The Colgate Scene
January 2005

People on the go

Susan Zalesne Retik '90 (right) and Patti Quigley
[Photo by Nancy Giroux]

After Susan Zalesne Retik '90 lost her husband and college sweetheart, David '90, in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, she was flooded with support from the community. Complete strangers have sent cards and notes, and left quilts on her doorstep.

The outpouring of support provided a safety net for Retik -- one that she came to realize was probably not common outside the borders of the United States.

"When we were getting ready to go to war with Afghanistan, it was my first glimpse of life there," said Retik. "Those women, those widows, lost their husbands to the same terrorists that I did, but they had nothing. There was no support for them."

Susan Zalesne Retik '90
Retik was so moved that, last year, she and fellow Sept. 11 widow Patti Quigley founded Beyond the 11th, a charitable organization that provides support to women who lost their husbands to terrorism and war, with particular focus on Afghanistan. Quickly focusing their energies on fundraising, they came up with the idea of Cycling Forward 2004, a 275-mile bike ride from Ground Zero in New York City to the Massachusetts 9/11 Memorial in the Boston Public Garden.

"Our original goal was to raise $100,000, although we had no idea how much we could pull together," said Retik. "Things were slow at first, but as September 11 got closer, things picked up, and we finished with $140,000."

Retik and Quigley provided the seed money so that 100 percent of the donations go directly to the women via charitable organizations. They chose Care International and Women for Women International, which provide financial support, literacy training, rights awareness, and more. She said they were drawn to the projects because of their focus on sustained support -- giving the women the resources they need to continue moving forward.

"We're going to provide support to 500 women and their children on an ongoing basis," said Retik. "Considering that there are tens of thousands of widows in Kabul alone, this may be just a drop in the bucket, but we know that we're really going to affect their lives and those of the people around them. It's a ripple effect."

Retik said that she has been kicking around the idea of a trip to Afghanistan, but it is too dangerous there right now.

"I want to go so badly, to see it with my own eyes," she said. "I think the experience would be life-changing." — Charlie Melichar


Ivar Berg '54
[Photo courtesy of Ivar Berg]

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Ivar Berg '54 says, he is a sociologist. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, an economist. Overall, having written "a fair amount of accessible reading for lay people, I guess I'm a small-scale public intellectual."

Whatever the day or the label, there is no doubt that Berg is a leading authority on the roles of education in society.

Berg's 1970 book Education and Jobs: The Great Training Robbery turned on its ear a widespread assertion -- that better-educated people earn more money because they are more productive, and that we know they are more productive because they earn more.

"I learned at Colgate that that's a tautology," he said. "The public was being sold on education with a mis-measure of its value that didn't take into account its non-economic returns. For example, one of the things we get out of educated people is a much higher level of participation in volunteer activities." Productivity, Berg showed, is much more complicated than stacking up academic degrees.

Berg's research informed the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark civil rights decison in 1971, and it still impacts the way employers, academic leaders, and public policymakers think about the relationship between education, citizenship, personal development, income distribution, and employment. The Swedish Academy traced the basic ideas underlying the work of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics winner to Berg's classic study.

"You could say I'm Colgate's only Nobel Prize loser," he quipped. In 2003, Berg updated The Great Training Robbery with surprising new findings, and he is researching a new book on the correlations between volunteer activities and education.

A longtime professor and university administrator, Berg said that many aspects of Colgate influenced his career. As dean of the University of Pennsylvania's College of Arts and Sciences in the 1980s, he helped to create Penn's general requirement program ("Colgate's core was in the back of my mind"). And today, the full-time professor of sociology said he is the only faculty member at Penn who brings all of his seminar classes home for dinner ("That was a staple at Colgate"). He teaches at Penn in the fall and at College Misericordia in Dallas, Penn., in the spring.

Of his time at Colgate, Berg is most proud of his fellow students' overwhelming vote (on his initiative) to do away with restrictive fraternity membership clauses against Jews and African Americans. As a teacher, Berg enjoys the "opportunity to excite people about the things that excite me," he said, "and that happens just enough to be a very gratifying experience." — Rebecca Costello

Editor's note (May 2005): In "The Public's Intellectual," we reported that Ivar Berg '54 (Phi Delta Theta) was "proud of his fellow students' overwhelming vote (on his initiative) to do away with restrictive fraternity membership clauses against Jews and African Americans." A note from Ed Ross '50 pointing out that his house, Phi Kappa Tau, had no such discriminatory clauses revealed that clarification was in order. The Scene did not intend to imply that all fraternities maintained restrictive or descriminatory membership policies; several did not, and at various points in time some Colgate chapters whose national organizations maintained restrictive membership policies withdrew or foreited their affiliation, "going local" in order to open up their membership to all. According to University Archivist Carl Peterson, all Colgate fraternities were willing and even eager to drop restrictive clauses by the early or mid-1960s, but policies maintained by some national organizations kept the problem alive for some houses into the 1970s.

The Scene regrets any misunderstanding this may have caused.


Amy Freedman Jurkowitz '85 (left) and Tina Mikkelsen
[Photo by Michael Stein]

Amy Freedman Jurkowitz '85 knows active.

As a wife, mother of five (for the record, that's husband Dan; twins Alie and Olivia, 10; Talia, 9; Clayton, almost 8; and Duncan, 6), and founder, with partner Tina Mikkelsen, of a company aimed at women like themselves who want to dress comfortably yet stylishly for the rigors of daily life, Jurkowitz defines active, the euphemism for impossibly frenetic days that begin early and end late.

Material's fashionable athletic clothing can be found in 150 stores across the country. Jurkowitz reports that the business is growing "by leaps and bounds." The partnership began with a simple idea between two friends whose lifestyles required looking good while constantly moving. Faced with activewear options that were either "disgusting sweats" or "really tight," Jurkowitz and Mikkelsen came up with a concept focused on women 25 and older "who didn't want to show everything but still feel sexy."

"Women put on our clothes because they're comfortable," said Jurkowitz. Using high-end European fabrics, Material is producing clothing for five collections a year. While both partners ("We're a great team -- Tina is fashion, I'm sport") "do everything," Mikkelsen tends to concentrate on design and production, while Jurkowitz's primary focus is on marketing, sales, and logistics.

"Marketing has been my whole life," said Jurkowitz. "If we can brand the company, we can sustain it. We have to be consistent and say it over and over."

The women behind Material understand their customers and have been able to deliver, but the fashion world is fickle, and even hot three-year-old companies come with no guarantees. Competing for expendable dollars in an ever-changing marketplace is an entrepreneurial risk of huge proportions, or what Jurkowitz calls "the fun part." Material will begin selling online in February 2005 at www.materialusa.com and and will expand into other areas, such as men's fashions, to add to its lineup of women's tops, bottoms, dresses, and coats.

"I love building a company, being creative, and figuring out where it's going," said Jurkowitz, who credits Colgate as the place where she learned to learn and how to juggle a crazy, busy schedule. She is pleased that her daughters, particularly, have the opportunity to see their mother working and to even be a part of Material.

"I feel lucky," said Jurkowitz. "I cherish every moment." — John D. Hubbard

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