Alumni News
Stembridge Named Alumni Relations Director
Homecoming 1999
Delivering on the Promise of RISE

Club News

Special Interest

Professional Schools

Medical School


Arthur F. Miller (WCAS45, L49)
Helen Claire McMahon (WCAS55)
Lisa Kivirist (S89)
Joseph Tell (McC97)


Travel Essay
Travel Calendar

Shades of purple were very much in evidence at AAC/Orange County's welcome party for incoming freshmen and returning Northwestern students.

Windows to Northwestern

The Alumni Admission Council performs an invaluable service, interviewing thousands of prospective students each year.
Every year, Northwestern's Alumni Admission Council members help ease the anxieties of hopeful high school seniors by providing useful information about the University through personal interviews.

Acting as liaisons between the University's admission office and prospective students, the AAC's members conducted 3,500 interviews last year. "I think the most important role of the AAC toward students is communicating information about Northwestern while extending the spirit of the University," says Lori Richter (S78), AAC director in Orange County, Calif.

The process is a two-way street, with admission council members providing evaluations of prospective students to the University. When Edmund Leff (WCAS68) interviews high schoolers in Arizona, he often seeks their opinions on national issues and other topics. "My objective is to try to get to know the student," says Leff. "I don't ask about SATs or class rank. I often will ask what they think are the important issues facing them, their high school and the country."

The AAC has 2,300 members in 38 states and 11 countries. Its role has grown in importance after Northwestern's admission office stopped hosting formal on-campus interviews for applicants in 1997.

"While the AAC doesn't really help NU decide which students to admit, we can help fill the gaps by describing what a student is like," says Richter. "That something might just put the pieces of the puzzle together for the admission office."

In addition to interviews, the AAC organizes college nights and, with Northwestern clubs across the country, hosts welcome parties before fall quarter for incoming freshmen, parents and returning students.

"These new students will become future ambassadors for NU as they tell friends and family of their experience," says Greg Schoofs (WCAS91) of Kansas City, Mo. "Also, they will become the alumni we need to support the alumni clubs that are continually in search of new blood."

In many cases, maintaining ties with Northwestern is a key motivator for the interviewers. "Participating in the NU club as well as the Alumni Admission Council gives me a sense of continuity with the institution that keeps my memories current," says Schoofs, president of the NU Club of Kansas City.

Leff, who is president of the NU Club of Phoenix and active with the AAC, adds that interviewing offers its own rewards. "I initially got involved with the AAC to reacquaint myself with the college admission process as my children got older," he says. "Once I started doing the interviews, I found that I enjoyed talking to the students."

In addition, the get-togethers for incoming freshmen provide a chance for them to meet current, older students. "I remember attending the parties as an incoming student and wondering what NU life is really like," says Schoofs. "You don't know until you get there and experience it yourself, but asking questions helps relieve anxieties and gives students a sense of confidence."

Jeffrey Richter (McC01), Lori Richter's son, enjoyed getting to know future classmates at the new student parties. When classes started in the fall of his freshman year, familiar faces were on campus. "There is a bond here in Evanston with everyone from Southern California," he says. "I met one of the guys who joined my fraternity at the party."

Young Richter adds that he might well get involved with the AAC after graduation. "I could see myself [getting active]; it would be kind of fun and, by staying in touch, you get to know other alumni," he says.

Schoofs definitely wants to get the word out about the NU clubs and the AAC to alumni who might not be aware of them in their area. "It's nice to know [the Northwestern connection] isn't over when you graduate," he says. "A dynamic club can reap huge dividends for alumni and for the University."

— Nicole Sutcliffe

Look Us Up

Visit the alumni relations Web site at


Catherine Stembridge

Stembridge Named Alumni Relations Director
Catherine L. Stembridge has been named Northwestern's director of alumni relations, announced University President Henry S. Bienen on Jan. 10.

