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Readers sound off

Readers weigh in on Chicago-school economics, ancient reconstructions, recent campus architecture, sexuality’s discussion worthiness, and the messy business of who’s the youngest Pritzker graduate.

The article “Dedicated to Learning” (UChicago Journal, July–Aug/12), about Harper Library turning 100, reminded me how my life’s path was altered by a simple visit to the library on October 26, 1985, the Saturday of homecoming weekend. I remember everything about Harper that day, as I recognized a woman there I had seen in Professor Fred Strodtbeck’s class The Family. It was a very small class, in which we discussed, debated, and often argued the family’s role in and effect upon society, gender roles, politics, morality, and other current issues. Although we did not know each other outside of the classroom, we seemed to be in agreement on almost all the topics covered in this course. My upbringing in New York and hers on a large farm in southern Virginia provided vastly different perspectives but allowed for easy conversation. After leaving the library, we spent the remainder of the day walking with her dog at the Point. She became the love of my life and so began our shared journey. We have weathered the typical marital challenges, raised two children who are now adults, and are now planning (unfathomably, so soon) our retirement. Thank you for the article. The encounter that day changed my life in so many ways that I consider Harper Library an integral part of my U of C experience. Marc Lurie, AB’86 Hamilton, Virginia  

Abel comics

When I opened the July–Aug/12 issue I saw comics that looked familiar, like something I might have seen in the past (“Chicken Fat”). Then I spotted the name of the author, Jessica Abel, AB’91. Around ten years ago she published regularly in the Magazine, and I always looked forward to the next issue. Leonardo (Leo) Herzenberg, AB’56 Chicago  

Down to business

This letter addresses the University of Chicago and its positioning relative to our nation’s current economic situation. Chicago Booth is a business school. It helped us learn and understand that truthful, selfless leadership, combined with sound analytical thinking and prudent stewardship of others’ money, were necessary business fundamentals. Additionally, we learned that capitalism and freedom facilitated business success, general economic well-being, and unlimited wealth creation. This Obama administration has failed miserably, principally due to its doing the opposite of what’s taught and learned at Chicago. And Austan Goolsbee, until recently the chief Obama administration economic adviser, is a Chicago Booth professor (“Economy of Words,” July–Aug/12). He is routinely exploiting his University position to advance, promote, and defend these contra-Chicago and antibusiness policies. “The Man Who Saved Capitalism,” a July 31 Wall Street Journal piece by Stephen Moore, articulates the value and importance of Chicago’s Milton Friedman, AM’33, and his contribution to free market capitalism. It specifically calls out Obamanomics failures. We urge Chicago Booth to take a more active role in promoting the “Chicago view” of business and economics. At best it might have a positive influence on economic and business policy in this country. Toward that end, we recall with pleasure the influence of [former business school dean] George Shultz in the Reagan administration, and Friedman’s PBS series Free to Choose, which provided the entire country with an understanding of Chicago-style education, free market principles and the knowledge to make informed decisions. At a minimum, such promotion would let the world know that Goolsbee doesn’t speak for our University. Stephen J. Breckley, MBA’68 Chandler, Arizona John R. Flanery, MBA’06 Phoenix William P. McCoach, MBA’75 New Concord, Ohio  

Capitalism: An amoral affair

It is perhaps unfair to judge Luigi Zingales’s ideas on the basis of a brief puff piece titled “On the Merits” (UChicago Journal, July–Aug/12). But when I see the phrase “the moral foundation of capitalism” used seriously in a sentence, I have to say something. Capitalism has a moral foundation in the same way that evolution has a moral foundation: it doesn’t. It is amoral. (Notice I didn’t say “immoral,” although the reasoning that led to the Ford Pinto scandal could be trotted out as capitalism in its purest form.) A model for understanding certain events or behaviors, but no more than that. No amount of admiration can make it otherwise. And no amount of “reforms” can “restore” that which does not exist. The fact that Mr. Zingales can use such a phrase and occupy a named professorship at the University of Chicago points to another fantasy treated seriously in the article: meritocracy. Does the man really believe that the “free” market can be configured (aka fixed) so that “talent and effort” become necessary conditions for worldly success? Or is only the perception necessary? The article doesn’t make that clear. And talent and effort at what? Iago and Edmund had talent and made an effort. These concepts, too, while advantageous, are not inherently moral. “Meritocracy” is as clear, real, and good as the whitest, noblest, loveliest unicorn. It was inevitable that the article get around to vilifying teachers’ unions. “Here it comes,” I sighed. Mr. Zingales rejects ideas of income redistribution, but apparently only in the “down” direction. He seems conveniently unaware of the income redistribution of the last 30 years, in which worker productivity has risen but real wages have declined. I haven’t read Mr. Zingales’s book, so, again, perhaps I’m being unfair. But if you adopt the fantasy that merit is the basis of success, then you can only perceive unions as obstructions to merit. Yes, in an ideal world unions would not be necessary. Neither would governments. But we’re not angels, remember? Let go of the fantasy and spare me this nonsense. D. J. Brennan, AB’80, MFA’02 Chicago  

