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Colgate community. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.
. . . Thomas Merton wrote, "We have become marvelous at self-delusion." But Merton did not know Coleman Brown. Coleman has spent a lifetime exploring questions that most of us would not dare to ask, even if it had ever occurred to us to do so. He humbly, honestly and sincerely shared with students a lifetime of humble, honest and sincere contemplation. He, by example, led students to deeply consider where they stand in relationship to God, to other people and to themselves -- and what their responsibilities are to each.
One of my most formative Colgate experiences occurred in Coleman's classroom. Imagine the setting. It was an early autumn afternoon. The Coop was crowded. There was basketball to be played at the gym. Beer was on tap on the Row. Guys to hang out with. Girls to be ignored by. So much `surface' to explore. And I was trapped in Hascall Hall in Professor Brown's class. A student was, with unusual candor and emotion, sharing the spiritual struggle between `seeing in order to believe' versus `believing in order to see' -- not standard campus chatter. And I watched as Professor Brown, after a long pause, removed his glasses and wiped his eyes, visibly moved. I do not recall his verbal response, only his extraordinarily empathetic and personal reaction. He was absolutely disarming. There was no pretense, no façade. Being around Professor Brown and being in his classroom gave you the opportunity to drop the defenses and seek strength through humility in a way that, unfortunately, seemed impossible virtually anywhere else.
Abraham Heschel spoke of `sanctifying time.' Coleman, more so than anyone in my experience, has spent his life sanctifying time and, when you are with him, it seems almost possible to do so yourself. While he may have retired from teaching, he will not retire from being Coleman or from sanctifying his time and people who share time with him. . . . Non finis quarendi . . .
CHRISTOPHER J. GAVIGAN '84
The spirit that is Colgate
. . . I was fortunate enough to get my father, Darwin E. `Dar' Leland out to Colgate for his 70th Reunion. He and Bill Major were the only ones from the Class of 1926 to attend. Bill Wilson '20 was the only one older who made it, and he is in amazing shape, can still sing and has an eye and a way with the women!
The weather was as good as it gets, and the rolling hills of the Chenango Valley were lush green. There is no prettier picture than the Colgate campus and it truly reveals the spirit that is Colgate. The reunion staff did a great job as usual, with great organization, good food and lots of activities.
RICHARD D. LELAND '60
. . . Historically, Colgate has many great traditions and some of them are urgently needed in a world filled with hate and despair.
One is the practice of everyone at Colgate always saying hello and being friendly. This may seem insignificant at first glance but it is not. Friendliness can motivate and energize the one on the receiving end and it can turn around the day of the one who is discouraged. The practice of greeting everyone is one I have maintained throughout my life and I know it has helped many people, as it cheers them up. In fact, this year my charitable foundation established an award for the friendliest employee in Delaware!
A second great Colgate tradition is forgiveness despite disagreement. I saw this in the late 1960s when those on the opposite side of the sit-in at Colgate forgave each other and worked together on other projects. I had a strong public disagreement with former athletic director Fred Dunlap '50 several years ago, but he and his wife forgave me and have been very friendly. This is a sign of true greatness on their part. Speaking of Fred Dunlap, Colgate should be proud of the fact that the best class notes column is written by the former football coach, as his column, which everyone should read, is filled with positive thinking, zest for living and a never-give-up attitude. They even include sermons worthy of our Baptist founders (one recently told us never to smoke). The Middle East, Northern Ireland, and all other places of war need a good portion of the Colgate tradition of forgiveness.
Another Colgate tradition, exemplified by former Baptist minister and the only male member of the national Women's Christian Temperance Union board, former Colgate President George Barton Cutten, is physical fitness. Cutten was six feet six inches tall and played football at Yale. The long-time Yale trainer who worked with him said Cutten was the greatest physical specimen he had ever seen. Physical fitness and total abstinence from all alcohol and cigarettes go hand in hand and Colgate needs to once again lift high the flag of physical fitness and total abstinence from all alcohol and cigarettes.
Last, we need to rekindle the flame of the greatest Colgate tradition, which was its founding and eternal purpose. At the Sunday morning chapel service at reunion in 1994 a recent Colgate graduate who was attending Harvard University Divinity School gave us a "Colgate mission minute." He told of a Colgate graduate in the late 1800s who became a missionary in an African nation immediately after graduation. He was killed at the age of 23 but not before he preached the Christian gospel to those in need. Make no mistake about the message that the founders of Colgate preached and which was carried on at least through 1942 by President Cutten. It was that those at the bottom -- prisoners, those from broken homes, those destroyed by alcohol and drugs, mass murderers, child molesters, prostitutes -- and all people could find new life and meaning and purpose for all eternity by being willing to love all people, repent of sin and believe on faith that Christ is God. In a broken world with terrible distress on every hand the message of the Colgate torch -- the greatest Colgate tradition -- God and Truth is needed as never before!
EDWARD T. O'DONNELL, JR. '70
. . . It was a pleasure to read your article on professor Richard H. Frost in the May Scene. When I attended his core course as a junior in 1972, the students all had long hair and professor Frost sported a crew cut. It looks like these stylistic roles have been reversed.
During one of the classes Professor Frost remarked that an advantage of modern society was increased life expectancy and suggested that this might offset some of the disadvantages of the industrial world. A student, secure in his youthful immortality, scornfully asked, "What, do you want a long life?" To this professor Frost promptly responded, "Yes, that is one of my goals." From his photograph, it looks as though he is achieving that goal; the leaves are still green on his boughs.
I will remember professor Frost most for his exaltation of reason and analysis over dogma, which was especially noticeable because he was always willing to assert (perhaps as devil's advocate) a conservative view to a liberal student body.
JAMES W. WARREN '73