Mailboxes in the Social Science Research Building.
Mailboxes in the Social Science Research Building. (Photography by Joy Olivia Miller)
Readers sound off

Readers write in about driving to India, interactions with historical figures, academic partnerships past, pocketbook politics, and more.

Interesting to see the map of this voyage (“A Passage to India,” Jan–Feb/13). After graduation I went the opposite route: from India to Istanbul, then Europe. I had gone to Japan for graduate study and from there traveled in Southeast Asia and on to India and beyond. My overland passage was via a bus. We were stoned in Pakistan, held up in the Khyber Pass by a bandit who refused any bill over one dollar as counterfeit (I happened to have many singles and so saved the group from his AK-47). Afghanistan then was a beautiful country, with sweet water (as against the sulfurous liquid of Pakistan and India) and beautiful people. Kabul was interesting; Kandahar, Farāh, and Herat, mere stops on the route. Where was that Fort Alexander built? I was able to walk freely in Tehran, unless in the company of a Western man, whom I erroneously thought was protection. Quite the contrary: Iranians spit at me. Perhaps my dark hair and modest dress made me appear native; alone I was safe, unmolested. I spent some days with an upper-middle-class Iranian family who informed me of tapes sent from Paris by a certain ayatollah. I continued to Istanbul, from there to Eastern Europe, then under Communist domination.

I regret that my son, a UChicago graduate, will never have the freedom to travel such a route. Sadly, his world is a quite different place.

Louise T. Gantress (parent)
Armonk, New York


Deep impact

I was a student of Susanne Rudolph’s in what was then called Soc II in the spring of 1965. The article by her and Lloyd (“A Passage to India,” Jan–Feb/13) brought to mind a couple of things about the University of Chicago and the long-term impact professors can have on students.

I had no idea at the time that they and I had arrived at the University of Chicago simultaneously. I had been in McKim Marriott’s (AM’49, PhD’55) sections during the fall and winter quarters; he was an anthropology professor specializing in India. Moving on to Susanne Rudolph’s section in the spring, I naturally assumed that the study of India was a long-standing, significant part of university curricula. I had no idea that the University of Chicago was providing an intellectual home for a field that was new and not widely accepted.

I also took a graduate seminar from Susanne and Lloyd when I was a fourth-year student. (They had Erik Erikson as a visitor, and dinner for the students at their home—what an experience that was!) The Rudolphs’ The Modernity of Tradition had just come out and made a great impression on me—“A Passage to India” reminded me just how much. I haven’t pursued the study of India, or of modernization, but I did become a sociology professor. From the book I absorbed their critique of the conventional categories we use—the alleged opposition between modernity and tradition, in their case—how careful we have to be about them, and how to look beneath static categories at the dynamics of social phenomena. I have been teaching an introductory graduate course in research methods at the University of Washington in Seattle for many years, and I always recommend the book to my students. My intellectual debt to the Rudolphs remains profound 45 years after I took their course and read their book.

When one publishes a book, one never knows what use readers will make of it. So here’s a statement about the impact of The Modernity of Tradition from what is probably a somewhat unexpected quarter.

As to the trip to India, what a great adventure!

Paul Burstein, AB’68
Mercer Island, Washington


Bérubé’s legacy

I found your piece “Desire for History” (the Core, Winter/13) an informative and interesting article about a course offering I would have taken in a heartbeat were I still a student in the College.

My tenure was, however, some time ago and paralleled Allan Bérubé’s (X’68) studies at the University. The student photo you ran of Allan in your article took me right back to many late-night conversations with Allan and a circle of friends we made as first-year students sharing dorm life in Burton-Judson Court.

The context for Allan’s leaving the College contained in his remarks from My Desire for History is accurate up to a point and is apparently where Allan chose to leave the matter at that time in his life. In addition, a most traumatic event occurred in late April 1968. Allan’s roommate and very best friend, Roy Gutmann, was shot and killed while returning to their apartment after a night shift at the library. This was a truly horrible event for Allan and our circle of friends. The details, as they were known at the time, can be read in the Chicago Daily News and Chicago’s American from April 23, 1968, and in the Maroon from April 26, 1968.

