By The Editors / November / December 1998
November 22nd, 2007

Anne Hinman Diffily '73 wrapped up her BAM editorship splendidly with the July/August issue. Besides good reporting of news from Brown, the issue contains much of intellectual interest and value.

Particularly outstanding is the inaugural statement by President E. Gordon Gee of his dedication to Brown University and to high principles of teaching and scholarship ("The New University"). It is a bold and stirring declaration, impressive for its perception of fundamental values not often explicitly recognized. I was especially pleased that he drew a distinction between training students for careers and educating them for life - that is, for creative, informed thought.

Joseph F. Bunnett '59 A.M. (ad eundem)
Santa Cruz, Calif.

Since my decision to resign from the Brown faculty in 1966, I have watched with satisfaction the University's continuing development of strength in its own style. Brown is unusual among American institutions of higher education. It serves the interests not only of its own students and scholars, but of American society in general, by demonstrating the value of practices that others were too dense to conceive or too timid to undertake.

The article adapted from President E. Gordon Gee's inaugural remarks incorporates several quotes from former President Henry Merritt Wriston.

Unfortunately, by apparently taking at least one of these quotes out of context, the speechwriter has used President Wriston's words to validate a particular set of views on contemporary education. The quote on page 33 that begins, "I have often thought that no student can walk the paths of the College Green for four years..." has a very different meaning when the entire paragraph is included. The remainder of President Wriston's paragraph stated:

"Brown has a certain type of conservatism. Almost unconsciously, it has gained enough self-confidence so that it has not followed every fad that appeared across the educational scene. The imitativeness of institutions has been the undoing of many. While sometimes we have missed the boat by not seizing imaginatively upon new ideas, we have let a lot of leaky boats go down without being passengers in them."

I hope the institutional memory in the minds of some Brown alumni will at least illuminate future attempts to manipulate Brown's history for present-day purposes.

By the way, the article "The 230th Commencement" (Under the Elms) places Dan Grossman in the class of 1972. He is a member of the class of 1971.
Robert Donald Solomon '71
New York City

The University's new president, E. Gordon Gee, begins his reflections about Brown: "Standing on this campus, surrounded by these centuries-old buildings - their cornerstones laid when my hometown was still an unclaimed patch of wilderness [emphasis added]..."

Reading this, I was taken aback, to say the least. I was under the impression that Utah was both "claimed" and inhabited by the Utes and other indigenous peoples at the time Brown was founded.
Hal Litoff

The philosophy of Brown University - "To learn for the joy of it, not just the grade - and to pursue what you loved or thought mattered in life, not just what society seemed to expect or a job that would pay a lot of money" - as expressed by Lane Wallace and used by President Gee in his inaugural remarks, was not first enjoyed by the class of 1973. Perhaps, as Gee said, they benefited from some of the mechanics of a new curriculum and a partnership between faculty and students.

But remembering the time that I was at Brown with a "new curriculum" and close faculty-student relationships, I question Gee's use of the word "first." I can remember many, many faculty-student relations that I would defy you to equate with 1973. How about the cavalcade to Fort Lauderdale for the swimming team at Christmas holiday? I was in the car driven by Professor Rakestraw. How about the time Assistant Professor Kretzmann found out that my date, Alva Pearson '41, had never seen the Old Howard show and corrected this omission by driving us with his wife to Boston?

Parties, dances, yes - but studying, too. My date, now my wife, and I went to some classes together. In astronomy, Alva and I studied the stars. She did it for credit; I did it for fun. Once I asked a visiting professor to give a particular course that was not in the catalog. "Get five guys together," he replied, "and we'll hold it in my room in the Faculty Club." I did, and he did.

Please, if you haven't already, get President Gee to read Gentlemen Under The Elms, published by the BAM in 1982 - great reading.
William A. Jewett '41

Mary Emma Woolley (1863-1947) deserves all the kudos she receives, but I find it a bit unlikely that she received a Brown degree in 1864, as was claimed in President Gee's inaugural address. Certainly her presence at the University well before the founding of the Women's College (later Pembroke) should have engendered more publicity than it has to date.
Maurice Adelman '52
Savannah, Ga.

