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Letters: Clearly, Hyde Park doesn’t consider itself a destination.


The article on global warming (“Heated Discussion,” Aug/05) is, unfortunately, too typical of discussions on the subject. First, it seems to assume that change equals catastrophe, a word that, including inflected forms, occurs at least five times in the article. Ask residents of Saskatoon or Novosibirsk if they think warmer weather would be a catastrophe. The question should be how to deal as gracefully as possible with the changes that will occur, good as well as bad, rather than just declaring them catastrophic and throwing up our hands.

Second, it is a waste of time to argue about whether various predictions are true. The question is what might really be done about it. Improvements here and there of 10 or 20 percent, as might be gained if we all became vegetarians, won’t do any good in the long run—several hundred years, according to someone quoted in the article. Nor would the token reductions called for by the Kyoto Protocol that gets so much press. Whether my next car is a hybrid is not the question. The question is what will keep a billion Chinese, or for that matter half a billion Americans, from burning up all their coal in the next 300 years. A new nuke a week, maybe?

Bill Mixon, SB’62, SM’65
Austin, Texas


I’m a longtime clean-air activist specializing in pollution caused by combustion of wood and other vegetation. The last data I saw indicated that, per unit of energy generated, vegetation combustion produces more “greenhouse gases” than fossil-fuel combustion, particularly when compared with the relatively clean forms of fossil fuel, i.e., oil and gas (not coal). The daily billions of dung, brush, and other vegetation fires in developing countries are huge contributors to greenhouse gases. These sources of combustion-pollution numerically eclipse fossil-fuel sources by a wide margin. As the world population has grown dramatically, the number of vegetation burners has increased similarly. Much—maybe most—of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere is attributable to billions of poor people who dream of owning a car while cooking their evening meals over dung and brush fires. Your article on global warming completely ignored this issue.

Alicia Sterling
Issaquah, Washington

Migratory birds return to higher latitudes than they did several decades ago. Arctic ice is diminishing. In Africa the snow-ice is nearly gone off Kilimanjaro. Global warming cannot be denied.

Smog and smoke from the burning of fossil fuels are usually blamed, but other causes attributable to man probably are more important in aggregate. Consider roads—especially blacktop but even country roads rob the environs of the green that cools.

There are sundry nonanthropogenic causes of global warming as well. Vulcanism is a major cause. Isolation and cloud cover (as opposed to albedo) are two obvious causes. Not so obvious is the release of methane from benthic clathrates by the stirring of bottom deposits by major storms. Major long-term changes might also accrue to tectonic movements in the earth’s crusts.

Stewart C. Harvey, PhD’48
Salt Lake City


In “Heated Discussion,” climatologist Peter Schwarzmann is quoted as saying, “…students realize that they do have power.…to buy organic apples or to tell their congressman to support a carbon tax.” Or maybe they could do something really useful and tell their congressman to support nuclear power?

Charles Beauregard, MBA’74
Huntington Beach, California


What a shame. “Heated Discussion” addressed arguably one of the most pressing environmental issues today: global warming. Yet you failed to mention that this year marks the tenth anniversary of the College’s Environmental Studies Program.

The Environmental Studies Program evokes the best of what a U of C education is: critical thinking combined with innovative solutions to seemingly overwhelming problems. It works with student groups as well as graduate and undergraduate departments and programs. And, most important, it works closely with students to create a passionate, intellectual, and practical atmosphere for study and growth. Contrary to popular U of C belief, you can be passionate and intellectual.

Graduates from the program are some of the best and the brightest members of the environmental movement, and they—we—certainly are going to “save the world” in the biggest and best sense of the phrase. Isn’t this what being a University of Chicago graduate is all about?

Lauren Whitley, AB’01
South Royalton, Vermont


Galvanized by a question that came to my mind in the fourth paragraph of “Heated Discussion” (August/05), I avidly read on to find the answer in the last paragraph. The question? Where did the “21 professors from 13 Midwestern colleges” stay? The answer: bussed to an unknown lakefront hotel.

The lack of appropriate accommodations for visitors to Hyde Park has been an unaddressed problem for decades. Any current guide to Chicago will mention South Side attractions but conclude accommodations are nonexistent. Clearly, Hyde Park doesn’t consider itself a destination.