Allan left Chicago right after the memorial service he helped organize for Roy, which had an antiwar theme, and said he would return to finish his classes and graduate. I had the distinct feeling then that he never would. The grief he was experiencing was profound and soul shaking. Allan and Roy were wonderful friends and very close to one another. With respect to civil rights, activism, and studying to become conscientious objectors, they were obvious kindred spirits. When Coming Out Under Fire appeared, it seemed to me a natural, perhaps inevitable, direction for Allan’s life after the torturous events of 1968.

I do appreciate very much reading about Allan’s contributions to gay studies and find it most fitting that they be recognized for the landmark work they truly are.

Eric Hoem, AB’68
Wilsonville, Oregon


More on Mays

While I enjoyed reading the article by Jason Kelly on Benjamin Mays (“Spiritual Leader,” Jan–Feb/13), I would be remiss if I did not report that the article did not reflect the dedication Mays (AM’25, PhD’35) felt toward the University of Chicago and his other activities that benefited the Atlanta community in which he worked and lived.

In the mid-1960s, I worked for the University in both the fundraising and alumni activities departments during the U of C’s major capital campaign at that time. Such activities in Atlanta were my responsibility for the three-year period. Mays and I became very close. I even arranged a book signing party on the University of Chicago campus for his book Born to Rebel: An Autobiography. I treasure my autographed copy.

Two things showed how Mays was not only a spiritual leader but also a very practical man who did not shy away from getting things done in the here-and-now world.

First, I was able to recruit him to be our chairman of the campaign for the broader Atlanta area. In one of my first meetings he suggested that perhaps we should also consider recruiting a white person to serve as cochair in light of the South’s racial tensions. Our answer was that if someone did not want to give to Chicago because a black person was heading our efforts, then we did not desire that money. And that was that. A committee was formed that was filled with terrific white and black, Republican and Democratic, men and women members. It was a great success both spiritually and financially for all involved. And his personality made it fun as well.

Second, the article should have mentioned that during that time, not only was he involved with Morehouse College, but he also found time to effectively serve as president of the Atlanta Board of Education. He did the hard stuff well.

Michael Einisman, AB’62, MBA’63
Highland Park, Illinois


King’s funeral was held on the campus of Morehouse College, outdoors. Blacks were there in great number. My wife and I put up two out-of-town guests, strangers to us before then. The funeral, preached by Mays, was very moving as was the occasion. Other than that I was glad to see the story about Benjamin Mays, whom I knew pretty well.

Daniel Klenbort, SB’59, AM’63, PhD’77


Mr. Klenbort is correct. There were two funeral services that day; the first, described in our story, was a brief private service held at Ebenezer Baptist Church. It included King’s favorite scripture readings and a recording of one of his sermons from earlier that year. Rev. Ralph Abernathy officiated. There was then a procession from the church to Morehouse College, where Mays delivered his eulogy to a diverse, public audience. We regret the error.—Ed.


The words have it

I very much enjoyed your feature article on Winning Words (“School of Thought,” the Core, Winter/13). Not only because I wrote about the program for the Chicago Tribune last spring, but also because your reporting was able to go into greater depth and capture the young voices in this special program. I had to wait until late in high school to make the acquaintance of Plato and Aristotle. I salute those young minds (and their College student tutors) engaging with those philosophic giants at an early age.

Tom Mullaney, AM’68


Top chef

Thoroughly enjoyed “In the Night Kitchen” (UChicago Journal, Jan–Feb/13). I have loved cooking all my life and consider myself a semi-professional cook since I have held many cooking jobs over the decades. Indeed, my first job at the U of C, circa 1952–53, while I lived in Mathews Hall, was as a short order cook in the Basement Grill (did it have a better name?) in the dorm: better food than the notorious veggie burgers served in the dining hall.

