“I chose the College in 1959 to get away from athletics.”



Go Beavers
The front cover of your Mar–Apr/11 Magazine aroused my curiosity. What on earth is Craig Robinson, MBA’91, doing there? Your eight-page story (“On the Rebound,” Mar–Apr/11) about “our coach, his basketball team, and our historic Gill Coliseum at Oregon State University is outstanding. Robinson’s method and his work ethic turned the team around and generated enthusiasm and respect. You put Corvallis and OSU on the map. Thanks!

Woody Sommer, PhB’47
Corvallis, Oregon

What athletics?
I chose the College of the University of Chicago back in 1959 to get away from athletics. For what it’s worth, omit stories about athletics from your material.

Chester C. Graham, AB’63
Northfield, Minnesota

Full coverage
I find it hard to believe that you would devote the cover and eight pages to coach Craig Robinson and the Oregon State basketball team, a team with a dismal 11–20 record that finished the season next to last in the Pac-10 Conference. This is probably more space than you have given to all the U of C athletic teams in the last ten years and more than any Nobel Prize winner has received.

Michael Posig, MBA’48
Park Ridge, Illinois

Props for Chopp

A fellow 1960 classmate at Swarthmore College just sent me a copy of the excellent article by Ruth E. Kott, AM’07, about Swarthmore’s new president, Rebecca Chopp, PhD’83 (Glimpses, Mar–Apr/11). It is very well written.

Michael Westgate
Chatham, Massachusetts

From Aristotle to Brooks
I enjoyed the parodies of columns by David Brooks, AB’83 (“Bobos in Parodies,” Mar–Apr/11). On TV and radio Brooks has discussed his new book, Social Animal. Its title is a take-off of Aristotle’s definition of man as a political animal. He also called man a featherless biped. Aristotle confined his observation about political animal to Greek life. By political animal, he meant that man is characterized by the identity of life in a polis, that is, a Greek city-state.

Lloyd B. Urdahl, PhD’59
Rochester, New York

Add it up
Your “Bobos in Parodies” feature presents amusing takes on stylistic quirks of David Brooks, AB’83. More significant than style, though, is the ill-reasoned content of his column. Back in the day, the undergraduate Brooks challenged Milton Friedman, AM’33, to a debate, and of course Friedman mopped the floor with him. A sensible response would have been to learn some economics. But as his recent praise of Paul Ryan’s plan as “the standard of seriousness” shows, Brooks not only never learned any economics, he lacks even basic numeracy.

Robert Michaelson, SB’66, AM’73
Evanston, Illinois

What a house says
I thoroughly enjoyed the article on David Schalliol, AM’04, and especially the photographs (“Home Alone,” Mar–Apr/11). What intrigued me most was my immediate association to the house in Polar Express of the little boy who needed to learn to trust and lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Not only was his house very evocative for me, but if you flip your Study 01 (2008) house, I think you have it nailed.

Thank you again for the images you have captured.

Doug Veit, AM’69
Coalinga, California

Charging station
It was quite a surprise to read in “Battery Power” (Chicago Journal, Mar–Apr/11): “The technology ... [in] GM’s ... Volt ... has an estimated range of 35 miles,” and then later in the article, “The time line for such a battery [that would yield 200 to 250 miles per charge in a four-door sedan ... is far off, says Michael Thackeray [of Argonne lab].”

I was so startled that I googled Tesla electric car company, wondering what I had misremembered of reports about their cars, and checked their “specs” column. Nope, I hadn’t misremembered. There it was: “Choose from one of three battery pack options to suit typical driving needs: 160, 230, or 300 miles per charge. (Model S) ... and [the zero-emissions Roadster] can drive 245 miles per charge.”

So what am I failing to understand about this apparent discrepancy?

Richard Robertson, PhB’48, AM’52, PhD’60
Glenview, Illinois

The full sentence from the article reads, “Argonne’s eventual goal is to create a battery that lasts ten years, costs less than $10,000, and yields 200 to 250 miles per charge with enough power for a four-door sedan.” Mr. Robertson appears to be overlooking the phrases about price and battery life. While the Chevy Volt sedan starts at $32,780 (after a $7,500 tax credit) for its 35-mile charge and has an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty, the Tesla Model S sedan costs $49,900–$69,000 (after the $7,500 credit), and its battery is expected to keep 70 percent of its life after seven years or 100,000 miles. This model begins production in mid-2012, and warranty information wasn’t available.—Ed.

