Mailboxes in the Social Science Research Building. (Photography by Joy Olivia Miller)
Alumni and friends share memories of Marilu Henner, X'74; avian encounters; a contentious Paul Robeson concert; noisy Ida Noyes; architectural inspiration; sculptor Freeman Schoolcraft; and more.
Memories are made of this
I always enjoy reading about Marilu Henner, X’74, and her memory (“Permanent Record
,” the Core
, Summer/13). That’s because she may be the only other person who remembers my performance as Hamlet, playing to her Gertrude in my second year at the College in the fall of 1970. I’m always quick to tell people about the roles, slower to admit that mine was a bit part, since the play was Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
, one of Nick Rudall’s first big productions at the University. We certainly all felt the loss to our theater community when she hurried off to New York but couldn’t imagine her doing anything less.
Steve Mencher, AB’73
Takoma Park, Maryland
Mad maroon men
Thank you for featuring “Selling the Friendly Skies
” in the July–Aug/13 Magazine
. I was a Leo Burnett client in the 1970s and 1980s when I worked at Keebler and McDonald’s. The Burnett people did great creative work and were strong strategic thinkers, and, I’m proud to say, there were more than a few UChicago people among the “creatives,” researchers, and client service people.
Michael Cogley Donahue, MBA’75
Your story on Patrick Fitzgerald (“Pressing Questions
,” July–Aug/13) somehow fails to note his service as special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame affair. In this matter Fitzgerald was tasked with determining the source of the leak of Plame’s employment by the CIA. Having determined this in the first few weeks of the investigation, he suppressed this information and continued his investigation for two years for no apparent reason other than self-aggrandizement and at great taxpayer expense.
It is not clear what message the Law School is trying to send on legal or any other kind of ethics by employing Fitzgerald [Fitzgerald is the inaugural Steven Feirson distinguished lecturer in the Law School
—Ed.]. The whole matter evidences what is becoming a pattern of abuse by federal law enforcement.
Doug Wood, MBA’75
Plight of the falcon
I enjoyed the photo in the Summer 2013 issue of the Core
(“Bird Brain”)of the peregrine falcon and accompanying information about the peregrine encountered on the University campus last year. I noted the photo caption claims that peregrine eggs were first discovered in a Cobb Hall rain gutter in 2005, so I thought you might be interested to know that I saw compelling evidence that peregrines were breeding on or close to the University campus back in 1985 or 1986.
While earning a graduate degree in public policy studies at the University in the mid-1980s, I was walking to class one cool, rainy day and noticed a group of people had gathered under one of the arches in the quad. They were all staring at something on the ground that I could not yet see. I moved closer to find out what everyone was looking at, and I asked one onlooker what all the fuss was about. One woman answered that it was an owl. As a bird fan, I was intent on getting a look at the creature myself, so I moved in closer and looked in the direction everybody else was looking—toward a wall under the shelter of an arch. I was quite surprised to see there, on the ground, looking quite rumpled, wet, and cold, a peregrine fledgling, young enough to retain some downy, white feathers. I wondered why the bird ended up on the ground, clearly unable or unwilling yet to fly away from the encroaching crowd of human onlookers, but I had to tear myself away and go to class. When I came back to the same location after class, the falcon, and the crowd, had disappeared. I was disappointed that I never saw the falcon again, but I’ve always remembered the young peregrine and hoped it grew to live a long and pleasant life somewhere in Chicago.
We are quickly building over the habitats needed by falcons and other birds, so I hope some of them will adapt more and more to nesting and surviving in urban areas like Chicago. If they do not adapt, I fear that our encounters with peregrines and other wild birds will become less frequent, and we might tragically lose them forever.
Jeff Bloom, AM’86
How to help
I was delighted with Anne Ford’s article on Arlene Welty’s Chicago Books to Women in Prison (“Escapist Reading
,” the Core
, Summer/13). I do a prison ministry newsletter for practitioners of Earth-centered spirituality, and I can attest to prisoners’ need for books.
However, I was very disappointed with the incompleteness of this article. Normally, such pieces include how one may donate (cash or—in this case—books) to the program. Also, is there not a website with advice for others who might want to reproduce such a program in another metro for other prisons?
