The Colgate Scene ON-LINE

The Colgate Scene invites responsible letters, addressed to the editor, regarding any subject that may be considered of interest to the Colgate community. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.

Submit a letter via e-mail here.

College costs

. . . The first part of your article cataloging many of the acquisition and operating costs, while interesting, does not shed much light on the future, at least without a comparison of year-to-year operating costs.

In the second part of your article, you make the important points that personnel downsizing is not a cost-saving option for universities, as it is for other businesses, and expensive state-of-the-art technology, in which industry invests for efficiency and long run cost saving, is for you a necessary end in itself as part of the education experience and “to keep pace.”

I must confess, however, that your frequent references to the need “to keep pace” and “be competitive” are a little unsettling. Does that translate to saying that college costs will always go up by a multiple of any increase in the consumer price index or increase in median personal income because “we're all going to do it”?

One of the more interesting pieces of information in your article is the fact that 41% of your operating budget is allocated to personnel costs. While downsizing is not an option, this seems like a fairly good portion of your budget that ought to be susceptible to some cost projections. Unfortunately, it is probably also an area that is most difficult for you to analyze in public. Even a full description of “plus benefits,” with price tags, let alone projections, might be difficult.

Even if you agree that the cost of higher education will be an increasingly popular topic of public and private debate, the decision to truly be in the vanguard is not an easy one, and modeling your analytical approach is a task in itself. As an example, it may not be a simple matter to get a handle on what percentage of your graduates leave Colgate with college cost debt, the median amount for those that have it, and their success at discharging it. It could take a well designed program to get that information, if it was one of your objectives.

Regardless of how much effort Colgate decides to put into this issue, I would urge the university not to relax with the talk of tax breaks for family education costs. Sooner or later federal monies bring controls and the legislators may eventually come to the conclusion that there are less expensive ways to catch up to the race track rabbit than helping the greyhounds to run faster.

Philip A. Brooks '57
Springfield, MA

May be out of reach

. . . As my children ages 14, 13 and 11 approach college age, I am more and more aware of what my parents at my college departure (1968) had to invest in my tenure at Colgate. I am deeply grateful to them and to you for putting in perspective where all that money went. I did have a quality education and a good time doing it — I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Regrettably, the question is, how could I possibly swing that for my kids now? I need not outline parenthetically where all the money I earn goes. But the reality is Colgate may be out of reach, as I mail off to the Texas Tomorrow Fund my first of 50 monthly payments for my eldest to lock in guaranteed (at today's cost) tuition and fees for any Texas public four-year university when he is eligible for enrollment in 2001 (62 payments for my 13-year-old and 86 for my 11-year-old). Maybe I should have been able to lock in Colgate when I graduated in 1972! I don't suppose there are any ideas evolving about how Colgate might join with other select, independent colleges to offer some prepaid plan.

Gordon C. Sauer Jr., Ph.D. '72
Irving, Texas

Ed Note: Colgate does offer families the option of locking in the current year's tuition by prepaying as many years in advance as they choose. That is, the family of an incoming student could lock in 1997/98 tuition for two years by paying two years in advance; for three years by paying three years in advance; and so on.

Another visit

. . . The article in the latest Scene about the visit to Colgate by Mikhail Gorbachev recalled another time in the 1950s when a former Russian leader visited Colgate to give a lecture. He was Alexander Kerensky, the Premier in 1917 of Russia's Provisional Government. The Provisional Government was established after the February 1917 overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II. Kerensky was himself deposed in November of that year by Lenin's Bolsheviks, causing him to flee to Paris. In 1940, he emigrated to the US, where he lived until his death in 1970. The contrasts between the visits of the two Russian ex-leaders couldn't be more marked! In two of the Scene's photos, I noticed the presence of two “Secret Service” types plus the huge crowds attending Mr. Gorbachev's arrival and departure. This could not have been more different than the way Mr. Kerensky arrived in Hamilton, and therein lies my part of the story. He both arrived and departed in my 1948 maroon Pontiac convertible.

Kerensky's visit was arranged by Dr. Albert Parry, longtime professor of Russian. Dr. Parry asked me if I would pick up Mr. Kerensky in Utica and then deliver him back at the end of the day. When Kerensky got off the train, I introduced myself and he asked if we could get some lunch. So, for a half hour or so I sat in a restaurant having lunch with a former Premier of Russia, something I will never forget, knowing even then that I was in the company of an important historical figure, just as you all were with Mr. Gorbachev. As my wife says, this all goes to show how much more global we are now. Kerensky got attention mainly in history books, whereas when Gorbachev speaks it is immediately heard via radio and television.