Formerly deputy director of the department, Stembridge replaces Drew E. Scopelliti, who resigned in January to pursue other opportunities. "We are very fortunate to have someone of Cathy's caliber available immediately," Bienen said. "She brings a great deal of knowledge of the department and of Northwestern's alumni to the position."

Stembridge has worked in the Department of Alumni Relations since 1989, first as director of NU clubs and since last year as deputy director of the department. She has worked in volunteer management her entire professional career.

Stembridge is a graduate of the University of Missouri's School of Journalism and is currently pursuing a master's degree in communications at Northwestern's School of Speech.

An Evanston native, she is married and has two children.

"I'm excited by the opportunity, and I look forward to working with the board of trustees, our club leaders and alumni, as well as other offices here on campus," she said.

"We've made some significant strides in the past few years by surveying our alumni to find out what services and programs they are most interested in and by improving our alumni communications," she added. "Now, I'd like to build on those successes and engage Northwestern alumni more fully in the life of the University in many other ways."

The department now will report directly to the president, Bienen said.

"In my travels around the country, I am always pleased by the deep and genuine affection that so many Northwestern alumni have for this University. I plan to work closely with Cathy and the department to continue our efforts to connect the alumni with the University," Bienen said.

Grand marshal Mike Adamle, center, congratulates royalty, Homecoming queen Kellie MacDonald and Homecoming king Scott Curcio, both seniors.

(Photos by Eugene Zakusilo)

Countdown to Celebration
Homecoming 1999 ends the 1900s with a bang, not a whimper
A thrilling Northwestern Wildcat football victory in the final seconds over the Iowa Hawkeyes was a fitting — and satisfying — end for 1999's Homecoming/Reunion Weekend, the last one of the 20th century.

As always, there was something for everyone at the Oct. 15-17 event, whose theme was "Countdown to the NU Millennium."

Fortunately, some rituals survive no matter which epoch it is. On Thursday night before the weekend began, students enjoyed a traditional bonfire rally on the lakefill, where they downed pizza and grooved to live entertainment.

The next evening, the Northwestern University Marching Band met fans outside Pick-Staiger Concert Hall and led them to Sheridan Road for the annual parade.

On time, the assemblage stepped off, with Mike Adamle (S71), the grand marshal, leading the way. A sportscaster for Chicago NBC-TV affiliate WMAQ, Adamle served as team captain for the Wildcats and was voted an All-American fullback and Big Ten MVP his senior season.

Others in the parade included University President Henry Bienen and his wife, Leigh Buchanan Bienen; Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton (GSESP42); Northwestern Alumni Association president M. Catherine Jaros (KGSM73); and junior Lindley Barbee and senior Lisa Borgerson, Homecoming co-chairs.

For reunion celebrants — classes of 1959; 1968-70; 1974; 1989 and 1994 — Friday was packed with events, beginning with the 60th anniversary observance of the founding of the Walter P. Murphy Cooperative Engineering Education Program, which allows all students in the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science to alternate academic study with paid experience in the field.

Later, all reunion alumni gathered in a tent by the Norris University Center to reconnect and reminisce. This year, Karen Perry Fox (WCAS69) of Beverly Hills, Mich., was the lucky winner of a drawing for a free alumni tour for two to Vienna.

Later Friday night, the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association also welcomed 200 guests with hors d'oeuvres, dancing and entertainment at the HotHouse in Chicago's Loop (another 500 were feted at the House of Blues on Saturday). A reception organized by Northwestern's Gay and Lesbian University Union attracted 200 alumni, faculty, staff and friends to the new, eye-catching Crate & Barrel store on the city's hot Clybourn Corridor. The event raised a significant amount of money for Chicago House, the first and largest HIV/AIDS residence and social service agency. (The gay and lesbian organization welcomes Internet users on its Web site at

Everyone came together as one into Ryan Field to rally around the Wildcats for the game. After completing several passes late in the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Zak Kustok capped off the drive with a two-yard quarterback keeper on fourth down that won the game 23-21 with four seconds to play. It was Northwestern's first Big Ten victory since the Wildcats beat the Hawkeyes in the 1997 season finale.