Mr. Adelman is correct. Mary Emma Woolley and Anne Tillinghast Weeden were the first women to graduate from Brown - but in 1894.

I read with interest the article "Making Amends" concerning Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball '82 (July/August). Mr. Ball suggests that the history of slavery should be better known and calls upon other descendants of slave owners and collectors of plantation-era records to donate their materials to public archives. In this way, at least partial reconciliation might be achieved for slavery's injustice.

It is not clear if Mr. Ball is aware of one resource that is already available - an oral history of 2,000 ex-slaves. These interviews, recorded in local dialects, along with contemporary newspaper materials, accounts, and diaries of former slaveholders, form the basis of Been in the Storm So Long, a 1980 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Leon F. Litwack, former professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley.

Professor Litwack's book is a wrenching personal history of slaves and their masters. It should be read as part of every student's education.
Lawrence R. Ross '52 New York City

It was an unexpected surprise to see your article, "Making Amends," just as it had been an unexpected surprise a few years ago when I came across a book, Life on the Old Plantation in Ante-Bellum Days, by Rev. I. E. Lowery. I was living in Charleston, South Carolina, at the time and writing my autobiography. It turned out that the 1910 book had been written by a former slave on the plantation of my great-great grandfather, John Frierson IV, near Shiloh, South Carolina.

The Rev. Lowery writes: "Mr. Frierson always looked carefully after the morals of his slaves....He did everything he could to teach them to be truthful, to be honest, and to be morally upright.... When the boys and girls reached a marriageable age, he advised them to marry, but marry someone on the plantation.

...If they married someone from the adjoining plantations, they might be separated eventually by the 'nigger traders.' But Mr. Frierson was never known to separate mother and child. He did not believe in this kind of business."

Lowery recounts some wonderful stories about the life of the slaves on the plantation, most of which I've quoted in the appendix of my unpublished autobiography, Looking for Me: The Odyssey of a Frustrated Liberal (see Looking Back, page 58). But reading your article makes me wish I'd tried to locate some of Lowery's descendants.
Barbara Dressner Mills '50
Cranston, R.I.

Chad Galts's thoughtful article, "Minister of Fiction," (Portrait, July/August) supports my opinion that Rick Moody '83 is a multifaceted genius. His novel Purple America is sumptuously written. The first chapter, which is almost all one sentence, carries the reader along in biblical cadence through a scene that is graphic and unpleasant, but Mr. Moody makes it a shining literary moment. The novel goes on to embrace fully drawn characters facing real problems, environmental concerns, and bureaucratic blindness - and it does so while dispensing fascinating information on a vast array of topics. And the novel is also very funny.

Purple America is the best book I've read in years, and I plan to lead discussions of it in both of my book groups. Because of the BAM, I now know that the brilliant Mr. Moody is a fellow alumnus. One of the many nuggets of information Purple America contains is the chemical breakdown of beer. My Ivy League education is now complete. Thank you, Mr. Moody, and thank you, BAM.
Claire Pierce Usher '54
State College, Pa.

Torri Still's article about Adia Benton '99 brought back memories ("Being on Jeopardy! is like...", July/August). I auditioned for the show in 1989. Only eight of eighty candidates passed all three parts of the exam, and I was selected to compete later that year.

All the contestants were excited and surprisingly genial. I was called for the second game. Blessed with too-fast reflexes, I failed to get in on the action during the first part of the first half. (If you ring in too early, not only does the ring not count, but you are blocked out for a short interval.) I came back, though, to win the Daily Double.

By Final Jeopardy, I was in third place with $4,800. The man in second place had $1,000 more than I; the woman in first, $2,000 more. I bet it all on the category "Final Resting Places" - and was the only one of us to get it right! The thrill was incredible; I remember it to this day.

Congratulations to Adia on her run.
Susan Jaworowski '79
Mililani, Hawaii

P.S. The Final Jeopardy answer was: "This is the first place in which two United States presidents were buried."

Please congratulate the photographers and layout people for the terrific job on the reunion photographs in the Commencement parade (The Classes, July/ August). I have never seen better. Eileen P. McGrath '63 Sc.M. Nantucket, Mass.

