Says 1945 Had Best Team
As a member of the 1945 football team, I would like to correct the statement made in the Summer 1998 issue that Oberlin's 1950 football team had the College's most winning season.
Under the late Coach Lysle K. Butler (the best coach Oberlin ever had), the 1945 football team was untied and undefeated, with a record of 8-0.
I hope the record was not overlooked because the 1945 team was composed of Marines and sailors enrolled in the Navy V-12 Program. I suggest Oberlin reunite the winning football, basketball, and baseball teams of the Navy V-12 era.
ROBERT J. STRAND '48
a "Giant of a Man"
As a sociology major in the early 1950s, I sat next to Eduardo Mondelane in a number of classes. He had charm, a marvelous sense of humor, and a "heart" so big that his turning to humanistic causes and the attempt to save his country was predictable, inevitable. I read the news of Frelimo and Eduardo's leadership avidly and was incredibly affected by his death. I know that he died for a cause that had become his life-but I also know the world lost a giant of a man.
MORESON KAPLAN '54
Middle of the Road
President Dye's farewell address to the class of 1998 should inspire us all. One small phrase, however, reminds me of a common misapprehension I shared when growing up in Oberlin 60 or 70 years ago-that this town is "in the middle of America." Even when riding my bike to Vermilion or reading about "rum runners" crossing the lake from Canada, it never occurred to me that I was on the far northern edge of the country. Unless you think of America as extending only from east to west, Oberlin is no more in the middle than San Jose, and rather less than Poughkeepsie. Certainly in the days of abolitionist Oberlin, Southerners didn't think of it as anywhere near the middle! To be sure, President Dye does set Oberlin on the edge-the leading edge-not the middle of the road.
ROWLAND BERTHOFF '42
St. Louis, Missouri
Please Watch Out
for the Loners
Judy Chaves' article in the Summer 1998 issue rang bells for me. I benefited without measure from my Oberlin experience, but, I, too, never took full advantage of Oberlin's human resources-wise, interesting, and enthusiastic professors and administrators-for many of the reasons she mentions. I felt young and somehow not worthy of their time. Although I spoke up and did well in class, I never figured out how to go beyond that interaction. I, too, wandered the streets of Oberlin wishing for an "in", and hoping for an adult to talk to. I still regret not having formed the close relationships that many of my friends had with professors. During my first year, my dad was sick with cancer. He died that summer, and in my sophomore year I dealt with the loss alone and isolated. I knew that resources existed that could reach out.
Students may have less access to adults than ever before now that most dorms have only student staff-well-trained-but peers nonetheless; house parents are no more. Students who are shy, depressed, or simply need the "second invitation" that Ms. Chaves mentions may fall through the cracks as I did. I urge faculty and administration to be on the lookout for these young people. Open the doors for them just a bit wider and teach them how to walk through. Please don't assume that because they seem self-sufficient that they don't need a good adult friend on campus. Learning how to make these connections-that's one lesson from Oberlin that I really could have used.
ELLEN HERTZMAN '85
On Taking Tarts
When Tarts Are Passed
I thought I was the only person at Oberlin who was terrified of the professors! Like Judy Chaves (Summer 1998), I could have used someone whose interest was expressed by coaxing and a willingness to reach beyond my shyness. Could it be we needed parents, not professors? I have such regrets about my aca-demic performance at Oberlin that I've been almost ashamed to call myself an alum. (I did graduate, but I did not excel.) It helps to know there are other people who didn't take full advantage. Probably we were learning other important things-not everyone is ready for college when college arrives. I did fine in graduate school, ending up in urban planning, and am now at home; my youngest is just going off to kindergarten. Chaves' piece will help me truly forgive myself for botching Oberlin, and will remind me to teach my kids not to bolt when an adult offers coaching.
ROSEMARY WOODRUFF '71
Shaker Heights, Ohio
A Reminder of
Roads Not Taken
Regarding Judy Chaves' essay in the Summer 1998 issue, I too find that I value the non-academic aspects of my experience at Oberlin as much or more than the academic. But for years I felt somehow that I "did college wrong" even though I had a great time and learned in so many different ways. I took greater advantage of the dynamic, fascinating students around me than I did the professors. Nonetheless, memories of Oberlin always bring the irksome reminder of roads not taken, courage not summoned to talk with professors, disciplines left unexplored.
Judy's short essay on the totality of the Oberlin experience, things academic, things done and left undone shifted the way I will think about those years. I am not alone in feeling that I did not take full advantage of the resources there. The fact that your piece was printed in an official Oberlin publication hints that if, indeed, I didn't "do" Oberlin completely right, then such a failure may not be a completely personal one. Thank you for your fresh perspective.
JENNIFER COGLEY '90
Shocked by Chaves
I was shocked at the article by Judy Chaves. I would have been delighted beyond words if a professor had written "come talk to me" on something I handed in. I would have been on the doorstep asking for an appointment. Instead of wandering around looking at Victorian houses, she should have taken advantage of the personal attention offered her. Not everyone is so lucky. She says that professors should be more aware of a freshman's delicate psyche. What delicate psyche is she talking about? In another year she would have been considered an adult able to vote, drive, etc. I just hope her daughter takes better advantage of her Oberlin education.
BARBARA AMBLER '48
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Holiday Cards and Reunions
Help Close the Gap
Ronnie Cox is right about classmates losing touch with each other (Summer 1998). But he does not mention that it takes two to tango. Keeping in touch over long distances and long periods of time requires not only time and energy for writing letters (or faxes or e-mail), making phone calls, and travelling and visiting, but also a mutual desire to maintain contact and friendship. Since people's lives change so dramatically over time, interests and priorities shift. I have met many wonderful people and would like to keep up with every single one of them, but it just isn't possible. I have to chooseŠmake decisions. Holiday cards were created, in my view, expressly for letting people I care about know that I haven't forgotten them. As for Oberlin friends, attending reunions is a fantastic way to see people again. What I find amazing is connecting with people I may have known only superficially at school and forging new friendships. Reunions also provide priceless time with former teachers. By the way, my e-mail address is RuskinC@aol.com
RUSKIN COOPER '79
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Oberlin Should Use
Auto Industry as Model
We recently read in USA Today that the cost of attending Oberlin for one year has passed $29,000. In 1967, the total cost per student was $2,773. This represents a three-decade increase of more than 1,000 percent. During the same period, inflation ran about half of that. We also understand the college's standards have been watered down by grade inflation. In other words, the price has gone up and up, while the quality has slipped.
The Alumni Magazine has reported that the College has had a tough time attracting students in recent years. Could this be a direct result of rising prices and declining quality?
Grade inflation certainly isn't limited to Oberlin. Nor are skyrocketing prices for tuition, room, and board. We realize that many of the factors which have contributed to rising prices are necessary, including big investments in computers and a long-needed expansion of women's athletic programs. Nonetheless, continued price hikes that far exceed the rise in family income will ultimately price the College out of existence.
We suggest the College administration take a page from America's automobile industry: Reengineer the product to bring down the costs while simultaneously raising the quality. To do this, we suggest the administration:
- Dust off the budgets from around 1970. Next, compare those budgets with the current budget, identifying everything that has been added that has raised costs over inflation.
- Examine the utility and need for these additional expenses and determine if they can be done with less expense.
- Determine if streamlined procedures and increased efficiency can lower administrative and management costs.
- Either raise funds to endow the new programs or merge and possibly eliminate weak or rarely used programs to substantially cut costs. Use the savings to bring down the price tag.
- Revise the criteria for faculty tenure and promotion to discourage, rather than reward, grade inflation. The cost to do this is nothing.
Do these things and you won't have to worry about attracting students. Instead, you'll have to worry about turning them away.
DOUG MCINNIS '70
ROBERT BURKO '78
ROGER SAUTERER '79
Jacksonville State University, Alabama
ROBERT NAEYE '85
Holdeman Rescued Alum During Bad Time
W. Dean Holdeman assisted me to leave in comfort from Oberlin back in 1957, during a summer that dried up my luck in the United States of America, breaking up my dreams, studies, scholarship, my official position at the General Consulate of Guatemala in New York, and all those things that can change one's destiny all together. Mr. Holdeman acted as a god-father to me. When I saw the dreadful news of his death, I was positively shocked. He must be up in heaven.
