Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Fall 2006 Vol. 102 No. 2 OAM Home | Oberlin Online

Alumni Notes

Web Extra

Just like My Mom, Dad

The Alumni Association’s annual legacy luncheon in August looked like a convention! That’s because a record number of relatives and alumni packed the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, enthusiastically welcoming their daughters and sons into the Oberlin fold.

The 42 legacies that make up the Class of 2010 join the ranks of the 40 legacies that were accepted to the College last year, and the 39 legacies that were accepted the year before.

This year, those filling the shoes of their parents, while making tracks of their own include:

Genevieve Apfel (Robert C. Apfel ’74); Jason Bedwinek (Dr. John M. Bedwinek ’67); Maia Brown (Dr. Douglas N. Brown ’70); Alexandra Casanave (Naomi E. Nemtzow ’71); Emma Dorst (John Dorst and Holly Combes Dorst, both ’74); Peter Edmondson (Sue Niederhauser Edmondson ’73); Judith Feingold (Dr. Nancy J. Tittler ’74); Benjamin Foster (Dr. David L. Foster ’68); Michael Fry (William L. Fry ’66 and Joanne Shapiro Fry ’69); Shira Gluck (Sarah Rabinowitz Gluck ’78); Benjamin Godlove (Dr. Terry F. Godlove ’77 and Gail P. Rubin ’77); Jordan Gottdank (Nancy E. Hebert ’78); Margot Hanley (Mignone Donohoe ’81); Luke Herrine (Dr. Steven K. Herrine ’82 and Dr. Gail Herman Herrine ’83); Alex Jacobs (Dr. Donn R. Jacobs ’72); Marissa Kamarck (Melissa Stebbins Mundell ’74); Margaret Kent (Dr. Richard K. Kent ’75); Alexander Klare-Ayvazian (Andrea J. Ayvazian ’73); Michelle Lawrence (Dr. Barbara Steinberg Lawrence ’72); David Leibovic (Juliani M. Sidharta ’80); Joanna Lemle (Robert S. Lemle ’75 and Roni S. Kohen-Lemle ’76); Sarah Mundell (Melissa Stebbins Mundell ’74); Nicholas Novak (Dr. Thomas P. Novak ’77); Matthew Orenstein (John B. Orenstein ’79); Rebecca Page (Norman B. Page ’73); Cody Perkins (William C. Perkins ’76 and Janet M. McClintock ’79); David Petrick (Richard L. Petrick ’72 and Susan Williams Petrick ’73); Ma´ Ayan Plaut (Yehudah H. Plaut ’71); Maneka Puligandla (Dr. Balaram Puligandla ’76 and Linda S. Okahara ’78); Fiona-Rose Purdon (Rebecca J. Rose ’77); Jacob Rathjens (Peter L. Rathjens ’81 and Hillary Bakst Rathjens ’82); Theodore Reuter (Janet E. Heininger ’74); Clara Shaw (Dr. Frank H. Shaw ’76 and Dr. Ruth Geyer Shaw ’75); Samuel Slowinski (Dr. Walter D. Slowinski ’78 and Dr. Susan Sutphen Slowinski ’77); Ana Summergrad (Mary Grace Miner Summergrad ’75); Adrea Thurston-Shaine (Dr. Benjamin A. Shaine ’69); Alex Totoiu (Richard M. Totoiu ’72); Caroline Walsh (Mark T. Walsh ’77); Patrick Willems (Henry T. Willems ’76); Rebecca Witheridge (Thomas F. Witheridge ’69); Rachel Wyman (Dr. Walter E. Wyman ’68 and Sara Matheson Wyman ’68); and Alexandra Zeitz-Moskin (Jonathan E. Moskin ’79 and Lisa B . Zeitz ’80).

Where are they now?
“Hurry-Up Schooling” for Ford Scholars

In the fall of 1951, Oberlin became part of an unusual experiment meant to challenge a basic assumption of American education: That a student had to be 18 and a high school graduate to be emotionally and academically ready for college. In what became known as the Early Admission Experiment, 420 high school students were given scholarships, funded by the Ford Foundation, to enroll at one of 11 colleges, Oberlin included. OAM was able to locate several of these Ford Scholar alumni (we were struck by the preponderance of PhDs and MDs) and found that their experiences on campus were vast and varied.