I have practically committed to memory the illustrated article by Brian Floca '91 on the twin Marcus Aurelius statues at Brown and on Rome's Piazza del Campidoglio ("Pagan's Progress," January/ February). I carried a copy of it with me on a sweltering July 26 of this year as I explored the Piazza. No guidebook told the story better than your article - or nearly as well.

One September morning in 1954, I looked up at the statue of Marcus Aurelius behind Sayles Hall and asked myself what I was doing at Brown. I got over that fleeting moment of doubt. On occasion, I turned to the Meditations, although I did not share Lord Acton's frustration that Marcus Aurelius did not become a Christian.

Thank you again, Brian Floca. Great watercolors, too.
Larry Kocher '58
San Anselmo, Calif.

A letter to the BAM ("Some Buddy," Mail, June/July) tells us that convicted felon and crook are the terms most commonly associated with Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci.

Thank God for just law in the state of Rhode Island. There are many states where convicted felons are stripped of basic civil rights for life, not the least of them being the rights to vote or to run for political office. We also should find it encouraging that Mayor Cianci has committed himself to public service. In other places, absent his liberty, and bearing the stigma convict, such a man would have little choice but to skulk and slink and steal.
Christopher Kox '81 (RUE)
San Francisco

I was sorry to read in Anne Diffily's Here & Now column ("Turning the Page," July/August) that she has left the editorship of the BAM. As a writer and editor myself, I very much appreciated the care with which she edited the magazine. There were amazingly few typos, embarrassing errata, misspellings, dangling modifiers, and the like. This may seem a small focus within the huge task it surely was to edit the magazine, but it's important to me and representative of the excellence I've seen in the BAM's pages.

I wish Anne the best in her expanded editorial role at Brown, and I'm sure Norman Boucher will be a wonderful BAM editor.
Pat Street '62
Orlando, Fla.

After twenty-three years as Photographer for University Relations, I have left Brown to freelance. In thinking about my years at Brown, I find myself scanning images that I made, not only for the enjoyment of revisiting them, but also as the windows they provide to special people, places, and experiences.

Whether on a specific assignment or wandering about - I call it creative roaming - my job was to explore all aspects of Brown and, in the process, present the face of the University. George Bass, founder of Rites and Reasons, once introduced me to a wonderful quote by William Carlos Williams: "No ideas but in things." Robert Adams expanded on this in his book Beauty in Photography, Essays in Defense of Traditional Values by saying that "generalizations are impermissible unless they emerge before our eyes from specifics, from concrete evidence, from things." Yes, indeed!

So I moved about with eyes open, looking for "things." At times, images would present themselves with immediacy and clarity, like gifts from the gods. At other times, patience was required. As much as I enjoyed producing photographs that called upon me to direct and orchestrate, I most enjoyed finding "things" and photographing them as I found them. All photographs are specific in time and place, yet special ones are also totally free of these. It's so simple and so complicated, and yet so wonderful when it all comes together like a beautiful piece of music. The important thing is the seeing.

Let me share some of these images with you.

In the classroom, I see Professor of Slavic Languages Bob Mathiesen huddling happily with graduate students over Slavic texts late one afternoon; Professor of Mathematics Tom Banchoff, after class, demystifying a math problem for two students in front of a blackboard of equations and diagrams. I see Professor of English Michael Harper, intimidating one moment, playful the next, negotiating poetry with students; or Associate Professor of Comparative Literature Dore Levy reading a Chinese text as if she were singing an aria in Carnegie Hall.

In classrooms beyond the walls, I see ecology and evolutionary biology graduate student John Bruno suspended in water like a dancer while researching Belize's coral reef; Professor of Archaeology Martha Sharp Joukowsky '58 laughing with archaeological students and Bedouin workers during a tea break at the excavation of the Great Temple in Petra, Jordan; and Kathy Morath '77 quietly embracing an expressionless baby in Mother Teresa's orphanage during the Chorus' trip to India.