An electricity alternative
In regard to “Battery Power,” fuel cells are batteries that convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and water. Water can be dissociated onboard motor vehicles into hydrogen and oxygen, using photocatalysts, light, and fuel cell heat as external sources of energy; giving electric-motor-powered vehicles unlimited range by obviating the need to recharge batteries.

An inexpensive photocatalyst such as titanium dioxide is 10 percent efficient. It responds primarily to ultraviolet wavelengths, which comprise about 5 percent of visible light. The more area of light and photocatalyst to which water is simultaneously exposed, the greater the quantity of water that can be dissociated within a given time period. This is the key to system production when using low efficiency photocatalysts.

At Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, chemists have developed metal-organic catalyst support frameworks the size of a sugar cube that have an area the size of a football field. By generating more than is needed during daylight hours, excess hydrogen may be stored in carbon nanotube tanks for night driving.

Honda’s fuel cell cars can travel a mile on the hydrogen contained in 4.6 ounces of water. The cars carry highly pressurized hydrogen.

In 2007 Manoranjan Misra of the University of Nevada, Reno, developed a very cost-effective water dissociation system combining carbon nanotubes with titanium dioxide. Bjorn Winther-Jensen of Monash University in Australia has replaced platinum electrodes in fuel cells with his polymer electrodes. Researchers at MIT have engineered a virus (M13) to split water using more abundant wavelengths of visible light.

Obviously, vehicles equipped with hydrogen-compatible internal combustion engines instead of fuel cells can utilize onboard water dissociation systems. Water is our only source of portable, renewable, noncarbon fuel available in the quantities needed to supplant gasoline. Water is cheap and recyclable, requiring no investment in exploration, drilling, refining, transportation, service stations, mining, cooling towers, or disposal of coal fly ash and radioactive nuclear waste.

Stationary water dissociation power systems can be built for individual homes and large buildings. Those who generate their own electricity will say goodbye to power outages caused by grid overloads, fuel shortages, downed power lines, or sabotage.

I doubt that any youngsters at the Argonne National Lab will want to learn more details from this old WW II Navy veteran about the water dissociation system described above, but just in case, I’ll be glad to send more details.

James Garden Jr., AB’51
Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania

Missed the point
In the article about online entrepreneurship (“Class Disruption,” Chicago Journal, Mar–Apr/11), the founders of Groupon do not seem to know why Groupon became popular and the Point did not. Looking at the product from a psychological point of view, the answer is clear. Groupon appeals to self-interest. I can buy something for less money. The Point must elicit enlightened self-interest. I must be able to see how I fit into a larger social setting. I have to be willing to benefit others. Their experience demonstrates that narrow self-interest predominates.

Zinnia Maravell, MBA’68
Washington, DC

The “Class Disruption” article should be an eye-opener both for readers in business and those who are not, except for the closing section. The reason why Groupon is a runaway success and the Point is not is basic and simple. Trading metals futures on the commodities exchange, I learned the market drivers are fear and greed.

Groupon clearly addresses greed, which is far more powerful than social consciousness—especially in today’s world, where the middle class is being automated and outsourced and is financially strapped.

Botond “Bo” Varga, AB’64, AM’67
La Honda, California

CEERES sponsors
I was delighted to see Plamena Pehlinvanova’s (AB’09) exhibit at the Regenstein Library featured in the Mar–Apr/11 University of Chicago Magazine (Peer Review). It is important to note that the exhibit was made possible with sponsorship from the University of Chicago’s Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies (CEERES), which is a National Resource Center.

Victor A. Friedman, U-High’66, AM’71, PhD’75

The homeless are welcome here
As the executive director of Grand Performances since 1990, I am writing in regard to Brooke E. O’Neill’s (AM’04) article “City Sounds” (Arts & Sciences, Mar–Apr/11) about Marina Peterson’s (AB’98, AM’00, PhD’05 ) report on Grand Performances. In an otherwise excellent telling about our role in the cultural life of Los Angeles, I must take issue with the comments about our security guards asking the “visibly homeless” to leave the plaza “for fear that they will drive ... audience away.”

