2000: Departments (print version)
tough help out
"Minds at Work" feature (February/00)
brought to mind an occasion when I was reading in that grand hall of
Harper during grad student days, and noticed an undergraduate nearby
who kept nodding off. After a few distracted moments, I decided to put
on my "we're all family here, you know" persona. Gently tapping the
student on the shoulder, I asked if we could chat for a moment in the
corridor. Surprised but also curious, he followed me out and I shared
a few sage bits of personal experience--about how one can study more
efficiently by taking short breaks from time to time, having a well-balanced
schedule, and so on. I believe the student was delighted with this evidence
that people really do care for one another at Chicago.
often wondered whether that unique event in the student's life led to
a more successful career in the College than he might otherwise have
had. Who knows? He may have gone on to a doctorate--and even a Nobel
Prize. Some day I'll find out.
A. Gueguen, PhD'70
you guys have really screwed up.
First, Jack Katz, in the manner of many academics, has expanded a simple
and hoary concept into a long, boring, repetitive article ("The Stuff
of Tears," February/00). Everyone knows that crying is the result of
great emotion: tears of sorrow, tears of joy. His people who cried all
fall into those two categories, even if he insists on calling it ontological
transcendence. He insists, e.g., that the people listening to the principal
were moved by an understanding of her dilemma at being forced to reply
to a "casual participant" whose "bright ideas…threatened the collective
understanding." Isn't it far more likely that they cried because they
recognized that the principal's denunciation of scabs meant that the
strike would occur, and they felt sorry for both the teachers and their
you wasted oodles of space on those inane photos of eyes with tears
painted in. Why not save the Magazine some space and money?
Menlo Park, California
reference to "Native Chicago" (February/00):
As an attorney crusading for color-blind governmental policies, I was
startled at the suggestion that the government would assign children
to foster homes based upon their race. I consider such government action
to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. My
own view is that a loving family is more important than one of the "correct"
racial group, and that any parent can make the effort to connect a child
to his own culture.
E. Markham, JD'81
ideas come from all over
news article ("Chicago Journal, February/00)
quoting newly elected president Don Randel has him saying: "The only
good ideas come from the faculty. It's been my job simply to try to
get behind them, to resolve the inevitable differences about them, and
see us move ahead where we had an important need to move ahead."
wonder whether the parochialism of this comment is accurate because
it seems, in effect, he is discounting any wisdom or input from intellectuals
outside academia including any which might filter down--or up--from
alumni. To inbreed intellectualism seems, somehow, to be a throwback
to a medieval time when the church, in its wisdom, excommunicated Galileo
because he differed from the doctrinal teaching. Do we deny the Enlightenment
because many of the enlighteners were not academicians? Do we totally
dismiss political innovators because their innovations were tested in
the field of public affairs rather than in the halls of our colleges
President-elect Randel deserves the benefit of the doubt and would care
to rethink this quotation, or at least put it into a context that would
satisfy independent thinkers, the world's intellectual roustabouts,
and those of us who have encountered the outside world and have survived
S. Lowenstern, PhB'45, MBA'46
librarians aren't lonely
was startled to read your assumption
("Editor's Note," February/00) that "the nation's reference librarians
are fast learning the loneliness of the Maytag repairman." The University
Library's reference librarians are actually busier than ever--so much
so that we've recently created four new positions: two at Regenstein
(one in reference and information services and one in business and economics),
one at Crerar, and one at the D'Angelo Law Library.
from rendering reference librarians obsolescent, the wealth of resources
available on the Web actually makes these information experts more indispensable
than ever to those who have become adept at finding information on-line,
to say nothing of those experiencing the shock of getting their electronic
feet wet. Here are some of the questions they're asked: Should I use
an electronic or print source for 1960 demographic and market data,
or both? Is there a better (more comprehensive? more reliable?) set
of Shakespeare texts than the ones I found for free at Project Gutenberg?
