The Colgate Scene
|The Colgate Scene welcomes letters from readers. We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and clarity.||
Remembering Bob Blackmore
The editors of The Colgate Scene are to be congratulated for the fine remembrance of Robert L. Blackmore '41 (September). Bob, though not tall in meters, was a quiet giant. He was a grand help to me when I served as Colgate's associate director of public information in the early 1960s. Bob thought up, molded and supported sound public relations policies, first from his Time Inc. post, and then later when he came to the campus. When my wife and I prepared to move back to Washington, where I became a financial writer for The Evening Star, Bob came to our yard sale and bought just about every book we had, a powerful number we just couldn't haul. I had some worries how such a thoughtful man of the world would make the transition from Manhattan to Hamilton. Clearly, he managed marvelously well; benefiting the university I know he loved. To me, his great legacy lies in the top-flight, independent journalists he schooled and encouraged at The Maroon. (Read the names!) The creation of the Colgate Press was another fine achievement. Bob and I did a mighty lot of research about starting such but couldn't get support at first. He'll be missed by his fine family, by my wife, Dottie, and myself, and by the entire Colgate community.
The special obituary for Bob Blackmore in your September issue was a wonderful tribute for a great man, [to] whom I am indebted forever. He picked me up, dusted me off and directed me to 20 years of an exciting career in publishing. In the early '50s Bob managed an entry-level marketing program for LIFE magazine. A mutual friend who was concerned about my age (World War II and Korea had held me back) arranged an interview with Bob for me. Bob, however, politely read my resume and suddenly [reared] back and yelled, "Wow, Colgate! All I ever see is Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Williams. I'll take a chance on you."
I never took an English class with Bob Blackmore, yet he taught me so much that I can't imagine what Colgate would have been without him. Through a Los Angeles Study Group semester (the first of several L.A. study groups that he led to study the communications industry), his mentoring at WRCU and his always open door in his office and at home, he was what Colgate is all about. His was an open mind, curious, probing, questioning the easy answers. And through his questions and the ability and desire to listen to the answers, he brought great wisdom to students from every walk of Colgate life.
Blackmore loved everything about Colgate and Hamilton. His mid-career shift from the fast lane in New York publishing to a remarkable career at his alma mater was, and is, an inspiration. His music filled the air on WRCU for decades on Monday nights (and hopefully the tens of thousands of LPs given in his later years to Colgate will be enjoyed as much by future generations as by those of us who learned jazz by listening to "Blackmore's Date with Jazz"). Indeed, it was entirely consistent with his love of improvisation when he stopped by Cotterell Court in 1977 on a cold, rainy Party Weekend to listen to the Grateful Dead perform their own brand of magic.
About nine years ago, I asked Bob to write a letter to my infant daughter; a letter that she could someday read to understand what Colgate is about [and] what my favorite professor was about. [Blackmore's reply] has been framed on my wall since then, and my 10-year-old daughter is just starting to understand it. I believe that it captures the essence of Bob Blackmore.
The following is an excerpt from Blackmore's letter to Kate Fraiman.
"Kate, we've not yet met, although you have twice visited me in photographs that tell me from the sparkle and the questions deep in your eyes that you will eagerly watch all the world around you, trying to puzzle out what makes it turn and turn and turn. I applaud your quest. But (BEWARE, here comes a speech) don't be discouraged should crystal clear answers prove hard to pin down. And be especially wary of those who have all the answers -- for them -- but decry their attempts to impose them."
Biotechnology conference kudos
The Biotechnology Symposium held in Boston in June was one of those classic Colgate events -- great ideas, great people and a lot of fun. Throughout the planning stages, we kept discovering the strength and reach of the Colgate connection. In science and in business, dealing with medical research or market analysis, Colgate alumni and parents are at the forefront of a complex industry that is sometimes intimidating, but always fascinating.
Kirk Raab '59, who gave the keynote address, was the driving force behind the conference, and the panelists -- Brian Dovey '63, Harvey Berger '72, John Pottage '74, Jack Douglas '75, Christine Cronin Gallagher '83, Gregory Hinkle '83 and Don Pogorzelski P '02 '04 -- walked the audience through a full spectrum of issues, from the biotech beginnings to ethical conundrums new to mankind.
There is still a great deal more to talk about, and Colgate has many similar events in the works. Again, thanks to all who spoke, and to the many, many more who listened.
Time to move on
Having spent ten years as dean of the college at Colgate, I was confronted by a decision. I've long believed that most administrators should change jobs every 10 years or so. A change enables us to employ our skills and experience to finding creative solutions to new problems and issues, often in new places. When I left Washington and Lee University, and later, Harvey Mudd College after about a decade at each, I experienced a new sense of invigoration.
Change also helps the college by creating a place for a person with a new set of skills and talents to take a fresh look at old problems. People new to a job often seem to ask the toughest questions, devise the clearest solutions and accomplish the most.
I am proud to be the second-longest-standing dean of the college in Colgate's history, surpassed only by Carl Kallgren '17, who served from 1933 to 1962. Nevertheless, I [have] decided that this year will be my last at Colgate. When I delivered my resignation to President Chopp she mentioned the need for a senior-level person to assist her this year with matters related to college planning and the Task Force on Campus Culture. I accepted her invitation to become vice president of student affairs. I am looking forward to my new challenges for 2002-03 and the opportunity to address some of the big-picture items that I have wanted to address at Colgate for a long time.
There isn't a finer job at Colgate than the one I am leaving, and there isn't a better group of students to work with. I have grown immensely from my interactions with thousands of Colgate students, and I hope I have helped create a better experience for those who attended the college under my watch.
The names of two alumni were omitted from the article on the biotechnology conference that appeared in the September issue of the Colgate Scene. The conference panel also included John Pottage '74, senior director of drug development, Achillion Pharmaceuticals, and Gregory Hinkle '83, a computational biologist.
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