On the green, I see students hurrying to their Wilson Hall classes as delicate morning light plays on fall leaves; I see crisp sunlight skirting a stucco column and the large wooden doors of Manning Hall; I see snow resting on the iron fence and frozen rhododendron by the John Carter Brown Library. In the public halls, I see Mstislav Rostropovich communing with his cello as he rehearses with the Brown Orchestra for Howard Swearer's Inaugural Concert; Stevie Wonder playing on the Faunce House steps to an enraptured audience that blankets the entire green; Andrew Wiles calmly explaining how he proved Fermat's Last Theorem, a number-theory problem that had vexed mathematicians for 350 years. I see Stephen Hawking sitting immobilized in his wheelchair, explaining his understanding of the universe through his voice synthesizer. I see an exuberant Desmond Tutu casting a spell over a packed Pizzitola Gym.

While roaming about as anyone with the time and inclination might have, I see Noel Keefer '78 mid-flight in a beautiful dive against the Smith Swim Center's geometric ceiling; Herbert Fried, alone, pondering a physics problem on a ceiling-to-floor blackboard in a Barus-Holley seminar room. I see Jim Head leaning over geology graduate student Buck Sharpton at his desk, while nearby on a Lincoln Field door hangs a sign reading "Definitive Study of the Universe in Progress - Go Away."

In places I would not have ventured had it not been for my unique position, I see Howard Swearer's delightfully playful expression during in his first interview with the BAM; Otto Neugebauer, at 79, working alone under a desk light in his history of mathematics office in the basement of Wilbour Hall; and Pat Herlihy counseling a history concentrator as Lenin looks on from a poster on her office wall. And I see Constancio Pinto '97 (RUE) thoughtfully and calmly talking about his arrest and torture in his East Timor homeland.

And there are so many, many more.

I wish to thank the BAM and its readers/viewers for the opportunity to produce and present good work to such a fine and appreciative audience. I'll miss working with some wonderful colleagues and being part of the Brown community.

Thank you,
John Forasté, Photographer Barrington, R.I.

Editor Norman Boucher adds:
For more than two decades, John Forasté's thousands of superb photographs have provided a vision of campus whose continuity and depth have been both a revelation of the new and a reminder of the old to Brown alumni. Many of John's old images will appear again in the BAM - and so will his new ones. Although he is no longer our staff photographer, I am delighted that John will continue making photographs on assignment for the magazine.


Alfred I. Miranda '46 writes that he is withholding contributions to the University due to the "inclusion of homosexual and lesbian issues in courses taught to undergraduates...clearly conducted by homosexual and lesbian members of Brown's faculty." ("Brown Has Gone too Far," Mail, July/August).

I, too, am surprised to learn of the changing courses at Brown - happily surprised. Not everyone can be of one mind on these subjects, but it is the mission of any great learning institution to make legitimate contemporary issues available for investigation and debate. That includes gay topics. Brown and its students are far richer from such courses than from any monetary contribution Mr. Miranda might offer. While he writes that the University "has finally gone too far," his letter sadly illustrates the very short distance he has gone since 1946.
J. W. McNamara '79
Plainview, N.Y.

Mr. Miranda is stuck in a time warp. One merely has to glance at a newspaper to discern that homosexual issues are in the forefront of our society, whether the discussion is related to the workplace, the armed forces, or same-sex family entitlements.

The sexual practices of individual faculty members in the privacy of their bedrooms should be of no import to Mr. Miranda. It is unfortunate that he has decided to omit Brown from his will and his annual donations because of his disagreement with a world-class faculty of educators teaching about a controversial issue with national implications. Perhaps a fund could be instituted to replace contributions from dissatisfied alumni.
Lawrence R. Ross '52
New York, N.Y.

Now that Mr. Miranda has withdrawn his annual contribution and thrown the University out of his will, I suppose I, as a gay alumnus, should increase my contributions to help make up for the shortfall. Any other gay alumni out there care to join me?

And Mr. Miranda: there have been homosexual and lesbian faculty conducting courses at Brown for many, many decades - even in the 1940s.
Jim Glass '77

Alfred I. Miranda wrote that he took Brown out of his will when he learned Brown included homosexual and lesbian issues in courses "clearly conducted by homosexual and lesbian members of Brown's faculty." Would the BAM have printed his letter, without comment, if he had referred instead to African-American studies clearly taught by African Americans, or to Jewish studies clearly taught by Jews?
Mary Minow '80
Cupertino, Calif.


