The Colgate Scene
May 2008


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 Letters deemed potentially libelous or that malign a person or group will not be published.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 Please include your full name, class year if applicable, address, phone number, and/or e-mail address.

In the article about Jim Loveless and Leslie and Ray Wengenroth, artists who visit Monhegan Island in Maine ("Students and professor, still," Scene, January 2008), there is mention that on their walks around the island they passed the shipwrecked D.T. Sheridan. This brought a smile.

The D.T. Sheridan was a tugboat owned by my maternal grandfather and his company, Sheridan Transportation Company. The "D.T.," as family members referred to it, was pulling barges of coal to Rockport and hit rocks in a stormy and foggy night back in 1948. No fatalities, fortunately. The wreck eventually washed up on property owned by the painter Jamie Wyeth, who made a painting of it.

Each of the essays (Scene, March 2008) was inspiring in its own way.

My wife Ann and I were lunching in the faculty dining room (a perk we get for living on the campus at Ohio Wesleyan) when a fellow resident, the chair of the Romance language department, Prof. Julian Arribas, was lunching with a familiar face: Prof. Fernando Plata, one of the essayists. The face was familiar because of his picture in the so I introduced myself and we had a chance to compare notes about Austin Manor, formerly Austin Hall, a university dormitory. Prof. Plata, at OWU to give a presentation to Spanish language and history students, had spent the night in the building's guest apartment; Ann and I live in a delightful apartment on the third floor.

Austin Manor truly an intergenerational experience: by design, one-third of the apartments are for students; one third for faculty and visiting faculty, one third for retirees. It's a great concept, and it works. The students and the faculty love it. And we love it.

Prof. Plata's presentation, based on some of his research into the Spanish theater of the 17th and 18th centuries, was a good reason to get some books and audit a course for further enlightenment. Ann and I can do both, and do it with Prof. Arribas's help. And I can tell you that Fernando Plata delivers: he a teacher and a fine representative of Colgate and its faculty.

Three professors made impressions on my life: John Fitchen introduced me to fine arts, sculpture, architecture, painting, and the wonderful music of Peggy Lee. H.B. Jefferson provided an introduction to philosophy and religion, of which I have had a lifelong interest and study. The most significant was Earle Daniels, who taught me "The art of reading poetry," the works of Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Whitman, and to enjoy reading.

Second, I could not help but wonder about the teaching loads, two to three courses per semester. I taught at a state university the years between 1967 and 1987. My minimum teaching load was five courses per semester, winter term study trips to the Orient, summer school, all at the upper division and graduate level. I found time to participate on a number of committees, attend most athletic events, and serve my Lions Club as an officer plus serve on several county commissions and boards. I now understand why it costs so much to attend Colgate. There must be many more faculty and administrators than necessary at very comfortable salaries and benefits. What do they do with their spare time?

Editor's note: Due to an editing error, the web address soliciting alumni input about their most influential professors ("Why I teach," March Scene, print edition) was incorrect. Add your own post today: Go to and click "Name that professor" under Message Boards.

I am appalled that anyone with a connection to Colgate would object to having Ben Stein on the campus (Letters, Jan. 2008). Furthermore, I find it specifically inconsistent with the ideals espoused at Colgate that the Scene would print such an outlandish opinion.

We are a liberal arts institution, which says it all. Regardless of Ms. Vendetti's opinion of Stein, Colgate was, is, and should be open to all opinions short of recommending the overthrow of the government.

If we do not open the campus to differing opinions and causes, we fail to uphold the very high standards that Colgate stands for.

I agree with Mr. Waters (Scene, March 2008) that Colgate students need "to hone the skills necessary to make judgments"; however, I do not believe that it should be at the expense of Colgate's intellectual integrity. Should Colgate invite Holocaust deniers or proponents of a flat Earth to campus to "test" students' ability to make judgments? Ben Stein is a semi-celebrity and former Nixon speech writer (not a scientist) who uses his fame and political clout to promote an anti-science agenda.

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