Barrett Waller (J86), president ofthe Tulsa club, left, and Dean Anason (GJ91), vice president of the Washington, D.C., club.

(Photo by Mary Hanlon)

Delivering on the Promise of RISE
Northwestern Alumni Association seeks a strong partnership between the University and its alumni.
"Making connections." Those were the buzzwords at the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Alumni Leadership Conference, as more than 200 alumni leaders and Alumni Admission Council members gathered on the Evanston campus to catch up on the latest that Northwestern has to offer.

In 1997, the Northwestern Alumni Association adopted the acronym RISE as a symbol of its strategic plan. "R" — standing for a restructuring of the board to be more diverse — is an accomplished goal, as is "I" — increasing awareness among alumni constituent groups. The focus this year was on the "S," which stands for strengthening the partnership between the University and alumni.

After this year, the remaining goal will be "E" — establishing alumni participation levels.

As for examples of "S," one need only turn to the alumni directory, available online and updated monthly; club Web sites; e-mail directories; Northwestern magazine online; and Northwestern e-news, a monthly cyber-newsletter of University news. These were among the hot topics of conversation and the focus of information sessions. "I especially liked the electronic toolkit session and the information on how to access templates for mailings," one attendee noted after the conference.

Of interest to everyone was the news that nearly all the University's U.S. alumni clubs have Web sites. Now, each group's activities are just a few clicks away.

But before all the cyber-talk, important business — and pleasure — were transacted. At the annual meeting held Friday, Northwestern Alumni Association president M. Catherine Jaros (KGSM73) presided over the election of new NAA officers: vice president David Kragseth (S81, GS86); secretary Marshall Grossman (WCAS70); treasurer Alan Wolfson (McC80); and directors at large William Balanoff (D83), John Franklin (S59), Shawn Glanville (WCAS88), Robert Lueder Jr. (S81), Barbara Stewart (WCAS85, KGSM95) and Robert T. Wagner (EB55). New regional directors were named for regions 9 and 11: Joe LaBritz (S79) for Nevada, Hawaii and Southern California and Amy Falk (S92) for Washington, D.C.

At a reception and dinner held the night before, John C. Berghoff Jr. (WCAS63, L66), the chair of regents, saluted retiring alumni regent Kenneth J. Mesec (McC62, KGSM67) of Denver for his years of service. Berghoff also presented regent pins to Janet Katec Edwards (WCAS65) of Washington, D.C., and Merle Koppenhafer (KGSM53) of Cleveland for their willingness to serve the NAA.

Breakout groups for club presidents and regents followed the annual meeting on Friday. In an afternoon presentation, Anthony J. Paoni, clinical professor of technology and electronic commerce in the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, spoke on "Competing in a Networked Economy," describing the information revolution that has succeeded the agricultural and industrial revolutions. Many older managers, he said, are not making the transition to the information age. "They www.don't get," he quipped.

On Saturday, a special trolley brought alumni leaders from the Orrington Hotel to Ryan Field to see the Wildcats compete against the Minnesota Gophers.

U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (WCAS65), R-Ariz., far right, hosted a tour of the Capitol for Northwestern student interns and Washington, D.C., club members.



Club News
Regional Club News
As a follow-up to a previous successful event, the Austin, Texas, club held a wine-tasting event in the fall. And the Dallas-Fort Worth club celebrated the December holidays at the Claridge Solarium.

In January, the Coachella Valley, Calif., club hosted a speaker from NBC News, and on Feb. 23, Fred Turek, Northwestern professor of neurobiology and physiology spoke to the organization.

In November, the Houston club volunteered for the Children's Art Project of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, packaging and mailing Christmas cards designed by children to help raise money for cancer research.

Thinking ahead to the upcoming presidential election, the Greater New York club in January hosted David Zarefsky (S68, GS69, 74), dean of the School of Speech, who spoke on the level of election discourse.