M. H. Deal, AB’65, AM’66
Akron, Ohio


There may be an error in “King for a Day” (“Chicago Journal,” August/05). King Abdullah is not the first Arab monarch to visit the Oriental Institute. I am sure that the Shah of Iran visited in the 1946–47 school year.

Evelyn Paper Himelgrin-Rodman, AB’47

According to the April/1947 Magazine: “His Royal Highness, Saud Ibn Abdul Azis Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Faisal Al Saud, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, was the guest of the University of Chicago on his visit to the Windy City in late February. The eldest of the 48 sons of King Abdul Azis Ibn Saud was entertained by Thorkild Jacobsen, Director of the Oriental Institute, and members of his staff.”—Ed.

EDITOR’S NOTE, 9/22/05: In correcting the writer’s memory of when the Shah of Iran visited the Oriental Institute, the editors neglected to correct a more important error of fact: the Shah of Iran was, of course, a Persian monarch. We apologize. A correction and an apology will also appear in the December/05 print issue.


I enjoyed reading about Jonathan Hall’s research on the shift from ethnic to cultural definitions of Hellenic identity (“It’s Greek to Them,” August/05). At the end, Hall remarks that “ethnic groups command more loyalty than cultural groups,” and that could “be some small comfort to the alarmists on the British right who fear the future dissolution of national consciousness” in an integrated Europe. However, British identity is already a cultural and not an ethnic one, since it includes English, Scottish, Irish, Bengali, Punjabi, and other ethnic groups under its umbrella. By integrating further with the other EU member states, Britain would trade one loose cultural identity (British) for another one (European).

Sener Akturk, AB’03, AM’03
Berkeley, California


I was disappointed to see such a negatively toned article covering the April hip-hop conference (“Feminists call for hip-hop reform,” June/05). Though addressing negative hip-hop imagery was part of the agenda, this conference was also a joyous coming together of hip-hop fans from across the country. The moment I arrived, the communal camaraderie of amateur artists made me feel as if I were at some indie arts festival. The Saturday night open mic and professional shows were so positive and moving, I’m shocked this was left out of the article—in favor of covering only the opening-night movies.

I was one of the 20 amateur performers who each took our spot on stage before the three professional acts. Having performed rap many times in front of an audience, this felt like the most warm and celebratory reception I’ve ever received. And to highlight one of the professionals who rocked the I-House ballroom that night: Ana Garcia gave us a Broadway-quality break-dancing performance and history lecture, along with her crew of all female break dancers.

This conference was also about how to foster the continued growth of hip-hop studies as a legitimate academic discipline. I know I’m not the only one who sees hip hop as an indispensable, beloved part of my life. Such a powerful institution in any culture needs to be, and eventually will be, recognized as worthy of serious academic study.

And in my celebratory, grateful vibe, I do thank you for covering the conference in the Magazine. That’s a sign of progress, like the existence of the conference itself, for which I am grateful.

Eleanor (“Nell”) Smith, AB’85, AM’04
New Britain, Connecticut


To all the recent memories and comments about the Quad Club (“Letters,” August/05), I thought I would add my half cent. My only physical contact with the club has been some alumni dinners there, but my emotional connection goes back more than 55 years.

I worked as a busboy at the Ida Noyes cafeteria from early 1948 until the end of summer 1951, when it closed. It had the best food on campus and was for me manna from heaven. The busboys also served as waiters for the dinners and receptions held there—T. S. Eliot attended one in the 1950–51 school year.

My great desire and goal, however, was to, at least once, wait tables at the Quad Club. For those of us working for “dining halls and commons,” that was the equivalent of playing the Palace in vaudeville. I still would like to do so, even without pay. I then would have done practically everything I ever wished to do.

Eugene L Balter, AB’50, MD’56


If the University contemplates the sale of Yerkes Observatory (“Chicago Journal,” June/05), why not go the full nine yards in the trend of relinquishing academic assets in favor of converting the University to a four-year resort? Have the land be developed by a contractor who would charge students $1,000 per weekend for a getaway from the rigors of life on campus. While the University’s at it, Harper Library could be converted to an Omniplex, and the classrooms of Cobb Hall to deluxe private rooms for the University’s cosmetic-surgery clinic for students. To pay for these money-making cash cows, it may be necessary to undertake an alumni fund-raising drive and also raise tuition.