Beatrice “BeeBe” Botty Freitas ’58 came to Oberlin at age 16 and majored in music, later earning a master’s degree at Boston University and studying at Juilliard. A mother of two, she lives in Honolulu, where she is the associate director of Hawaii Opera Theater, a keyboard specialist for the Honolulu Symphony, and a faculty member at the University of Hawaii. “I feel so fortunate to have had the Ford scholarship,” says Freitas, who has worked with musicians such as Leonard Bernstein and Yo Yo Ma. “It changed my life completely, as did Oberlin.”

Cynthia Finch Powers ’58, a freshman at age 15, majored in zoology. “We weren’t identified as Ford scholars to classmates or faculty members, but most of us found each other within a few months.” Following training at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital, Powers began a 31-year career as a registered medical technologist, retiring from Lutheran Hospital Labora-tory in Fort Wayne, Ind. A mother of two children, including Daniel Powers ’82, she volunteers as a trail guide in Fox Island County Park.

Rev. Jo Anne Steinheimer Wright ’55, who arrived at Oberlin at age 16, says, “Sometimes I think I might have been a more adventuresome scholar had I been older.” Still, this English major remembers many experiences fondly, including being chosen as junior counselor. Married with four children, Wright taught a Head Start program and spent five years as a reference librarian. In 1987, she earned a master’s degree in divinity and served as a rector for 17 years, retiring in 2005. She lives in Vinita, Okla.

Dr. Manfred Wenner ’56, a government major at age 15, later earned a doctorate at Johns Hopkins University, taught political science at several universities, and wrote the first academic volume on Yemen. He has two sons and lives in Prescott, Ariz. “I would not recommend my experience with early admission,” he says thoughtfully. “Not because of an inability to handle the intellectual challenge, but because of a lack of social maturity at such a young age.”

Dr. Richard S. Makman ’56, who arrived at Oberlin at 16, says he initially felt young, naïve, and academically poorly prepared, but developed more confidence by his junior year. He majored in pre-med and developed a love of music at Oberlin, later earning a medical degree at Case Western Reserve University and practicing psychiatry for more than 40 years. Makman and his wife have two sons, including David Makman ’87; they divide their time between Montana and the San Francisco Bay area.

Dr. David Ailion ’56 tried to hide his age (15) at first, but says that most students soon became aware that he was a Ford student. A physics major at Oberlin, he later earned a PhD and has taught at the University of Utah since 1964. His research in nuclear magnetic resonance resulted in his being among the first to successfully perform MRI on the lung. Ailion studied with Nobel Prize winner Max Delbruck and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. A soccer player at Oberlin, he continued to play top-level amateur soccer in Utah, where he is the state’s oldest active soccer referee. He and his wife have two children and live in Salt Lake City. “I might have enjoyed college more had I been older and more mature,” he says. “However, I certainly benefited significantly from the Oberlin experience.”

Dr. Paul Morton ’55 entered Oberlin at 16, majoring in chemistry and pre-med. With an MD from the Ohio State University College of Medicine, he practiced internal medicine in Columbus for 38 years and served as a consultant with the Social Security Bureau of Disability Determination for the past five years. A father of two, he and his wife of 47 years live in Upper Arlington. “Many professors bridged the gap for me. By my second year at Oberlin I was on par with my classmates—and two years ahead of most of my peers for the rest of my life.”

At age 14, Dr. Zebulon Taintor ’58 was among the youngest students in the Early Admission program. He, too, majored in pre-med and recalls a “very positive” Oberlin experience, noting that one of his three children also started college a year early. Taintor holds a medical degree with specialty training in psychiatry and lives in New York.

Dr. Ernest B. Hook ’56, was 16 when he came to Oberlin; unlike other Ford scholars, he had graduated from high school. Hook earned a master’s degree in math and a medical degree before beginning a career in pediatrics and medical genetics. “I think I was too young when I started college,” he admits, “and so I did not benefit from the academic and social exposures.” Hook and his wife live in Marin County, Calif.

Lois Weinstein Morse ’55 spent two years at Oberlin, arriving at age 16, before transferring to Boston University’s College of Communication. She worked in public relations and sales promotions before earning a law degree at Suffolk University in 1972. Morse practiced general and corporate law and was elected officer and president of the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers. She and her husband split their time between Florida and Cape Cod.

Are you a Ford Scholar? Send a note to alum.mag@oberlin.edu.

ObieADVENTURE: The Orcas Ate My Baby!