Late last year I achieved a long-term dream and became a cook in a professional kitchen, the Lake Hope Dining Lodge, Lake Hope State Park, Zaleski, Ohio. The lodge is run by chef Matt Rapostelli, famous in the regional cooking scene for the last 30 years and an old friend. Happily, while a true chef, he has not quite the ferocity expected of the classic big-city chef.

When vacationing in southeast Ohio or visiting Ohio University, please drop in and have a meal. It is certainly worth the trip, as the Michelin Guides used to say.

Crow Swimsaway, AB’58, AM’58
né Martin A. Nettleship
New Marshfield, Ohio


Sister schools

The planned partnership linking Barat College of the Sacred Heart and the University of Chicago is not the only partnership that existed in prior decades (“Planned Partnership,” the Core, Winter/13). In 1896, Frances Wood (Shimer), who had cofounded a seminary for girls in Mount Carroll, Illinois, met a promising young man named William Rainey Harper—and this is one way that what came to be called Shimer College was connected to the U of C. In the middle of the 20th century, Chicago professors taught at Shimer as the school adopted the Hutchins curriculum and students took the same comprehensives as Chicago undergraduates did, often transferring to the University after their sophomore year. It is a thrill when I speak with the many Shimerians who did so. And Shimer, like the U of C, participated in a mid-1950s Ford Foundation experiment with early entrants—an experiment that has been institutional practice every year thereafter at Shimer.

While we have moved since 1896, there remain important links for us, including shared alums. We continue to offer a curriculum where the phrase Soc II has meaning! As someone who did my very first teaching in the social sciences core at Chicago during the 40th anniversary of Soc II, it was amazing to find Shimer. Like the once upon a time of connecting Barat to the U of C, this history can be a forgotten history.

To find it, all you need to do is visit us at 35th and State—or meet some of the men and women whose lives connect the two.

Susan E. Henking, PhD’88


I was very interested in Katherine Muhlenkamp’s story, which describes negotiations in 1967 between the University and Barat College in Lake Forest. I am a graduate of both Barat College and the University of Chicago. I am also a religious on the Sacred Heart, a member of the congregation that founded Barat College. In fact, prior to the changes brought to the Catholic Church by the Second Vatican Council, I wore the habit shown in the picture of Barat’s president, Mother Margaret Burke.

I am now retired from Barat’s English faculty and have turned into a historian. I have recently published Barat College: A Legacy, a Spirit, and a Name (Loyola Press, 2012). I greatly appreciate Muhlenkamp’s fine account of the proposed relocation of Barat to the University’s south campus. Those interested in the whole story could turn to my history of Barat, available at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore on campus and at the Lake Forest Book Store. For more information, see my website:

Sister Martha Curry, AM’50


Politics aside

The assessment of political views clouding financial reality presented in “Political Animals” (Fig. 1, UChicago Journal, Jan–Feb/13) may well be wrong. A preponderance of individuals who benefited from income redistribution are likely Democrats. Those who suffered, or paid their fair share, as some may say, are likely independent thinkers or Republicans. The results of the NORC research plausibly represent the actual economic impact of an increasingly confiscatory government. Those who get, get more. Those who pay, pay more.

Mark R. Aschliman, MD’80
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin


It was possibly in a Soc I or Hum I class back in 1953 where a discussion I remember took place of a “concomitant relationship” vs. “causal relationship,” and a cautionary note about assuming the latter when evidence supports only the former. Since 1953 I have seen many printed discussions of political, social, and scientific news where this mistake has been made, but I certainly didn’t expect to find an example in the University of Chicago Magazine. Yet the caption to “Political Animals,” which shows a correlation of people’s perceptions about personal finances with political affiliation, states “political opinions influenced people’s beliefs about the state of their own pocketbooks.” This graphic figure shows nothing of the kind. It does indicate a concomitant correlation between political affiliation and perception of personal finances, but if one is inclined to draw a causal relationship from the data displayed one might as well conclude “the state of a person’s pocketbook influences that person’s political affiliation.”

