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Engineering Professor a Student Advocate, Too

Thank you for the wonderful article on Professor Kimberly Gray [“Good Chemistry for the Good Earth,” fall 2005]. I knew Professor Gray [WCAS78] for all four of my years at Northwestern while she was master of the Public Affairs Residential College, but still didn’t fully comprehend all the amazing things that she does for this University.

The one aspect of Professor Gray that the article neglected was that she is a terrific advocate for students. No matter how busy she was (and it’s clear she’s plenty busy), she always had time to help students at PARC with whatever problems we had (even when the difficulties were of our own creating and she didn’t know the student well). I never took a class with her and don’t know a darn thing about engineering, but she is still one of the best professors I came to know at Northwestern.

Scott Medlock (WCAS02)
Austin, Texas

Deeper Thoughts on Deep Throat

Stephanie Schorow’s essay was extremely insightful, although “Deep Thoughts on Deep Throat” [Purple Prose, fall 2005] seems an inaccurate title. “Confessions of an Activist Ideologue” might be more fitting. Despite acknowledging her argumentative interview of W. Mark Felt as “a young liberal reporter,” Ms. Schorow continues — perhaps unwittingly — to let her prejudices shape her selection of facts and conclusions.

The decline of readership among mainstream media derives not so much from disinterest in current events as it does from disillusionment with ideological censorship in the reporting of those events.

George Ertel (KSM76)
Scottsdale, Ariz.

Israel Just One Country in the Middle East...

In “Focus on the Middle East” [News on Campus, fall 2005] you describe Northwestern’s plan to choose recent Tel Aviv University doctoral graduates to teach classes on the “modern Middle East.” You then go on to note that the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago’s Israel Studies Project is funding this program.

Is Northwestern seriously planning to have Israeli graduates, one after the other, lecture Northwestern undergraduates insidiously about the Middle East? The last time I checked, the Middle East encompassed anywhere from 15 to nearly 30 countries. Israel is one of them, but it is more of a pariah state in that part of the world than a true representative of the Middle East.

Twenty years ago, would Northwestern have accepted apartheid South African university graduates lecturing in African studies? I don’t think so. Northwestern should do better than get lured by pro-Israeli lobby scheming, because it is motivated by marketing and spin, not education. Perhaps the Israeli faculty that Northwestern plans to hire should stick to lecturing about “modern Israel” and leave the Middle East to a more representative group of educators.

Samer S. Hasan (McC86)
Fort Thomas, Ky.

...Palestine Another

The Holocaust never happened. Print that in Northwestern magazine. I’m sure the Holocaust is not mentioned in some anti-Semitic textbooks, and it’s got about as much validity as saying, “there is no country named Palestine,” as Ilene Rosenblum did in her “Check the Map" letter to the editor [Letters, fall 2005].

As someone who’s spent over a year in the Middle East, working in Egypt, Iraq and Palestine, I can tell you that despite whatever any map tells you, even if it’s the Holt, Rinehart and Winston map, there is a place in the Middle East, which the vast majority of people (who live in the Middle East, not in Albany, N.Y., like Ms. Rosenblum) consider to be a country called Palestine. Perhaps letters like Ms. Rosenblum’s would be best suited for pro-Zionist publications or other periodicals that support closed-minded thinking. Further, her letter is an embarrassing statement about what Northwestern teaches students about the Middle East.

Either way, I’ll be certain to pass Ms. Rosenblum’s message on to the Palestinians I meet later this fall in the West Bank and Gaza. I’ll make sure they refer to Gaza and the West Bank as the “Occupied Territories” or something more agreeable than “country.” I’m certain they wouldn’t mind, just like the Israelis wouldn’t mind if I asked them to refer to their country as “stolen land.”

Tom A. Peter (WCAS05)

Celebrating Football Players’ Successes

It was great to read about the class of 2005’s successes in the NFL Draft [“Wildcats Suit Up on Sundays,” News on Campus, fall 2005]. I’ll bet no other university or college has as high a graduation/draft rate as Northwestern. The Northwestern football grads will be successful — both in their football careers and in whatever comes after. I am proudest of their academic achievements — their football comes second.

John Baxter (KSM80)
East Grand Rapids, Mich.

Trivial, Trite and Superficial

A few months prior to my graduation from Northwestern in the spring of 1962 I had a very strong feeling of, “Is this all there is?” and “There must be more to life than this.” Now 43 years later, those same feelings return full force as I read the fall 2005 issue of Northwestern magazine. The triviality, the triteness, the superficiality of Northwestern, even as it tries to be timely and with-it and even profound, is painful to read. Clearly nothing has changed over 43 years.

Barely touched upon are the real (hopefully deeper) issues of life (purportedly the purpose of an educational institution), the spiritual dimension, the questions of “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” and “What’s it all about?” Nowhere is there any mention or example of being present in the moment or the experience of now.

I take no particular pleasure in stating my view that Northwestern and its alumni (and presumably its current students) appear to fall into the part-of-the-problem column as contrasted to the part-of-the-solution column with respect to the issues facing our human race today. Isn’t an effort or curriculum of an entirely different quality needed at this time? What are you waiting for?

Walter D. Olson (McC62)
Wethersfield, Conn.

A Good Mix

I was particularly impressed with your fall 2005 issue. I thought it contained a very nice mixture of topics and information of interest for recent as well as us “old” grads, more like a feature magazine than a dry recap of boring self-serving info.

I like the class notes but could do without births, adoptions and weddings. Keep up the good work.

Chuck Mason (J53, GJ54)
Shelby, Mich.

What About Diversity?

I don’t consider myself a fanatic about the issues of discrimination and equal opportunity, but something struck me as I read the fall issue of Northwestern, especially in light of President Henry Bienen’s letter [“Looking Back — and Forward,” fall 2005], where he talks about the “increasingly diverse group of undergraduates from around the world.”

I did a totally unscientific study by counting all of the faces shown that I could distinguish, excluding duplicates and crowd scenes. I counted 338 faces, of which 301 were Caucasian, 11 African American and the rest a mixture of Asian and Indian.

Representative? Who knows?

S. Paul Tyksinski (McC54)
Kaneohe, Hawaii

Kellogg Executive Training Top-Notch

The fall 2005 issue of Northwestern brought back very fond memories of my brief time at Northwestern, when I attended a four-week summer program at the Kellogg School of Management in the early 1980s.

At the time I was the marketing director for Unilever in Australia. The program at Kellogg was very concentrated, and I learned a lot, both from the excellent teaching staff and my 40 fellow students, who all held relatively senior positions in their organizations and had much valuable experience to share.

Not long after my time at Northwestern, I was posted to South Africa in early ’85 as managing director of Unilever’s toiletries business. After four years, I left Unilever to join a large South African textile manufacturing business, where I worked as managing director for several of the divisions of the company.

Managing a business in those times was extremely challenging. I resigned in 1999 to go home to Australia to retire ... I thought.

After several months of weeding the lawn and shopping for groceries with my wife, I took a part-time job with a U.S.-owned software company (MapInfo). My blissful “semiretirement” soon turned into a full-time role, and within two years I found myself in the role of general manager for Asia-Pacific. At the ripe old age of 65, I continue to work full time as a director of its Asia-Pacific operations.

The point of this tale is that one’s career can take many turns over the years, and I firmly believe that high-level business management programs such as those offered by the Kellogg School of Management are invaluable, serving to broaden perspectives and better equip managers for such career challenges.

May Northwestern continue to prosper.

Brian Cartwright
Sydney, Australia