(Adventures of Obies in San Juan Island, Washington)

On the first weekend of August 2006, 44 alumni, family, and friends from all across the country met at the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washingon, to begin an adventurous three-day “eagles and Orcas” kayak trip. The trip was led by groovy ObieAdventurer Paul Wolansky and faculty lecturer Dr. Jan Thornton, who welcomed this group of Yeopeople to the 114-year-old building that houses the fascinating museum and research center. After listening to museum director Rich Osborne’s passionate talk about the Salish Sea Orcas, we were all excited to get on the water.

From the start, it was clear this would be no simple pelagic “three-hour tour,” as we would have to paddle through the open waters of the Haro Strait to reach our campsite. However, a complete and thorough orientation, an emphasis on safety, and a group of exceptional guides provided by Outdoor Odysseys ensured that there would be no vagaries to foul up this trip.

The trip began with the sighting of Orcas on the way to the launch site in San Juan County Park, which served to further motivate us to complete packing our kayaks, get our sandals wet, and begin paddling. In a display of genius, Paul christened our two groups i-pods (later iso-pods) and peapods. Admittedly, some of us were a bit confused about how to steer and guide our kayaks at first, and when we got well offshore, some thought “we’re scared too!” However, as the pods got into a rhythm, more and more of us could say we were game for the challenge. So with steady, and at times intense paddling, we made for Stuart Island. The conditions could not have been better: warm, but not too hot, calm water, cool breeze, and spectacular views of islands, inlets, and snow-capped mountains. We saw numerous birds, including an occasional bald eagle, sitting sentry-like atop a tall tree. Early on we passed a seal or two cavorting off shore. Stops at the bull kelp bed not only served as respites from the strenuous paddling, but also allowed the guides opportunity to talk to us about this spectacular area.

The two campsites on Stuart Island are situated at the end of a mile-long harbor and consist of a few tables, a water spigot, and a pit toilet. After a day of achy labor, sweat-soaked bandanas, sore bottoms, and sandy feet, each of us was eager to repair to these accommodations. Hungry? Yes, a Gibson’s whole-wheat donut would have been great! Thankfully, our intrepid and tireless guides came prepared to serve us not merely good food, but top-flight camp cuisine! Our meals featured wines, cheeses, fresh fruits, great salads, chocolates, and, of course, salmon.

A small group, while on a hike to a lighthouse, saw a pod of Orcas swimming beneath Lover’s Leap. Their glistening, powerful, black and white bodies flowed by with mesmerizing grace and beauty. The rhythmic breath sounds were audible and equally captivating as they passed below. This was so awe-inspiring that we stayed on the point staring after them long after they had passed.

The near absolute lack of contact with the regular world made this journey even more relaxing and satisfying. Among the most enjoyable and memorable parts of the whole weekend was the time spent getting to know each other. The camaraderie was wonderful despite us being a smelly, dirty group and having to tolerate loud sleeping sounds each night on Stuart Island. We were entertained not only by stories and reminiscences of Oberlin and Ohio, humor and wit, but also by accordion music and Sasha by members of the Sauer family. Adding further variety, the iso-pods adopted an English accent for extended periods (dubbed “Anglolalia”). One of the most engaging activities was a word game introduced by the guides in which each of us submitted one word or phrase related to our trip and group. In an exciting, dramatic, and spirited three-round game with elements of charades and the $64,000 Question, we attempted to identify all of these words and phrases. It was indeed a challenge to give clues to words like “noncomplicity.”

Back on San Juan Island, amidst the bustle and organized chaos of disembarking, we said goodbye to our new friends. As our final group activity, we formed one large Oberlin circle and each expressed our thoughts and feelings about this trip in a single word. We look forward to visiting the trip website and viewing the photos that will remind us of this wonderful time together.

{The words in color were those used in the word game.}


Alumni Readers Respond to “Hurry Up Schooling” for Ford Scholars

Barbara Seaman ’55/’56 writes:

Seven of the Fords that weren’t mentioned in your story were former Oberlin president Robert Fuller, Barry Goldensohn, Robert Rotberg, Henry Glover, Oberlin Trustee Roberta Manaker, Eleanore Eisen Lurie, and me. Besides my BA, I also received an honorary doctorate from Oberlin in 1978.

A few years ago I contacted the Ford Foundation to ask what outcomes they had. They insisted that the Early Admissions Program I described had never existed.

In 1951, Oberlin Admissions Director Robert Jackson came to New York to interview candidates. I was 15, but due to graduate the following January. I had been selected as the “first alternate”—if any one of the 25 or so selected was to drop out over the summer, they would admit me. Mr. Jackson thought it very likely that someone would change his or her mind, and he asked me to prepare to come to Oberlin on short notice. However, all of the chosen candidates entered that September, the month I turned 16.