Robert B. Marcus, SB’56, SM’58
Chatham, Massachusetts


Kirk Wolter, co-principal investigator of NORC’s 2012 Presidential Election Study, statistics professor, and NORC executive vice president for survey research, responds: Robert Marcus’s letter usefully contributes to the debate our study sought to inform. Recalling that correlation does not imply causation, an unquestioned principle of elementary statistics, he asks whether partisanship causes perception of personal finances or perception causes partisanship. While the study cannot by itself conclusively answer this question, it is known from a wide variety of studies over many years that political affiliation rarely changes over the life cycle, and thus it is reasonable to believe that perception of the current state of one’s pocketbook generally does not influence one’s political affiliation.


Anksthay for the igspay

I receive multiple alumni publications from various schools. From all these publications, Grant Snider’s “Pig Latin” cartoon (the Core, Winter/13) is the only clipping I have ever saved and posted on a wall of my home. It is perfect U of Chicago.

David Sobelsohn, AB’74
Washington, DC


Other worlds, other voices

Stranger than Fiction” (the Core, Winter/13), on science fiction at the University of Chicago, mentions a number of important alumni sci-fi writers over the past 50 years, but neglects those of earlier generations. It does mention the lectures by noted science fiction authors held at the University in 1957, but neglects to add that one of the speakers, C. M. Kornbluth (X’49), continued his undergraduate studies, interrupted by WW II, at the College circa 1947. Of course Kurt Vonnegut (AM’71) was a graduate student in anthropology right after the war. And still earlier there was the great SF and fantasy writer—winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula awards—Fritz Leiber (PhB’32). Perhaps there are others, and I’m omitting dabblers in sci-fi such as Carl Sagan (AB’54, SB’55, SM’56, PhD’60).

By the way, the talks at the 1957 conference were published in 1959 as The Science Fiction Novel by Advent Publishers, founded in 1956 by members of the University of Chicago Science Fiction Club, not all of whom were affiliated with the University (for example, Sidney Coleman, who was to become a famous theoretical physicist, was an undergraduate at the Illinois Institute of Technology).

Bob Michaelson, SB’66, AM’73
Evanston, Illinois


Guilty as charged

The caption of the photograph introducing “Cultural Relations” (UChicago Journal, Jan–Feb/13) states that Mark Zuckerberg’s marriage reflects “a sociological trend.” Such marriage patterns are “social trends,” not “sociological trends.”

Barbara Schmitter Heisler, AM’76, PhD’79
Lake Oswego, Oregon


Cri de class news
I was appalled to note in my last magazine that there were no 1950 alums.

Some of us are still working a 40-hour week, traveling, and enjoying life.

C’mon, 1950s! Are you still alive?

Muriel Coursey, AB’50
Comstock Park, Michigan


Admissions boom

K. A. Pool suggests that the University has been caught up in “the [college] rankings frenzy” and “trolls for applicants to inflate its status” (Letters, Jan–Feb/13). I’m not so sure about the former, and there’s a sound reason for the latter.

As a member of the Alumni Schools Committee (ASC), I have interviewed well over 100 applicants to the College, attended an equal number of college fairs, and served as ASC regional chair. To perform this service with reasonable competence, I’ve long made a practice of learning all I could about the College’s application process and have followed trends and developments in college admissions. In recent years, the demographic aspect of undergraduate admissions at Chicago has improved enormously. How did this come about?

