satire with satire
It takes a
lot of chutzpah to launch something as outrageously ridiculous as
the "Chicago Enquirer" (December/98)! Yet in humor lies a grain
of truth. It also takes a lot of guts to try to explain the Advanced
Photon Source ("X-Ray Visions," December/98). I imagine that the
APS will eventually be used to discover what causes cancer cells
Here's a new
subject for a future "Chicago Enquirer": "U of C'ers Live to Ripe
Old Ages!" It's definitely not a random sample, but starting with
the first person listed in the December/98 "Deaths" column, the
ages are: 92, 62, 85, 85, 91, 100, 86, 85, 82, 84, 81, 79, 79, 82,
76, 90, etc., etc. Could there be something in the water? I gave
my stat books away a few years ago, or I might look for some appropriate
nonparametric test that would make sense of the longevity of university
people, not just at the U of C. Maybe common sense says that they
are smarter and take better care of themselves, therefore live longer
Keep up the
good work, editors! Great job!
Tennis, Jr., AM'60
Chicago show-biz type
I sort of enjoyed
the "Chicago Enquirer" as a part of the December issue. I'm not
sure if I would like the publication on a permanent basis, but perhaps
it will grow on me.
want to add another omitted U of C graduate who inhabited show business,
namely the late Severn Darden, X'50. He was in at least two films,
The President's Analyst (1967) and Fearless Frank
(1967). The latter was less well known, but had a bit of charm for
those of us who love the city of Chicago. Severn did a lot of colorful
things, like walk around campus wearing a cape and drive around
campus in an antique Rolls Royce.
For a time
he had a program on Radio Midway called "The Poets' Hour." He was
in at least one play in Mandel Hall. I believe he once got into
Rockefeller Chapel after hours, was found out, and when finally
apprehended, hollered, "Sanctuary!"
James A. Lessly,
Volume I, No.
1 of the "Chicago Enquirer" was also the last "issue," so there's
no need to look for us in your local checkout line.—Ed
issue had a brief discussion of William Benton ("Chicago Enquirer"),
who was a vice president of the University and friend of Robert
Maynard Hutchins. For those who want to know more about William
Benton and the times during which he lived, you can read his biography,
The Lives of William Benton (Chicago, 1969), by Sidney Hyman.
I stumbled across this book at a book sale in a small-town library
when traveling in Colorado several years ago. I have read it a few
times, and think other alumni might find it of interest.
the O. J. connection
In your latest
issue, you note with apparent regret the lack of a Chicago connection
to the O. J. Simpson trial ("Chicago Enquirer"). I bring good news.
trial defense attorney Peter Neufeld cited the statistical work
of Northwestern professor Sandy Zabell during his cross examination
of expert witness for the prosecution Bruce Weir. Sandy spent a
year or two early in his career as an instructor in the statistics
department at the U of C. As a graduate student in the math department,
I attended a weekly seminar in his office in the basement of Eckhart
learned that Sandy graduated from New York's Stuyvesant High School,
as did I some years later. Sandy was active there on the chess and
debate teams, and the captain of the debate team his senior year
was future presidential adviser Dick Morris.
The item on
Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber ("Chicago Enquirer"), specifies
"born in the U of C's Wyler Hospital." Poor taste!
This is the
only time I have seen fit to so accuse the University of Chicago
Ralph K. Meister,
To the fact-checker
of the Verner Suomi news item ("Chicago Enquirer"): Who the heck
is Al Roper? Do you mean Al Roker?
I did love
all of the bits of trivia about U of C's history.
Scott C. Schweighauser,
meant Al Roker, of NBC's Today show.—Ed.
enjoyed the "Chicago Enquirer" in the December Magazine. It's encouraging
to see the Magazine tracing the steps that connect the ivory
towers—or in this case limestone arches—of Chicago to mainstream
and mass culture. Too often, the University is solely associated
with all that is best and brightest in the academic world.
to add spice to the rigors of academe are Chicago's connections
to pop culture and other elements that are not considered part of
the academic canon. The disparate worlds merge into one exciting
As a film and
television junkie (though I keep my critical faculties intact and
in play), I especially liked the breakdown of Chicago scene-stealers
from film and television. The best mass media cultural references
to the University of Chicago show the University for what it is.
By that criterion, My Best Friend's Wedding misses the mark:
Kimmy, the College third-year and Julia Roberts' nemesis in the
film, is majoring in architecture! In contrast, the ABC series Cupid,
which filmed a significant portion of its second episode on the
quads, showed the University for what it is—a place of higher learning
with faculty (sometimes a bit nerdy, sometimes a bit socially inept,
but always human) dedicated to teaching their students. The only
thing about the Cupid episode that wasn't true to life was the transformation
of the C-Shop from a student coffee shop to a faculty lunch room.