I don’t recall ever hearing about or seeing anyone asked to leave our plaza because of how s/he appeared and know for a fact that I have not instructed security to take such actions. Our intent is to be inclusive, and we are known nationwide for having the nation’s most diverse audience—no matter how one wants to measure diversity. We strive to offer all members of the audience a safe and enjoyable experience. We do prohibit begging for money at the plaza, behaving in a way that would hinder others’ enjoyment of a performance, and selling or distributing items without our approval. Our standards for attending are behavior based.

Some years ago a gentleman came to me to thank us for the programming. He informed me that he had been homeless for 63 days after losing his home and his car. He said that our program and the public library kept him from going crazy. His comments reminded me that our program is helping all who attend in various ways, and the last thing I want is to deny that comfort and help to the already stressed homeless in our community. Having a totally open-door policy is one of the key reasons that I enjoy coming to work every day.


Michael Alexander
Los Angeles

OI’s majesty, in writing
Thanks for the beautifully illustrated article by Ruth E. Kott, AM’04, on the Oriental Institute’s recent exhibit Visible Language (“Origins of Writing,” Jan–Feb/11). Her clear, compact account of how writing was invented in the ancient Middle East, China, and the Americas lured me to the Institute’s website, where I was pleased to find the entire catalog of the exhibit available as a free PDF download.

The Oriental Institute’s halls, with their mysteriously alluring statues and objects from Egypt and Mesopotamia, had been a favorite haunt in my undergraduate days. Roaming through the OI website now, I found that dozens of the Institute’s publications, including some of the early series going back to the 1920s, have recently been scanned and posted as PDF files. Among them I was delighted to discover the Persepolis I report, a majestic volume that I struggled mightily to review for the Chicago Maroon when it was published in 1953. Looking through the scanned copy now after more than half a century (alas, to my great disappointment I had to return the review copy to the Institute after writing my piece), I am as deeply impressed as ever by the scope of the Persepolis expeditions, the scholarship of the participating archaeologists, and the beauty of the illustrations.

Ralph Hirsch, AB’54
Celle, Germany



Nuclear context

Geoff Koch’s story “Weapons Grade” (Arts & Sciences, Nov–Dec/11), in which a political scientist explains why WMD intelligence has been so poor, is more enthusiastic than explanatory on a deeply serious subject. This gap is especially striking if one has worked on both the academic and policy sides of this issue.

Mr. Koch’s protagonist, Professor Alexander Montgomery-Amo, AB’96, sees the current state of nuclear proliferation as not as bad as projected in the past. Therefore, he wonders why the projections were so pessimistic and infers a hidden driver to please cynical policy makers.

The reality is that, yes, policy can drive intelligence sometimes—except when the reverse is true. And sometimes pessimistic assessments change behavior, to the extent that our future scholars have the luxury of wondering what all the fuss was about.

It is ironic that the article lacks historical context about nuclear policy, since much of it was out of or deeply influenced by the U of C, from the Met Lab in the Manhattan Project to the decades of work to control and limit nuclear weapons by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to the late University political scientist Albert Wohlstetter. Lacking context, the article and its subject fit all too well with current renewed enthusiasm for spreading the peaceful atom and diminished interest in the possible consequences.

There is much room in this field for new thinking that would sail between the whirlpool of academic polemics and the rock of policy groupthink. As Mr. Wohlstetter used to tell us, technical expertise is nice but not a requirement; seriousness is. A good place to start is the website of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (led by Henry D. Sokolski, AM’80): npolicy.org.

Tom Blau, AM’68, PhD’72
Fairfax, Virginia

Scientific truths revisited
Regarding ethics (“Minister of Science,” Arts & Sciences, Jan–Feb/11), T. Patrick Hill, PhD’02, has one thing quite right in his letter you published in the Mar–Apr/11 issue, but the rest wrong.

He’s right that truth is the basic ethic of science. Without an implacable dedication to truth, and a highly developed sense of truth’s intricate hierarchies of strict implication and probabilistic inference, scientists can easily fail to see, investigate, verify, or communicate correctly about the realities they study. They can also mislead, intentionally or not, when they falsify or omit relevant prerequisites, contexts, assumptions, effects, or results. Some such misleadings are failures of process or understanding; some are failures of communication; and some are failures in the ethics of communicating truth honestly and completely.

All such failures not only violate science’s ethic of truth, they also have ethical consequences transcending that single yardstick. But successes have ethical consequences as well.

Dr. Hill implies and states that because we can (or could) do something, we should: he says the “can” is normative.

Not so.

Dedication to truth is indeed good/ethical; but ethically, that dedication should (note the normative) extend to and include the truth about consequences in the world at large and in individual human lives, as well as in the petri dish. That scientists strive for truth is absolutely good; but they do not get a pass for good intentions when things go wrong, through faulty logic or faulty methods or fraud, nor when contexts or consequences are judged by ethical considerations not limited to truth alone.

The easy examples come from many German medical researchers in the ’30s and ’40s.

It is wrong/unethical to substitute the word “science” for “truth”; and it is wrong/unethical to pretend that anything science proves is doable has ethical weight beyond being “true.” If it isn’t true, no amount of consistency with prior art or science can justify adherence or advocacy. If it is true, we can celebrate increased knowledge and understanding without falsely inferring that its uses have automatic “goodness,” which is what normative ought to mean in the context Dr. Hill uses it.

Jeff Levinger (parent)
San Francisco

Suicide terrorism: Just the facts
In his letter (“Suicide Terrorism: Cause and Effect,” Jan–Feb/11), Peter Hanik, MBA’87, objects to Professor Robert Pape’s finding that suicide terrorism is a consequence of military occupation rather than any particular religious belief. Mr. Hanik’s arguments, however, are entirely anecdotal and strike this UChicago student as lacking any semblance of intellectual rigor.

He says, for example, that “my guess is that using Pape and Feldman’s own data, the correlation between suicide attacks and Muslims would be very high.” Mr. Hanik’s wording indicates a failure to grasp basic statistics—which is a bit perplexing given that the MBA curriculum at Booth has two required statistics courses. What I think he means to say is that the prevalence of suicide bombing is significantly greater among Muslims than among practitioners of other faiths. Again, Pape and Feldman’s work clearly demonstrates that from 1987 to 2001, the greatest number of suicide attacks were conducted by the secular Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. At any rate, the Letters section is not the appropriate forum for unfounded speculation of this nature.

Mr. Hanik’s most offensive assertion is that “it is important to remember that most countries with a predominantly Muslim population are also theocracies.” This comment is presented not as a guess but as a statement of self-evident fact. Unfortunately, this “fact” has no basis in reality. Of 47 Muslim-majority nations, only two—Iran and Saudi Arabia—can be categorized as theocratic, and the assertion is arguable in each case.

Such a gross mischaracterization is unjustifiable, and I am disappointed that the editors of the Magazine let it pass unchecked.

Hamdan Azhar, PhD student

Return to civil discourse
There were two letters to the editor in the Mar–Apr/11 issue, under the title of “All the Parties in Washington,” referring to Joe Walsh’s (MPP’91) election in the Illinois 8th congressional district. The first characterized Walsh as “allegedly well educated” and his limited government views as “bizarre.” The second letter stated he subscribed to “persecution politics.”

Isn’t it sad the degree to which so much of our political commentary lacks basic civility and good manners, particularly from the enlightened alumni of the University of Chicago?

Carl Marinacci, MBA’64
Evanston, Illinois

Civil War: The responses
I am responding to the call to “all Civil War scholars” (Letters, Mar–Apr/11) to help settle the cause of the American Civil War. In recent issues, several letter writers have presented views that are, to put it mildly, antiquated, but are in fact erroneous. They focus on the break-up of the United States in 1860–61, when a sequence of events precipitated the country into a civil war: first the election of Lincoln, then the secession of 11 Southern states, then the firing on Fort Sumter, and finally the decision by the federal government to wage war on the Confederacy in order to restore the Union. But these events were not the cause of the war, either all of them together or each singly. They were simply what historians call the proximate cause—that is, the precipitating cause.

The fundamental cause, the necessary cause, was a conflict that had been ongoing for three or more decades over slavery, and it divided the country into two sections, North and South. This contest came to a head when Lincoln was elected president by the northern Republican Party, which was antislavery (but not abolitionist), antiexpansion of slavery into the western territories, and anti-South.

Historians of the Civil War era are agreed, almost unanimously in fact, that slavery was the root cause. Without it, there would have been no sectional conflict or breakup of the Union. Lincoln himself stated that issue accurately in his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865: “These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war.” Lincoln was quite correct. The question was not whether slavery was at the heart of the conflict but how it became so and how it shaped the course of events. And this problem is what still engages historians and generates disagreement and debate.

What is amazing is that the right of secession, or states’ rights, or Lincoln’s election have been taken seriously as major causes of the conflict, rather than just part of the endgame. And it is lamentable that, 150 years later, these kinds of misunderstandings continue to circulate, even appearing in serious magazines like this one.

Michael Perman, PhD’69

How slavery parallels subprime
Reading the Mar–Apr/11 issue and the letters, I found the one “Calling All Civil War Scholars.” Perhaps due to my generation, I include myself in this category and feel compelled to contribute to the discussion of reasons for our Civil War.

While most scholars consider our Civil War the result of a dispute over either slavery or the right to secede, I have concluded there was a third reason that led to the war. This reason is rooted in the same phenomenon as the recent subprime mortgage debacle, i.e., a financial bubble. In 1860 more US capital was invested in slaves than any other form of investment, including all banks, railroads, and factories. The amount invested in slaves represented an amount equal to 40 percent of the US gross domestic product in 1860. As the superintendent of the Gettysburg Foundation pointed out to me several years ago, can you imagine what would happen today in this country if assets representing 40 percent of the US gross domestic product were made worthless overnight?

How did the United States get in this position? I believe it happened because capital markets were undeveloped in 1860, so that the only form of investment recognized were those secured by labor. Land taken from Native Americans had no value and was given away by our government to entice settlers to provide labor. Southern slaveholders were like subprime mortgage debtors today—they borrowed money on the alleged value of their slave labor to create liquidity. As Frederick Law Olmsted reported in his work in the 1850s, The Cotton Kingdom: A Traveller’s Observations on Cotton and Slavery in the American Slave States, it was 25 percent more expensive to use slave labor rather than wage labor in the South. By Virginia law, for example, in 1860 a slave owner had to provide health and shelter for a slave until he died. This is the reason slave owners tried to sell slaves before the age of 35. At 35 a slave’s labor value peaked. Thereafter a slave owned was a liability diminishing each year in value that one could borrow against.

In New Orleans before the Civil War, slaves were not used to build canals or clear land because slaves were too valuable as loan collateral. The risk of yellow fever or malaria threatened assets. Instead Irish wage laborers were used, for whom the developer had no responsibility for health and welfare. Perhaps Lincoln and his cabinet simply concluded in 1860 that it was too expensive to buy out invested capital in slaves to liberate slaves and that it was cheaper to fight a Civil War with immigrant troops. Once all the capital invested in slaves was liberated, i.e., declared worthless, in 1865, the United States was launched on a path of industrialization that could not have occurred but for the creation of a new financial model—capitalism structured around new derivatives, ones that created enforceable rights in secured assets that could be freely transferred rather than simply lodged in awkward physical labor assets of questionable value.

Walter S. Rowland, JD’65
Wilmington, Delaware

Short and simple
I am a native-born Southerner and honor my ancestors who served in the Confederate armies during the Civil War. I believe, however, that the underlying cause of that war was slavery. For me the worst thing that ever happened to the United States was the Civil War, and the best thing that ever happened to the United States was the Union victory in that war.

James A. Rogerson, AM’69, PhD’80
Charlotte, North Carolina

A reference suggestion
This is in response to the letters by Bill Williamson, PhD’59, and Bert Metzger, JD’61, in the Mar–Apr/11 issue. The causes of the Civil War are not simply explained, nor do they center around a single reason. I suggest that you read chapter 1 of Bruce Catton’s The Coming Fury, volume 1 of his Centennial History of the Civil War, published by Doubleday in 1961. In fact, you may find the other two volumes in that series enlightening, as well as an earlier triple volume set by him, The Army of the Potomac, also issued by Doubleday, in 1951.

It is works such as these that make me despair of how history is taught from primary grades up to at least undergraduate school.

H. Robert Westerman, SM’49
Little Silver, New Jersey

Another says it was slavery
In this sesquicentennial of the Civil War, controversies continue. Recent letters have challenged the notion that the Civil War was caused by slavery. Revisionist historians in the first part of the 20th century may have had their doubts, although most modern historians opt for the slavery explanation. But there was little doubt in 1861 about what caused the war. Lincoln said that “all knew that [slavery] was, somehow, the cause of the war.” Confederate VP Alexander Stephens laid it out clearly in his infamous Cornerstone Speech: “African slavery as it exists amongst us” was “the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.” The Declarations of Causes issued by several Southern states listed slavery first among the causes of secession. Several of those states sent out secession commissioners to argue that only by joining the new nation could the remaining slave states preserve slavery, prevent “servile insurrections,” and protect Southern womanhood from unspeakable crimes at the hands of … you get the point.

Seven states seceded after Lincoln was elected, but they did so before he took office, and not because of Lincoln’s positions on land-grant colleges or the transcontinental railroad. They did so because an opponent of slavery had been elected president of the United States.

Bert Metzger also challenges the price of the war, asserting that its terrible casualties were not justified by “a legal claim to … property,” i.e., Fort Sumter. He’s being disingenuous—the war wasn’t fought over who owned Fort Sumter. The war’s casualties were justified by the preservation of the Union and of democracy itself, Lincoln’s “last best hope of mankind.” And the real “property” claim involved millions of human beings—how long should they have been enslaved to allow South Carolina et al. to withdraw peacefully?

Brian T. Farrington, AM’74
Fort Worth, Texas

Why the Sontag hate?
Regarding the April 5 UChicago News for Alumni and Friends e-newsletter linking to Joseph Epstein’s (AB’59) Wall Street Journal book review saying about Susan Sontag, AB’51: “not literature but self-promotion was her real métier”:

I am surprised that the U of C promotes stuff like this in the alumni e-mail. If one alum is nasty and mean and stupid to another, I don’t think it helps the U of C  to share that, any more than if Jon Aronoff, AM’95, and I got arrested for brawling on the sidewalk.

Jonathan Beecher Field, AM’93, PhD’04
Clemson, South Carolina

The rankings game
I was utterly shocked and appalled when I read the 2011 Times Higher Education ranking [in the March 8 UChicago News for Alumni and Friends e-newsletter. The U of C was slated at 15, even below U of Tokyo, U of Michigan, etc.

How reliable are these rankings in the world of academia?

Perception counts. I have always taken pride in the esteemed quality of my Chicago liberal-arts education. In most other rankings in the past, U of C has never slipped below the top ten. What happened here?

Seng Yeoh, AB’84
Penang, Malaysia

Steve Kloehn, the University’s associate vice president for news and public affairs, responds: The reputational survey referred to in the e-newsletter is a new ranking, conducted by Reuters Thomson for Times Higher Education in London. Times Higher Education also puts out a separate annual world ranking that uses a much broader set of metrics—you are correct in noting that in that ranking, as in some other major rankings, the University of Chicago has typically been among the top ten in recent years. Even at their best, however, rankings are seldom the most useful way to judge an institution, and the University treats them with caution. There is a statement on our website.

“College and university rankings have received a good deal of attention in recent years. While the media outlets and other organizations that develop these rankings often collect useful data, controversy has arisen over how that data is aggregated and weighted to create a final ranking.

“In some cases, those methods have changed from year to year, causing an institution’s ranking to rise or fall with little change in the underlying data. Prospective students and parents should consider rankings in that context and look beyond them to the university’s academic program, culture, and opportunities for enrichment. A successful education depends more on finding an institution that best fits a student’s needs and goals than upon any statistical formula.”

The page that contains that statement also links to a wide-ranging list of rankings, so that you and other readers can judge for yourselves.