In October, the Sarasota, Fla., club met at the Bird Key Yacht Club to hear a licensed turtle nest observer discuss the laws regarding tampering with turtle nests. In January, several Sarasota-area Big Ten alumni clubs met at Michael's On East to hear Bill Jauss (J52), sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune. And last spring, the club recognized Virginia Starck, who has served the group for more than 25 years.

With the alumni clubs of Harvard and Stanford, the South Florida club hosted Donald Jacobs, dean of the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, in January.

In January, the Twin Cities club took to the ice for a skating party at Lake of the Isles.

The Washington, D.C., club held a Young Alumni Happy Hour in January as well as an evening of music with Bernard Dobroski (GMu81), dean of the School of Music; bass William Warfield, a lecturer at the school; and music students. February saw an ice-skating party and a presentation on sports in the media, featuring Northwestern athletic director Rick Taylor, Michael Wilbon (J80) and Dave Sell (J85) of the Washington Post, and Christine Brennan (J80, GJ81) of USA Today.

NUEA-West member Kyle Heffner (S79) with Laura Innes of the TV show ER

Special-Interest Clubs
In November, the John Evans Club gathered at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater's new home on Navy Pier to see Antony and Cleopatra. Artistic director Barbara Gaines (S68) gave a preview of the play.

The Medill Club of Southern California met at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific in September and hosted Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green, two members of the writing and production team of HBO's The Sopranos. Burgess and Green once worked for Sue Bohle (J65, GJ69), secretary-treasurer of the club.

In December, members of the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance-East invited the Medill, Kellogg and NU clubs of New York to "NUllennium Follies," an evening of musical theater hosted by actor Tony Roberts (S61).

NUEA-West's third annual Wildcuts Showcase was held in August at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood, but the venue could have been mistaken for the set of ER. Guest hosts this year were alumni Laura Innes (S79), Harry Lennix (S86) and Clancy Brown (S81), who play or have played doctors on the program. This year's showcase guest directors were Paula Prentiss (S59) and spouse Richard Benjamin (S60).

Kellogg alumni from Brazil in the Jockey Club of São Paolo last fall

Professional Schools
Kellogg Graduate School of Management
"Kellogg is a lifelong experience." Those are the first words readers see on the alumni Web site for the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Indeed, all over the world, alumni maintain their ties to Northwestern through local club activities. Among recent or upcoming events:

Boston alumni attended a Campaign Northwestern dinner in October and held a preholiday wine-tasting party. Alumni in Buenos Aires helped associate dean Kenneth Bardach organize the second Expo-Management Program last fall, which attracted more than 30,000 attendees from Latin America.

The Kellogg Alumni Association of the Carolinas held an inaugural meet-and-greet event in October at the Atlantic Beer & Ice Co.

Many of the more than 15,000 Kellogg alumni in the Chicago area enjoy the Saturday Seminar Series, now in its ninth year. An International Day session will be held on April 15 and a Marketing Day session on May 20.

The Denver club maintains a strong alliance with local alumni of the country's top 10 business schools, holding 12 joint events each year. In November, the group discussed stock market tips.

The new Kellogg club in Indianapolis joined the area's NU club in the fall to hear Kellogg assistant professor Mohanbir Sawhney talk on the future of business-to-business Internet commerce.

About 35 club members from Melbourne, Australia, recently welcomed Thomas Lys, Gary A. Rosenberg Professor of Real Estate Management, and former Kellogg professor Margaret Neale, who spoke on "Negotiating Strategies: Cheap Talk, Clear Thinking and the Other Side."

About two dozen alumni attended a fall gathering in São Paulo, Brazil, at the Jockey Club restaurant, where they were updated by Megan Bryne (KGSM90), director of Kellogg alumni relations.

Club members in the Washington, D.C., area are working to compile an up-to-date e-mail contact list. All area alumni should complete the free Online Account Application at the Kellogg Alumni Web site (

A second international alumni reunion is scheduled for April 28-30 in Brussels. For information, go to the Web site ( and click on the alumni and development link and then on the reunions link.

