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Editor's Notes

Mother of the grad
For the past 13 years my personal rites of fall have included a few hours on a late-September afternoon spent in an overflowing Rockefeller Chapel, watching as the newest College class is welcomed to Chicago. Ostensibly I'm there to get a first look at the latest crop of undergraduates, but most of my people-watching centers on the mothers in the crowd. Every year they look more and more like me-or is it that I look more and more like them? A bit gray, a bit weathered, and a bit surprised to find themselves at this stage in the game.

IMAGE:  Who knew what Mairead's future would hold?
Who knew what Mairead's future would hold?

This year my personal rites of spring included a few hours on an early-June afternoon in an overflowing Rockefeller Chapel, watching as the Laboratory Schools' latest U-High class-including my daughter Mairead-graduated. In some ways the ceremony resembled any other high-school graduation I've ever attended: chintzy rayon robes, awkwardly perched mortarboards, and sincere if clichéd sentiments. Yet it was also vintage Chicago. For instance, the commencement speaker was oral historian Studs Terkel, JD'32, who'd just celebrated his 90th birthday and who urged the graduates to stay true to their ideals by quoting Robert Maynard Hutchins: "'Getting on' is the great American aspiration. The way to get on is to be safe, to be sound, to be agreeable, to be inoffensive, to have no views on important matters not sanctioned by the majority, by your superiors or your group." The world's pressure to conform is so much with us, Hutchins said, and Terkel repeated to the grads, that "you are closer to the truth now than you will ever be again."

The truth I'm closer to now is one that Rockefeller's late-September mothers also face: one less body at the dinner table, one less schedule to consider, one less child to be a part of one's day-to-day life. I feel clichéd if sincere sentiments coming on and so will say only that this September I won't be part of the Rockefeller crowd. I've an ironclad excuse: I'll be at Grinnell College-attending Family Weekend and no doubt looking a bit gray, a bit weathered, and a bit surprised to find myself at this stage of the game.


The write staff
In late May the Magazine learned that it had won a writing award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). It gets better. We were one of three university magazines to receive a gold medal for periodical staff writing (along with the Brown Alumni Monthly and the Johns Hopkins Magazine). The award recognized former associate editor Chris Smith's report on the U.S. News & World Report rankings ("News You Can Abuse," October/01), as well as associate editor Sharla Stewart's takes on big-science ("How to Catch a Higgs," April/01) and Mexican economics ("The Iron Taxman Cometh," August/01). Two other, lighter stories also were part of the entry: our look at what happens to a doctoral dissertation after it's submitted for approval ("Bound to Change," April/01) and our photo essay on six professors with messy desks and creative minds ("Kings of Chaos," June/01).

Chris Smith is now tackling a messy desk and dissertation worries as a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Virginia. Taking his place on the Magazine staff is associate editor Amy Braverman. Amy-an Illinois native with an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a master's from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism-is happy to be back in the Midwest after three years in Washington, D.C. There she was deputy editor for NationalJournal.com, the Web version of National Journal magazine. At Chicago Amy will be writing features and overseeing several departments, including "Investigations."
- M.R.Y.


 


  AUGUST 2002

  > > Volume 94, Number 6


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