Alumni News
Sesqui debuts in NYC
NAA awards three teachers for excellence

Club News
Regional Clubs
Special-Interest Clubs

Professional Schools

Kellogg Graduate
  School of Management
School of Law
Medical School
Dental School


Sherman Poppen (EB52)
Harriet Welty Rochefort (GJ69)
Cat Chow (S95)


Travel Calendar
Cruising Europe'sWaterways

A Lifelong Connection
The NAA has created an Internet portal that offers alumni a variety of opportunities to stay linked to Northwestern.

Need to look up that long-lost roommate, or do some online job networking with classmates? How about checking out the latest Wildcat standings? The Northwestern Alumni Association's Web portal,, is the place to go.

This Internet site opens the door to the latest Northwestern news, sports scores, events and alumni connections. "The response has been terrific," says Catherine Stembridge (GS00), director of the Department of Alumni Relations. "This is a great way to keep connected to each other and the University."

Although the portal is available to anyone who wants to be a part of Northwestern, the real hit for alumni is the "gated community" that links them to other classmates. So far, thousands of alumni have registered for passwords to enter and make contact. "The department's been getting more than 150 password requests a day, and as word spreads, we're expecting a lot more," Stembridge adds.

In addition to the electronic kudos the portal is receiving, alumni reunion leaders are excited about its potential to keep classmates connected on a continuing basis. "Now we're not limited to contact every five years," explains Stacey Lauren (S87), co-chair of her reunion class. "I can see us having virtual reunions and doing so much more."

The portal is also solving a big problem recent graduates face when they lose their Northwestern e-mail addresses. Young alumni can gain access to the portal to register for free Northwestern e-mail for life. This is good news for the University, which often loses touch with young alumni within the first five years after graduation. "They tend to move more frequently in those early years," says University Relations vice president Alan Cubbage (GJ78, 87), who describes the portal idea as a win-win situation. "We're trying to remedy the problem of losing touch by creating a place where alumni can always be found."

What alumni will see when they log on to the portal is the NAA's photographic banner at the top of an information-packed screen, which is divided into three sections. On the left are links to the schools' and colleges' alumni events, as well as access to Northwestern magazine (a great way to check back issues). In the middle are the latest Northwestern news and sports headlines and updates on national and financial news. The right side opens doors to weather, mapping and phone book directories in addition to personal finance and shopping guides.

And with a few extra clicks, alumni can create their own customized Northwestern home page that welcomes them with specific information each time they log on to the Internet.

Since the portal went live last May, more than 15,000 users have registered to make it their personal home page. One of the first was Ava Youngblood (McC79), NAA 2000–02 president. "Every time I log on, I'm reminded of Northwestern," she says. "The page has a really nice layout. It invites you to stop and browse."

Youngblood says the portal page is a direct result of feedback from the NAA's 1999 alumni survey, in which graduates asked in particular for better Internet access to Northwestern and to each other. In response, both on- and off-campus representatives collaborated with to get the portal online.

The portal helps meet the NAA's challenge of recognizing and meeting alumni needs at different levels, Youngblood adds. While some log on simply to stay in touch with friends, alumni club leaders, for example, may use it as a tool to communicate with their particular groups and to plan events.

Through the feedback link, the NAA can gather information to update and enhance the page's capabilities as new needs arise. "It has to be an experience that alumni want to come back to," Youngblood says. "We want to use the portal to create a lifelong connection. It allows us to reach beyond Evanston to alumni globally."

— Michele Hogan

Look Us Up

Visit the new alumni portal page at

Keep in touch with life at Northwestern by visiting the new alumni portal, the Internet equivalent of walking under the Arch.

Northwestern alumna Catherine Brunell belts out "On My Own," from Les Miserables.

(Photo by Amy Feitelberg)



Don't Miss the Party

Visit the Sesquicentennial Web site to find out where Sesqui parties are planned. Among the cities that will be Sesqui- celebrating: Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Sesqui Makes Debut in the Big Apple
The University's first major Sesquicentennial event, in New York City, drew hundreds.
Pay $75 for a show on Broadway? Fuhgedaboutit! Not when Northwestern alumni, family and friends could enjoy the finest Broadway has to offer, plus purple and white M&Ms washed down with purple Sesquitinis at the first alumni Sesquicentennial celebration.