Some 30 years later, in May of 1987, my father gave me a copy of a very good biography of Alexander Kerensky by Richard Abraham. I have kept the note he put in the book as it described briefly my letter to my folks about that day. My father's note says, “Some 30-odd years ago, a young man started a letter to his parents with the following sentence: `Yesterday, I had lunch with history.' Here's a biography to go with it.” It may not be much, but it is inscribed in my memory.

Jerry Rhodes '56
Cabin John, MD


. . . Thank you so much for printing John and Amy Higgins' article “Colgate Couples." As I (MAT '91) and my husband Jeff ('85) approach our sixth wedding anniversary as a “Colgate couple,” we find that very few of our married friends chose their partners from other students on their own college campuses. It is a tribute to the diversity and atmosphere of Colgate that so many of its alumni prefer to marry “one of their own,” so to speak.

Here in Tucson where we have made our home it is difficult to describe to southwestern natives the culture of a small upstate New York liberal arts campus. The beauty of Colgate lies not only in its physical plant, but also in the people who live and work in Hamilton. The secure knowledge of Colgate as a home away from home has no doubt touched many of its students, and the idea of finding a life partner in such a setting transcends the mediocre stuff of which life is so often made.

I most enjoyed the Higgins' commentary about the number of Colgate couples who would encourage their children to attend Colgate. Although we feel that the world is not quite ready for offspring produced by two proud Colgate parents-to-be as ourselves, we entered into our marital vows secure in the knowledge that should our children one day choose Colgate as their college, we would ecstatically drop them off on Whitnall Field for frosh orientation and never know a moment's heartache over their choice!

While Colgate has always exhibited a pride in itself that takes a modest rather than militant flavor, this pride communicates itself to the university's students. As Colgate alumni go forth and multiply, it is nice to know that the uncertainties of the future are balanced, in part, by the knowledge that double-dose Colgate offspring are peopling the planet!

Margaret Derbyshire Fuld, MAT '91
Tucson, AZ


. . .When I read the recent article in the Colgate Scene entitled “Colgate Couples,” a wave of nostalgia swept over me. The article was about students who met and married at Colgate. This reminded me of another group of young married couples who descended upon Colgate at the end of World War II. The war had interrupted college plans of our young men and women so the GI bill was created to provide funds to enable them to complete their education. Special housing units had to be built for us that resembled military barracks. They soon came to be known around campus as “Vetville.”

We were directly across from Whitnall Field and to this day whenever I attend a Colgate football game memories flood over me of crisp, sunny Saturdays when we could hear the sounds of cheers and listen to the music played by the band.

Our first Christmas together was spent at Colgate, as I was pregnant and had been advised not to travel. I can say that, while we were lonely, I can remember walking through the snow in Hamilton buying last-minute presents and hearing the strains of Christmas carols coming from the gazebo in town.

Colgate was all male then and, as a married couple, we were asked on occasion to chaperon fraternity parties, a job we did not take too seriously. Our spare room was much in demand for weekend dates. The rates were much cheaper than the Inn.

When the time came for graduation, it was with great pride that we all celebrated our accomplishment. We left Colgate with wonderful memories; the friendships we made, the college spirit we shared with our husbands, the beauty of the Valley, and the sounds of cheers, music and laughter. Although Vetville is long gone, whenever we return to Colgate, the sounds and memories are always there.

Jean Timmerman,
wife of Walter Timmerman '51
Forked River, NJ


. . . When I received the May issue of the Scene I was finally satisfied. As usual, I scanned it on the day it arrived, even before I ate dinner.

It has become a strange habit that I have often questioned. Though I enjoy reading about what's happening on campus and with some classmates, I know that I have not felt the connectedness to Colgate that is felt by other alumni. Supposedly bound by the same “Colgate Experience,” I can't help feeling that mine was significantly different from theirs, as represented by what I read in articles and class notes. What had begun as perusal has taken the character of search. What was I trying to find?

When I began to receive mail from the Alumni of Color, I also scanned their publications. Here were people who have found a way to belong to the institution despite possibly also feeling “other.” The AOC helped me to feel the possibility of being closer to other alumni and to the institution.

But I am not a woman of color, I am a lesbian, and finally, in the May issue, I found what I was looking for. It is on page 39, in the births section, and lists two Colgate alumni women who have “married” each other, by taking each other's names. They are the parents of two little girls. Though I only knew one of these women by sight, I felt far more connected to her family than I do to 98% of those in the class notes.