We put a great deal of thought and effort into making sure people get a true picture of the University of Chicago. Some of that comes through our own writing, some comes through external media, some is transmitted by our alumni and friends around the world. I hope you continue to share your own impressions of the University and of your education, of which you are justifiably proud.

UChicago: Finally enlightened
I was very happy to see you featuring the African American web archive and Gender Studies in the December 14, 2010, issue [of the UChicago News for Alumni and Friends e-newsletter. As an undergraduate in the Women’s Union I helped start the Forum for Feminist Scholarship in the early 1980s, and like many found the campus very dark, very unwelcoming, and oblivious of the political advances of the previous two decades. You have to do a lot to repair relationships with many of us who went to the College in those years.

Now maybe you will do a profile in the Magazine of Senator Bernie Sanders, AB’64. He is a national hero and deserves the cover of the Magazine!

Abby Scher, AB’83
Brooklyn, New York

Stop, you’re making us blush

I have been having a long love affair with the University of Chicago—four years to be exact, ever since my daughter entered in 2007. Soon the love affair will end when she graduates in June.

From the first magazine I received, I was hooked to it. I’ve looked forward to it every two months and read it cover to cover. From it I’ve learned so much about the city, Chicagoans, the students, and the professors who are Nobel laureates.

Your magazines have a special place in my library. The pictures in it, in particular icicles at Lake Michigan, hang proudly in my study. I especially love the Alumni News, where former students have all carved great lives for themselves. I hope one day my girl will also have great news to tell in her Class of 2011.

When she was chosen to study economics in the United States, we sat down and discussed the school she should apply to. We chose the U of C because we knew about the famous Chicago school of economics. And the other criteria was that President Obama taught at the Law School. Malaysia too was excited with the news of Mr. Obama as then president-elect, and his hometown is Chicago.

We are also aware that it was a school often touted as “where fun goes to die.” Well, why not? She shouldn’t be traveling thousands of miles away from home to go to a party school. It is a serious school where many alumni are policy makers in the White House.

From letters, e-mails, and phone calls home, my daughter seems to be enjoying the campus life and adjusting well in her studies. She has honed her social and academic skills. We are so grateful that she has been accepted in your world-class university; we hope it will stand her in good stead to serve our country when she returns home. I am sure she can be a part of our government’s transformation policy for a vibrant economy. We pray that she will be among the young minds who can help Malaysia become a well-developed nation in 2020.

We are excited to be in Chicago for the commencement ceremony. Chicago, here we come! Thank you.

Idzan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Magazine, meet the interwebs
I would like to have noted a recent article on my Facebook page, but there’s no evident tool for doing so. If a 65-year-old wants to do this, surely the younger graduates are hoping to do the same.

Merrilee Holmes, MBA’76
Tucson, Arizona

We do have a way of sharing online stories, but it could certainly be improved. On the right-hand column of the page, there is a field that says “Share this article.” Hold your mouse over those words or the “plus” sign before them, and the Facebook icon (along with some others) appears. Then you should be able to share the story, although it might help if you type the headline in, because our outdated system won’t do that for you.

In case you’re wondering, we are well aware that we need to update our website, and we are on our way toward doing so, we hope by this fall.—Ed.

A full deck
Thanks. I loved the gargoyles and stone angels and mullioned stone windows when I was at U of C, and my kid is eager to have a set of cards with the symbols that were, and are, so dear to me.

Nicholas Young, AB’69

To get your own deck of gargoyle playing cards, make a gift of $50 or more to the Magazine at magazine.uchicago.edu/makeagift.—Ed.


Department of corrections
In “The End of African American Literature” (Investigations, Mar–Apr/11), we should have spelled W. E. B. Du Bois as it is here. Also in that article, it was the Phylon editors in 1950, not founding editor Du Bois, who asked African American writers and literary critics to consider a post–Jim Crow America. We regret the errors.

The University of Chicago Magazine welcomes letters about its contents or about the life of the University. Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited for space, clarity, and civility. To provide a range of views and voices, we encourage letter writers to limit themselves to 300 words or fewer.

Write: Editor, University of Chicago Magazine, 401 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1000, Chicago, IL 60611. Or e-mail: uchicago-magazine@uchicago.edu.