Medical School
The first Alumni Ambassadors events, held last September in Nashville with alumni ambassador Richard M. Heller (M63, GME65), proved an effective tool in communicating the uniqueness of the Medical School to prospective applicants.

Laurie Brown, director of special projects in admissions, and Heller hosted two luncheons, one for Vanderbilt University premedical students and the other for Fisk University premeds.

The Medical School is organizing other Alumni Ambassador events for later this year. For information, contact Brown at or call 312-503-8206.

The Medical School's Alumni Association National Board met last October and heard about the school's progress in a number of areas, including the search for a permanent dean, strategic and campus planning and progress on Campaign Northwestern.

The Alumni Weekend is slated for April 28-29. For information, contact Ginny Darakjian at or call 312-503-8012.

Arthur F. Miller

(Photo by Eric Shivvers)


'To Thine Own Self Be True'
Arthur F. Miller (WCAS45, L49) helps people match their gifts with their passions.
Forget all that stuff you hear nowadays about becoming anything you want to be, says human resources expert Arthur F. Miller (WCAS45, L49), jabbing the air with his finger for emphasis.

His thinking runs counter to what he believes is the deadly philosophy governing the world of work, namely, to become what your employer rewards.

If you're an individualist, you won't be happy as a team player, says the lean, intense man, pacing in his office as he speaks. If you're a methodical planner, spontaneity isn't your cup of tea. Because so few companies track employee motivation, bosses may promote you right out of your passion and into a role that is completely antithetical to your talents.

Miller's observations, after studying thousands of people pursuing their passions, are espoused in his best-selling book, The Truth about You (Ten Speed Press, 1989) and the recently published Why You Can't Be Anything You Want to Be (Zondervan, 1999).

As an undergraduate at Northwestern, Miller was on the go, active in campus politics and the interfraternity council. He went to law school "because I liked to argue. But I wasn't a good lawyer."

A few years after law school, Miller stopped practicing without looking back and took over the personnel department at the University of Chicago's Argonne research facility, where he began to look for better ways of matching people and jobs.

When asked by the American Management Association to run a weeklong development workshop, he encountered Bernard Haldane, the renowned job-hunting expert who promoted the use of achievement history as a key to success. Something clicked, leading Miller to start his own human resources consulting firm — People Management International, with a home office in Avon, Conn. — in 1961. It began attracting a following after he developed what he calls the System for Identifying Motivated Abilities, which he has been using ever since.

Miller realized that finding what he calls one's giftedness is critical to avoiding unhappiness, wrong choices, wasted time and a "truckload of destructive stress." So he recommends writing down your achievements from the start, whatever it was that you enjoyed doing and felt you did well — training a pet, mastering a hook shot, putting on a neighborhood talent show or raising money for the scouts. By so doing, you'll find a recurring pattern that defines you.

"Two out of three people are in jobs that don't fit," Miller says. "What we do is assess people's giftedness and help them discover their passions. Gifts plus passion lead to success, progress and productivity. A good fit benefits the worker — and also the boss."

Failure to pay heed to the signs can be serious indeed, possibly leading to physical, emotional and spiritual bankruptcy. But a person's passion is irrepressible. If you don't find it in a job, you can find it in an avocation. "People have an MO [modus operandi] that develops but is essentially stable throughout their life. For me, it's impacting on others, making a difference in their lives," Miller says.

After setting up an international consultancy that has counted IBM, Merck, New York Life and Exxon among its clients, he says (50,000 individuals later), "Helping people become who they were designed to be is still my passion."

— Lee Prater Yost

Helen Claire McMahon

Rocket Booster
Helen Claire McMahon (WCAS55) loved every minute she spent in NASA and with the National Air and Space Museum.
Getting out of bed at 4 a.m. to watch a rocket blast off into outer space was always easy for Helen Claire McMahon (WCAS55).

