It took me a while to read all of the fall 2008 issue, because there was so much good stuff in it. I thought it was the best one you have ever put out. The design was also very attractive. I do have one request, though. Please check the visibility of the type against color. It gets hard to read, and that really is the reason for a print magazine.
Eileen D. Gross (C42)
Shawnee Mission, Kan.
Trees of Northwestern
I loved Bill Arsenault's photography in "Trees of Northwestern" [fall 2008]. When walking around campus, I often wonder, "What species of tree is that?" [Visit our slideshow on Northwestern's trees.]
Bill's photo essay helped, but I was wondering if, in addition to the student-led tours, Northwestern might offer a "campus delights" tour that would include comment on the trees and also the buildings. I have been unable to find a concise, complete source of information about the University's buildings, especially those of historic significance. I think there would be considerable interest.
Anita Gewurz (FSM85)
Editor's Note: Northwestern University: The Campus Guide (Princeton Architectural Press), an architectural guidebook, is due out in 2009. Jay Pridmore, who wrote this issue's cover story on Northwestern President Henry Bienen, is the author.
In the Family
As an ovarian cancer patient, currently in remission, and a breast cancer survivor, I thought "In the Family" [fall 2008] was an amazing article. I don't have the BRCA genes, so my daughter doesn't have to make the decision that Joanna Rudnick does (but she needs to be watched carefully).
It was a surprise to the genetic counselor that my cancers were not hereditary. A sample of my blood is being held in a lab in case more genes are discovered.
I'm looking forward to watching Joanna's documentary on P.O.V. on PBS.
Barbara Platzer (WCAS59)
My wife, Fran Baker Fabish (J64), died of ovarian cancer June 8, 2006, seven weeks after she was diagnosed and five days before our 42nd anniversary. We found out, after she died, that she did not have the BRCA gene mutations, so hers was not genetic, unless by some genetic mutation not yet discovered.
We met at Northwestern in January 1963. She was a junior, and I was a senior. We got married the same day she graduated.
I have a new favorite charity — the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. There is nothing I can do to get her back; all I can do is help with the research that may help others. I encourage others touched by this awful disease to look into this organization.
Rich Fabish (WCAS63)
I read with great interest and some sad nostalgia President Henry Bienen's farewell letter, "Thinking on These Things," in the fall 2008 issue. President Bienen outlines what can only be considered very significant accomplishments that have strengthened the University, and he writes of his sense of gratitude regarding his tenure and the friendships it has engendered.
President Bienen notes how deeply honored he and his wife are to have Northwestern's outstanding School of Music named for them. He states that "the School of Music is one of the crown jewels of Northwestern … a great example of Northwestern's heritage and passion for excellence."
It is indeed unfortunate that President Bienen decided to close another great example of Northwestern's heritage and passion for excellence for 110 years: the Dental School. His rationale, that it was not financially feasible, put an end to this historic institution.
We, and President Bienen, can only hope that some future Northwestern president and administration will not have a similar rationale should the School of Music, which now bears his name, become "not financially feasible."
Jonathan A. Bernstein (D97)
It's too bad they can't give Medill F's in real life, because whoever wrote the obituary on Judge Phillip Figa [Deaths, Alumni News, summer 2008] would receive two.
Judge Figa (WCAS73) was not the executive director of the Mountain States region of the Anti-Defamation League. He was the regional board chair. Additionally, his brother's name isn't Cantor. Phil's family is Jewish, and his brother is a cantor who sings, but his name is Stewart.
Candy Cole Figa (SESP73) and Phil met at Northwestern and traveled frequently to Evanston for various events. They were extremely proud of the education they received and the University.
For those who never had the opportunity to meet or know Phil, there are not enough words to explain or capture the amazing, incredible, wonderful, compassionate human being we had for far too few years.
Vanessa Martin (J97)
I'd like to make a correction in the article "From Sitting-In to Reaching Out" [Alumni News, fall 2008]. Emma Reynolds (FSM1895), one of the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association's posthumous Hall of Fame honorees, was not co-founder of Chicago's Provident Hospital.
Emma Ann Reynolds was an 1895 graduate of the Northwestern University Woman's Medical School. She was sponsored by Daniel Hale Williams (FSM1883) for entrance into the school. Williams, Northwestern's first African American male medical degree graduate, was one of the founders of Provident Hospital and Training School, the first interracial hospital and nursing school in Chicago.
Following Reynolds' graduation from medical school, she was physician in residence at Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas. In 1900 she moved to New Orleans, practicing medicine there until 1906 when she returned to her hometown in Ohio for personal reasons. By 1910 she had established a private practice in Sulphur Lick, Ohio, providing much-needed services to the rural residents of Ross County until her death in 1917.
