The Colgate Scene
May 1999
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Letters
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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Blaws
. . . Browsing through the Scene after it arrived today I checked the class reports for those who have left us and those who are still among us. I also discovered that the university is finally dealing with the placement of the World War II Navy-Marine Corps V-12 Program Colors. The placement of the Colors has not been one of the university's finest hours. I also read the comprehensive article about the Core Courses and their purpose; it is an edifying article and describes a quality program. Why, then, did I come away with the intellectual "blaws" after reading the whole issue?

When I read the Harvard Magazine, which I receive as a result of, what some might say, my fluke admittance in 1946 to the Harvard Business School, I come away with an intellectual high. Using my reasoning powers learned from Drs. James Storing and Gene Adams, I determined rather quickly that the Scene staff accounted for six or seven of the eight or nine signed articles in the current issue. Contrast this with the Harvard Magazine, where almost every major article was authored by members of the faculty. Even an amusing item about Harvard's electric zamboni ice machine reported on faculty research concerning troublesome nitrous oxide emissions from non-electric zambonis.

I feel that it may be appropriate to review the mission of the Colgate Scene as we move into the next millennium. Currently it is primarily a periodic newspaper reporting about people, events, sports, class notes and other noteworthy happenings related to Colgate University. It is my view that such a publication needs to be more than a newspaper. It needs to move in the direction of the Harvard Magazine and similar publications of other great universities. A direction that calls for greater participation by the faculty. To illustrate my view, let us look at the liberal arts core of the university that was reported on in the current issue of the Scene.

With no disrespect intended to the staff, I am of the opinion that one or more of the many university professors involved in the Core Program should have written the Tools for Life article. It appears the program is unique in its approach to core programs; something that someone involved in the program should be passionately committed to; someone or ones who would demand that they write the article. Something like this is not a news item. It is an academic milestone requiring direct engagement of the faculty. Frankly, I treat the faculty quotes as sound bites. Why can't they develop a learned article that deeply engages the subject and has to be defended? News reporting this subject does not do it justice nor does it enhance the reputation of the academic side of Colgate. My experience with the core was the survey courses we took freshman year. I still can recall Drs. Bewkes, Adams and Jefferson opening up the intellectual world to us. This phase of the core has to be more than a sound bite in a news article. Two out of the three became university presidents.

The articles Change and Looking for Wisdom and Friendship lend themselves to academic treatment that would fit each of the people involved into articles as illustrations of people who have come to grips with the massive changes in the sociological composition of our society. Changes that need an academic foundation. Is it not possible for the professionals in Hamilton to take such illustrations from the Specific to the General. The Change article is a "for example" in an academic tome concerning societal changes; to leave Change as it is, hanging in mid-air without an academic framework is what gives me the "blaws."

Let's get the deans engaged with your publication. Let's get the tenure committee involved. Let's provide the educable alumni some tools to expand their reasoning power. Let's encourage the faculty to publish articles that utilize their current research and in the process enlighten the alumni so that they appreciate where all the millions contributed go.

In conclusion, let's articulate about the Colgate environment as a principality of learning applicable to the new millennium. The academics are the essential part of this paradigm. Sound bites do not make a society strong; they fertilize excuses.

GEORGE N. MAYER '45
Frogmore, SC


Happy recollections
. . . The story concerning Whitney Hart Shepardson '10 brought back happy recollections of the distinguished family and my Colgate years.

As a freshman and budding theologue, I was expected to take beginning Greek, which was gloriously taught by the Rhodes Scholar's father, Frank Lucius Shepardson. To sit in this class five days a week at 8:00 a.m. (He was also the treasurer and had to be in his Ad. Building office by 9) was something of an early morning discipline but it turned out to be a life-enriching experience that only the Colgate of 1927 could afford.

Twelve of us, headed for the American Baptist ministry, were directed to take the class as a prelude to later studies. Presided over by the professor we affectionately referred to as "Sheppy," those early morning hours were a happy beginning for the day. We learned a great deal more than Greek.

I had heard from my pastor at home of a stern and demanding professor at the old Colgate Academy who frightened his students out of their best endeavors. Our Sheppy, however, was a lovable old gentleman with an unfailing sparkle in his eye given to warm recollections of the "early years." Something would come up in class and we'd be off on a 20 minute peroration about the great personalities of the past. So we learned of Kai Kar Andrews, of Harry Emerson Fosdick, of Bernard Clausen -- names freighted with great excitement for us budding theologues.

In these moments we also learned about Whitney Hart Shepardson and his distinguished career as an Oxford scholar. One vivid memory is of Shepardson's role as clerk in service at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. We learned he was alert enough to preserve the blotter carrying the signatures. I wonder if this is still a family heirloom.

Sheppy had an athletic approach to pedagogy and though advanced in years, he was still alert and full of ginger. To help us learn the Greek declensions he would come out from behind his desk and, leaning toward us with infectious eagerness with his arms waving like a Colgate cheerleader, he would literally lead us in unison as we repeated those Greek words and verbs. Who could forget how he drilled into us his favorite axiom: "keep everlastingly at it, men." And so we did.

Away from campus, Professor and Mrs. Shepardson, who we thought of as "top drawer all the way," became good friends within the life and worship of the First Baptist Church. They supported me when I was called upon to do a tenor solo on Sunday mornings and entertained in their home with consummate grace. My girlfriend from Skidmore (now my wife of 64 years) and I were invited for Sun-day dinner. I can still remember the subjects of conversation!

The Shepardson family was held in enormous esteem.

Rev. M. de FOREST LOWEN '31
Belfast, ME

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