Sacha Kopp, AB’90, SM’92, PhD’94
Austin, Texas


I enjoyed Samuel M. Scheiner’s letter in August/05 issue, “Less Than Intelligent Design.” It’s refreshing to hear a critique of Intelligent Design theory that does not degenerate into condescending juvenile insults. But after all, this is the University of Chicago. A point-by-point rebuttal of everything with which I disagree would make a boring read, so let me just say a few words about fossils.

Nobody whom I have ever met in my entire life has claimed fossils were put there by God “to test our faith.” Nobody. Ever. Now I’m only a sample size of one, but I haven’t even heard that claim on any creationist Web site. (Perhaps some television evangelist said it once. Evolutionists sometimes confuse science with religion and use one to argue against the other.) But all that aside, it’s ironic that in 2005 an evolutionist would want to talk about fossils.

Earlier this year a researcher cut through the thigh bone of a T-Rex in Montana to allow a helicopter removal, and there in the middle of a “70-million-year-old” fossil was nonfossilized tissue. Soft tissue. Enter “Montana T-Rex” into a search engine or go to the National Geographic Web site to dig up the story. You’ll find a nice piece about how this disproves all of evolution. (Just kidding—everybody knows you can’t “disprove” evolution.)

My point is that, as of today, evolutionists are without a theory describing the fossilization process that is consistent with the ages claimed for these fossils. To state the obvious, these particular observable facts (and many others) are directly consistent with the young-earth timeline. At some point Nova will present us with some story that will “explain the mystery” and that will “debunk another creationist myth.” If it fits the pattern, rampant speculation will outweigh the hard science.

In the meantime, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m too stupid to figure it out.

Stephen M. Obeda, MBA’97
Hillsborough, New Jersey


In commenting on President Randel’s statement about honesty (“From the President,” April/05), Richard Cree, MBA’78, writes (“Letters,” June/05) that “our personal lives indicate that monogamous relationships...are dishonest relative to the anthropological studies showing the non-monogamous nature of the human being and its ancestors.” Anthropological studies also show that our human ancestors practiced murder, pillage, rape, and probably even cannibalism. Would it therefore be “honest” for us to continue to engage in these heinous activities? If so, then I pride myself in my “dishonesty.”

One of the main goals of our U of C education is to teach us that all human beings are infused with spiritual, moral, aesthetic, and humane qualities that allow us to rise above our “nature” and to engage in intellectual and creative pursuits that give enhanced meaning to our existence.
Regarding monogamy, to me, “honesty” means remaining honest to the sacred vow “to forsake all others” that I pledged to my wife on our wedding day 50 years ago and have honored faithfully ever since. I have never considered the dubious practices of prehistoric man to be a suitable guide for my personal behavior.

Nathan (Wiser) Aviezer, SM’59, PhD’65
Petach Tikva, Israel


What a surprise to see myself in the Magazine (“Photographic Memory,” June/05). To the left is Marilou Scanlon Hendrickson, X’42; the veteran hostess; myself; and Mary Jane Gisert Gwinn, AB’42.

Marjory Hibbard Paltzer Long, X’42
Downers Grove, Illinois


I totally disagree with Gordon McKeague’s complaint about the Magazine (“Alumni News,” Aug/05). Contrary to his opinion, I find that the Magazine’s articles do fully reflect the University I remember so well some 60 years ago. Take, for instance, two pieces in the August issue: the “Chicago Seven” profiles of U of C students and “Heated Discussion” on the pros and cons of global warming. Both articles brought back memories of the unique ambience and scholarship that characterize my alma mater.

Albert L. Weeks, AM’49
Sarasota, Florida


Years ago I was discussing one of Gregory Corso’s poems with Corso himself, and he offhandedly said that he had followed suggestions Hayden Carruth offered on the poem. “Hayden Carruth?” I thought. “And how is it I have never met Hayden Carruth?” Your wonderful article (“Lives of a Poet,” April/05) on this excellent poet answered that question.