Held at midtown Manhattan's stylish Supper Club, the Sept. 25 event to celebrate Northwestern's 150th anniversary wildly exceeded the organizers' expectations, attracting 575 attendees. They were treated to food, music and what was for many, well, a reunion.

Courtenay Nelson (S00) and two of her classmates, only three weeks after moving to New York, came to be with friends they hadn't seen since June's commencement.

"We've just graduated, so we're really excited to get together with people," Nelson said. "But we're also poor and don't have jobs, so we love the free food."

Gloria Kargman, whose daughter graduated in 1979, and her two friends were especially looking forward to seeing The Music Man's Craig Bierko (S86). They wouldn't be disappointed. Bierko, who was nominated for a Tony Award this year, sang "Sadder But Wiser Girl" from the show.

Others who performed included Catherine Brunell (Mu97), now starring as Eponine in Les Misérables, who sang "On My Own"; Sally Murphy (Mu84), who crooned "If I Loved You" from Carousel; and Ana Gasteyer (S89), who gave forth with "Moonshine Lullaby" from Annie Get Your Gun. Dale Rieling (S83, GMu84) and Joe Thalken (Mu84) provided accompaniment.

Gasteyer, a five-year veteran of the television show Saturday Night Live, introduced the other performers and lightened up the evening with quirky comic commentary and inside Northwestern jokes.

President Henry Bienen welcomed everyone and gave an update of campus happenings. Partygoers were also given a sneak preview of the Sesquicentennial video on the history of the University. Copies of the full-length video are now available for $10 plus shipping and handling by calling (800) 621-2736 or by visiting the Web site.

Those who wanted their Northwestern history live and in person enjoyed an exhibit that featured such items as the 1928–29 Student Handbook, an Armadillo Day Frisbee from 1988, yearbooks from as early as 1912 and, yes, even a 1949 Rose Bowl program.

The New York event was the first of the Sesquicentennial parties planned for alumni around the country.

— Cherise Bathersfield (J99)

Winners of the 2000 NAA Excellence in Teaching Awards are, from left, Edward Colgate, Paul Aliapoulios and Richard Silverman.

(Photo by Jim Ziv)

Master Teachers
NAA tips its hat to three outstanding professors.
Three academicians from very different domains -- music, engineering and chemistry -- are this year's recipients of the Northwestern Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards. Yet for all their differences in background, the three are strongly linked by a deep desire to expand the knowledge boundaries of their chosen expertise and an abiding dedication to their teaching and their students.

Since 1987 the NAA has recognized outstanding faculty members with this honor. This year's award winners are Paul A. Aliapoulios, professor and chair of academic studies and composition in the School of Music; Edward Colgate, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science; and Richard B. Silverman, professor of chemistry and professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology in the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Paul Aliapoulios came to Northwestern in 1976, where he specializes in choral music and conducting, vocal performance and music education. As an active member of the School of Music's Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, he is engaged in collaborative research with faculty and doctoral students.

Aliapoulios' service to Northwestern extends far beyond his teaching load, noted Frederick Hemke, senior associate dean for administration, who nominated him for the honor: "He also serves as an important ambassador by his performances as a choral music conductorand baritone soloist."

On a local level, he visits and consults with many high school and junior high school music programs. One graduating senior wrote in her recommendation, "I first met Professor Aliapoulios as a sophomore in high school, when he brought his choral methods class to observe my high school choir in a morning rehearsal. For the last six years he has been an unbelievable source of inspiration, support and mentorship."

Aliapoulios has served as conductor for nearly 20 choral groups of all ages in all parts of the United States, always bringing his unique blend of enthusiasm and creativity to the task at hand. When one senior viola student worked with him to learn to conduct a piece, he conveyed the concept of a legato stroke to her by comparing it to the bowing of her instrument. "Dr. Aliapoulios conforms his teaching to my needs," she related. "He makes every lesson stimulating and personable."

Ed Colgate, one of the inheritors of the late engineering dean Jerome Cohen's tradition of exacting standards and innovation, has himself carved out a record of innovation for the benefit of his students and his academic discipline.

His Engineering Design and Communication course, part of Northwestern's pioneering Engineering First program, exemplifies the program's mission: providing opportunities to solve real-life problems in a team-based environment for freshmen. In one instance, the class designed and fabricated a prosthesis that enabled a woman who had lost most of her hand in a burn accident to play tennis again.

In addition, he has engaged the participation of the University's Writing Program faculty to teach students the fundamentals of effective communication, a skill not traditionally emphasized at engineering institutions.

"If I were to describe Professor Colgate in one word, it would be dedication," according to one senior in biomedical engineering. "He teaches his students to think critically and to solve complex design problems."

For his part, Colgate said, "I see the fundamental purpose -- and pleasure -- of engineering as creation."

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Colgate came to Northwestern in 1988 and has either singly or in collaboration generated more than $2.8 million in research funds from such varied sponsors as NASA, the Big Three automakers and the National Science Foundation. He is author of more than 40 research papers.

In the late 1980s the Chemistry Department turned to Rick Silverman to teach a new course, Organic Chemistry for Majors, because the number of enrollees for its predecessor course had been dropping steadily. Within a year, the magnetic Silverman reversed the decline, and today more than 40 students typically sign up for the offering.

Silverman is regularly elected to the Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll. "Rick isn't considered good because his exams are easy or the courses are easy," wrote Weinberg dean Eric Sundquist in his nomination. "Rather, it's just the opposite: The students are able to succeed in very challenging courses as a result of his teaching aptitude."

"Professor Silverman did a superb job of keeping the 'big picture' in perspective, especially with material where it's easy to get lost in the details," noted one former student who is now a graduate student in physical chemistry. "He also wrote tests that really forced you to think about what was taught in class, tests that required an understanding of why things happen the way they do." In 1999 Weinberg recognized Silverman with the E. LeRoy Hall Award for Teaching Excellence.

His second of three books, The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action (Academic Press, 1992), has become a standard selection at universities.

Silverman, who came to Northwestern in 1976, has 12 patents in his name, and in addition to his books, he has authored 175 research publications.

Al (McC50) and Fran Dugar of Rockford try to keep members of the crew team warm during the 15th Annual Head of the Rock Regatta on Sunday, Oct. 8, in Rockford, Ill.

Club News
Regional Clubs
It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Nearly 200 members of the NU Club of Chicago got a sneak preview of one of the area's newest eateries in September, performing the enviable task of helping the Daily Grill restaurant in Skokie prepare for its opening. The restaurant's management provided complimentary dinner seatings so the restaurant's staff could fine-tune its operations, and in return the members reviewed the fare and atmosphere. Most gave the new establishment a thumbs up.

In other Chicago news, members will be lending support to Kate Shindle (S99) in her performance in the touring production of Cabaret Dec. 14 at the Cadillac Palace Theater. Shindle, who plays the lead role of Sally, and the cast will meet with club members following the musical for a discussion and reception.

The NU Club of Cincinnati kicked off the school year by hosting a welcome party for incoming Northwestern freshmen at the home of Mike Mountan (WCAS85, KGSM88) in August.

Heading south: Texans are known for doing things in a big way, and the NU Club of Houston is no exception. More than 155 members have joined Campaign Northwestern as committee members, surpassing the club's initial membership goal.

Texas is producing one of the largest freshman groups to enter Northwestern as well. The Houston club welcomed 32 new students and their families at a party on Aug. 20. Members have also been cheering the Wildcat football team on to victory during game-day get-togethers at local restaurants.

The Wildcat faithful in New York City are also turning out for game-day gatherings, but the buzz is not just about the football team. Partygoers packed the Supper Club Sept. 25 for the NU Club of New York's Sesquicentennial celebration (see story on page 40). And on Sept. 15, the club hosted a Big Ten New York City Alumni Mixer at the Chelsea Brewing Co.