Today, the journalist must answer not only “Who? What? When? Where? Why?” and “Who cares?” but also “Web addy.”
Rev. Christa Landon, AM’89
Cash donations can be made online at chicagobwp.org or mailed to Chicago Books to Women in Prison, PO Box 14778, Chicago, IL 60614. Please make checks payable to Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM) and write “For CBWP” in the memo line. To donate books, e-mail email@example.com to arrange a drop-off.
The latest issue of the Magazine
reminded me of attending a concert by Paul Robeson while I was a graduate student at the University studying chemistry with Morris Kharasch, PhD’21. Google has helped to remind me that the concert was at Mandel Hall on May 8, 1954. I remember being warned by faculty that it would be dangerous for a science student to attend the concert because it might impact the future ability to get a security clearance (it did not).
There were American Legion pickets at the site trying to take names of attendees. I will never forget the emotion of hearing Robeson’s rich baritone singing “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder” and ending the concert with “This Is My Country, Land of My Birth.”
I found this quote from Robeson, which appeared in Masses & Mainstream
in October 1954: “Only recently I sang in a concert at the University of Chicago. The student organization which invited me was subjected to various pressures to get them to cancel the offer; local reactionary groups threatened violence against any who dared to attend; the newspapers fiercely denounced the concert as ‘un-American.’ But the students stood firm, and the result—a packed hall of 1,500 people, with hundreds more turned away for lack of room!”
And from the Maroon
, May 7, 1954: “Yesterday Chancellor Kimpton told the Maroon
that he had received a letter from the Legion. Compton [sic] said the University would not take any action on the Legion letter.”
Those were the good old days?
Jerome Sallo, SM’52, PhD’55
Rancho Mirage, California
The artist remains unknown, but several readers identified the subject. (Photography by Brian Flanagan, Archival Photographic Files, apf7-03598, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library)
A Leary resemblance
In the July–Aug/13 University of Chicago Magazine
, I didn’t recognize the artist, but the portrait to his left is clearly of Timothy Leary. Sometime around 1968, Leary was in Chicago and gave a public presentation in a big hall at McCormick Place. There were several hundred people in attendance. I remember he showed some kind of slide show or film that purported to replicate the LSD experience. He was dressed in white, guru style, and gave a very mystical presentation, as I (dimly) recall. It was all overridden, for me, by his closing remarks, which I believe I can reproduce verbatim: “Now, as you drive home this evening, gaze into the center of your steering wheel.” That was an eye-opener for me.
Alice Parman, PhD’72
On page 79 of the July–Aug/13 Magazine
you offer for sale some unused punctuation but indicate that no semicolons are available. I am pleased to provide you with some unused specimens of this punctuation mark as a donation to the University. ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;. I also contribute approximately two dozen unused tildes (we don’t use them very much here in Ohio), should you wish to offer them for sale in the future: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~.
Jack A. Licate, AM’67, PhD’75
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Reasoned discourse, please
I’m disappointed that the Magazine
saw fit to print Grant Bergman’s letter
(July–Aug/13) accusing Mitt Romney voters of stupidity. There are many reasoned arguments that can be made both for and against Messrs. Romney’s and Obama’s candidacies. Stupidity is not one of them. I’d be willing to bet a considerable sum of cash that the average IQ of Romney voters is statistically indistinguishable from that of Obama voters. Our already coarsened political discourse does not need any further coarsening.
Laurence B. Siegel, AB’75, MBA’77
Where the action was
Mike Weinberg, U-High’43, AB’47, whom I knew well when I was a fellow member of Student Union, was so right about social activities on campus in the ’40s (Letters
Richard Janopaul’s (AB’52) impression that nothing was going on at Ida Noyes during those years is not correct. I came to Chicago in the fall of 1942, in what might have been the largest entering class the College had yet experienced, due in part to an article in Life
about the early entry program of the Hutchins College. I was there until June 1949 and find it hard to believe that for the next two or three years there was nothing going on at Ida Noyes.
