The Colgate Scene
September 2007

Letters

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 Letters deemed potentially libelous or that malign a person or group will not be published.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

. . . The passing of Charles Stuart Blackton (Deaths, July 2007) deserves special mention. "T," as he was called, was an exceptionally gifted teacher, thoughtful scholar, and first-rate human being. As an administrator, he manifested the highest level of integrity and judiciousness found in such legendary figures as Rodney Mott and Jim Storing. Like Douglas Reading, T ably and with much enthusiasm covered a wide span of history, in his case ranging from the era of Cromwell to post-World War II Australia, with side excursions in East Asia and Latin America. His lectures were a sheer pleasure to attend, in part because of his wry and subtle wit.

It was T who awakened my passion for college-level history during my freshman year. Indeed, he convinced me to become a professional historian. He supervised my senior honors thesis with painstaking rigor, therefore forcing me to produce the very best I had to offer. I felt most privileged when he asked me to join the Colgate history department for the academic year 1963-64 when he went on leave.

He set a superb example for the rest of us to follow.

. . . I got to know Warren "Andy" Anderson (Deaths, July 2007) in the mid-1950s when I played Colgate football. Andy would come into the locker room after games, sit down next to me, ask questions, and make comments about the game. After I graduated, he invited me to games with his friends Ted Mulford '41 and Butch Burzak '46, who always drove the car.

Andy headed the committee that landed Tom Bartlett, one of Colgate's best presidents. As the leader of the alumni football support group, I got Andy to support me in recruiting Fred Dunlap '50 to become football coach and athletic director, also one of Colgate's best moves.

In the early 1970s, I left a business career to become the executive director of the George Junior Republic (Ithaca, N.Y.), a unique and successful education treatment center for court- and school district-placed youth. Andy visited our program and defended it vigorously — a huge voice for those students, and for the teachers and staff devoted to changing troubled children's lives.

I was given one chance to honor Andy, when Senator Joseph Pisani invited me to speak at a dinner in New York City celebrating Andy's years as majority leader of the NYS Senate. I spoke of his Colgate loyalty and affiliations, and ordered a Colgate football jersey with Andy's name and the number 12 (for our current quarterback). The Colgate Thirteen put Andy's accomplishments into a song; they traveled through a winter storm to be there. Opening up the jersey, Andy laughed out loud and stated, "quarterback, huh?!?" Only right for the leader that he was to be the quarterback for us all.

. . . I recently received an open letter to Joanne D. Spigner, president of the Alumni Corporation Board of Directors, from Charles H. Sanford '58, president, Students & Alumni for Colgate. After listing a number of complaints against the administration's policies, the letter calls upon the board to take steps to give alumni more influence in the governance of Colgate.

As one with great love for my alma mater, I have followed developments carefully. I have been most impressed by the accomplishments and direction the college has taken in recent years.

The letter cites many examples of what the group represented by the writer considers liberally biased policies on campus. I know reducing the fraternity role has been a bitter pill to many Greeks. (I was a member of the Commons Club.) I might point out that a liberal atmosphere prevails at all liberal arts colleges and universities today. My career has been in the academic world, so I can speak from experience; however, I strongly believe that all points of view should be presented in undergraduate education.

In my days at Colgate, conservatism was in the ascendency. I remember a fraternity friend telling me he was the only one in his house with a kind word for FDR. President Cutten's convocation addresses invariably included criticism of the New Deal. Racism and anti-Semitism were present. Admission policies discouraged Jewish applicants. More liberal people like me just took all this as part of life.

[Sanford's] letter asserts that certain departments were in need of stengthening. I would like to see this charge, as well as others, answered.

I am not ready to support the change in the by-laws recommended in the letter, but I think discussion and debate on the issues raised are in order.

. . . We are all products of our experiences and events that have shaped our lives. I am not a member of SA4C, but feel that they have every right to express their views and concerns.

Mr. Wright (Letters, July 2007) certainly has an inherent right to exercise his views. Both groups should politely listen and promote a civil response; however, when he refers to Colgate as one educational system that is biased to a selected few and he's in favor of instituting a redistribution of wealth, he shows his political colors.

It's hard to take a view seriously when it is based on opinion and is void of fact and punctuated by disdain for other views. He takes a cheap shot at the Bush White House but promises to increase his donation to Colgate this year.

In the same issue, Mark Carew '98 relates his experiences with a university that is leaning to the left and exhibits less than an open attitude toward discussions of divergent political views. I view this with real concern. When talks are interrupted with a "pie in the face," disdain, or personal attacks, you are not solving problems or supporting an open educational experience.

. . . R.B. Wright's screed (Letters, July 2007) made note of the "rigors" at Colgate. In doing so he made the comment that, "Once through the front gate, it turns out to be rather easy to stay or even excel."

I have no idea what coursework Mr. Wright took while at Colgate, but I can assure him that at the very least, the molecular biology program is anything but "rather easy to excel" at. I would imagine that just about anyone who attended Colgate in the mid-1990s would echo my sentiments.

It may be that the Colgate of his youth was far different than the Colgate of mine. In any case, I would encourage Mr. Wright to choose his words more carefully. Many of us spent countless hours dedicated to excelling academically at Colgate. To dismiss these efforts as the setup to a joke taking a cheap shot at the White House is not only boorish, tasteless, and ill informed, but also not even very funny when one finally gets to the punchline.

I would prefer not to engage in a lengthy rebuttal of Mr. Wright's political points; rather, let me just raise a voice to let him know that there are those who feel he could not be more mistaken.

. . . Colleges and universities noted for their liberal arts programs should not accept donations with strings attached, such as election to boards of trustees, from corporations, alumni, and friends. Liberal arts colleges are not divinity schools or seminaries nor advisers to candidates with differing political views.

The loss of the gifts from donors who wish to dictate Colgate policies will increase the donations of those who have the Colgate spirit, who should politely be thanked for their generosity by granting them open lines of communication with the Board of Trustees, the administration, and faculty.

It is time for budgets that support and can maintain facilities. The building of costly additional new facilities should be limited saving the cost of construction, utilities, and repairs.

The Colgate Scene is to be thanked and appreciated for its low cost of production and its wonderful class notes! Campaign literature should be based on simplicity and competent accounting made to be attractive without gloss.

With best wishes and thanks for my great years as a student.

. . . Alas, Colgate is no different than any great school. It has its flaws, but its greatness outglows those.

Whatever your views on the administration, all are valid — but not to contribute is not valid. We give to my alma mater, Columbia College, probably the most revolutionary institution during the fiery '60s, and Amherst, my daughter's school. To hold back gifts is a total mistake and no reason is valid.

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