"Anyone who sees a space launch thinks it's very exciting," McMahon says with an air of nostalgia, reflecting on the memorable mornings she spent out on the Kennedy Space Center's launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Fla. During the mid-to-late 1960s, she was an eyewitness to the final takeoff of the Mercury mission, all the Gemini missions and Apollo 11.

"The noise of the rockets ... and the knowledge that there were people inside those capsules were awe-inspiring," she says.

For 36 years in Cape Canaveral and Washington, D.C., McMahon devoted herself to the national space program, starting off as an administrative assistant with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and ending up as the head of a space education program at the National Air and Space Museum, which gets more visitors than any museum in the world.

As a NASA employee, she first saw the patched-together complex that would eventually become the Kennedy Space Center in 1963. Working at the site was an unforgettable experience.

"It was a boomtown atmosphere," McMahon recalls. "We worked in trailers until the office buildings were completed, and we had to take the causeway to the mainland for groceries until a store was built in Cocoa Beach."

In 1968, McMahon became an assistant to Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders at the White House National Aeronautics and Space Council in Washington, D.C. Five years later, she was offered a position to work for Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who headed the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

The NASM now receives 8 to 10 million visitors each year. Museum-goers learn about the dedication and courage of aviation and space pioneers and marvel at the sight of what McMahon calls, with admiration in her voice, "these magnificent machines created by humans."

During her career at the NASM, she participated in organizing more exhibitions than she can count, as well as managing more than 40 museum publications, facilitating education programs and creating an office that administers programs for scholars and the public.

McMahon is proudest of starting an international seminar on the mutual concerns of air and space museums, which began in 1988 and is now an annual NASM event. "It has become the focal point for aviation and space museum professionals from around the world," she says.

McMahon retired in 1998 but stays extremely busy, serving as the vice chair of the Arlington County (Va.) Commission on Aging, as the president of the NU Club of Washington (D.C.) — one of the University's most active alumni organizations — and as a member of the women's committee for the National Museum for Women in the Arts.

While she no longers spends the early morning hours on the launch pad watching huge rockets take off, McMahon savors her experiences in the U.S. space program. "In thinking back on my days at [Cape Canaveral] and the museum," she says, "I realize I had a rare opportunity to participate in the creative days of building two of the country's space giants."

— Kim O'Brien (S00)

Lisa Kivirist and her husband, John Ivanko

'Inn of the Sixth Happiness'
Lisa Kivirist (S89) hopped off the fast track to start a B&B inn with her husband.
Lisa Kivirist (S89) was set to follow a straight, upward trajectory in her career.

After majoring in communication studies at Northwestern, she landed a job in the account management training program for client service and accounts at Leo Burnett, one of the largest advertising agencies in the country. But the adventurous Glenview, Ill., native found that conformity did not satisfy her.

After three years at Burnett, Kivirist left to find her bliss. Eventually, in 1997, she found the perfect answer: She and her husband, John Ivanko, opened Inn Serendipity, a bed-and-breakfast establishment near Browntown, in southwestern Wisconsin.

"Parents, co-workers and the media tell you what is expected of you at different stages," she says. "It takes a lot of confidence to go out on your own.

"After I had been [at Burnett] a couple of years, I felt I was turning into a cookie-cutter corporate clone."

Hardly the case these days. Kivirist not only uses her 100-year-old farmhouse for the B&B but also for many other endeavors, which include writing, speaking to schoolchildren on environmental issues and running workshops on a variety of alternative topics. She and Ivanko became interested in starting a B&B because of their love of travel, experience with B&Bs in the Midwest and interest in sharing a home and lifestyle with others.

"Our goal was to find a turn-of-the-century farmhouse and retrofit it using environmental technology, while still retaining the character of a traditional farmhouse," she says.

Hardly your run-of-the-mill B&B, Inn Serendipity has a 1960s' feel about it, with two "themed" guest rooms to inspire creativity, a solar water-heating system, five acres of organic farmland, tiles made out of recycled auto windshields and wood-stove heating.