That is my wish.
JOAQUIN MARROQUIN '59
Upset by Grads' Commencement Attire
In reading the Summer issue of the Alumni Magazine, I felt that there was a desecration of the whole institution by the behavior and dress of some of the graduating students who had to act out their sophomoric ideas. This grates on my senses.
I am a 1937 graduate of Oberlin. My twin sister and I were amazed and lucky to be there at all. Family suggested we apply for financial aid and we each received full scholarships. At Elmwood, a co-op dorm, we worked for our room and board. We loved everything about the college and were so happy we didn't realize how poor we were. (The dime for a sandwich we once bought downtown was a true luxury.)
We had the benefit of Frank Shaw's excellent teaching in piano and Arthur Heacox's instruction in string bass and have both worked in music for years. We feel a tremendous debt of gratitude to Oberlin and the fine people who founded it, worked hard to maintain it, and now nurture it.
I suggest students with such an attitude be offered their diploma in an office and not included in the formal ceremonies, and not trash an occasion which is meaningful, joyous, and worthy of respect. There is a difference between a milestone in one's life and a juvenile symbolic rebellion.
MARY ELIZABETH BORROFF
"It Ain't About That ..."
In response to Dr. Stephen Eigles' "Medicine in China and the U.S." in the Spring 1998 issue: 20 years have passed since I sat in Professor Wendell Logan's Conservatory office for a lesson in writing jazz arrangements. I still remember the distressed look on his face when I questioned using a harmony pattern which violated classical music theory. I found out "it ain't about that..."
To a kid from the lower East Side of New York City, Oberlin was more than an incredible world of opportunity and excitement. There was an unspoken agreement upon which all learning seemed to be resting-that we be willing to give each other credibility to protect a fragile freedom and to try out new ideas on each other. When I left Oberlin, the absence of that precious tolerance hit me like a sledgehammer. I persisted in committing myself to the ideas I loved, no matter how hard I felt hammered by the world in general, and entered into a financially hopeless but philosophically rewarding practice as doctor of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). What I've loved about TCM is the way it flows from the life experience and emotional vitality of people the way musical passion flows from the hands and heart of a jazz musician. The theories behind TCM emerged in the way artistic principles emerge, in a way that is entirely different and beautifully complementary to conventional medical practice.
As a second-year medical student, I can see why some physicians trained in the conventional scientifically-based schools look with bewilderment (and disdain) upon the empiricists who precede them by five or six millennia. I am certainly no stranger to people who view TCM as mere "pseudo-science." TCM was never meant to be a science, just as a jazz musician playing his heart out was never meant to render Mozart. I love jazz and I love Mozart, and I respect Dr. Eigles. Since we are both Obies and therefore share an extraordinary and important intellectual heritage, I felt an impulse to respectfully express my opinion, that Western medicine is superb in many clinical applications, and TCM is superb in many others. But when it comes to evaluating the value of TCM in terms of how it measures up scientifically, well-in my opinion-"it ain't about that!"
JONATHAN COTTER '80
Sint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles
Nurse Practitioners Bridge Unmet Needs
In response to Stephen Eigles' final comments in "Observations from an American Medical Student," I would like to defend the record of nurse practitioners as primary health care providers. Since arriving on the health care scene in the late 1960s, nurse practitioners have provided cost effective, competent primary care, most frequently to populations (rural and urban) that have inadequate access to health care. Studies have indicated health care consumers have been equally satisfied by health care provided by nurse practitioners in comparison to physicians.
Although providing some of the most technologically advanced health care in the world, our country is still failing to meet the basic health care needs of many of our citizens. Non-physician health care providers will continue to be the only solution to helping bridge the gap of unmet health care needs for many of the world's citizens. Imposing our standard of care on developing countries is unrealistic.
A collaboration between physicians and non-physician providers should be a continuing model for delivery of health care worldwide.
CHRISTINE SCHMITTHENNER '76