The NU Club of Northwest Indiana hosted six new students and their parents at a party Aug. 23 at the home of Elaine Trikolas Kisisel (WCAS62). Alex Sarkisian (S49, 71), the captain of the 1949 Rose Bowl team, enthralled the students with his anecdotes.

Specialized alumni groups are forming within the NU Club of Orange County (Calif.). Members can choose to pursue interests in ethnic dining in Orange County, golf or contemporary issues and ideas in reading/discussion groups.

Club members are also invited to the Jan. 20 alumni dinner set for the Newport Beach home of NAA Board member Marshall Grossman (WCAS70).

Twelve new students received a warm welcome by the NU Club of Orlando (Fla.) at a reception on Aug. 20.

The NU Club of Rockford (Ill.) held its Big Ten barbecue dinner Sept. 21 -- which came before the Wildcats' big win over Wisconsin. Jim Hoyt, chair of the University of Wisconsin Athletic Board, was the guest speaker for the event. And on Oct. 8, alumni braved the cold to cheer on the Northwestern crew team in the annual Head of the Rock regatta.

The NU Club of St. Louis enjoyed a performance of the St. Louis Symphony under the direction of guest conductor David Loebel (S72, GMu74) in May. In August members got together for a happy hour at Balaban's.

Love and loyalty will be the order of the day Feb. 10 for the NU Club of Sun Cities (Ariz.). The group plans to celebrate both Northwestern's Sesquicentennial and Valentine's Day at a dinner-dance at Jim Henry's restaurant.

The NU Club of Tucson teamed up with alumni groups from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan to host the second "Goal for Life" benefit for the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation. The foundation's goal is to find a cure for Niemann-Pick type C disease, which affects young children by interfering with a body's ability to metabolize cholesterol.

Michael (M81) and Cindy Parseghian (KSGM81), the son and daughter-in-law of the famed football coach, were the guests of honor at the Sept. 16 fundraising event. Three of their children have been afflicted with Niemann-Pick, one of them fatally.

Professor Irwin Weil of the Slavic languages and literatures department updated members of the NU Club of Washington, D.C., on the dynamics of the Russian situation during his Sept. 17 visit. In July U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (WCAS65), an Arizona Republican, invited young alumni and summer interns to his Capitol Hill home. Other summer events included a trip to watch Andre Agassi win his singles and doubles tennis matches at a Legg Mason tournament.

Members are also marking their calendars for the Dec. 17 matinee of Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the historic Ford Theater.

Among the attendees of the John Evans Club summer theater event were, from left, Margie Patchett, guest of Phyllis "Pinkie" Christensen (S51), chair of club activities, and Earnest "Chris" Christensen (EB49).

(Photo by Jim Ziv)




Special-Interest Clubs
It was like Ravinia, the Chicago area's major outdoor summer performance venue, without the traffic. Members of the John Evans Club attended the Northwestern Summer Theatre Festival's opening night performance of Merrily We Roll Along at the Ethel M. Barber Theater of the Theatre and Interpretation Center on campus.

At the July 21 premiere, attendees gathered on the lawn of the John Evans Center for cocktails, dinner and a pre-performance curtain talk by the musical's director, associate professor Dominic Missimi, who is director of the Music Theatre Program. Northwestern's George Furth (S54) teamed with Stephen Sondheim to write the musical.

In its Frontiers series held in October, the Friends of Anthropology at Northwestern heard Karen Tranberg Hansen, professor of anthropology, explain how secondhand clothing from the West has become part of a multibillion-dollar industry in Zambia. Future FAN events include a winter symposium on the anthropology of war and a five-day tour of ancient and modern Indian cultures in the American Southwest.

At Mayfest 2000, members of the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance/East elected their new board, headed by new president Paul Levinson (WCAS73).

The group also hosted the Directors' Guild Apprentice Program featuring Stuart Feldman (J88) of the popular television show Law and Order.

