Stevens cover

Batter Up?

I read with interest the article on Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens ["A Justice for All"] in the spring 2009 issue, especially the sidebar on his being a diehard Cubs fan though he was from the South Side. I, too, am an avid Cubs fan and a native South Sider.

When I got to the last line, I couldn't believe what I read: "The pitching deserted them in the playoffs."

I can only hope the esteemed justice misspoke, or was misquoted. During the Cubs' 2008 divisional series, Alfonso Soriano batted .071; Kosuke Fukudome was .100; Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto were .182; Jim Edmonds was .200. Even Ryan Theriot produced zero runs in 11 at bats in three games.

Methinks desertion occurred in the batter's box, Your Honor.

Phil Hermanek (SCS80)
Sterling, Alaska

The article on John Paul Stevens is a superb portrayal of a great man. Thank you for it and for the other fine pieces in the excellent spring 2009 issue.

Mac Nelson (G57, 61)
Brocton, N.Y.

Annie May Swift

Annie May Swift's Face-lift

Thanks for the gorgeous photo essay on Annie May Swift ["Sprucing Up Annie May Swift," spring 2009]. She sure looks prettier than when I was there (back when the theater department was still waiting for what we referred to as the "Godot Fine Arts Center").

It's great to see Annie spruced up — and your photos restored a few wonderful memories, too.

Judy Nollet (C78)
Eagan, Minn.

The story and photo essay on the renovation of Annie May Swift Hall reminded me of some interesting coincidences.

My mother, Elsie Elizabeth McCrory (C1903), graduated from the Cumnock School of Oratory as it was known then. Somehow she was involved in Swift Hall at the time — perhaps she attended classes in the school's main building? Then about 1912, while teaching at Angola State Teachers College in Indiana (now Trine University), she met and married my father, Forrest Alton Williams. Some five years later, during World War I, he ended up managing the European office of a huge American meatpacking corporation — Swift & Co. — for whom he worked until his death in 1936.

So I'm struck by the coincidences — especially as Swift Hall was, in fact, completed with a grant from the Gustavus F. Swift family, whom my family got to know, of course, quite well.

I entered Northwestern in 1941, was overseas until 1946 and then returned to campus and earned degrees in philosophy. During that time I had some classes and attended occasions at Swift Hall. I'm now retired from the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Thought you might be interested in these little coincidences involving two alumni and the Swift name.

Forrest W. Williams (WCAS49, G50, 57))
Boulder, Colo.

Great Job

I can't tell you how much I enjoy and look forward to the alumni magazine. It is so well done and interesting — great job. I have kids who have graduated from other fine, top 10 academic institutions. We still receive their alumni magazines, so I can differentiate. Northwestern magazine is by far the best.

Keep up the great work.

Steve Bawden (WCAS77)
St. Louis

News on Campus

The piece "What if There Were No God?" [News on Campus, spring 2009] is fascinating in itself and provocative. One can play at length with whether the question should be "is" rather than "were."

The article reminds me that the witty and wonderful Gilbert Chesterton settled the matter forever and ever. He said that if there were no God there would be no atheists.

John Adam Moreau (J60)
Mobile, Ala.

I was sorry to read of the passing of former provost Lawrence B. Dumas ("University Community Mourns Former Provost," News on Campus, spring 2009). However, an issue I have not seen addressed was the rationale to close the Dental School. Alumni of the school of dentistry had very little input or explanation of Provost Dumas' decision to close the dental school. New dental schools have recently opened in the United States because of the projected shortage of future dentists. An explanation to dental school alumni would be most welcome and help to heal our sense of loss.

Sue Jane Quon (D84)
San Francisco

Alumni News

Your minimalist obituary of alumna Judith C. Gilliom [Deaths, Alumni News, spring 2009] is a disservice to her and to Northwestern. She was a giant of intellect and accomplishment who deserved far more attention in your publication than you offered. The Northwestern community has lost an opportunity to celebrate the life of one of its most dazzling stars.

Sally Armentrout Majak (SESP63)
Alexandria, Va.

You mentioned that Judith C. Gilliom is honored along with others at the Pentagon. During the 200-year history of the Department of Defense and its predecessor agency, the War Department, nine people have been chosen for the very prestigious Defense Career Civilians of Distinction Award. Their names are engraved upon a stone monument in the Pentagon. One was a Nobel Prize winner, one a famous inventor.

Out of the pool of millions who have served their country and their nation, one woman was chosen to be included among the nine: Ms. Gilliom.

Among those who knew her and those who worked with her, it might even be said that this was the least of her accomplishments.

Ann Walker Unal (WCAS64)
Fairfax, Va.

Thanks, Northwestern

My husband Dick [Richard Thurston (WCAS43)] and I both graduated from Northwestern in the '40's. I am writing to thank the school for a very good liberal arts education. We would go from one class to another, and one professor would be liberal and another one would be conservative. As a youth from Indiana on a scholarship, I was forced to think for myself. I loved the challenge.

My husband met me in Deering Library. We hit it off. He was also on a scholarship and neither one of us were fraternity- or sorority-bound. We were ardent independents. Our mutual agreements were that blacks were discriminated against. We joined a "Better Understanding Group" and went to restaurants with a black couple and stayed until we were waited on. Our hope was to abolish discrimination in restaurants.

This common bond between us led to our marriage in 1946. So now we have been married 63 years. We have two wonderful children who are also teachers.

We have viewed the world through various lenses in these many years. But we have always been able to talk it all out together — thanks to our fine education at Northwestern.

Virginia Eggemeyer Thurston (WCAS45)
Hixson, Tenn.

Don't Waste Paper

A few days ago, as a parent of a current student, I received mail from the University president that the University has lost a considerable amount of money in the financial turmoil and that belts would have to be tightened to cut unnecessary expenses.

I am amazed to see that only words to that effect are being said, and that there is really no will to cut expenses. Take, for example, Northwestern magazine. My wife and I receive separate copies of the magazine at the same overseas address, despite my complaining about this three times. This is evidence that your office is really not interested in cutting expenses, because the cost of postage and printing is quite high. Add to this the immense damage to the forests that you are causing. Have you ever carried out a quick purging of redundant or out-of-date addresses on your mailing list? I do not need to spell it out as I presume you are an educated person.

Shame on you.

Abhaya Jain
New Delhi

Editor's note: We regularly purge our alumni mailing list so that we only send one copy of the magazine to each household. Please contact Northwestern University's Office of the Registrar to report duplicate mailings. The registrar maintains the mailing list for parents of current students.

Northwestern welcomes signed letters of 250 words or less from readers. We reserve the right to edit all letters. Please send correspondence to the

1800 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-1800
Fax: 847-491-3040