Guests can rent the "music room" or the "writing room," and they can relax outside in a handcrafted Guatemalan hammock, sipping lemon balm iced tea or raspberry wheat ale and nibbling organically grown veggies. One departing guest thanked the innkeepers for "a beautiful glimpse into ... peace and tranquility."

But for all of Kivirist's current satisfaction, she would never give up the time she spent working on the 9 to 5 shift. "I don't regret going to Burnett and using the corporate experience as a jumping-off point," she says. "You just have to keep the bigger vision in mind."

Although her life in Wisconsin appears about as far away as one can get from the concrete jungle, Kivirist has not forgotten her yuppie brothers and sisters still caught up in the rat race. Her book, Kiss Off Corporate America: A Young Professional's Guide to Independence (Andrews McMeel, 1998), is a resource guide to following one's dreams.

In the book, Kivirist states clearly that she understands how hard it is to make a U-turn on the career path. At the same time, the guide is persuasive about how fulfilling such changes can be.

She and her husband are hard at work on another book, a combination cookbook-memoir of their transition to the quieter life. It will feature recipes from their hearty vegetarian breakfasts — made with fresh produce from the garden and eggs from their chickens — and other delectable items such as fruit smoothies, good for boosting energy.

"The opportunity to change is inherent in all of us," Kivirist says. "We just need to decide to follow our dreams."

— Cherise Bathersfield (J99)

Joseph Tell

(Photo by Mike Booher)

A Mover, Not a Shaker
Joseph Tell (McC97) helped engineer the daunting move of the Cape Hatteras, N.C., lighthouse to safety.
Moving a lighthouse would sound impossible to almost anyone, but not to civil engineer Joseph Tell (McC97), who likes a little challenge now and then.

Since 1870, the rotating beacon and the black-and-white spiral stripes of the Cape Hatteras Light Station have warned seafarers of the treacherous Diamond Shoals off North Carolina's Outer Banks, a watery grave for hundreds of ships over the last three centuries.

After 128 years of crashing Atlantic waves and strong, incessant winds, the shoreline, which lay 1,600 feet away when the structure was built, had crept to within 160 feet of the world's tallest brick masonry lighthouse. Severe ocean storms threatened to wear away at the sands beneath the tower's granite foundation.

Following an evaluation of several options for protecting the lighthouse, the National Park Service, which owns and maintains the site, decided the best idea was to move the 208-foot, 4,400-ton landmark inland.

In July 1998, Atlanta-based LAW Engineering and Environmental Services, Tell's employer and one of seven firms in on the $9.8 million NPS project, named him assistant manager for LAW's portion of the project.

A newcomer to the working world, Tell admits he was intimidated at first by the appointment but appreciative of the trust the project's chief engineer and others from his company bestowed on him. "It was a great honor and a rare opportunity for someone as young as I am," Tell says. "Besides, I liked the pressure and responsibility."

The work itself was mind-boggling. A steel beam foundation was constructed beneath the structure and 100 100-ton jacks simultaneously lifted the giant nearly six feet. This facilitated the placement of seven steel track beams and roller assemblies that would, in concert with five hydraulic push jacks, move the lighthouse at an average rate of 130 feet per day. Throughout the process, workers applied Ivory soap, believe it or not, to the track beams to lubricate them.

On July 9, ahead of schedule, the lighthouse safely reached its new home, just in time to avoid possible destruction from Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd.

Tell was impressed by nearby residents' impassioned responses to the project, and he understood their emotional attachment to the lighthouse's captivating profile. "When we turned the light off, it was the first time it had been off in 50 years," he says. "It was as if [the neighbors] had lost a friend."

The environment has always been a concern for Tell, who completed an environmental concentration on the way to his civil engineering degree — but his dedication to nature has its limits. "When you tell people you are an environmentalist, they assume you are an extremist. ... I am definitely not that."

Instead, Tell's commitment to the environment focuses on creating better living situations for people. Much of his current work is with brownfields, which are contaminated, former industrial sites that can be redeveloped through environmental cleanup.

Currently, he is LAW's project coordinator for a major brownfield redevelopment of a downtown Atlanta mill site that's been operated by Atlantic Steel Co. since the beginning of the 20th century.

Tell is excited by the possibilities for brownfield recovery. "Through the [U.S.] Environmental Protection Agency's new programs and new technologies, we're able to turn these historically contaminated and unappealing sites into communities where people can live and work," he says.

— Kim O'Brien (S00)

The M/S Cézanne under sunnier skies

Bruce (J50) and Carol Wagner (J49) Hallenbeck live in Santa Ana, Calif. She is a docent at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana. He is a senior vice president in the Whittier, Calif., office of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.

Travel Essay
The Rhône and the Rain
by Bruce (J50) and Carol Wagner (J49) Hallenbeck
It's always wise when you travel to have a Plan B – just in case Plan A doesn't quite work out.

On this Northwestern Alumni Association trip, which included several days for us in Paris, followed by a water journey down the Rhône River and two days on the French Riviera – we not only used Plan B, but Plans C, D, E and possibly on up to Plan M. The culprit? Rain. Gray clouds, then a few glimpses of blue sky and then rain again. However, our tour leaders offered interesting alternatives that made the trip great fun.

In Paris, our departure point, it seems that all the public statues have been cleaned and regilded over the last couple of years. They were visual bright spots in the gloomy skies that glowered over us. We shopped beneath arcades, drank the best hot chocolate in Paris at Angelina's and went to Jean-Pierre's (both near the Tuilleries) for supper. Jean-Pierre's is a tiny restaurant whose chef personally greeted all customers with kisses on both cheeks and whose waiter sang French songs under his breath while he took our orders and delivered the delicious food. One of the best things about a rainy trip is how quickly the members of the group become friends. Everything seems easier and more pleasant when you discover someone who went to school with your sister, a classmate of a mutual friend or, in this case, quite coincidentally, the sorority sister of a neighbor.

After Paris, the TGV, a high-speed train, delivered us to Lyon in southeast France to start our river journey. However, the Rhône was swollen from the rain. Because our ship, the M/S Cézanne, could not slip under the bridges, it sat at the dock in Lyon while we shifted to Plan B, a trip to the famous Cluny Abbey, one of the largest and most beautiful churches in the Christian world. In the afternoon, we toured the charming medieval village of Pérouges, wandering the cobblestone streets and sampling flan. That treat, unlike the Spanish and Latino dessert with the same name, is a pastry that looks like a pizza but tastes like a thick sugar cookie.

The following day, we took a walking tour of Lyon, weaving in and out of the courtyards of 400-year-old houses to admire corridors, patios, curving staircases and gargoyles. Lyon is known for its silk fabrics, so we visited one of its shops, where silk scarves are printed by hand.

Late that afternoon, we crowded onto the top deck as the ship finally cast off. The captain's bridge and radar dome could be lowered hydraulically whenever we came to a bridge, but we passengers had to duck our heads.

As we proceeded down the Rhône, high water closed two locks that we needed to pass through. The tour leaders improvised — juggling our itineraries, rerouting buses and often missing connections with tour guides. Every day was an adventure. We took morning walks through small riverside towns and bus trips to see famous castles, Romanesque churches and medieval villages. We rode a narrow-gauge railway that followed a route Greek traders used before the birth of Christ, through magnificent hills covered with the colors of fall.

When the ship could not embark, we hiked into nearby towns along the river to buy local wines and chocolates and to watch old men play boules, a form of lawn bowling. One memorable encounter was with Fleurette, a truffle-hunting dog, and his owner, who showed us how to find and dig up those delicacies.

We ended the trip in Cannes, where gray skies finally gave way to brilliant blue on the last day of the excursion. We exchanged newly perfected Gallic shrugs, happy in the knowledge that alternate plans sometimes work out just fine.