Northwestern University Marching Band Alums are tuning up for the Symphonic Wind Ensemble's performance at the Feb. 23 College Band Directors National Association convention at the University of Texas. In conjunction with the trip, the band office and NUMB alumni are planning a CD release and send-off concert and party.

¡Arriba, LANU!
(Photo by Mary Hanlon)
The Latino Alumni of Northwestern University is emerging as the newest of alumni clubs. Its mission is to nurture relationships among Latino alumni and students that will foster personal success and enrich the Latino community as a whole. For information about LANU, call the Alumni Relations office at (847) 491-7200. At a recent steering committee meeting, from left, José Guajardo (WCAS97) discusses recruitment goals among Latino alumni with co-chairs Carmen Rodriguez (WCAS95) and David Flores (WCAS86).

Kellogg alumni kicked off the summer in May with Reunion Weekend 2000. More than 500 alumni and guests mixed and mingled at various events primarily held on campus. Among those attending were, from left, Emily Gale Borovsky (KGSM85), Amy Zarkin Reiner (KGSM85) and Mary O'Brien Pearlman (KGSM85), Kellogg adjunct assistant professor of marketing.

(Photo by Nathan Mandell)

Professional Schools
Kellogg Graduate School of Management
What's an ocean between Kellogg graduates and their teachers? Faculty members continue to reach out to overseas alumni through the European Global Forum series.

In September associate dean Dipak C. Jain, Sandy & Morton Goldman Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and professor of marketing, teamed up with professor Mohanbir S. Sawhney, McCormick Tribune Professor of Electronic Commerce and Technology, to present e-commerce seminars to more than 80 alumni and guests in London and Paris.

Plans are already under way for a New York City forum in January and one in Tokyo in February. For more information on specific dates and locations, log on to

School of Law

Law alumni experienced a type of déjà vu during their Sept. 22–24 reunion weekend. Memories of eating, sleeping and breathing the law at the Pritzker Legal Research Center, a k a the law library, returned as grads sat down to reunion dinners literally surrounded by case books inside the library.

More than 500 alumni and their guests took part in reunion activities, all held on the Law School campus. Among the highlights were the "Making the Transition" career symposium and the grand celebration, held in the tented courtyard.

Medical School

Momentum is building in the Alumni Ambassadors program, now in its second year.

The program matches medical school graduates with the school's recruiters to boost recruitment efforts. So far 13 alumni from around the country have committed to hosting events for outstanding pre-med students interested in Northwestern, reports Laurie Brown, head of the program. Alumni Ambassadors also act as resources in their regions, taking part in the interviewing and admissions process.

Dean Lewis Landsberg and his wife, Jill, spent the weekend of Oct. 6-7 in Atlanta, where they attended a dinner reception at the home of Walter (M56) and Arlene Wildstein. The dean also met with alumni at another dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta.

Dental Alumni to Reunite
(Photo by Brian Kersey)
The Northwestern University Dental School Alumni Association is actively planning the school's upcoming reunion, set for Feb. 23–25 during the Chicago Dental Society's mid-winter meeting at the Hotel Intercontinental. Next June NUDSAA joins the University's alumni relations department to build upon Northwestern's commitment to Dental School alumni. All groups associated with the school will be recognized as members of NUDSAA, and Carolynn McNally, director of alumni relations for the school, says future reunions for all classes will be held in February. At last May's NUDSAA board of directors meeting are, from left, William Kopperud (GD54); Sharon Kantor-Bogetz (D78); Kirk Noraian (McC85, D88, GD91, KGSM98), past president of NUDSAA; Carolynn McNally; Lee Jameson, dean of the Dental School; Maria Gracias (GD90), current NUDSAA president; Doris Pusateri Wolfschmidt (D53) and Roger Rydstrom (GD59).

Sherman Poppen

(Photo copyright Aryen Copa)



Above Board
Sherman Poppen's (EB52) million-dollar idea created a whole new sport -- snowboarding.
One bright, sunny day in 1965, Sherman Poppen (EB52) and two of his daughters got an urge to go surfing. Unfortunately for them, it was Christmas Eve, and outside their Muskegon, Mich., home, the ground was covered with snow.