Though such a listing is in keeping with the non-discrimination policy, which is also on p. 39, it takes some bravery on the part of these two women and on the part of the Scene's editors to comply. Bravo!

I have just one question. Did John and Amy Higgins '92, authors of “Colgate Couples” (same issue, p. 9), include Lise Glading-DiLorenzo '84 and JoAnn Glading-DiLorenzo '87 in their survey?

Thank you.

Denise Cotogno '84
Staten Island, NY

Ed. Note: The Higgins survey included all who were listed as couples in the Colgate database.

Bill Wilson

. . . I must add some words to the announcement of Bill Wilson's passing, for indeed, Bill Wilson was “Mr. Colgate” to thousands of alumni. Throughout his long life, Colgate remained at the top of the list of his personal priorities. And his life touched so many of us. Consider that only twenty entering freshmen a year were to come from Long Island — for most years many more matriculated — one can calculate well over a thousand of our alumni who have come into personal contact with this gentleman. Add to that seventy-years plus of brothers of Delta Kappa Epsilon and the number surely doubles.

I came to know Bill Wilson when I was a young alumnus working in Colgate's admission office. In those days I was encouraged to stay at the homes of alumni, especially those who were “student selection” chairmen for their geographic areas. Bill covered both Nassau and Suffolk counties for years in this important capacity. His home became well known to me, as it did to future Colgate students and their families. On one of my memorable overnight stays with Bill, time was spent in his basement recreation room — actually more an archive of Colgate memorabilia — dance programs, campus publications, pictures by the hundreds, and Deke mementos.

Later that same night — I had been asleep scarcely an hour, I was awakened by Bill to join him out on a side porch to my guestroom — in our p.j.'s — to watch Sputnik make its orbit of the heavens. I knew Bill required little sleep, for on another occasion I had just returned from a hectic short week of school visitations and was looking forward to “sleeping in” Thanksgiving morning. Before 7 a.m., the telephone rang on my wife's side of the bed — it was Bill. That happy “good morning” at the other end of the line contained a bit of foxy joy by arousing us; but one could not be upset as he shared some additional information concerning another Long Island applicant.

As a “senior alumnus” Bill's loyalty to Colgate never wavered but remained steadfast. All seven presidents during his alumni years had his support. So, too, did the move to co-education — three granddaughters are alumnae. And he has championed the bulwark of Colgate's liberal arts education — the survey course of the '30s and '40s followed by the core curriculum of the '50s and on — pursued by his two Colgate sons, John '52 and Doug '57. Bill always stressed balancing an extra-curricular life on our rural campus with a strong and demanding academic program. The “well-rounded” Colgate student — often chided by some of our faculty and students today — was the model he felt himself to be and one he looked for others to follow — and so many have.

An era at Colgate comes to a close with Bill Wilson no longer in our midst, but haven't we all at Colgate been most fortunate — whether or not we knew him — that over eighty years ago he decided to come to Colgate from Grand Rapids, Michigan. In all the intervening years he maintained an active loyalty to alma mater unequaled by anyone in my memory. God rest ye, Bill — a merry gentleman.

Bob Howard '49
Carlisle, PA

Reddall reply

. . . I intended to write a nice letter about what a great reunion I had with my wife and how much I enjoyed Prof. Deborah Knuth's lecture on Jane Austen. Then when I returned home, I made the mistake of reading David Reddall's letter in the March issue of the Scene. For those who recycled their issue, Reddall essentially said that rich people are “winners” and Scene readers only want to read about those people. I read it because my father-in-law, Norris Ford, succinctly responded to it in the May issue and I wanted to see what Reddall said.

Reddall's letter struck a nerve with me because I have perceived this attitude from a significant number of Colgate alumni over the years. While they are certainly a minority when you look at the Colgate community as a whole, they appear to be a tacit majority when you look at who does the fundraising and donating at Colgate.

This past reunion, there were people walking around with “PC” on their name tags. It did not stand for politically correct. Rather, it stood for Presidents' Club. The list of Presidents' Club donors returning was proudly displayed on a board at the James Colby Colgate Student Union.

The Class of '82 banquet was held way out at the AMA Conference Center while other classes enjoyed more comfortable accommodations. It's not where the banquet was held so much as who was there from the administration. No one.

I can recall attending a function at a country club a few years ago and being told by a former Colgate fundraiser that she was sorry she could not have spent more time with me. You see, she was busy entertaining a “big donor” all evening.

