Spring 2003 Contents OAM Home Oberlin Online Home
Feature Stories
Money Matters
Family Tree, Oberlin roots
Operation Internship
[cover story] Fury and the Sound
David Rees Gets His (Bleep) On
Around Tappan Square
Alumni Profiles
The Last Word
One More Thing
Inside Oberlin
Staff Box



"A New Day for Science" (Winter 2002-03) made me feel like a man stranded in the desert trying to reach an oasis. The collections of people and equipment in the new Science Center are tantalizing. I worked in the old First Church and in Severance labs when Harry Holmes was chairman of the chemistry department, and I thought [zoology professor] Hope Hibbard was the cat's pajamas. It breaks my heart to be unable to actually see and create chemicals. Organic chemistry was my true love. I can't believe anyone dreaming the impossible about life and science would do less than pound the doors to get into Oberlin's current programs.

Dr. Bruce R. Heinzen '42
Plandome, N.Y.


Oberlin's admission of women and blacks in the 1830s was indeed progressive, but its embrace of affirmative action was regressive. President Nancy Dye ("Inside Oberlin," Winter 2002-03) defends the practice with two arguments. The first is that affirmative action assures diversity, which "in and of itself can enrich the education of every student." While it is true that affirmative action assures diversity, it is also true that we would have a diverse student body without it. Any college with an excellent reputation that welcomes diversity, such as Oberlin, will attract a diverse body of students. But if the mix of students that apply is not politically correct, must we have affirmative action to enforce the "right kind" of diversity? Does diversity enhance the quality of education? Perhaps, but does that mean that schools with less diverse student populations, such as southern black universities, schools that admit only women, or schools with predominantly Jewish students have less to offer? I think not.

President Dye's second argument is that affirmative action helps "redress the still prevalent social and economic inequalities in American life that are rooted in race." Inequality does not imply injustice. The injustice of denying black students admission to college is a thing of the past. Nonetheless, social and economic inequality remains. This will not be corrected by higher education's utopian efforts to be inclusive; it must begin early on in a child's development and will require generations of cultural change within families and communities. When an academically rigorous institution lowers its standards for admission, but raises them again in performance, students are destined to fail. There is the real injustice.

David J. Marwil '70
Lexington, Ky.


Robert Naeye's letter (Winter 2002-03) about my article on the alien-encounter phenomenon contains several distortions and inaccuracies. Accord-ing to Naeye, I "claim" that "aliens are abducting human beings," and I have not provided the physical evidence to prove this. But my expressed concern is not primarily with whether abductions have been taking place in a literal, physical sense. Rather, my article focuses on the larger question of how we are to consider reports of powerful experiences for which the physical evidence is meager and runs counter to the consensus view of what is possible. I do claim that "how we assess the reality of what a person reports in the absence of compelling physical evidence" is important. Naeye rejects intuition and experience as paths to truth and knowledge, leaving us with the impression he believes all human reports must be accompanied by physical evidence to be worthy of scientific consideration.

Naeye suggests that the encounter phenomenon is related to false memories, fantasy proneness, or ideas implanted by people like myself or Budd Hopkins '53. But there is no evidence for any of that. The experiences are "mysterious and real," and tens of thousands of hours of careful clinical work by many investigators have failed to discover a conventional explanation. Naeye relies on the authority of the majority to bolster his argument. But surely he knows how often in history established authority has been wrong when faced with anomalies that do not fit into an established paradigm. Finally, Naeye offers as evidence the fact that his psychiatrist friend has seen "thousands of patients," and none has ever told him an abduction story. But surely he knows that patients will only share matters to which they feel a therapist is open, especially when these profoundly challenge consensus reality.

John Mack '51
Cambridge, Mass.


I salute you for a consistently well-done publication. From Nancy Dye's remarks to thought-provoking articles that address a range of issues to interesting letters to the editor, it's all first-class. Our daughter, Anala, who will graduate this May, was "introduced" to Oberlin by Professor Longsworth when his family hosted us during Orientation Weekend in 1999. Thus I enjoyed the recent article about him as well as the letter to the editor from Lauren Jacobs '00. Having watched the Ohio State-Miami football game, I also thoroughly enjoyed the letter from Talbot Harding '33, who is perhaps "the last person alive who watched Oberlin beat Ohio State in 1921." How timely a letter! OAM always addresses at least one or two topics in every issue that move me in some way--even the recent alien abduction article by Dr. Mack and Robert Naeye's response to it!

John Miller, parent
Honesdale, Pa.