To overcome these minor obstacles, Poppen tied two 36-inch downhill skis together and began "surfing" with his daughters on the dunes behind his house. "I realized that the hill was a permanent wave," he says. "I started riding it, then the kids started, and it was just more darn fun. And that was how the Snurfer was born."

Poppen, at the time an owner of four industrial gas stores in Michigan, is now a retiree living in Steamboat Springs, Colo. He and his wife, Nancy, combined the words snow and surfing to name the contraption Snurfer. Much to his surprise, his invention -- the forerunner of the modern-day snowboard -- gave rise to a sport that has swept ski resorts around the world since the mid-1980s.

With some encouragement from family and friends, he licensed the idea six months after his initial inspiration to Brunswick Corp., which manufactures leisure equipment. The company began producing mass quantities of the Snurfer -- essentially a long piece of wood with metal pegs for balance and a rope in the front to steer.

Brunswick sold more than a million of Poppen's Snurfers in toy stores from the 1960s through the 1980s (the item has since been discontinued). For the 1966 Christmas season Brunswick came out with the Super Snurfer, a sleek-looking mahogany number with a long tether and a large fin for improved steering. "My father was the one who thought of putting a tether on it," Poppen says. "We experimented with different designs but never thought of it as more than a fun winter toy."

As college students started to pick up on the Snurfer, Poppen began holding competitions in Muskegon. One competitor, a young man named Jake Burton Carpenter, was intrigued with the design of the Snurfer and began to experiment on it in Vermont. At the same time, skateboarder Tom Sims was developing his own version on the West Coast. Separately, the two came up with a board made from steam-bent wood with metal edges for better turning. That was the prototype that launched the snowboard craze, which is now so big that snowboarding is an event at the Winter Olympics.

Even though he has no monetary rights to the invention, Poppen has enjoyed having contributed to an entirely new industry. Dubbed the "grandfather" of the snowboard, he was the first winner in 1994 of a Trannie, the Oscar of the snowboard world.

It wasn't until five years ago that Poppen, at 65, himself started snowboarding seriously, and despite some time off because of a back injury, he has been boarding ever since.

"Now that I'm up here at Steamboat, I've really gotten into it," Poppen says. "I think there are a lot more moms and dads out there who are getting interested in boarding. They see their kids doing it, and it looks fun."

Although none of his daughters has picked up the sport -- they all telemark, something akin to cross-country skiing -- his son-in-law and grandson are both boarders. "We've got three generations out there on the mountain," Poppen says. "It's a long way from my backyard in Muskegon."

- Alex Ortolani (WCAS01)

Harriet Welty Rochefort


La Vie en Rose
Harriet Welty Rochefort (GJ69) toasts -- and kindly roasts -- the French culture she now loves after two decades in Paris.
When Harriet Welty Rochefort (GJ69) first arrived in Paris, she felt as though she had walked into a Toulouse-Lautrec painting. Later, she began noticing the traffic, the noise and the strange habits of the Parisians. After spending more than 20 years living in France, she has some advice to give about the French culture: Driving is an aggressive sport. A sandwich is not a meal. To save an evening, serve plenty of wine. To save a meal, use plenty of parsley. And don't even think of living in France until you can turn out perfectly browned crème caramel.

An American in Paris can experience quite a culture shock about French codes of behavior with respect to manners, food, money, love, politesse, le bise (the kiss) and other intricacies of life in Paris. That is why Rochefort wrote French Toast: An American in Paris Celebrates the Maddening Mysteries of the French (St. Martin's Press, 1999), which has sold 25,000 copies to date. French Toast describes the do's and faux pas of dinner parties, and the scoop on everything from dogs in cafés to French schools to advice on intercultural marriages.

"The book did my readers a lot of good," she said. "A lot of them are American women like me, married to Frenchmen. I got a lot of mail from these people that said, 'You saved my marriage, you saved my life.' In a way, I wish I had this book when I first got married and moved to France."

