impacts of President Donald Trump's travel ban at a forum Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated, Jan. 31 7:10 p.m. with advice from University of Missouri-St. Louis officials: 

Local colleges are advising all international students to avoid leaving the country amid President Donald Trump's executive order barring entry to travelers from seven countries.

Saint Louis University's newest version of the Billiken mascot, unveiled Wed., Jan. 25, 2017.
Saint Louis University

That old adage about not succeeding the first time and trying again certainly applies to Saint Louis University's mascot.

On Wednesday night, the university unveiled its new Billiken mascot, which is a re-do of a re-do.

The school first revamped its mythical symbol last September, but it was quickly met with disgust and jeers. 

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 17 with comments from Bayer, Monsanto and Trump administration - More details are emerging about Bayer's possible acquisition of St. Louis-based Monsanto. The companies and the incoming Trump administration on Tuesday provided some specifics about job numbers and investment levels.

In a joint statement, Bayer and Monsanto said there are plans to invest $16 billion in agricultural research and development over six years, with at least $8 billion of that in the United States.

On Chess: St. Louis dominates at the Pan-Americans

Jan 4, 2017
The SLU team consists of, from left, Cemil Can Ali Marandi, Yaroslav Zherebukh, Dariusz Swiercz, Francesco Rambaldi and Nozima Aripova.
Provided by Alejandro Ramirez

Collegiate chess is a phenomenon that has boomed in just the past couple of decades. Even though there have been important collegiate tournaments around the country for almost a century, only recently have colleges taken a keen interest in attracting brilliant minds through chess and offering considerable scholarships to reel in these players.

William P. Johnson, new dean of Saint Louis University's law school
Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University has named William P. Johnson, a member of its faculty since 2012, as the new dean of its law school.

Johnson, 45, who has been director of the school’s Center for International and Comparative Law, takes over Jan. 3 from the retiring Michael Wolff, who has been dean since 2013. Johnson also has directed the SLU Summer Law program at the university’s campus in Madrid, Spain.

SLU's new version of its Billiken mascot as of September 2016
Bill Barrett | provided by SLU

Stung by the negative reception given its recent revamping of the Billiken mascot, Saint Louis University wants public input for a do-over.

SLU President Fred Pestello resorted to his favorite communication channel, Twitter, on Tuesday in a politically themed presentation titled "Decision 2016." It directs anyone interested in helping to shape Billiken 3.0 to an online poll to give views on the color, eyes, hairdo and other features on the upcoming revision.

Mario González Contreras, on a speaking tour to spread awareness about the Ayotzinapa 43, attends a Saint Louis University student mass at St. Francis Xavier College Church after speaking with students.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Mario González Contreras doesn’t like speaking at universities.

The students who fill the lecture halls and seminar rooms are about the same age as his son, César. He notices his son’s features in their faces. Or maybe, he looks for them. And that’s when it hits him the hardest.

On Sunday evening, González stood behind a lectern at Saint Louis University’s Center for Global Citizenship. About two dozen students listened intently as he talked about his son.

A metallic green sweat bee sits in a case among other species at Associate Professor Gerardo Camilo's Saint Louis University lab.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In a community garden in central St. Louis, Saint Louis University biologist Gerardo Camilo walked methodically, scanning the plants while holding a butterfly net. Then, he stopped and stared intently at a patch of impatiens. 

He was pursuing a bee that was weaving in between the stems of the flowers. In one fell swoop, he swung the net down and clutched the net with a fist to trap the bee inside. He examined his captive with a quizzical expression. 

"Wow! I have never seen this in my life," Camilo said. "What the hell are you?"

Camilo and other scientists have found that bee populations are abundant and very diverse in urban areas, compared to rural areas, a finding that could help save endangered bees, important pollinators.