From my first orientation events on, it seems like everything happened at Ida Noyes, right through until I graduated in 1949. As I remember it, Ida Noyes had been the Women’s Club until the war years, when Navy V-12 students arrived and whatever served as the men’s equivalent (Reynolds Club?) was no longer available. The Reynolds Club reopened after the war was over, but Ida Noyes continued with a rich offering of activities.
We had dances, various parties, and events. The women’s clubs met there, as did many other groups (Chapel Union, NuPiSigma Honor Society, and the YWCA, to name a few). Social Dancing (part of the required physical education courses we who entered before finishing high school were required to take) was offered there, as well as swimming and bowling, each for PE credit and as social activities. I’m not certain, but I think maybe the Maroon
also was housed there during the war years.
Walter the guard was our friend and protector at Ida Noyes and I remember the whole building and its staff with great fondness. It was home away from home for the commuters, and there were a lot of us in those days.
Babette (Babs) Casper Bloch, PhB’47, SB’49
Mill Valley, California
I rarely write to the Magazine
though I used to enjoy some of the issues quite a bit. (I don’t like the smaller format or the new typeface, which was presumably not chosen for its readability—it’s too spiky and fussy.) Yesterday, when I opened the latest issue (July–Aug/13
), I was struck speechless by the two-page Morgan Stanley ad inside the front cover. I might have enjoyed the art-historical overtones of the style had the implications of the content not been so sexist. (Look at the figures and you will see what I mean.) I would never use the services of a company like Morgan Stanley and don’t give a hoot about their welfare, but if they want to reach a broad array of wealthy people perhaps they should rethink their approach. I’m not familiar with your advertisements policy, but this was not something I wanted to see during my read of the Magazine
. I guess I’ll go watch Inside Job
again with my teens.
Talvi Laev, AB’84
Looked at the new residence hall and dining commons and was quite enthused until I noticed all that glass and white stone or marble (“Building Relationships
,” UChicago News for Alumni and Friends, July 30, 2013. See also “Due North
Did no one tell the architect that this was in Chicago? It’s cold and it snows, and the last thing a student wants to look at is an ice-like interior. Shades of New Dorm, happily no more, where I lived and froze. Oh for warm wood, soft glowing colors, some brick, all inspired by Hyde Park architecture or Robie House. What a shame.
Ann E. B’Rells née Resnick, SB’64
Hendersonville, North Carolina
My god, the student housing monstrosity you have supported will look dated and ugly inside of a decade. The design looks like the Barbican Centre in London. The design is the ugliest piece of architecture I have seen outside of communist Central Europe.
Benjamin Harris, MBA’09
The rear wall of Bond Chapel, a very beautiful building, carries an inscription I remember as “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Coming out of class in Cobb Hall, I was inspired by that inscription, and it remains one of my enduring links to the University of Chicago. As I read about all the splendid new buildings being built at the University, I am nagged by one truth that goes unmentioned: how is it that the University of Chicago built two residence halls—Pierce and Woodward—that were architectural failures? My esteemed Social Science 3 professor, Gerhard Emil Otto Meyer, once said—as best I remember, and I do not remember the context—that we should not pursue truth but truthfulness. In that spirit, I ask the Magazine
to explain how these two architectural failures happened. And along with that: why did the Edward Durrell Stone Conference Center on East 60th Street fail as a conference center? Intellectual vigor includes understanding failures, and I believe alumni are entitled to that understanding.
Gerald Handel, AB’47, AM’51, PhD’62
Scarsdale, New York
In his Occasional Papers on Higher Education, volume XVIII,
“The Kind of University That We Desire to Become”: Student Housing and the Educational Mission of the University of Chicago, available online, dean of the College John Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75, discusses the construction and service of Pierce and Woodward in detail. See especially pages 70–90.
I note that in the May–June/13 issue of the Magazine
(Alumni News) you describe Freeman Schoolcraft simply as a “local sculptor.” In fact Mr. Schoolcraft was closely associated with the University. He was in charge of the open studio in the basement of Burton-Judson where I and many other students were introduced to the making of visual art. Alan Fern, AB’50, AM’54, PhD’60, who was then in the Department of Art and later became director of the National Portrait Gallery, knew Freeman well and was a frequent visitor. I believe that Freeman gave demonstrations of sculptural techniques to graduate students in the Department of Art.
Like many others whom he taught, I found him an extraordinary teacher and human being. To him I owe my first teaching position (at the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee) and my career as a sculptor.
Burton Blistein, AB’50, AM’58
In a fascinating seminar on the effects of trauma on the brain, Dr. Bruce Perry of Baylor University School of Medicine showed numerous neurological images of the brains of traumatized children. He discussed the effect of those changes on the behavior of the children and went on to show the effects on the brain of traditional talk psychotherapy. So we see a cybernetic cycle where trauma changes the brain, leading to behavioral changes that, when addressed, psychologically change the brain, which affects the children’s behavior. So I was intrigued by the Jean Decety and Laurie Skelly (AM’09, PhD’12) citation regarding brain function as a possible cause of psychopathy (“To Learn, Sleep
,” Citations, UChicago Journal, May–June/13). Notwithstanding that Bob Hare’s work on psychopathy—in fact the whole diagnosis of psychopathy—has serious challengers and detractors (see, for instance, Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry
[Riverhead Trade, 2012]), Decety and Skelly’s study begs the question: which came first, the brain function or the behavior? (the age-old nature/nurture question revisited). I think the answer is yes.
Robert B. Bloom, SB’58
Highland Park, Illinois
At age 82, I’m long retired from teaching English—for five years at Kelly High in Chicago and 20 more at Cleveland High. Occasionally I taught Shakespeare in AP classes. I’m just back from Ashland, Oregon, and enjoyed a great King Lear
, more in keeping with my current state. I also read the Magazine
’s article on Hamlet
(“Shakespeare’s Laws: A Justice, a Judge, a Philosopher, and an English Professor
,” May–June/13) and am just wondering why my dear old faculty of the humanities and English literature have never studied the legitimate question of whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, and whether Anonymous
, a German movie of a couple years ago with the tagline “Was Shakespeare a fraud?”, made a good case for Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. Can someone from our great magazine give some good old, unbiased, real UChicago literary research in an article on both sides of the debate?
Will Skryha, AM’61
Van Nuys, California
Recently at a coffee shop near my home, a scruffy young barista looked at the University of Chicago T-shirt I was wearing. His face soured and he disdainfully said, “I don’t know about the University, just their economics department.” It’s a reaction the shirt has been getting more frequently the last few years. He was more or less implicating me by association with creating the economic crisis many of us are still slowly clawing our way out of. I felt stung. I’m a social worker, and not only do my politics not agree with that of the Chicago school’s libertarian bent, but in the wake of the crisis, with the state and federal budgets that pay for my work being slashed, I certainly haven’t reaped any financial rewards from my association with the University or its economics department.
Now, sure, maybe Surly Barista Guy is a die-hard radical leftist and feels the Original Sin of Chicago’s having propagated free market neoliberalism across the globe is so great that all the good done by other alums in the many fields of study and practice the University produces is rendered irrelevant. Maybe, like a lot of millennials, he just feels salty because he’s been stuck doing barista jobs since the recession hit and can barely cover his student debt, let alone save for retirement or buy a home. Maybe he’s upset that the Chicago school he’s read about advanced theories and policies that would ultimately make a very small number of people extraordinarily rich through financial business practices of at least questionable ethics if not legality while everyone else was left struggling to keep their homes. Perhaps he’s also aware that former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson was hired by—the University of Chicago. Paulson’s migration to Chicago remains a direct link in many minds between the free market economic policies that emanate from the University and the global financial meltdown that nearly resulted from them.
When I applied to Chicago, the school’s reputation was for its Great Books curriculum and producing top-notch teachers, not global finance Masters of the Universe. Over the 16 years since I graduated, I’ve been able to watch how reactions have shifted when I tell people where I went to school. Whereas the U of C used to be considered closer in character to schools like Reed or Saint John’s Colleges, it’s now more associated with places like the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. People are surprised to find that I work directly with poor communities and have used my Chicago education to serve the public good.
The University has never addressed its role in forming and advancing the economic policies that destroyed trillions of dollars in wealth during the financial crisis and created epic human misery across multiple continents. It has heavily publicized and promoted its many Nobel Prize for Economics winners, driving the public’s perception of Chicago as a one-dimensional institution. I doubt I’m the only alum who would appreciate the University making a statement addressing the economics department’s role in creating the crisis and articulating a plan for how its policies can benefit the greater good by expanding opportunity and prosperity for all. I also doubt that I’m the only alum who would support the University shifting its focus back to producing graduates who want to live the “life of the mind” rather than to conquer the global marketplace. We would appreciate it, frankly, because we’re getting tired of the guilt by association thing.
Jeff Deeney, AB’97
Magazine’s Sept–Oct/09 feature, “Chicago Schooled: The Visible Hand of the Recession has Revitalized Critics of the Chicago School of Economics.”
I followed Robert Maynard Hutchins, then chancellor of the University of Chicago, as he spoke to assembled students. I was then in the College.
He admonished students to “think,” not saying what to think, nor specifically how, just (as I recall), “think.” I hope your readers will help me think now.
In the past eight days, I have had requests for money from Oxfam, Project Bread, FINCA, Northeast Animal Shelter, Feeding America, the Salvation Army, Earth Justice, WBUR, the Jane Goodall Institute, Save the Manatee Club, Common Cause, Environmental Defense Fund, the Republican Party, WGBH, the Democratic Party, Natural Resources Defense Council, Mercy Corps, Greenpeace, the Wilderness Society, Doctors Without Borders, and Planned Parenthood.
I await requests from our National Parks and from organizations concerned with specific diseases, as well as education programs and local interests.
Surely, in the great academic institutions, the subject of worldwide priorities is examined and weighed, charting both immediate and long-term results. What criteria are considered? By a committee of mathematicians? Physicians? Theologians? As world population figures grow from seven billion to a projected nine billion, I expect more pleas for money. I expect that it would be wise to think through our priorities, as the educated thing to do.
Thank you. My best to the remnants of the 1940s! It was suggested that you had had no word from this generation—so here I am.
Lenore (Callahan) Frazier, AB’47
P.S. I quite literally followed Mr. Hutchins (as speaker/welcomer and chairman of the Student Orientation Committee). With knees knocking, I might add.
The University of Chicago Magazine
should be renamed the University of Chicago Sixthly
. Why? Firstly, it is an accurate description of the Magazine
’s publishing habits, which famously rests on the “Sixth System.” Secondly, it is quirky, which our admissions people and students like. Thirdly, it’ll show more readily in online searches. Fourthly, it’s slightly difficult to say, so people will only speak its name with serious intention. Fifthly, I recently graduated from the College, so I think I ought to know. Therefore, Sixthly
Ricky Zacharias, AB’12
A very dark day
Since the 50th anniversary of the assassination of president John F. Kennedy is approaching, and I was at UChicago at the time, I thought I would offer this reminiscence.
I was a master’s candidate in English language and literature and was living in International House. Shortly after lunch I left I-House and was headed west to a 1 p.m. class in Wieboldt Hall, Seventeenth-Century English Literature taught by George Williamson. I encountered a friend from I-House walking the other way.
“Kennedy’s been shot,” he told me. He had no more to tell: at that point Kennedy’s death had not been announced, so the nation was holding its collective breath, waiting to hear if he would live or not.
I and most of the other students in Professor Williamson’s class dutifully if somberly took our seats. Williamson convened class by muttering, “Let’s try to get our minds down to business.”
Not long after we began, a student from the class appeared in the open classroom doorway. We saw him mouth the words, “He’s dead.”
Richard Stein, AM’64
Oak Lawn, Illinois
I am writing a biography of Hans J. Morgenthau, the influential political scientist who taught at the University of Chicago from 1943 until his retirement in 1971. I would love to hear recollections from former students of Morgenthau’s that can be included in the book. Please contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have interesting observations or stories to share. Thank you for your assistance.
Ellen G. Rafshoon
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: email@example.com.