The Northwestern University Woman's Medical School was unceremoniously closed in 1902. The Northwestern medical school admitted women beginning in 1926 upon the completion of the new campus on East Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.
Special Collections Librarian
Galter Health Sciences Library
I wanted to comment about the obit of a graduate who deserved more space than the one line in the fall 2008 issue.
Laurine "Betty" Fitzgerald (WCAS52, GSESP53) [Deaths, fall 2008] had an illustrious career. She was dean at Michigan State and then at Ohio State. She was editor of the Journal of College Student Personnel (now the Journal of College Student Development) and received the American College Personnel Association's professional service award in the 1990s. She also was president of a university administrators' organization.
She was more outstanding than some of those for whom there were photos and long blurbs!
Elizabeth Kaspar (SESP52)
News on Campus
Professor Lindley Stiles ["In Memoriam," News on Campus, fall 2008] was my undergraduate adviser in the School of Education from 1973 to 1976. Stiles was a very personable professor who invited students to his home to eat and play board games. When financial concerns affected my ability to continue as a Northwestern student, Stiles encouraged me to do a practicum as a fifth course each quarter. I was able to graduate early and reduce my room and board expenditures. Stiles was one of education's "greats" who led by example. I've never forgotten him.
Adrienne Hugo (SESP76, GC77)
Purple Prose Inspiring
I would like to thank you and Aaron Cooper for the wonderful essay, "Our Kids' Happiness: Less is More" [Purple Prose, fall 2008]. It inspired one of my High Holy Day sermons and a newspaper column. Thus did Northwestern shine — even in Happy Valley.
David Ostrich (C75)
State College, Pa.
Two Sides to Jerry Springer?
I never really cared for Jerry Springer ["Jerry Talks Back," fall 2008] one way or the other, but his speech at your university was excellent.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Pity the Rock
Back when I was a Medill student, the Rock was a majestic purple and white quartzite boulder — a campus landmark where students gathered and met.
I remembered it as a thing of beauty.
Today it is a monument to vandalism, regularly splashed with paint as an act of commentary. It is an eyesore.
Back when I was an environment writer for the Chicago Tribune, university students often led the fight to clean up the environment and to take pride in our natural surroundings.
Northwestern University students once were environmental leaders who recognized the goal of environmentalism, which was to leave the world better than we found it.
Can't tell that today from looking at the Rock.
Sadly, a classmate, Charles Remsberg (J58, GJ59), in an article he wrote for the Northwestern News Digest (Northwestern Perspective, summer 1996), claimed credit for starting the tradition of painting the Rock in the spring of 1957 by "baptising'" it in red and white, making it appear as though it was done by students from the University of Wisconsin.
"Until that time the Rock was pristine — and some would say, something of a sacred cow, which is precisely why it was selected for vandalism initially," Remsberg wrote.
Remsberg said he inspired a "legacy."
What a legacy. Vandalism.
I'll donate $1,000 toward a fund to clean the Rock and keep it clean so future Northwestern students can see the Rock as I once saw it, a beautiful purple and white boulder worthy of being a campus meeting place. Perhaps this can be a gift from the class of 1958.
Casey Bukro, (J58, GJ61)
Dean Wigmore's Contributions
The new president of the United States would serve our military personnel well by adopting one significant program that was largely written, during World War I, by former Northwestern law school dean and professor John Henry Wigmore. A professor of law at Northwestern beginning in 1893, he took a leave from his academic endeavors during "The Great War," to serve as a major in the U.S. Army and as the military's chief legislative adviser. In the latter capacity, he was the main draftsman of The Soldiers' and Sailors' Relief Act of 1918.
Under the provisions of that act, the U.S. government assumed surety status on behalf of all servicemen for payments of all premiums to insurance carriers on life insurance policies taken out by armed forces personnel; that way, if one of our soldiers failed to mail timely payment to the insurer from his trench in France, his policy was not voided by the carrier. When World War II came, Congress replicated the provisions of the 1918 act without material change.
Chiefly known and indeed universally renowned as the foremost expert on the law of evidence, Dean Wigmore had already published his first edition of his Treatise on Evidence (in 1910) before his military service. At the First World War's end, he returned to the Northwestern law school, serving as dean until 1929 and continuing his teaching and writing well into the 1940s. His 14-volume Treatise on Evidence remains an unparalleled, invaluable working tool of judges and lawyers, being frequently cited in U.S. Supreme Court decisions and a part of every trial lawyer's library. It is a tremendous achievement, but I wonder whether Dean Wigmore did not have a greater sense of accomplishment from his work in drafting that 1918 bill for our service personnel.
By the way, my research (which I don't guarantee) disclosed that no comparable legislation has been in effect for our armed forces since World War II ended, something both parties should think about now.
David A. Nixon (L64)
Overland Park, Kan.