But then, one Ford baby freshman dropped out. Mr. Jackson told me I could enter mid-term. And so I arrived in Oberlin sometime in late January or early February. I came by train from Penn Station to Elyria. I lived at Tank Hall my freshman year, then at Maison Francais and Keep Cottage.

At one point Mr. Jackson explained why I had been designated first alternate. While I had done well on the tests we all had to take, I wasn’t quite in the top percentiles. However, part of the exam was to put together an essay that had been scrambled. No one had ever gotten 100 percent, and no one was expected to. For me, however, it was a piece of cake. I rearranged the sentences very quickly, and was the only known person who had gotten it completely correct. And while that fascinated some on the selection committees, others thought, “so what?” The compromise, Mr. Jackson told me, was that I would get the first alternate spot.

Now, 55 years later, I still have no idea as to what strange characteristic of my brain permitted me to join the Ford babies.

As for my further education, in 1967 I won a Sloan-Rockefeller Science Writing Fellowship at the Columbia University School of Journalism. I hold a certificate in Advanced Science Writing. Two of my three children attended Oberlin: Noah Seaman ’79 and Shira Seaman ’83.

Danny Kleinman ’57 writes:

I read the article with interest, but I noticed some significant omissions of Ford Scholars I remember fondly. One is Barry Goldensohn ’57, who has had a distinguished career as a poet, critic, and professor of English. Another is Bobby Fuller ’56, whose career included a stint as president of Oberlin. A third was Sheridan Speeth ’57, whose many talents included hypnosis.

I remember vividly one evening some 52 years ago when Bobby and Sherry were both in my presence. Bobby was a classmate of mine in Professor Robert Stoll’s Basic Concepts of Mathematics class. One day late in the term, Professor Stoll handed out a sheet with six problems: theorems for us to prove. He instructed us to solve the problems in any way we could, including looking up the proofs in any math book that might contain them. Then we were to memorize our solutions and take the test in class—without, however, bringing any notes.

About 9:00 on the eve of the exam, I was in my room studying for another course when somebody knocked on my door. It was Bobby Fuller, a junior, one of the two stars in the class (the other being Giulio Fermi—the son of the Fermi). Bobby asked to see my solution to a particular problem on the exam.

“We’ve solved all the other problems,” said Bobby, “but we don’t know where to begin on #5.” Apparently he was speaking for a group of students. Problem #5 was not easy at all. As I tried to solve it, other classmates knocked on my door. Soon we adjourned to a large lounge. I sat at a table trying first one approach, then another, while a throng of my classmates handed me more sheets of scrap paper, sharpened pencils, and uttered words of encouragement: “We know you can do it, Danny!”

As the evening progressed (while I did not), somebody made the first constructive suggestion: “Let’s get Sherry!” Sherry was Sheridan Speeth, a very bright 17-year old sophomore who was majoring in psychology and had acquired a reputation as an accomplished hypnotist. Sherry did his thing, and I cooperated. Though I didn’t feel any different, Sherry told me that I was now hypnotized and would be able to solve problem #5. He hung around as I consumed more scrap paper and wore down more pencil points. Midnight came and went, and so did most of the other boys. Eventually, I grew sleepy and went to bed.

“That’s all right,” said Sherry. “While you sleep, your subconscious mind will be working on the problem, and you’ll wake up with the solution.”

The next morning, I woke up to my alarm clock set at the usual time. My groggy head was racing with a new approach to problem #5. I wrote down the steps of a proof and almost succeeded. Only a Lemma was missing, a small auxiliary proof that would supply the last link between what I had already proven and the theorem itself. After breakfast, I took my incomplete proof to the wing of Federal Hall where Bobby Fuller lived, and knocked on his door.

Bobby had an extensive math library. He knew in which book the Lemma might be found, and turned to it promptly. There it was—stated only as a conjecture, however. A footnote stated that the Lemma had been proven for certain small values of n (2 and 3, if I remember correctly), but that attempts to prove it for higher values of n had failed. However, so many attempts to find counterexamples had failed that the Lemma was widely thought to be true, but improvable.

I experienced Bobby also as a lab assistant in an elementary physics course, where I was favorably impressed by his helpfulness, as well as his knowledge of physics. Alas, Sheridan Speeth is no longer with us, having died in his 30s.

R. Bruce King ’57 writes:

I was a Ford Scholar who entered Oberlin in September 1953 at the age of 15.