News has reached me of the termination of John Forasté as the University Relations photographer. By my calculation, he has been in that position for more than twenty years. Many of us over the years have continued to see Brown through his eyes. His photographs have portrayed Brown as we remember it, still a place of charm and warmth mixed with fellowship and love of learning.

How sad it now is to learn that his position is to be "outsourced," presumably as an economy measure. What false economy, what disloyalty this is. I have always thought more highly of Brown. I urge you to reconsider.
Gordon S. Cohen '59
Madison, Conn.

I was saddened to learn that the University has chosen to terminate John Forasté after twenty-three years. Many alumni and members of the Brown community may not even be aware of John's existence, but all of us have been touched by his photography over the years.

I cannot imagine anyone else being able to capture the essence of Brown. In my undergraduate years in the early 1980s, that quiet man in the plaid flannel shirt was everywhere I turned, yet always unobtrusive. Somehow, he'd always capture the first autumn leaf falling on the Green, a parent's tear of joy at graduation, or the hustle and bustle of the post office.
Terri Cohen Alpert '85
Madison, Conn.


Several of the '58 class officers were musing last spring about a class study trip, and our thoughts immediately went to the BAM's inspiring, beautifully photographed article, "Mystery in Sand and Stone" (January/February). The text and photographs described the work of our classmate, Professor of Archaeology Martha Sharp Joukowsky '58, and her team of scholars sifting the sands of the ancient city of Petra, Jordan.

Professor Joukowsky and her husband, Chancellor Emeritus Artemis Joukowsky '55, agreed to be our faculty and guiding lights for a special tour of the Petra dig site. We sent out a class letter proposing a trip to Petra with a side trip to another country. The responses we got included forty-five serious expressions of interest and additional inquiries on behalf of classmates' relatives and friends.

Now we'd like to open our Petra trips to other Brunonians. Current plans call for a ten-to-fourteen-day Petra and Israel trip next summer and a second trip of similar duration to Petra and Italy in the summer of 2000.

If you would like to join us on our adventures, please let the class co-presidents know: Jerry Levine '58, (212) 415-7486, fax (212) 415-7934, bear@idt. net; or Sandy McFarland Taylor '58, (212) 392-6035, fax (212) 392-6650.
Sandy McFarland Taylor '58
Summit, N.J.


In his letter ("All Wet," Mail, July/ August), Paul Nelson writes to refute the "rationalism and scientific hubris" displayed by Matthew Reynolds '82 in his earlier letter debunking the technique of dowsing. Nelson tells us about his wife, Judith, a dowser in Machiasport, Maine, who with another dowser located water on the latter's property. Did the well-diggers then choose five or six other spots at random, dig wells, and come up dry? If not, we can't know whether there was water under the entire area.

Nelson invites us to hold Judith's hand in one hand and the end of an applewood fork in the other. As we walk toward known underground water, he says, the bough will strain our muscles as it reacts to the water. He does not tell us who is holding the other end of the bough, but we assume that it is Judith. This is a completely uncontrolled situation: Judith can use her leverage on the bough to produce the effect (consciously or unconsciously). A somewhat better experiment would have a third party blindfold everyone, transport them to a random spot on the property, and then let them find the water. Even better, transport them to a completely different location, with water at a location known only to the third party, and let them find it.

Dowsers would go a long way toward convincing us skeptics if they could come up with a theory of dowsing and then submit it to double-blind tests.
Paul C. Anagnostopoulos '74
Carlisle, Mass.


The caption for the wonderful photo of the venerable Mr. Chet Worthington '23 on page 46 of the July/August issue notes that he is wearing a beret. The bonnet is not a beret, but a Scottish balmoral. I am sure that any of Scottish ancestry (my mother was a Mackenzie) would agree.
Horatio R. Rogers '49
Middletown, R.I.


This fall I sent my son to Brown to join the class of 2002. Your article describing how President Gordon Gee and his wife, Constance, decided to take out all the students stranded during spring break for pizza and a movie ("Dinner and a Movie," Elms, May/June) reassured this mom that Brown will not only give my son a quality education, but will also give him a home away from home. There are advantages to a small school.
Lillian Y. Lim '73
Bonita, Calif.

What do you think?
See what other readers are saying about this article and add your voice. 
Related Issue
November / December 1998