On Chess: Saint Louis University team ready for battle

Oct 26, 2016
Alejandro Ramirez is the chess coach at Saint Louis University.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The explosion of chess in St. Louis goes beyond the Chess Campus that sits on the corner of Euclid and Maryland in the Central West End. The great achievements of the World Chess Hall of Fame and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis are numerous, but with the increasing demand around the country for collegiate chess, Saint Louis University has stepped up to the plate.

The newly minted program at SLU seeks to become the best in the country, a title already held by another St. Louis college: Webster University. Only four players are currently on scholarship on the SLU roster, but their achievements are impressive.

Provided by The Land Institute

Story updated at 1:18 p.m. Oct. 18 | Originally posted at 7:45 p.m. Oct. 11

Some scientists dream of a future in which people can add sorghum, intermediate wheatgrass and other currently wild perennial plants to their diet.

In St. Louis, researchers at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Saint Louis University are developing a list of wild perennials, which live for many years, to recommend for domestication. Researchers say such plants have the potential to make agriculture more sustainable and feed a growing human population.

GM Maurice Ashley presents a ceremonial check to Dariusz Swiercz.
David Llada | Millionaire Chess

One of the most attractive and unique open tournaments in the world has just finished. From Oct. 6-9, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City hosted this chess-revolutionizing event – the 3rd Millionaire Chess Open. Players from all around the world came to New Jersey to not only participate in the tournament, but to enjoy the electric atmosphere.

The new Billiken mascot introduced in September 2016.
Bill Barrett/provided by SLU

The new Saint Louis University mascot is turning out to be a lot like New Coke.

After the revamped Billiken was introduced last month to a barrage of criticism, with adjectives like “petrifying,” “terrifying” and “the laughing stock of the nation,” SLU President Fred Pestello took to Twitter Tuesday to hint broadly that the new Billiken is in for big changes.

SLU's new version of its Billiken mascot as of September 2016
Bill Barrett | provided by SLU

Saint Louis University wanted its new Billiken mascot to be a little edgier, but based on reaction after it was introduced earlier this week, the school may have fallen over the edge.

Comments on Facebook, numbering more than 600 by Thursday morning, were overwhelmingly negative, starting with a mild “This is not ok” and going swiftly downhill from there. Signatures on an online petition calling on SLU President Fred Pestello to bring back the older, cuddlier version rose quickly past 1,500.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

Georgetown University made headlines last week when it announced it would make amends for selling 272 slaves in 1838, a transaction worth $3 million in today’s economy.

The slaves were shipped from Jesuit plantations in Maryland to Louisiana — and some accompanied Jesuits in 1823 to a small school in St. Louis that would become Saint Louis University. There, according to an account, they helped build what would grow into the university.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

As it approaches its 200th anniversary, Saint Louis University is mobilizing to combat shrinking enrollment, a reduction in federal grants and contracts and a rising amount of scholarship aid paid to its students.

A new report looking at issues raised by the university’s strategic plan cautions that in a changing higher education landscape, SLU must change as well.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

Even before the National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that graduate student assistants at private universities have the right to form unions, Elizabeth Eikmann and her colleagues at Saint Louis University were talking about organizing.

Now, their campaign has begun.

Members of "The Palpations," a band started by second-year medical students, try to fix a broken guitar string during practice.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

During her first year of medical school, Katherine Hu struggled with the feeling that she didn’t measure up.

“You end up becoming, actually, pretty cynical. I’d be sitting in class, the professor’s speaking a million miles an hour, and I don’t know what’s going on,” Hu said. “It just becomes heavier and heavier … kind of hopeless sometimes.” 

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
File: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

After successful organizing campaigns with part-time faculty at Washington University, Saint Louis University and St. Louis Community College, a union is now turning its attention to the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

And a top UMSL official wants to make sure that teachers on campus know what is at stake.

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

No one is quite sure when St. Louis began charging $35 to cancel a municipal court warrant. But a deal reached on Monday between the city and thousands of defendants who paid the fee over a seven-year period means it will never be charged again.

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