I pose a number of reasons: better food, better accommodations, vastly improved facilities for athletics and the arts, a much enhanced campus social scene, a declining neighborhood crime rate, more and improved study abroad programs, a less restrictive Core curriculum, interesting new majors and the ability to double major and to minor, improved career counseling, Odyssey scholarships (thanks again, “Homer,” and bless your generous heart!), Arts Pass—this list is far from complete, but I think you get the idea. As the quality of student life has slowly but steadily improved, so has the number of kids who are intrigued by the prospect of attending the U of C. And so applications have risen commensurately.

The notion that the U of C deliberately manages itself to puff up its ranking is, I believe, erroneous. If any strategy seems to be in play, it could be summarized thus: take care of the students, and selectivity and rankings will inevitably take care of themselves. All selective, top-tier research universities are experiencing increased numbers of applicants. No matter what form the current application boom takes, one presumes that Chicago administrators would feel extremely concerned if it passed the University by.

As to the assertion that Chicago “trolls for applicants,” you’d better believe it does. Odious though some may find the practice, every college and university from Harvard to Tijuana Tech beats the bushes for students. As the fatalistic meadow-mouse strophe from the film Babe puts it, “That’s the waaay it is.” Why, again? My best answer comes from chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, who, when asked why he advertised his product so much, pointed out the window toward a passing train and rhetorically asked, “It’s moving, so why don’t they disconnect the locomotive?” Personally, I see nothing wrong with the College seeking out applicants who promise to be the best possible match for its academics and who really want to be on campus.

Finally, Pool refers to the increasing pressure on high school students, and I can only sympathize: my daughter drove her mother and me absolutely bugs when she (and we) went through the process. Tension filled though the process may be, one is hard pressed to name a convenient way to ameliorate this stress. Perhaps consolation may be derived first, from the thought that it serves admirably as an annealing agent, preparing students for finding a job after college, a search process that to some makes applying to college seem like a walk in the park, and second, from the thought that Chicago’s elevated profile unquestionably implies an increase in the value of its degree, and that can only open more doors, a useful little perk in today’s uncertain economic world.

Bill Parker, MBA’78
Cape Coral, Florida


Stimulating debate

Robert Michaelson, SB’66, AM’73, asserts that “all economic evidence demonstrates that without the stimulus package we would now be in a major depression, and indeed that the stimulus was if anything too small” (Letters, Nov–Dec/12). At the risk of further distressing him with my common, miseducated MBA attitude, Mr. Michaelson falls into the classic logical fallacy that accepts as proof that which cannot be disproved, then backs it up by citing all the evidence without providing one citation.

Hopefully Mr. Michaelson won’t regard this critique as further evidence of the destruction of the “vibrant intellectual atmosphere” encountered at the University of Chicago by none other than Milton Friedman, AM’33. To the contrary, it is merely a challenge to a weak analysis. That’s what we do here.

Michael Gordon, MBA’86
La Grange, Illinois


Mr. Michaelson is off the mark when he criticizes Chicago MBAs for our “miseducation.” Let me be clear: my complaint is not that Goolsbee holds a view contrary to mine. Contrary to Mr. Michaelson’s opinion, the Chicago MBA community holds myriad views (although quite a few of us are united in our dislike for Goolsbee).

My issue with Goolsbee is that his economic assumptions are questionable (if not flat-out wrong) and have done little to ameliorate the current environment. Yet he refuses to believe that he is anything other than 100 percent correct. Much like Mr. Michaelson himself, he can only claim that we only needed more stimulus and it would have worked.

As a small business owner I am constantly required to challenge—and adapt—my views based on what is happening with my business. If I do not change an erroneous view, my customers will do it for me, and I run the risk of going out of business. Like Goolsbee, I could blame someone else, but I would be out of business nevertheless.

Goolsbee, of course, has the luxury of not being subject to the very market forces he claims he understands. If he were running a business with such a mindset he would be bankrupt. Instead he is granted tenure, and I am given the task of trying to adapt to running a business in an economy influenced by his misguided policies.

Erik Senko, MBA’02
Hong Kong


An educated citizenry

Thanks for the piece about the University of Chicago’s charter schools (“Principal Reach,” Jan–Feb/12). It was a stirring and hopeful report.