Which full-text journal databases on the Library homepage (www.lib.uchicago.edu/)
are worth searching for my topic in medical ethics? How can I use my
bibliographic citation software to best advantage in combination with
the on-line catalog? Can you please walk me through an on-line interlibrary
should also tell you that our reference librarians--those who work at
the familiar central desks and their distributed subject specialist
colleagues--do more than repair the washer. To extend your analogy,
they are full participants in the Maytag engineering teams. They scout
for and evaluate new databases, assuring that readers are well-served
and Library dollars carefully spent. (Most of the best sources are,
alas, not free--the Library's materials budget pays for them.)
also compile new resources to meet needs that they have identified from
their interactions with readers. A notable example is the annotated
and interactive database, "Selected Business and Economics Journals
Available Online" (www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/busecon/oja1.html).
They design the content and layout of many of the Library's Web pages
and bring their detailed knowledge of reader expectations and search
behaviors to bear on updates of the on-line catalog.
short, reference librarians are more than ever an integral part of the
Library and the collections and services it offers. Oh, and one more
thing: Unlike the Maytag man, our reference librarians do E-mail: Reg-Reference@lib.uchicago.edu;
and subject specialist addresses at www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/su/specialists.html.
C. Sutter, AM'73, PhD'82, AM'85
Director for Humanities & Social Sciences, Joseph L. Regenstein
obituaries are necessarily short,
a dry telling of facts. But the death of a very young alumnus is an
overwhelming tragedy. I wanted to celebrate his life. This, then, is
not an obituary but a tribute to Matthew
Valenta, AB'98 ("Deaths," February/00).
left us in July 1999, but those who knew him at the University of Chicago
and beyond will never forget him. A physics major, academics were of
paramount importance to Matt. He was passionate about his science, and
was a dedicated worker in a high-energy physics lab for most of his
College career. After graduation in 1998, he moved to Seattle to continue
his studies in the biophysics and physiology Ph.D. program at the University
House in Burton-Judson was Matt's home for all four of his years at
Chicago. He was active in his house and in his University, serving at
times as house president and Chamberlin's representative to House Council.
Matt was unfailingly generous with his time and friendship, and made
an effort every year to get to know new members of the house and to
make them feel welcome. Always one with strong opinions, he never hesitated
to back them up with action. Many of us remember the zeal with which
he lobbied for 100-percent juice in the cafeteria after it was removed.
He didn't drop the issue when he was brushed off, but kept meeting with
ARA officials for weeks until they caved and reinstated the juice.
had an astounding knowledge of current music and a desire to share his
favorites with his friends. He had an insatiable thirst to learn and
a drive to achieve. In the spirit of Chicago, he was a terrific debater.
He often played the devil's advocate to force us to solidify and support
our positions. He cared intensely about many issues, and conversations
with him were fascinating explorations of everything from religion to
scientific ethics. I am a better person for having known him. Matt touched
everyone he knew; he is deeply missed by us all.
D. Dorn, AB'98
reunion coming this June
Student Representative Party, better known as SRP,
is doing a '50s reprise--a party at which politics, culture, and music
of the decade will be featured and appropriate connections highlighted
for the 21st century.
Party party will be Thursday, June 1, from 4 until 7 p.m. in the Coulter
Lounge at International House. For those who wish to reminisce, potato
chips and cheap red wine will be on the table. For those who want vigorous
discourse but better food and drinks, hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and
cocktails will be there, too.
SRP kept no membership lists and the FBI will not provide its version
of our membership without a time-consuming application of due process.
Therefore, some heavy networking is needed to make this rally successful.
Please contact old friends, associates, political allies, and enemies
in person or by phone or e-mail--encrypted or not.
"free-will offering" of $20 per person is expected and will be appreciated
in advance. Please make checks payable to Professor Ralph Nicholas,
International House, 1414 E. 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637; phone:
more information, contact: Phil
Hoffmann, SB'57, PhD'62 (firstname.lastname@example.org);
Munk, AB'60, AM'62, PhD'67 (email@example.com);
Nicholas, AM'55, PhD'62 (firstname.lastname@example.org);
Vice, AM'54 (email@example.com,
773/338-2536); or Mary
Ann Chacarestos, AM'66 (773/752-6566).
Ann Chacarestos, AM'66