I attended another Colgate function and asked a fellow classmate where he played golf. His response was “No place you have ever played, Marshall.” At the same function I told an individual what I did after he asked with genuine interest. He asked me immediately if I liked what I did. I told him no, I loved it. He said, “How many people can honestly say that, that is terrific.” I felt a little better after the other remark from my classmate. Of course, this gentleman with truly wise words about life was not a Colgate graduate.

Upon returning to a Colgate football game some years ago, a respected professor who taught me as an undergraduate asked me what I did for a living. To the same answer that I gave the other gentleman he said with genuine concern, “Is there a future in that?” In other words, “Are you always going to be a loser to the David Reddall's of the world?”

Yes I am. I may never be approached by a Colgate fundraiser to donate money for a building with my name on it, I will never drive a status symbol car (out of choice) but I will always follow God's calling and be a steward of the gifts given me.

Call me a loser. I don't care. I am having too much fun.

Marshall McKnight '83
Hackettstown, NJ


. . . Hope I'm not too late to add to the earliest history of WCU.

I first heard that WCU was expanding its format to include music and DJ-type programming (in addition to news of Colgate) in 1951. I offered to host a show dedicated to playing traditional Dixieland jazz, which was quite popular at Colgate at the time. Many of the fraternities had live jazz bands as a part of their fall, winter or spring parties and even the university would feature a Dixieland group at the all-college dance.

In the spring of 1952, fellow Dixieland enthusiast Mark Dyott joined me “at the mike” and we spent much time discussing who was the greatest trombone player, Miff Mole, Kid Ury, Jack Teagarden, George Brumes, etc. By that time our slot had been expanded to one full hour and the program name changed from “Record Rendezvous” to “Sessions in Dixie.” We'd prepare for the show usually the same day, leave the Lambda Chi house with all our “stuff” after alerting the brothers of the house we'd soon be on the air. But, alas, I don't think the signal from Spear House made it that far back in 1952! At least the students on the Hill could enjoy the show. At the time I didn't appreciate all the effort from the technical side that were extended by Dave Willey, Chuck Laidlaw and Bill Thomas and others. A belated thanks to them.

Mark Dyott and I have attended the Bix Beiderbeke Memorial Jazz Festival in Davenport, Iowa, the past two years. One featured trombonist is 94 years old — Spiegle Willcox, a friend of Bix, who told us that he used to play in bands at Colgate back in the 20's and 30's! He grew up not far from Hamilton.

Don Thiede '52
Melville, NY

The ski hill

. . . “Whose woods are these . . .?”

Memorial Day was appropriate for a walk up in the woods on our hill; may I share my walk with you?

The POSTED signs announce that the owner lives in the village (read Hamilton) far below (shades of Robert Frost) but the big Tom Turkey striding ahead up the logging road boldly proclaims these to be his woods. The sharp bark of a vixen announces she has marked out a piece as her protected area for a new litter of fox pups. Two Canada geese, on the pond, make it clear they have come a long way to stake their claim.

Farther up the steep hill, at a break in the fence, a coil of rusty telephone wire, a broken insulator and an overgrown trail disappearing downhill marks the Colgate ski trail of fifty-odd years ago. Strong memories make their claim to this piece of land. Here young men of Colgate, Cornell, Hamilton College and others raced against time measured by telephone in the days before the advent of CB radio. Here `Doc' Trainer rewarded the Brookfield town crew for plowing parking space for the gang on a sub-zero morning with three bottles of Four Roses whiskey (and then conned `Prexy' Cutten into paying for the reward with a bill for one dozen roses! — listen and you can almost hear `Doc's' laughter as he tells “the boys”). Remembering this is Memorial Day, listen carefully again — maybe you can hear little Lenny Karlgaard fired up by the news that his native Bødø, Norway has been destroyed by the invading Nazis. Or possibly Johnny (Neuhut) Nevins, who would buy a front row seat at Guadalcanal, or maybe that lanky kid Mort Howe from Rochester, whose hobby was Indian site research, Mort Howe, who went down with his carrier the Luscome Bay, or `Twig' Branch, who was soon to take out a battleship with his fighter plane in the Philippines. Each is memorialized in bronze on the plaque at the rear of the Colgate Chapel but their memories live forever with you on this hillside forest as you walk up the logging road. To this day the neighboring farmers call this chunk “the ski hill,” not even vaguely aware that the name is a memorial to some men of Colgate who last used this ski trail fifty-seven years ago and went off to fight their country's wars half a world away.

“Whose woods are these?” Thought you might like to share my walk and answer the poet's question.

Frank A. Farnsworth '39

Ed. Note: Mr. Farnsworth is professor emeritus of economics