I had two afterthoughts. One, it’s too bad that 55 years after we won a victory on segregation these schools are still so segregated. How integrated are the Laboratory Schools? How might the University influence this—and does it still think it matters? Two, I want to urge my fellow alumni to view a film about Mission Hill public school in Boston, which tried to tackle integration—class, racial, and language—while giving kids the intellectual and social tools to be powerful citizens. At you can learn about the school, read its weekly newsletters, and more. It’s one of several public schools I’ve helped start in New York City and Boston after leaving the University of Chicago and Beulah Shoesmith School in Kenwood. In 1989 I was also the first K–12 teacher to get a MacArthur Fellowship for our work creating Central Park East Secondary School in East Harlem. I owe a lot to the exciting experiences I had growing up in schools that drew from the best of John Dewey’s work. They all set as their mission exploring how best to create an educated citizenry—which means not just some, but all.

I thank the University of Chicago for coming into my life in 1951, just as the modern civil rights movement was taking shape and providing the spark I needed to take on this lifetime work. I hope we will not, however, set charters apart from the responsibility to be accountable to their own constituents. Democracy is another name for accountability. The consortium’s study, referred to in the article, reinforces the belief that citizens, parents, and teachers need to have a strong voice and vote in truly public schools. It’s when we felt the strength of the many that Chicago’s schools were at their best. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we aren’t satisfied with test prepping but demand the real thing.

Deborah Willen Meier, AM’55
Hillsdale, New York


Stern remembered

On Saturday, January 26, 2013, I was determined to catch up with my Friday copy of the New York Times. I dutifully turned the pages until, suddenly, a name on the obituary page struck home. Richard Stern, a “writers’ writer,” had died. The heart hurt when I saw the name.

Richard Stern did not know me, and I did not know him. We met only once. I cannot forget either that episode or what led up to it.

My mother had died in November 1955, only days before I was scheduled to take my final written examination for my doctorate. I still remember being taken to an empty office, being handed a sheet of the questions typed specially for me, and then being left totally alone for three hours to answer them. It was an aloneness unlike any other.

The day of my doctor’s oral came too. I remember how I was ushered into the chamber, how I took my seat and waited for the ordeal. I knew any member of the Department of English had the right to come to hear me defend my dissertation and that, in theory, any faculty member of the entire University could come to ask me any question he wanted to. I also knew that the doctoral candidate before me had come this far only to fail his oral. 

I had done my dissertation under Napier Wilt and Walter Blair. Wilt was there. Blair was not. A half dozen or so severely cool faces were ranged around me. One of them must have seen or felt something. At that time I did not know that Richard Stern himself was new to the University and the Department of English. Something impelled him to start things off. He aimed question after question at me. I think there must have been at least ten questions in a row. I managed to answer them all. But he had managed to warm the room a little. And forever found a place in my heart.

Irving Abrahamson, AM’49, PhD’56


For more memories of Stern, see “Words to Remember Him By.”—Ed.


Author’s query

I am under contract with Oxford University Press to write a judicial biography of Richard Posner. I would appreciate hearing from anyone with an anecdote, recollection, or other information to share about him. No information will be used without the contributor’s consent. I can be reached at or at

William Domnarski, AM’78
Riverside, California


Department of corrections

An award to the University to preserve Urdu-language periodicals was 52,247 pounds, not euros (“For the Record,” Jan–Feb/13). The Judith E. Stein Performance Foyer was incorrectly identified in the Class of 1962 news (Alumni News, Jan–Feb/13). We regret the errors.


The University of Chicago Magazine welcomes letters about its contents or about the life of the University. Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited for space, clarity, and civility. To provide a range of views and voices, we encourage letter writers to limit themselves to 300 words or fewer. Write: Editor, The University of Chicago Magazine, 401 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1000, Chicago, IL 60611. Or e-mail: