The Colgate Scene
September 2005

The Colgate Scene welcomes letters from readers. We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and clarity.
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. . . I fondly remember my Colgate graduation, steeped in tradition and wool sweaters, in 1997. The professors leading the student procession led me through my four years and influenced my life as much as the friends I made. The one thing, in hindsight, that was missing from the graduation ceremony is eloquently identified by Thomas Friedman in a June 10 New York Times editorial: my inspirational high school teachers.

Behind every Colgate student there is a drive for knowledge, a supporting family, and a slew of high school teachers who identified and encouraged their learning potential. Friedman describes a program at Williams that allows graduating seniors to nominate high school teachers that inspired them, from which the college chooses four to bring to and honor at graduation. What an amazing way to bring the past, present, and future together, and to recognize the achievement of the high school teacher along with the graduating student. I think Colgate should look into adopting a program like this.

. . .The July edition of the Scene exemplifies change at Colgate with the picture on the cover, a very attractive female person of color. A far cry from the all-male, mostly veteran population of the '40s and '50s. We were diversified in every manner. Our lives were built on traditions set down over 150 years and enforced by the teachings of Earl Daniels, Pat Foley, Rest Fenner Smith, H.B. Jefferson, and many other great intellects, minds, and humors. Suffering through the Depression and World War II molded our minds towards developing a new society to eliminate the sins of our parents, and create diversity in education and the work force. To be liberal in 1949 meant that one believed in affirmative action, becoming involved in government at all levels, and, of course, support for the United Nations.

In no way was our generation going to detract from past generations as has been witnessed with the letter by Holly E. Nye '82 (May 2005).

We older alumni have gracefully accepted the demise of baseball, the amazing rise of women's sports, coeducation, diversification, and most recently the obvious effort to eliminate the Greeks.

What is difficult to understand is how a university can plead for donations on one hand then spend hundreds of thousands to purchase 90- to 100-year-old Greek buildings and not come forward in announcing the true agenda? We recognise the Greeks are on their way out in the East at the same time they are expanding at a rapid pace in the ultra-liberal far west universities and colleges. Greeks will be missed by some and eventually become forgotten. Colgate will move forward in new directions and very few will care.

The question remains: change -- is it constructive? Or is it just change for change's sake?

. . . John G. Roberts Jr., the nominee to replace the Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, has an indirect Colgate connection. The New York Times reproduced a letter written in 1966 by young Roberts to the founding headmaster of La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind., asking to be admitted to that school. The recipient was my Deke brother, James Moore '50.

In 1962, Jim was recruited to convert the 500-acre La Lumiere Summer Estate into a first-rate New England type of preparatory school for boys. Almost singlehandedly, Jim raised funds, hired faculty, and started construction of a dormitory and a gymnasium while teaching English full time and coaching basketball and baseball.

This Herculean effort quickly paid off so that when the future Judge Roberts arrived, as a member of the school's fifth entering class, it was already successfully competing for top students with the more established preparatory schools in the area.

Had Jim lived another eight months, he would have witnessed proudly one of his earliest students receive this signal honor.

. . . From all over the globe they returned, artists and attorneys, bankers and brokers, pilots and preachers, statesmen and surgeons . . . For some, time has taken its toll and the trip was very difficult, but they made it. Their Herculean efforts to get to the campus were greatly appreciated by us. They gave us their presence. We could not be more grateful.

For others the toll was greater. To compensate, one who had a head full of hair now has his cheeks full of it. Others were a bit slower mentally. One was heard to mutter something about "from here to eternity." Another commented on the beautiful moon behind the White Eagle Conference Center. It was a light on a pole.

Special thanks go to the organizers and workers who made it all possible, and to Pete Hanson for his magnificent challenge gift. Benny Barnes was awesome. What a priest he must be!

Today's movers and shakers on the campus could take a few lessons from the old-timers who arrived with one suitcase each in 1951 and had but one telephone in each dorm to communicate with the outside world. For diversity's sake the university is now really building dorms for people of similar interests. We had our own brand of diversity. The rich lived with the poor, and the jocks lived with the nerds, and the brains lived with the gentlemen Cs. And we all got along. We still do.

The hello tradition we were taught is still alive and well. Everybody spoke to everybody. At the Dixie band blast in the tent I chatted with a guy who looked familiar. We had a great time reminiscing about times and classmates. During a break in the music I asked him, "Whatever happened to Beanie Kraus?" He said, "Hey, that's me!" and showed me his picture ID to prove it.

. . . We wanted to say how impressed we were with outdoor ed's front-page spread in the Scene. Josh and Molly Baker have created something truly special in central New York, evoking the words of Bill McKibben -- a unique and "hopeful landscape."

If every student who leaves Colgate has an understanding of why wilderness is important, a good number of our future leaders won't tolerate its destruction. That OE is now a flagship university program is a monumental step in this direction, and will undoubtedly continue to serve as a best-practice model for other colleges.

Your success, combined with the university's focus on interdisciplinary environmental science, truly gives us city-dwelling alums something to smile about. We hope to see one of your Wilderness Adventure groups out on the trail in August (we'll be somewhere between Long Lake and Lake Placid).

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