A small-town Iowan, Rochefort always dreamed about "exotic places and people" and was drawn to France from an early age. Completing her studies at the University of Michigan, she bought a one-way ticket to Paris and found work with Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. After witnessing the 1968 riots in France, she came back to the Midwest to study at Medill but returned to Paris. Soon after she met her husband, Philippe, in a café and has stayed in the country ever since.

Her two sons, one a computer specialist, and the other studying philosophy at the Sorbonne, were raised French-American style. "Child rearing can be a major area of conflict for Franco-American couples ...," she writes. "The French father is stern, often reprimanding his son for not working hard enough at school. The American mother's main concern is that the child is having fun and enjoying himself." Rochefort's sons grew up happily somewhere in the middle.

Each chapter of Rochefort's book has brief "interviews with Philippe," humorous question-and-answer conversations to "counterbalance my typically American point of view," she explains. Rochefort poses questions such as "Have you noticed any difference in your eating habits since you married me?" And Philippe answers, "Yes, I'm cooking a lot more."

After freelancing for American publications such as the Paris Time magazine bureau and contributing to other American publications, such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rochefort taught journalism in the English department of the prestigious Institut d'Etudes Politiques. She now writes a cyberspace column for the Paris Pages Web site. Her next book, French Fried, due in March, explores the delights of French cuisine.

Even though she discarded her rose-colored glasses years ago, French culture never ceases to amaze her.

So is Rochefort more French or American?

"Ask my husband, and he'll say I'm absolutely American," she says. "The truth is, I feel more French when I visit the U.S. and more American when I'm in France."

- Katarzyna Lyson (J01)

Catherine Chow

(Photo by Katarzyna Lyson)


Wearable Art
Cat Chow (S95) considers almost any object as a possibility for her avant-garde fashions.
She began at Northwestern as Catherine Chow (S95), a math-oriented student whose early fashion sense was limited by the uniforms she wore in her Glen Rock, N.J., parochial school. Yet along the way, she made the left-brain to right-brain transition and is now known as Cat Chow, an award-winning artist whose creations push the boundaries of fashion.

Chow, fresh from her fall exhibit at New York City's New Museum of Contemporary Art, never thought she would end up in fashion. But now she quite readily describes herself as an eccentric designer who believes the future of art -- and fashion -- lies in unconventional fabrics and found objects.

"I like the challenge of using these uncommon objects and trying to figure out how I can make the dress successfully work," Chow says sitting in her Chicago studio and surrounded by mannequins.

And she does make it work. One example of her wearable art is a creation made of bobbins and plastic twist ties; another was fashioned from a few hundred water-filled corked glass vials. A third consists entirely of one 100-yard zipper. The Bottle Dress and the Zipper Dress, two of Chow's original designs, won the Avant-Garde Design Vision Award at the Gen Art Styles 2000 International Design Competition in New York City.

It was at Northwestern that Chow discovered her passion, switching to the School of Speech from the Mathematical Methods and Social Sciences Program. She majored in theater with a concentration in costume design and counts among her mentors Virgil Johnson (GS67), professor of theater, and associate professor Linda Roethke in the same department. "It definitely gave me a good foundation for growth," she says. "I received a good design background and from that was able to explore other interests of mine."

Much of her work is also influenced by an apprenticeship at Chained Lynx, a store that sells chain mail, the same material of joined metal links that was used in the garments worn under armor.

Whether she envisions a design and goes searching for the perfect material or is inspired after seeing a particular object, her creative juices are always flowing. Some people see a zipper and simply think, "open/close," while Chow sees a zipper, thinks of that but also proceeds conceptually to, "strapless evening gown."

To her, the distinction between fashion and art is blurred because she's trying to show her designs as both art and fashion. Her more wearable designs are featured in boutiques such as Ultimo on Chicago's chic Oak Street, but Chow does not see herself ever selling to clothing stores in mass production. In fact she much prefers having her pieces displayed in exhibits. In addition to all the sometimes tedious and tricky details that go into making a fabric, she is constantly rethinking the design and shape of the dress, and in a gallery, she feels her art can be appreciated for its detailed striving for perfection.