Still, it was a small price to pay for a realistic and loyal portrayal
of our alma mater.
for showing Chicago's lighter side. Every once in a while we're
fortunate enough to realize that our education comes from a place
that has seen both the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction and
the birth of Second City.
on the human-rights course taught by Jacqueline Bhabha ("Course
Work," December/98) was a welcome sight. So much of the "bragging
rights" stuff offered in the Magazine glorifies a system of education
and development that ignores and even perpetuates the Average World
Citizen—she's destitute and lives in the underdeveloped (Third)
world. I wonder if subsequent course offerings will come from our
world-famous economics and business professors on the tie-in between
human-rights abuses, the banana-republic elites, and the capitalist
I work for
a ministry that annually raises millions of dollars for the poor
in the Caribbean and Latin America. While Americans can be very
generous, many of us do not like to hear that the source of our
abundance (and therefore our generosity) is the same economic source
of Third World poverty, inequality, oppression, and violence. Any
course that gets that across is at the top of the class. Bravo,
I very much
enjoy your magazine, even though I can't say that I enjoyed my time
at the U of C's Graduate Library School in 1964–66. Still, I enjoy
reading about creative efforts under way at the University, one
of the hallmarks of the institution.
page 8, in the article describing the class "Contemporary Issues
in Human Rights," the following description of Jacqueline Bhabha,
teacher of the course, appears: "In dark pantsuit, bright sweater,
and pearls, she looks like a slender Hillary Clinton."
I find that
description possibly insulting to Hillary Clinton, and would appreciate
it if in the future you would discourage such descriptions. Hillary
Clinton looks fine, and slender, to me!
A book with
about Saskia Sassen ("Investigations," December/98) is so important.
I am grateful to you for publishing it.
puts us on alert that expanding globalization is not just something
that grows of itself, but rather has been created by industries
and governments, and will have "devastating consequences for the
poor, and also for large sectors of the middle class."
And she is
writing a book for 2000 to wrestle with "how we govern the global
economy and introduce some accountability into the system." Let's
look for her book!
and yet shall mourn
new master plan ("Chicago Journal," August/98) would demolish Whitman
Laboratory to build an interdisciplinary research institute. This
institute is a worthy goal but it would be a pity to destroy Whitman,
a noteworthy building. While not in Gothic style, it is by Coolidge
and Hodgdon, who created many fine buildings for the University—including
the splendid Bond Chapel. Whitman Lab was the gift of biologist
Frank Lillie and his wife in tribute to Lillie's mentor, the distinguished
biologist Charles O. Whitman.
highly unusual among century-old universities in never having demolished
a notable or "permanent" campus building, as may be seen from the
list in Jean Block's The Uses of Gothic (the old Stagg Field
wasn't strictly a building). It would be a shame to set this new
precedent. But if Whitman must go, perhaps pieces of the facade
such as the rooster above the front door could be preserved in the
new institute. That would be in the spirit of the University's policy
toward the Common Core—having demolished the core, they retain bits
and pieces as decorative memorabilia.
Robert C. Michaelson,
is offered as commentary to the article in the December 28, 1998,
New York Times, regarding the current debate over the College's
core curriculum (For a synopsis of the NYT article, as well as a
flurry of publicity, see "The College in the News," page VI of the
As vice president
of marketing for a company, my task is to build a "name" for the
firm. Conveying our internal culture to the masses, building a "brand"
to create demand for our product, is a task that has given me great
respect for high-quality "brands" that already exist.
"brand"—all of the things that it stands for and its cumulative
history—is incredibly valuable. An understanding of this brand,
of the school's place in the academic world, exists worldwide—pervasive
enough, in fact, that the current debate over softening the College's
core curriculum is front-page news in the world's finest newspaper.
standing, with the power of its rich history, I am highly disheartened
that the University has done such a poor job of meeting its recruitment
goals. I contend that this is a marketing problem—a failure to understand
the value of the school's unique identity and harness its power.
Our beloved University offers students an education second to none
in the United States by a world-renowned faculty, in a beautiful
and vibrant city. Above all things in importance is the quality
of the education. Rigor = Quality. It's tough here. Tough, but worth
it. Students are not "trained" at the University of Chicago, they
are "taught." Students enter, thinkers emerge. We all know these
things to be true. But why haven't they been enough to maintain
is not the core curriculum. The problem is that the "value" of a
Chicago education has not been properly marketed and the quality-of-student-life
problem has not been adequately addressed. Life is difficult at
Chicago because rigor comes without adequate support. Only recently
has there been proper focus given to the career placement office,
the student center, and sports/recreation facilities. But what about
the guidance office? What about student government? What about psychological
counseling? Is the amazing city of Chicago and all that it offers
truly available to the University of Chicago student? In a city
of innumerable options, do students feel that their school is helping
them to take full advantage of what the city offers?
