The Colgate Scene
July 1999
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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.

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Professor William Kessler
. . . I read with great interest under the "Retiring" section (May Scene), the article by Dietz Kessler. It turns out that his father, professor William Kessler, was my favorite teacher.

     About three years ago, I visited Colgate for the first time since graduating in 1945. I attempted to obtain information about professor Kessler but none of the several people I saw could help. This situation was unbelievable to me -- that there was no information about former professors.

     While a student, I was privileged to enjoy dinner at the Kesslers' a couple of times, which I fondly remember.

     I was pleased to read of Dietz's accomplishments, but the brief mention of his father gave me great satisfaction. So, many thanks to him and the Scene for that article.

     Incidentally, although his mother wasn't mentioned, I remember Mrs. Kessler as a good cook, a friendly person and a very attractive lady.


Pinellas Park, FL

Athletic issues
. . . I would like to congratulate Colgate for hiring a part-time coach for the men's and women's rugby clubs to share. As a rugby alumna and a member of its first team 20 years ago, I was delighted to hear that news, and was equally delighted to support the women's club with a 20th anniversary contribution.

     I was listening to NPR this morning (5/28/99) and heard that Providence College is dismantling its men's baseball team after this year's season, a season they are culminating by playing in the NCAA championship. The commentator opined that because of Title IX's requirement of providing equal sports opportunities for women, Providence College's choice, or seeming only option, was to discontinue their men's baseball program rather than provide equal opportunity in baseball/softball for women. I was sorry to hear this news, just as I was sorry when Colgate demoted baseball from a team to a club sport, and discontinued its wrestling program (for perhaps the same reason or just an issue of funding?).

     Colgate is making strides in the right direction by making men's and women's crew both varsity sports. I have followed the ongoing debate in the Scene about Colgate's choices in sports funding, and while I support the football program, I would hope that its cost and profit margins mirror those of all other Colgate sports programs (I suspect it costs the university more money than it earns). Hopefully, our new president, Mr. Karelis, can address this issue as one of his first priorities. Thank you.

Hackettstown, NJ


Three presidents
. . . George Mayer's letter in the May Scene, titled "Blaws," seems right on the mark. However, I believe the reference to the three philosophy professors needs correcting: All three became college presidents. Bewkes went to St. Lawrence, Jefferson to Clark and Adams to Susquehanna. As Casey Stengel would say, "You could look it up."


Delhi, NY

A very special woman
. . . I'd like to share these notes from a Colgate eulogy, which I gave on April 15. I hope others remember this very special woman, Mary Gieseke, as fondly as I do.

     In the fall of 1966, I arrived at Colgate University as a freshman. Not knowing where to go when we got here, my folks stopped the car at what I now know as the Ad Building and told me to go in and ask for instructions. I went through the main door and, for some cosmic reason, immediately turned left and found myself at what would become a familiar doorway to me. It was the office of Dean of Students, William F. Griffith. Seated at an imposing desk, at the left of the entryway, was his secretary, Mary Gieseke. Mary was the first person I ever met at Colgate and she was to become an important person in my life for the next 33 years.

     Now, some of you know that my academic career was rather undistinguished. In fact, I had a particularly terrible freshman year. I didn't attend enough to my studies, but I did attend too many rehearsals and weekend trips for a certain campus a cappella singing group called The Colgate Thirteen. In short, I got into trouble. That's why I'm so active in alumni affairs. Because Colgate, and people like Mary, didn't let people like me fall through the cracks. For some strange reason and, to this day, I don't know what it was, she took an interest in me. I think I humored and somewhat bewildered her, with my adolescent antics. I'm not sure, and she would never say why. But, during my four years, any time I needed to see Mr. Grif, Mary somehow managed to squeeze me in to see him. I remember a story my Dad tells, where John D. Rockefeller was asked what he wanted for Christmas. Legend says that he sighed and wistfully answered, `A good secretary.' Clearly, in that department, Bill Griffith was far wealthier than John D. Rockefeller.

     I managed to pull myself together and actually did pretty well academically in my last two years and graduated fairly respectably. I remember how Mary and the dean were like a second set of parents at graduation and my parents have always credited them with my surviving college.

     Two years after graduation, I needed a letter of recommendation for business school. And, again, Mary worked her magic with the dean. Unbeknownst to me, the weekend that Amy and I chose to come up to see him turned out to be Homecoming. Nevertheless, Mary managed to make time for us with him and his letter helped get me into the University of Michigan Graduate Business School. Quite honestly, I have always believed that Mary wrote that letter.

     Over the last 20 years I spoke with Mary at least twice a month. She was, in many ways, more my mother than my mother. Her love was unconditional and her pride in our family's achievements was as if they were her own. Periodically, she would send us one of her neatly-typed notes, with only her signature handwritten. To this day, Amy has always wondered how she got those little note cards to stay straight in that old typewriter.

     We will miss her very much. I run my life from a Day-Timer calendar and it was painful for me, last Sunday, to spend a half hour removing my weekly "call Mary" reminders from the remainder of the year.

Mark Sebell '70
Andover, MA

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