I spent summers after my freshman and sophomore years at Oberlin studying German and Russian at Colby College in Maine (where I also met my wife, now of more that 46 years), so I completed my graduation requirements at Oberlin in 3 1/2 years as a chemistry major. I completed a PhD in inorganic chemistry at Harvard in essentially three years, taking off my first summer months at Harvard for a grand tour of Europe. My doctoral thesis covered several topics in transition metal organometallic chemistry, and my work at Harvard led to 23 scientific publications.

After leaving Harvard I spent one year at du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware, and then 4 1/2 years at the Mellon Institute (later Carnegie-Mellon University) before joining the University of Georgia in 1966 as a research associate professor. I was promoted to research professor in 1968 at the age of 30 and became a Regents’ Professor five years later.

I “retired” last January from my Regents’ Professorship after 40 years of service at the University of Georgia. I remain heavily involved in various research projects in computational inorganic chemistry, including collaborations with laboratories in Romania and China, where I now hold adjunct professorships. My scientific publications include about 650 journal articles and 20 authored or edited books. I also participated in a number of editorial projects, including 17 years as American Regional Editor of the Journal of Organometallic Chemistry and served as editor-in-chief for two editions of the Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry.

In 1960 I married the former Jane Hermine Kempner, whom I met my first summer at Colby College. Our two sons are both Oberlin graduates: Robert King ’84 and David King ’88. David married an Oberlin graduate, Amy Carol Martellock ’87. They have two children.

One of the things I remember about Oberlin was playing a lot of contract bridge. Since I took my meals at foreign language houses, many of the bridge games were played in French or German. Jane and I have taken bridge more seriously since the 1990s and attend several tournaments each year; we are both now Bronze Life Masters.

One of the themes of your article was the effect of entering college at such a relatively young age. In my case the transition was facilitated by a relatively easy academic schedule my freshman year. I took four courses my freshman year, namely English, French, chemistry, and music theory. For me at that time English was the only non-trivial course (in fact rather challenging since I only had two years of somewhat mediocre high school English as preparation). The other courses were trivial for me since I had taken private French lessons from a French woman during my final year of high school, I had already been reading chemistry books and doing chemistry in the basement since the age of 10, and I had been composing music since the age of 5.

Jane and I are looking forward to attending my 50th reunion in May.

(Note from the editor: This next letter to the editor was not sent in response to the Ford Scholars article. Carol’s reflections, however, are related to this topic.)

Carol Richardson Holt ’56 writes:

Retirement and 50th reunions have prompted me to reflect on the excellent liberal arts education I got at Oberlin (and Barnard), and education that laid down a lifetime’s interests and knowledge.

Certain Oberlin professors stand out:

Francis X. Roellinger (English composition), who assigned John Stuart Mill’s On a Liberal Education early on as an example of the kind of essay he expected of us.

Sheldon Wolin ’44 (American government), who left Berkeley rather than sign a loyalty oath, and was a role model for living by one’s principles. I switched majors immediately and finished the semester with a lifelong, but discerning, reverence for our embattled constitution.

J.D. Lewis (American government), who did not know I was a Ford Scholar and barely 17 years old when he asked my mother’s permission for me to go to Washington, D.C. as —dare I say it?—an intern. She refused. When he told me afterwards of their conversation, I was indignant. Now, as a mother myself, I realize she was right.

Professor Johnson’s one-semester course, Modern Art History, was the gift that keeps on giving. During my Fulbright year, and a subsequent three-month trip with my former husband after he finished law school, I was thrilled to see the works we had studied. Her emphasis on composition in Japanese prints and their influence on French painters influenced my own work later as a photographer.

Comparative Religion, a one-semester course at the Theological Seminary, has also had lifetime benefits. I couldn’t keep the Shiites and the Sunnis straight then. This tragic war has made their differences all too clear. A fascinating course, it contributed to my understanding of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures.

Professor McGill’s medieval history course was an exciting voyage of discovery that made me an informed visitor of the places he had talked about. Now, in retirement, I read about Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Caliphate, the Crusades and my Viking ancestors and can still recall early milestones in the evolution of English political institutions.

Professor Kennick’s History of Philosophy was a one-year course I was sorry to leave when I transferred. Could anyone else have made Plato and Aristotle so clear and stimulating?

I went to Oberlin from New York a jazz lover. Being a charter member of the Oberlin Jazz Club was pure pleasure. Thank you, Jerry.