It is difficult
to imagine the attractive power of the country's best education,
of the ability to succumb to the life of the mind, knowing that
there is an integral and accessible network of comfort, support,
and activity. Children of alumni are attending in fewer numbers
than at peer institutions because of quality-of-life issues, not
quality-of-education issues. Ask any graduate of the College whether
she or he would trade her or his U of C education for a diploma
from Harvard. Just how many trades do you think would take place?
Our graduates are a skeptical bunch, however, and they depart campus
with fewer shackles than their Ivy counterparts. They do not want
to contribute to a University in decline, but would line up to contribute
to a school on the rise! One that has grappled with its shortcomings,
understood its strengths, and proved it could change and continue
to lead the way. We don't want to hear the University is in danger
of falling apart. We want to hear about what it has done for the
very first time and what it has done right. We want our alma mater
to be continually proactive, rather than reluctantly reactive.
exists that the College will always remain rigorous, regardless
of changes made to the core. Personally, I and many others see no
guarantee of this. Changing the core means tinkering with the brand.
It means risking the reputation. It means, quite possibly, squandering
the University's most valuable asset. This would be shameful.The
only change to the core I fully support is an exchange of required
quarters for study abroad. The value of such study is clearly evident,
and access to such programs is a highly effective quality-of-life
of money is a problem of marketing. There are ample qualified applicants.
They and their parents want the highest-quality education and are
willing to pay for it. They just don't want to feel buried and alone.
They want to be able to experience and learn about life as they
learn about the history of Western civilization.
simply spout off, I hereby volunteer my own time and energy to assist
the University with its marketing efforts and its student-life changes.
I also pledge to invest a great deal more of my hard-earned money
as the College seeks to solve its problems. Finally, I seek the
support of others who feel as I do, who offer skills or resources
the school can use, and who would like to be part of Chicago's history
in a period of ascendancy, rather than a bystander during its time
Thomas K. Franklin,
Thank you so
much for printing my plea in the October/98 Magazine. You
were my last hope, and I'm glad to report that I now have a copy
of the Autumn/75 Magazine in mint condition—and under lock
and key! Since the October issue, I've heard from several gracious
people. Some were willing to make me a copy from their originals.
Others thought they might have a copy and would look around. Then
it turned out they didn't. One wonderful Class of '53 alumna in
Baltimore had saved all the magazines since her graduation and,
incredibly, was willing to part with this one. But I couldn't possibly
have taken it from her.
I was beginning—more
than beginning—to lose hope. Then, a few days ago, there it was!
Just sitting in my mailbox among all the catalogs! It could have
been the Star in the East! Enclosed was a note from Michael Wireman,
AB'65, AM'66, of Parksley, Virginia, saying he was glad I wanted
it, as it was probably destined for the recycle bin. So I don't
even have to feel guilt.
I loved the
Magazine before, but it's now my all-time-favorite periodical.
Mary Jane Kunnath
student-run campus radio station, WHPK, is embarking on a project
tracing the history of the station back to its inception in 1946.
We are looking for historical accounts, anecdotes, photographs,
or anything else that might throw light on the history of student
radio at the University. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive
history of the station that is both helpful to future station members
and interesting in its own right.
We ask that
alumni with any sort of previous involvement at the station contact
us. Please direct your responses to: WHPK, 5706 S. University Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60637. You may also contact us by phone (773/702-8289)
or by e-mail (email@example.com).
We look forward to hearing from you soon!
The WHPK History
To find out
more about WHPK, readers can check out its Web site: students-www.uchicago.edu/orgs/whpk-radio
This is a
plea to Doc Films alumni and audiences: I'm a fourth-year in the
College who is beginning to put together a history of the Documentary
Film Group at the University of Chicago. I would be very interested
in speaking to people who were involved in Doc Films, simply attended
film showings, or could speak to me about the cultural atmosphere
on campus in the 1940s, 1950s, or early 1960s. If you are interested
in sharing your stories and impressions for the sake of posterity,
please contact me at: 773/363-3376 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discmonsters want you
If you played
on the University's Ultimate Frisbee team, known as the Discmonsters
of the Midway, a group of alumni are organizing a reunion team for
the Poultry Days tournament in Versailles, Ohio, June 12 and 13.
If you are a Discmonster alumna or alumnus and are interested in
playing, please contact Liz Schmidt at Liz.Schmidt@mci.com.
Liz A. Schmidt,
invites letters on its contents or on topics related to the University.
Letters must be signed and may be edited. Write: Editor, University
of Chicago Magazine, 1313 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637. E-mail: