Highlanders in the News: Week of March 27

Every week, our Highlanders are using their education to do extraordinary things. Here, we’ll highlight some notable mentions from local, regional, national and international news media. Whether our students, alumni, faculty and staff are featured as subject matter experts in high-profile stories or simply helping make the world a better place, we’ll feature their stories.

Art Carter, director of Radford University’s School of Computing Information Science

TikTok D’oh!

If you use TikTok to watch videos of dashboard camera fails or icy wintertime pratfalls, keep up with the latest dance moves or just generally eliminate any possibility of boredom in daily life, you are not alone.

About half the United States’ population has downloaded the video hosting service onto its electronic devices, according to a March 24 report by WDBJ news.

That story also addresses security concerns about TikTok – which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance – as well as the U.S. government’s recent scrutiny of the app.

For its overview of the situation, WDBJ spoke to Art Carter, director of Radford University’s School of Computing Information Science, about how TikTok harvests data on its users and why its proclivity for doing so might have political differences from other similar apps that basically do the same thing.

“Under Chinese law, Chinese companies are required to produce for the Chinese government whatever it is that the Chinese government wants that the company has,” Carter told the news station. “Which in this case … is data on its users.”

He also said there are additional issues users should be aware of with regard to software downloads, explaining, “if you download the app on the device, you may be downloading things that you don’t know about.

“The equivalent for other things will be like downloading some kind of malware, or ransomware or something like that,” Carter warned.

WDBJ’s report also covers additional areas of concern about the app and some general steps users can take to better protect the privacy of their devices.

Thomas “Ty” Dobbs ’05, M.S. ’10

Academic advancement

For the past four years, Thomas “Ty” Dobbs ’05, M.S. ’10, has served as principal of Sharon Elementary School in Clifton Forge, Virginia, but starting July 1, his reach and responsibilities will extend across the Alleghany Highlands.

Dobbs was recently elevated to be the school division’s activities director and administrator on special assignment.

An extensive March 21 story in the Virginian Review explained that the duties for the former position have been retooled to focus more specifically on students and that, with the latter position, Dobbs will undertake strategic planning activities related to athletics as well as supporting “improvements to facilities that will leverage [his] leadership skills from his years as a principal.”

This is an expansion of the position’s previous description, but school division leaders say they’re enthusiastic.

“The board feels confident that Mr. Dobbs’ leadership experience and understanding of the position will be instrumental in a smooth transition as we enter into this exciting new area in the Alleghany Highlands,” Jacob Wright, chair of the AHPS Board, told the Virginian Review.

Dobbs’ new positions have arrived at the same time as a number of other structural changes. The news story also describes how the division’s middle school students will be consolidated this year into the current Covington High School building, housing grades six through eight, while high schoolers in grades nine through 12 will now attend classes at Alleghany High School in Valley Ridge, Virginia.

As his tenure as principal at Sharon Elementary draws to a close, Dobbs reflects on his past experiences and the challenges that lie ahead.

“I have been very fortunate to work and serve with a wonderful staff and a great school and community,” he said. “Working with the staff at Sharon Elementary and communicating with both teachers and the community has been a true blessing that has allowed me to grow as a leader in several areas.” 

Assistant Professor of Music Matthew Cataldi

Start Chopin

Do you appreciate classical music, particularly Chopin? Yes? Then we have got a radio show for you.

Or do you prefer non-classical forms of music and wouldn’t know Chopin from Schubert or Schumann? Well, in that case … we’ve got a radio show for you as well.

In fact, they’re one and the same: A recent episode of “Offstage, On-Air,” the weekly program on WTJU (91.1 FM on your radio dial, and also steaming at www.wtju.net) that examines the classical music communities of central Virginia.

On March 26, program host Brian Simalchik welcomed Matthew Cataldi, an assistant professor of music at Radford since 2018 and its director of piano studies.

Late last year, Cataldi released the album “24 Preludes in Popular Style After Chopin,” which filters each of Chopin’s two dozen preludes, Op. 28, through different styles of modern popular music – from bebop to boogie-woogie to bossa nova, from disco to tango to funk and more.

Across the hourlong interview, Cataldi talks about the work and his processes and plays samplings of the sounds for listeners.

“The whole point of the project was … to make that the music sounds good on its own, that the layman who doesn’t know Chopin, has never heard the preludes, can enjoy the music,” he explains to Simalchik. “But, also, to not just write 24 pieces that sound cool in different keys but that really clearly reference Chopin’s original, whether that’s a melodic idea, a harmonic progression or a theme that would be recognizable.”

The entire broadcast is directly streamable here.

You can also find “24 Preludes” on some online streaming services, or check out this YouTube video of Cataldi’s live February 2022 premiere of it at Davis Performance Hall (starting around the 9:15 mark), or just buy an old-fashioned hard copy on compact disc through Amazon.

Mar 31, 2023
Neil Harvey