Human side of science

The July–Aug/12 issue has arrived and, as usual, was read eagerly from cover to cover. The piece on Muriel Lezak, PhB’47, AM’49 (Glimpses), was of special interest as I used her book for years in teaching neuropsychology at the University of Illinois and Governors State University. However, the article contains a few errors of fact, and an unwarranted deprecation of Ward Campbell Halstead, who taught at the University from his arrival, with a fresh PhD in experimental psychology from Northwestern University in the ’30s until his death from ALS in 1968. Of the 15 doctoral students he trained, Ralph Reitan, PhD’50,was his first and I was his last (1970). Halstead is generally accepted as the father of neuropsychology, his only rival for that honor being the Russian Alexander Luria, whose first request from the State Department when he visited the United States was to see Halstead’s lab and to meet him. As I knew him as a mentor, employer, and generous guide and friend, I can correct the impression that he and his battery of tests needed “humanizing.” Helen E. Hughes, PhD’70 Belfast, Maine  

The reconstruction conundrum

It’s true that reconstructions can be misleading—but to not do a reconstruction is equally misleading (“Tut-Tut,” UChicago Journal, July–Aug/12). I grew up thinking that the ancient Egyptians and Greeks preferred their monuments to be monochromatic, more blandly colored than headstones in a cemetery. Books and encyclopedias showed only “reality”—photos or drawings of how those structures look now. When I finally learned that the Parthenon, the Sphinx at Giza, etc., had been colorfully painted, I felt that I’d been brainwashed. Even today I think most Americans expect objects such as the Washington Monument or Mt. Rushmore to be blandly monochromatic, perhaps a result of this brainwashing. The ancients in contrast did not stand for such monotonous color schemes; the Egyptians capped their obelisks with shiny metal, the Greeks painted their kouroi, etc. Mike Tamada, AB’79 Portland, Oregon  

Talk about a reconstruction

I always enjoy reading your online and printed stuff for alums, and in the most recent issue I liked the “Tut-Tut” piece. I am wondering exactly what the image (watercolor of perhaps an Egyptian temple?) at the opening of the article is—perhaps I missed the reference to it in the article, or there is a caption somewhere that I failed to see? Stephen Fineberg, X’67 Galesburg, Illinois Mr. Fineberg didn’t miss anything: In the online version of the story, we used an image not mentioned in the text—an 1838 lithograph by Scottish artist David Roberts, showing the Egyptian Temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu, Thebes. Roberts’s idealized, romantic, and widely distributed scenes informed Western conceptions of the Middle East as photographers were only beginning to travel to the region. His work is known for its detailed accuracy in depicting architecture and geography but also for his tendency to add or alter compositional elements for dramatic effect. In this image, the human figure at left front is only half the normal size, making the temple appear more monumental than it really was.—Ed.  

Group upper

Lovely piece by Mike Michaels, X’61 (“Dylan, Bloomfield, and Me,” July–Aug/12). I remember Dylan playing with Mike and Danny Auerbach, SB’64, SM’66, PhD’74, (probably others, too) in a Pierce Tower dorm room on that visit. My memory was that I thought he certainly was not the best of the players involved, but that things seemed to coalesce around him and that most everyone sounded better than they normally did. So there ya go. Larry Kart, AB’67 Highland Park, Illinois  

Group downer

I reacted strongly (in a negative way) to Philip K. Bock, AM’56, saying in his letter (July–Aug/12) that Bruno Bettelheim was “the most impressive teacher” in his time at the University. I was an older student who took Bettelheim’s class in the late 1940s, thinking his ideas of social group work would offer excellent background for my future career as a group social worker. Imagine my shock to experience him putting down many students verbally, to the point where many of them never came to class again. After a few weeks he told us he was showing what negative leadership can do to people and a group, as a way of excusing his own behavior. (Maybe because I was older, he never picked on me.) But I lost all positive feelings about him after this experience. As he was a supposed expert in group relations, he seemed to me to be totally lacking in promotion of good group relations. I have always remembered his behavior, and his “reputation” was forever sullied for me. Frances Sturt Barrish, PhB’48, AB’58 Mill Valley, California  

