Thank you for featuring the class of 2008 ["On Their Way"] in your summer 2008 issue. This diverse group of students and their promising futures help me remember the reasons I decided to attend Northwestern and memories of my own diverse group of Wildcat friends who are still my best friends.
While at times I have become disenchanted with the University administration (for example, with the University's former unwillingness to be open to an Asian American studies program and its shameless auctioning and renaming of each school and venue in the names of highest bidders and donors), these students reaffirm the educational mission of Northwestern and its ability to produce outstanding graduates who will benefit society.
Thank you for helping me reconnect with Northwestern.
Susan Lee (WCAS96)
I'm not sure if I should direct this note to the entire editorial staff or to the art director, Christina Senese. The photography and layout of "On Their Way" was so arresting, my jaw dropped. If the people responsible were actors in a play, I could stand up and applaud.
Consider this a typed ovation.
Martha Kelly (C68)
Thanks for the latest issue of Northwestern. I graduated in 1955 on the GI Bill of Rights. It was an experience I will never forget.
Things have changed along with the times. When I attended Northwestern, there was only one black student on campus. Now the cover of the summer issue reveals a truly international student enrollment.
Howard Wilson (WCAS55)
Donna Humphrey's Poetry
I was happy to read "Out of Tragedy" [summer 2008] and see the video of my very special niece Joan Lefkow. Her mother, my sister-in-law Donna Humphrey, was also a special person to me. I have appreciated Donna's poetry since I had the opportunity to read some of her poems that she chose to share with me.
I was born the year Donna and my brother were married. I also grew up in the rural community of Woodlawn, Kan., so many of the word pictures she painted were very familiar to me. That made the book even more meaningful.
I am proud of Joan and the wonderful person she has become and grateful that she and her sister, Judy, decided to have their mother's work published. The book is not only a tribute to their mother but also a testimony to what wonderful women they are and the love they have for their mother.
Carol Humphrey Vineyard
Thank you for running the story about Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow and how she has dealt with the loss of both her husband, Michael Lefkow, and mother, Donna Humphrey, in an attack on her home in 2005. My own connection to that tragic event is through Donna, who was a dear friend of my father, Les. I am glad that my fellow Northwestern alumni have had an opportunity to learn about Donna, her life and her poetry.
Lee Cronk (WCAS82, G89)
Highland Park, N.J.
Not a Faceless Generation
The Purple Prose essay "Putting a Face on a Nameless Generation" [summer 2008] by Doris Schaffer O'Brien touched a chord. As a former history major, I have become aware of names attached to eras and generations.
I would propose that we name ourselves "The Quiet, Steady Generation." It may not be a catchy name, but it describes the quiet, unspectacular steadiness of purpose, expectations and demeanor that our generation provided throughout the wars and turmoil of the 1950s, '60s, '70s and '80s.
Joan Gross Paulikas (WCAS57)
Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
The official name for our generation is "The Silent Generation." You will find a tribute to our generation in my book, Silent Celebration: The Generation That Transformed America [Lulu, 2007]. Historian William Manchester helped name our generation.
David N. Campbell
News on Campus
After reading about President Henry S. Bienen's retirement in 2009 ["Bienen to Retire as University President," News On Campus, summer 2008], I became wistful for a missing highlight of his presidency.
It was his decision to close the Northwestern University Dental School after 110 years of producing some of the finest dentists this planet has seen. His rationale that it was not financially feasible was enough to put an end to this tradition.
I appreciate the fact that providing a dental education is an expensive undertaking. However, in the state where I practice, two new private dental schools have recently opened and appear to be flourishing.
It's unfortunate the embodiment of service to the community didn't dominate Bienen's thought process when he chose to end a proud and historical part of the University.
James C. Aten (GD93)
"A Closer Look at Women's Health" [summer 2008] declared, "There's an incredible void in research based on gender." While that may be true in some areas of gender and health/medicine, I want to assure you that research of all kinds on gender, as well as on sexuality and other related issues, is alive and thriving at Northwestern.
The Gender Studies Program, which grew out of our long-standing Women's Studies Program in 2000, has an undergraduate major, a graduate certificate and an "interdisciplinary cluster" program, and more than 50 faculty members and affiliates from across the University doing research on women, feminism, gender, sex, sexuality, and transgender and transsexuality issues. Gender Studies has hosted a conference on gender and science, and we offer courses on aspects of gender and health, as well as on issues surrounding sexual assault, taught from a medical perspective.
We see no void in gender research at Northwestern!
Director, Gender Studies Program
Remembering Bergen Evans
In the story "Reunion Spotlight: Class of '58," [summer 2008] there is a reference to the "immensely popular American literature class" taught by Bergen Evans. Please forgive me being so picky, but Introduction to Literature B-10 went way beyond American lit.
When Professor Evans taught us The Odyssey, I learned forever the difference between being at home and being a stranger. He gave life to the concept of dramatic suspense — watching to see what will happen — in this case, how the fates will work.
When we studied Plato's The Republic I heard for the first time that in this seemingly ideal place women and children were the property of men. He told us that in almost all ideal states there was no marriage. The rulers were not celibate; they just were not husbands.
Bergen Evans showed how Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales satirizes the church and why. The "Wife of Bath's Tale" is part of my life.
He taught Beowulf not as oral poetry (we learned the importance of verbal repetition), but as an enriched history of Anglo-Saxon culture.
On the last day of class Professor Evans told us, 'You won't get your final grade in this course until you are dying.' Thanks to him, living has been a richer, deeper and more understandable experience. For 52 years I have heard his words in my mind, trying for an "A."
Karen DeCrow (J59)
Revisiting the Howes Chapel
Thank you for running the beautiful picture of the Howes Chapel on the inside front cover in the spring 2008 issue. The chapel is a gem inside and out.
I smiled all across the photograph. On June 6, 1942, my husband, Albert, and I were married in our friend's [Evaline Mason Howes] memorial chapel, constructed in honor of her husband, Frank Howes.
There is a hushed peace enhanced by the exquisite blue stained-glass windows that depict biblical scenes. Other colors blend in, but the blue is deep and unique.
We revisit the chapel when we can; it is a treasure we hold dear. On June 6, 2008, we celebrated our 66th anniversary — with six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Norma Kitzman (WCAS40, G42)
Purple Still Goes Green
The letter from John Feagan [Mailbox, summer 2008], stating that "mainstream science fully accepts that human activities have contributed to global warming," and the letter from Angela Jordan that says Northwestern magazine should not "be bullied into giving publicity to a position now in the scientific minority," give me concern.
Perhaps these alumni desire to have all of the press ignore those in the scientific community who question their beliefs. One dissenter, Richard Lindzen, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a National Academy of Science member, questions the link between human activity and overall global temperatures.
He has argued persuasively that at a very minimum the jury is still out on the causes of global warming. There are others as well. These are not Arthur Butz-like professors questioning accepted history and the Holocaust, but a small minority of well-credentialed scientific experts who have raised the possibility of premature evidence. Unfortunately, those who even dare to disagree are experiencing large funding cuts for their research, while those that scream fire seem to have all kinds of money thrown at them.
I personally believe that we can't take the risk and ignore the likely link between human activity and the global temperature rise and we should proceed full speed ahead with alternative energy. But to state that the debate shouldn't even exist simply because a majority of experts believe in one theory goes against all that I learned at Northwestern.
Harry Kirsch (McC79, KSM80)
Catching Up with John Hunwick
I enjoyed the article "Saving Islamic Africa's History" [fall 2004] enormously. It helped to fill some gaps on Uncle Hunwick, whom I fondly remember from my childhood in Lagos. I believe I last saw him in 1967 before the start of the Nigerian civil war, when he visited Ohafia. My mother is the older sister of Mr Hunwick's wife, Uwa.
Thank you for this insightful portrait of him.
Edem "Emeka" Okon