I send warm congratulations to the members of the football team on their three wins/seven losses record in 2002--Oberlin's best season in many years. As an alumna and longtime follower of intercollegiate athletics, I have been excitedly watching football's resurgence under the guidance of Coach Jeff Ramsey. I also recognize President Nancy Dye for her strong support of the football program and intercollegiate athletics in general. As Yeomen football players and other student-athletes continually demonstrate on the playing field and in the classroom, success in sports at the non-scholarship NCAA Division III level truly goes hand-in-hand with academic achievement. Most of all, my thanks to the Oberlin community, which supported the continuation of the football program during its acutely difficult years prior to the arrival of Dye and Ramsey. By saving football, Oberlin avoided the mistake made by another esteemed college near me, Swarthmore, which sadly dropped its struggling program in 2000 after 100 years of play.

Gloria Boylan Lobb '49
Flemington, N.J.


I was disappointed at the un-Oberlin-like politically correct slant of "Restoration Wars" (Fall '02) and annoyed by the misinformation. I refused an invitation by Albert Albano to speak at a restorers' meeting in Florida because I was asked by him not to speak out too harshly--in other words, to "be nice." I am prepared to debate or discuss with the entire Oberlin art family the recent record of disasters in the art world as the result of drastic restorations, starting one by one with Professor Albano and Eric Inglis, or with the entire department and their restoration teachers together.

James Beck '52
New York, N.Y.

James Beck's anti-restoration campaign is nothing more than a relativistic aesthetic fashion, the Cult of the Patina, and it places the world's art treasures at risk. It is the same attitude that says "let Venice sink." I work in the art trade in Central Europe, and restoration decisions weigh just as heavily on the second-rank art market as they do on the world of "priceless" pieces. I have a few comments in response to Beck. 1. There is a difference between restoration and conservation. With regard to the commercial market, restoration can be a procedure that raises a piece from market negligence to a market value that will insure its longevity. 2. The final arbiter of how a piece should look is the creator. In as much as we can know his or her intentions for color, tone, finish, and polish, we should respect those intentions. 3. Most creators (with notable exceptions) desire the greatest possible longevity for their creations, and restorations will be necessary to insure that. 4. Original finishing products, such as varnish and lacquer, which have limited life span, should not be given the same priority as original content products such as paint, wood, and metal. 5. Commercial art pieces (especially industrial art objects like furniture) will see their longevity best insured when their greatest possible market value is achieved, and this is often achieved through restoration.

Jeff Taylor '90
Budapest, Hungary


Your book review of Gayden Wren's delightful book A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan (Winter 2002-03) contained one egregious error. At the 2000 commencement, the production of "Very Truly Yours, Gilbert and Sullivan" by Wren celebrated the 50th anniversary of G&S at Oberlin. Therefore, Gayden '83, whom I consider a friend and colleague, could not have been the founder of Oberlin G&S. In fact, he was the re-founder after a five-year hiatus. Oberlin G&S was essentially founded in 1950 and shepherded for many years by W. Hayden Boyers, the beloved professor of French and G&S aficionado. Many of us will never forget our Oberlin G&S experiences, and some of us are still performing it today.

Jim Cooper '64
Wilton, Conn.

Ed. note: You are correct, of course. Wren should have been identified as co-founder of the revived G&S Players.


Tom Witheridge's letter to the editor (Fall '02) about Norman Care memorizing his students' names after just one class session brought back a memory of Oberlin President William Stevenson. In 1954, one of the first tasks for incoming freshmen was to have their pictures taken for the Wolf Book at Stofan Studios. The Wolf Book, when published, was the initial surveying instrument by which the incoming class was assessed. A few weeks into the semester I saw Oberlin's dignified president strolling across Tappan Square, accompanied by one of his full-sized poodles, Nicholas (or Napoleon, I don't remember which). What I do remember, which characterized Oberlin's care for students at even the highest level, was when I greeted him with a "Good day, President Stevenson!" he replied with "Good day, Franklin!" This amazing man had memorized the faces of the entire incoming class from the Wolf Book, and was able to address everyone by name. Over the year I saw him do this repeatedly. No doubt this was the paradigm for Norman Care.

Franklin Porath '58
Cleveland, Ohio


Professor Thomas Harold Andre LeDuc, whose death was reported in the winter issue, was a wonderful teacher who communicated his love of America's landscape and history so well that I remember all four of his names after more than 50 years. He also cared about his students. When my sophomore-year roommate, Hugh Jenkins, was killed in the Korean War, it was Tom LeDuc who wrote me the sad news while I was in law school. Professor LeDuc remembered that I spent summers in the central Adirondacks, and he knew that country well enough to end his letter by asking me to deliver his respects "to the Raquette and the Cold"--two rivers that flow through the wildest part of the central Adirondacks. Now it is my turn to offer my respects and fond memories of one of Oberlin's finest and most inspiring teachers.

Charles A. Reich '49
San Francisco, Calif.

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