What Chow loves most is watching her designs elicit responses. "You do something off the beaten path and people are really amazed," she says.

Still, as the less conventional becomes ever more acceptable in the new millennium, does she feel she can continue to make a living off people's responses?

She seems to think so. It's a new era, she says, one in which "people are starting to push boundaries."

- Yael Brunwasser

From left, Philip Streit (WCAS52), Arthur Seder (L46, 47), Judith Streit and Marion Seder (WCAS41) aboard the M/S Europa

Travel Essay

Cruising Europe's Waterways
By Beverley Williams Whitehead
Few vantage points better allow travelers to behold Europe's contrasts -- its ancient past and its dizzying contemporary changes -- than the top deck of the luxury ship M/S Europa as it plies the rivers and canals between Berlin and Amsterdam.

Our Northwestern Alumni Association trip began in Berlin, which we dubbed "Crane City" because of the construction sites everywhere in the rush to make the metropolis Germany's capital again. Immediately, we encountered both the recent and long-ago past with visits to the majestic Brandenburg Gate and the sobering remains of the Berlin Wall. We proceeded in silent shock through the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, but those emotions were partly countered by our pride in the Allied Museum's Berlin Airlift exhibit.

After boarding ship we learned from our expert study leaders and guides about what Germany and the Netherlands have experienced over the past centuries. In Germany's former Eastern sector we saw evidence of a society in shambles from nearly two generations under communist rule. The beautiful countryside was dotted with ugly abandoned factories; everything of industrial value in them had been shipped off to the former Soviet Union.

The contrast was startling as we steamed into what was once Germany's Western sector. Flower gardens appeared everywhere. The gorgeous exteriors of medieval buildings and cathedrals in the little villages — 80 percent of which had been destroyed during World War II — have been restored by artisans with great pride and attention to historic accuracy.

On board, we relished dinners that featured an imaginative array of delicious selections. In Jever we visited a brewery, and local beer was always available on board. But some of us were surprised to discover a Bremen rathskeller where we could order from a list of 600 wines but not a single beer!

Bremen's beautiful square offered us entertainment as well: A costumed narrator told the story of "The Town Musicians of Bremen," assisted by donkey, dog, cat and cock (actors in costume). Touristy, but we loved it!

The Pied Piper himself and some of his small rodent friends beguiled us in the town square of Hamelin. After hearing his tale we followed him in procession through the town to our lunch destination.

Memorable indeed was the cathedral in Hildesheim with its massive bronze doors, an "illustrated Bible" that was crafted in 1015. As suggested, we closed our eyes and turned away from the doors to face the impressive space of the cathedral. Opening our eyes, we imagined the awe the 11th-century peasants and townspeople experienced, coming from their small mud and thatch huts and through those majestic doors into the vastness of the cathedral.

At times during our passage through 27 locks, five canals and three rivers, we watched from the deck as youngsters on their bikes raced the ship, laughing and calling out as they outsped us! Fishermen waved and once, when we saw one landing a catch with his net, we cheered and clapped as he gave us a grinning bow. As we approached Amsterdam, our motors slowed at the little town of Kootstertille as we witnessed a container ship hull that had just been christened as it slid into the water with a mighty splash. Holland is indeed a land of seafarers and, as we continued on our way to our final docking, we were greeted on all sides by a veritable forest of private sailboat masts.

On our Sunday in Amsterdam, we pretty much had the place to ourselves to wander through cobblestone back streets with picturesque homes and shops along the canals. But we faced long lines at the Anne Frank house and at the Van Gogh Museum.

Adjacent to our docking area was a large statue of an old seafarer guarding the harbor. On his pedestal were the names of the many Dutch Resistance fighters who lost their lives during World War II. As we boarded our buses for the airport in the predawn light of our final day, the mariner was there to wish us a silent Godspeed.

Beverley Williams Whitehead (J45) and her husband, John (EB45), live in Rockford, Ill. She is the collections registrar for the Turn-of-the-Century Midway Village and Museum Center.

For information about Northwestern's alumni travel programs, visit /tourschedule.htm or call (847) 491-7987.