The Colgate Scene
July 2006

Letters

The Scene welcomes letters. We reserve the right to decide whether a letter is acceptable for publication and to edit for accuracy, clarity, and length. Letters deemed potentially libelous or that malign a person or group will not be published.

Letters should not exceed 250 words. You can reach us by mail, or e-mail sceneletters@mail.colgate.edu. Please include your full name, class year if applicable, address, phone number, and/or e-mail address.

. . . I am in receipt of the e-mail "Vote for Colgate Alumni Board Candidates" sent by the Colgate Alumni Board as well as other propaganda on this topic. I find it offensive and borderline libelous. It speaks to alumni as if we are lemmings as opposed to highly educated people. Also, since the new residential life plan was introduced, Colgate has put out a lot of misinformation. Colgate claims it supports freedom of expression and thought; however, it appears that those who disagree with Colgate's official position are attacked. One of the things I adored about Colgate was the ability to disagree but respect each other. My best friend's political views were opposite mine and continue to be. Diversity of people and thought was lauded. That appears to have changed, and not for the better.

Three things make great leaders: ethos, pathos, and logos (credibility, passion, logic). It appears that here, credibility is lacking. A critical evaluation of the facts does not support a lot of the information being put out. Rather than take responsibility for its shortcomings, Colgate is attempting to "spin" and excuse itself. Colgate needs to look at itself critically and be honest. Until that happens, there may be short-term gains, but in the long term Colgate will have significant problems.

I am very proud to call Colgate my alma mater. I attribute much of my success to the Colgate experience; however, while Colgate is changing, it is not a healthy change that encourages its students to be independent and self-sufficient. Colgate is preparing its students not to succeed, but to fail in the fast-paced technology- and metrics-driven world. The world is becoming flatter by the second and unless you allow students to learn not just in the classroom but also in life, many will have difficulty adapting and being successful.

Overall, Colgate is exhibiting the signs of a declining institution. Alumni need to support anything that can re-establish Colgate as the great university it once was. Colgate needs to embrace independent and creative thought and differences of opinion. Colgate is too special a place to be labeled as just another liberal eastern university that does not understand the reality of life outside of its borders.

. . . I would like to revisit "Semper Fidelis" (Letters, March 2006) from a slightly different angle. I, too, am encouraged that Colgate graduates are actively pursuing professional military officership (despite having to do it without the active interest or support of Ol' Colgate). Our alma mater has had many sons who have served their nation with distinction. The university had strongly supported and encouraged national military service throughout its history before closing its doors to the Reserve Officer Training Corps. I have never understood how a first-class liberal arts institution can arbitrarily amputate one field of study for the sake of political correctness. How is it that certain "liberal arts" pass muster and others do not?

As Rich Burke '92 states, ". . . only the most unreasonable will question the need for a strong and capable military" (underlining mine). I can't speak to the issue of who drove the college to abandon this need in the '60s, but I cannot understand why the subject has not been revisited. Not only do we need a strong and capable military, but one led by broadly educated, intelligent officers who have been exposed to the sort of academic core knowledge, values, and diverse perspectives in which Colgate majors. How can the administration and faculty justify this blind spot? Why have we, for nearly four decades, chosen to ignore the needs of our nation, our communities, and our students in this vital area? Can anyone explain it?

Editor's note: Colgate disengaged from the Air Force ROTC program, which ran from 1947 to 1970, due to enrollment hovering at or below AFROTC requirements for viability, as well as issues of curricular accreditation. Today, students attending Colgate can participate in Army ROTC through the program administered at Syracuse University.

. . . In the Class of 1970 notes in this issue, Rick Clogher recaps the memorial service for our friend and mentor Fred Busch (Deaths, May 2006), who died (still hard to accept) this past February. As Rick notes, Fred started at Colgate the same year we did, 1966. Some of us grew to know Fred and his wife, Judy, as close friends, even babysat for their son Ben back in the day.

When we graduated, it seemed wrong that we were leaving them. So, through letters, visits, and of course, Fred's published writing and occasionally ours, we stayed in touch.

Fred was important to us. He was blunt, fierce, generous, hilarious, courageous, and wise. He was the Living Writer he taught. To learn from him and read him was to take a continuing course in American writing. To say that we will miss him doesn't say enough. We won't let him go.

Several of us have written brief essays to remember Fred. You can find them in the Class of 1970 page on the Colgate alumni website, www.colgatealumni.org. Other classmates are welcome to add essays.

We are also inviting anyone from any class with a memory or memento of Fred, from Colgate years or afterwards, to contribute to a festschrift, an online celebration of our teacher and colleague. Kindly include your graduation year and your e-mail address and send your contributions to rick@clogher.net. We will share these with Fred's family as we look for a permanent online home for them.

. . . Of all the instructors I have had the pleasure to have had at all levels of my education, Fred Busch stood many stories above them all. His ability to help the willing student learn how to truly read, enjoy, and appreciate English literature was a unique gift. His enthusiasm and appetite for top-notch storytelling remains with me today as I strive to read so many books I passed up in my youth.

One obituary writer said Fred was a writer for "critics" rather than a popular writer, inferring a negative. My perception is that Fred Busch required of himself only the best storytelling and writing he could muster. As part of the writer/reader equation his work required (requires) readers to be thoughtful, discerning, and critical of the words on the printed page -- which is hard, and probably not popular in our society of instant gratification and disposability. I am glad Fred was that way and I am forever grateful for his love of storytelling and his willingness to impart that love to his students! Rest in peace, my friend.

. . . I was quite taken with your cover article ("Coming of age") in the May Scene. I used to struggle to read the Scene end to end; I look forward to giving this issue a go.

My impression is that you've decided to open the editorial kimono more regarding the rational, multi-layer complexity and purpose of Colgate programs. I heartily applaud this. My only regret is that I have only my hard copy and can't forward the article yet to my adopted Colgate daughter, who just finished her first year.

I spent my years on Wall St. and have returned to a software company I helped found. I view this editorial openness in parallel to quality institutions whose managements recognized their need to be much clearer, more programmatically transparent, and more in concert with the depth and intelligence of their officers and employees. I commend your article for being engaging, informative, and personally useful to me as an Alumni Admission Program member, interested alum, and now engaged Colgate father of sorts.

Also, several images in this issue seem more, if not much more, inviting than usual. The image showing the moment of Raj Bellani and Jennifer Dorland's discussion is extraordinarily communicative. The reader is transported there. The ease of communicating with Raj is established and subliminally conveyed as resonating benefit to our sophomore students. The viewer feels compelled to join the good spirits, feels a loss for not participating. I'd like my Colgate daughter in the sophomore program fold and benefiting.

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