IMAGE:  October 2004
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GRAPHIC:  Also in every issueEditor's notes
Tied to detail

Now it’s getting personal.
In recent weeks I’ve found myself having more and more Blum moments. That’s Blum as in Walter J. Blum, AB’39, JD’41. Blum, who was the first Edward H. Levi distinguished service professor in the Law School and who died in December 1994, was an expert on taxes, insurance, bankruptcy, and corporate reorganization; a collector and wearer of flamboyant ties (a small sampling of which appears at right); and someone who took an extremely personal interest in all the workings of the University.

image:  editor's notes
Walter Blum’s legacy: beyond ties.

His morning walks across campus regularly ended with a phone call to a dean, an administrator, or the University president, pointing out something he’d observed that needed fixing, and the sooner the better. What made the calls more endearing than infuriating—even when you were responsible for the thing that needed fixing—was the impetus behind the complaint: his affection for his alma mater.

I haven’t yet made any matutinal phone calls to deans or deanlets, let alone President Randel, but I have started taking Blum’s law into my own hands. I’m the woman pausing to pull dandelions and errant shoots of crabgrass from the newly sodded lawns in front of the Chicago GSB Hyde Park Center (see “Prairie Gothic”). Or stopping to pick up bits of trash that the grounds crew hasn’t yet reached. Or inspecting with satisfaction the new landscaping by the Reynolds Club bus stop, a low masonry wall designed to provide seating for waitees and eliminate the mud paddies that appear after every rain.

Is this the first sign of an obsessive-compulsive disorder fixated on the physical condition of the quads? It could be, but I like to think that it’s the natural consequence of being at a place long enough to take a personal as well as professional interest in the range of details that contribute to the enterprise. I know that I’ll never fill Blum’s shoes—to say nothing of wearing his ties—but I am happy to know that I’ll continue to stop and weed the campus roses.

Alumni at work
Peer review is a process that many of our readers regularly undergo. With this issue “Peer Review” is also the new name for what the Magazine’s editors know as “the back of the book,” the 20-plus pages devoted to alumni news and accomplishments. In revamping the class news we had several objectives, but the most pressing concerned alumni books.

Chicago graduates overwhelmingly prefer publishing to perishing, and for the past 25 years we have produced pages and pages of book notices. We do our best to keep pace—while not shortchanging other news—but in recent years there has been a lag of at least four months between our receipt of a book notice and the day that notice appears in print. The time gap occurs even though notices are regularly tightened—or, as one author bluntly put it, “crushed”—into a straitjacketed formula.

So we’ve abandoned our effort to print notices of every book we receive. Instead we have gone online ( with a new department, updated weekly: “In Their Own Words” lets authors describe their latest work(s) at more length and provide links to the publisher’s Web site for additional information. We’ll continue to offer a sampling of alumni books in an expanded “On the Shelf” department, part of our new “Arts & Letters” section, designed to showcase a range of creative activities—from photography to cinematography to painting to music.

We have also marked the start of our 97th year with a few other changes, details that we hope will make it easier for you to navigate through the Magazine’s pages. As always, we hope you’ll let us know what you think.—M.R.Y.


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