Visual letter

You’re not just kidding re: the transformation of the Grey City. My recent stay during Alumni Weekend just about bowled me over. I loved these new buildings—incidentally, this was my first trip to campus in 61 years! (See Gold’s photo of Mansueto Library at right.—Ed.) Marcia Gold, AB’51 Tucson  

Science incubator

Perhaps nobody admired the 1950 Research Institutes as architecture, but this building, demolished for the new Eckhardt Research Center, was an incubator of magnificent science and engineering (“The Grey City Transformed,” Web Exclusive, June 12, 2012). James Carpenter is a brilliant designer, and I hope that he and HOK are able to devise ways to evoke, in the new building, the pioneering research work done on that site in the old one. Robert Michaelson, SB’66, AM’73 Evanston, Illinois  

Architectural balance

So much has changed on campus since I was giving tours for prospies back in the late ’90s! From the Class of ’99 (as well as many classes, I’m sure), I was among a small handful that pursued graduate study in a career in architecture. Now, knowing I’ve had even a finger in the renovation of a building at an institution that’s still so close to my heart has given me a great sense of pride. I’m working with the Chicago-based firm doing MEP [mechanical, engineering, and plumbing] and lighting design on the renovation of 5757 S. University. I love that the University has balanced modernizing their existing building stock and adding new buildings—even if one of them sits on the site of my former dorm at Woodward Court. Rose M. Winter, AB’99 Chicago  

Out of space

I was a student in the College when Regenstein opened. I always loved Regenstein’s massive Prairie School horizontalism and the way it fit into its space on old Stagg Field. I was back on campus two years ago for the first time since 1996. Regenstein now seems cramped by the dorms built just to its north. With an urban campus Chicago doesn’t have much space to grow outward. Consider the new business school (the Rafael Viñoly–designed Charles M. Harper Center). I like its Prairie School horizontalism, but it is far too large for the space it occupies. It would look great if it were on a larger piece of land; as it is it feels squeezed, especially to someone who remembers that Woodward Court was at least well proportioned to its surroundings. On my last visit to campus, I spiraled in toward the central quad from the perimeter. After seeing how overbuilt the outer parts of the campus have become, I once again fell in love with the central quad, so much so that even the Administration Building looked in place. Michael L. Rosin, AB’73 Freehold, New Jersey  

Gender studies

I read with interest the articles on James Hormel, JD’58, and Jessie Taft, PhB 1905, PhD 1913, in the May–June/12 issue, and Herb Caplan’s (AB’52, JD’57) and Stan Kimer’s (MBA’79) diverging responses to those pieces in the July–Aug/12 Letters. As a graduate student in the Department of History and an instructor in undergraduate gender and sexuality studies, I read with dismay Mr. Caplan’s claim that the Hormel memoir was unnecessary “soap opera,” implying that discussions of sexuality on campus are distractions from the life of the mind. My interest in these topics is shared by the University’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, which in 2009 mounted the exhibition On Equal Terms: Educating Women at the University of Chicago, the first comprehensive history of women’s experiences at Chicago since its founding as a coeducational institution in 1892. Based on the success of that project, this year the center embarks on a new multiyear project, “Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles: A History of LGBTQ Life at the University of Chicago.” Beginning in August, we are collecting oral histories and mining local and national history collections to document the experiences of LGBTQ individuals and communities at the University from the early 20th century through the present, helping to grow the University archives in the areas of gender and sexuality. I encourage alumni, faculty, and staff with stories or materials to share to contact the coordinators of this project at lgbtqhistoryproject@lists.uchicago.edu. Monica L. Mercado, AM’06 Chicago  

Niche film buffs

In the July–Aug/12 University of Chicago Magazine, there was a picture in Alumni News (shown at right, click link to see original story and larger photo) that was missing some information. So here is some additional information and a couple of corrections. The picture is actually of Contemporary European Films (CEF), which existed at the same time as Doc Films in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Later CEF was merged into Doc Films. As Dorthea Juul, AB’72, PhD’89, said, if the movie was contemporary, European, or people just wanted to see it, we would show it. The picture was the cover photo for one of our quarterly brochures and was titled “CEF at the San Juan Film Festival,” although it was taken, as mentioned, in Regenstein Library. Other individuals (that I can identify) in the photo at the bottom left were Tom Weidenbach, AB’81, and me. At the bottom right, I believe, was Rich Scotch, AB’73. Ken Lindholm, AB’73, MBA’73 Lakewood Ranch, Florida  