Michael Andre, AM’69
New York


On July 26 Don Randel announced that he would leave the University on June 30, 2006, to become president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (See “Chicago Journal,” page 16). As you may know, the Mellon Foundation is one of our nation’s most prominent philanthropic organizations, dedicated to funding higher education and scholarship, the arts and humanities.

Since he joined us more than five years ago, President Randel has been an outstanding leader of the University, and we are all enormously grateful for his efforts. He has helped us move past $1.3 billion in the most successful fund-raising drive in the University’s history. Don, together with Provost Saller, has continued the development of our campus master plan. Those efforts are already transforming the Hyde Park campus. Equally important, Don has expanded our community-outreach and public-education initiatives and put us on very sound footing for the decades ahead.

It is now time for the trustees to perform their most important task: to reflect upon the needs of this great institution and to choose a new president to lead it. I am appointing a Trustee Search Committee, and the Council of the University Senate has been asked to elect a Faculty Committee to advise the Trustee Committee. Both groups will begin their work in early September.

To succeed, we will need your help. As a graduate of the University, you are among the University’s closest friends. I invite you to write me with your suggestions as to who might be the best president of the University, or the characteristics you believe that person ought to possess. Please send your letter to me c/o the Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Room 501, 5801 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637.

The University of Chicago has been fortunate to have leaders who embody its goals and principles. I pledge to you that the trustees will seek an individual who shares those same values and who will cherish this great University.

James S. Crown, Chairman
The University of Chicago Board of Trustees


In 2007 the University of Chicago’s one-of-a-kind film society, Doc Films, will celebrate its 75th anniversary. The oldest continuously active student film society in America, Doc Films has a rich history of supporting overlooked cinema, from the politically minded documentaries of the 1930s (from which Doc takes its name) to the Joseph M. Newman westerns of the 1950s.

In recognition of this milestone, I have begun compiling a history of Doc Films with testimonies from past presidents, programmers, projectionists, rabble-rousers, auteurists, and other cinephiles. Every Doc alum provides a crucial piece of the puzzle, and I am interested in interviewing any Doc alumni who have the time and inclination. I will be happy to hear from anyone and everyone with memories or materials.

Please contact me via e-mail,, or phone (773/955-1888). You can also write to me at 5465 S. Everett Ave., Apt. 109, Chicago IL, 60615. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kyle Westphal, ’08


The author of the study [August UCHICAGO.EDU e-bulletin and “Citations”] who found that more physicians than expected were religious stated, “The responsibility to care for those who are suffering and the rewards of helping those in need resonate throughout most religious traditions.” As a primary-care physician for 25 years and an atheist, I would submit that the idea of service resonates throughout nonreligious traditions as well. As a matter of fact, I had an epiphany a few Christmases ago, when I realized the intense bond I felt with a patient who as a nun had spent her life teaching underprivileged young girls, as well as with a retired Scottish Lutheran communicable-diseases nurse, and I realized that the bond was devotion to service, and that that devotion easily trumped the individual belief systems of the three of us. When I mentioned this to the nun, she smiled sweetly and said, “Yes, that’s because service is love.”

Richard Ganz, AB’66
Healdsburg, California

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In “Chicago Seven: The Final Frames” (August/05), an editing error resulted in the mangling of the name of Quan Le’s (AB’05) fiancee, Marissa Marski, AB’05. In “Unromancing the Renaissance” (“Arts & Letters,” August/05), information on upcoming Renaissance Society exhibits was incorrect: an installation by Peter Welz and William Forsythe—titled Whenever on on on Nohow on / Airdrawing—opens September 18, while All the Pretty Corpses, the group exhibit curated by Hamza Walker, AB’88, opens November 13.

Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited. To ensure a range of views, we encourage letters of fewer than 300 words. Write Editor, University of Chicago Magazine, 5801 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637. Or e-mail:

The University of Chicago, in accord with Federal regulations, is seeking public comments about the University in preparation for its decennial evaluation by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association, its regional accrediting agency. A team representing the commission will conduct a comprehensive evaluation visit Feb. 6–8, 2006, to review the institution’s ongoing ability to meet the commission’s Criteria for Accreditation. The University of Chicago has been accredited by the commission since 1913.

The public is invited to submit comments regarding the University to:

Public Comments on the University of Chicago
Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60602

Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its programs.