Poetry whereabouts

When I was a student at Chicago in the 1960s, I remember using the Harriet Monroe poetry collection in the tower of the old Harper Library (“To the Editor,” Web Exclusive, June 18, 2012). After Regenstein was built, the Monroe collection of poetry books was moved to open stacks on the north end of the second floor of the library. I can’t recall whether or not these books circulated, but one could pull down a copy of Harmonium or Prufrock and Other Observations, read it, and place it on a table for reshelving. Later, alas, the collection was integrated into the stacks and I assume into Special Collections. Robert D. Denham, AM’64, PhD’72 Emory, Virginia Mr. Denham is well informed, assures Daniel Meyer, AM’75, PhD’94, director of the Special Collections Research Center. He explains that although the core of the library’s modern poetry collection came from Poetry magazine, the University library has been building it ever since. When the collection outgrew its space in the Regenstein reading room, it was integrated into the general circulating collection. To read more about Harriet Monroe and Poetry’s 100th anniversary, see Original Source, UChicago Journal, page 18.—Ed.  

Strength of character

It was with sadness that I read of the death of Joe Kirsner, PhD’42, the Louis Block distinguished service professor in medicine, whom I recall well (See Deaths.—Ed.). He not only was friendly (he asked us to call him “Joe”) and approachable but maintained a wonderful dignity that went with his professionalism and great teaching ability. His talents were not limited to the field of medicine: he was also a very physically strong person who showed us how to do chin-ups with one arm! He was an asset to the University and to humanity. Norman R. Gevirtz, MD’56 New York  

The Doogie Howser title goes to ...

Looks like you need a fact-checker (“Where Are They Now,” July–Aug/12). Ernest Beutler, PhB’46, SB’48, MD’50, born September 30, 1928, was awarded an MD from the University of Chicago on June 16, 1950. You haven’t provided exact dates for Fred Solomon, U-High’51, AB’54, SB’55, MD’58, and Sho Yano, PhD’09, MD’12, but Dr. Beutler, who died in 2008, was 21 when he received his degree. He was a remarkable man and had a distinguished career as a hematologist. A tribute by his son, Bruce Beut­ler, MD’81, appeared in the journal Haematologica. Together with Jules A. Hoffmann, Ernie’s son Bruce received one half of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for “their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity” (the other half went to Ralph M. Steinman for “his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity”). Bruce Beutler received an MD from Chicago in 1981 at the age of 23. Marjorie Friedlander, X’53 Pacific Palisades, California John Easton, AM’77, from the University of Chicago Medicine communications responds: Beutler is a great example of someone who graduated really young but did quite well. One crucial distinction—Sho was the youngest MD, PhD. Somehow the Tribune and many follow-up stories focused just on the MD part of that. Easton kindly doesn’t name the Magazine, but we also are guilty of skipping the distinction. If we do count only the MD, as we did in our print and web stories, Yano is still the youngest, earning his degree only a couple of weeks earlier, agewise, than Beutler did. Beutler indeed was younger than Solomon, by slightly less than two months.­­ Meanwhile, we inaccurately described Solomon as a former “chief of staffing at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.” A more accurate job description would be the institute’s staff director for the biobehavioral sciences and mental disorders program area.—Ed.  

Jazz band reunion

On October 13, the opening-weekend festivities at the new Logan Center for the Arts will include a musical performance by former members of the Jazz X-Tet—a “reunion band”—to be conducted by Mwata Bowden. The performance will celebrate the past, present, and future of jazz and experimental music at the University and across the South Side arts community. In addition, the event will mark Mr. Bowden’s 65th birthday and his 19th year as the founding director of the X-Tet. All are invited to hear the Jazz X-Tet at the Logan Center opening and celebrate Mr. Bowden’s many contributions to the University. X-Tet alumni who wish to play in the reunion band should contact Mr. Bowden by e-mail: mbowden@uchicago.edu. Scott Garrigan, MPP’01 Chicago Paul Steinbeck, AB’02 St. Louis  

Department of Corrections

In “Economy of Words” (July–Aug/12), we gave Anil Kashyap, the Edward Eagle Brown professor of economics and finance, a Chicago Booth MBA. In fact Kashyap earned his PhD in economics from MIT and his bachelor’s degree in economics and statistics from the University of California, Davis. We regret the error.   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: uchicago-magazine@uchicago.edu.