Running on Empty
Getting There from Here
Full Steam Ahead
Beyond the Bluster
Cashing in Her Chips
The Art & Science of Diversity
Twins Be Nimble
|Exchange: To and from the editors
Letters in Print
Reading “Going Up,” (Winter 2006, page 15) it was a surprise to learn that the newest residence halls will have air conditioning, an expensive amenity that will be used only in summer. It would seem cheaper and simpler to install windows that open and to encourage residents to adapt. Anyone who has spent both summer and winter in the area knows that, come November, you grow nostalgic for hot August nights when you slept naked.
Jane Pereira ’70
Windows in the new halls do open; as well, units are individually controlled so students may opt for conditioned air or sultry summer breezes. One of the main reasons for installing air conditioning, says facilities planner Andrew Soles, project manager for construction of the residence halls, is the growth of summer programs on campus. The new residence halls will offer all varieties of learners (and sleepers) a comfortable home away from home, even in the dog days of summer. –Ed.
An Adventurous Soul
In the winter issue, a great article “Up, Up, and Away!” (page 28) tells of two of my classmates, Roma Levy and Nancy Luce Van Epps. Roma was at our 65th reunion last June. Nancy was my roommate our freshman year, and I have kept in touch with her all these years. I always send a Christmas card, and this year it was returned “DEC.” She was of an adventurous spirit also. I will miss hearing from her.
Carolyn (Monk) Myrick ’40
Temple, New Hampshire
Thank you for your story on Shelburne Falls. I graduated in 1980 and returned to the area, moving to Shelburne Falls in 1988. My experience was a true eye-opener.
Having lived in inner cities most of my life, I thought I was moving to a rural community with an artistic bent and looked forward to the change. I met with a head-on view of rural poverty and people with major domestic challenges and scarred lives. My neighbors were in bar brawls. Occasionally there was a domestic violence case where I was asked to come in and patch someone up because I was a veterinarian and the offending parties had no health insurance. Someone living behind me in subsidized housing inadvertently rolled over on her infant, and the infant died.
My dogs were held at gunpoint. There was a horrible murder of a young girl in Greenfield; my house and surrounding area were the focal point of the manhunt.
As a city girl, I moved to Shelburne Falls and was met with more difficult challenges than I faced as a nameless person on a city street. I was mugged, violated, and robbed in New York, but I saw the underbelly of rural Massachusetts in Shelburne Falls. I am hoping the arts thrive in Shelburne Falls and adjoining towns. I also hope that people in need seek and find help.
With great respect for all our communities and the people who live in them,
Debora (Beechert) Lichtenberg ’80G
Grace Friary’s article, “Falling For Shelburne Falls,” (Winter 2006, page 32) brought back many memories. Following my graduation from UMass in 1963, I lived in the Falls and taught in the local high school until it closed in 1967, when Shelburne joined the Mohawk Trail Regional School District. I joined the faculty at the new high school, where I remained for two years until returning to UMass to earn my doctorate.
In those days, Shelburne Falls was an insulated, conservative community with few options for its high school graduates. Most went to work in the one remaining textile mill in Colrain or a cutlery factory in Shelburne Falls, or farmed. Greenfield Community College had just opened but attracted few of Shelburne’s young, and UMass was not really seen as an option. Town politics were dominated by a few old-line families and there was tremendous social pressure to conform to their thinking as to how the town and its churches and schools should be run. I recall one young minister being encouraged to leave town after beginning a sex education program. As well, I recall Orwell’s 1984 was banned from the high school curriculum because it allegedly encouraged communism, a total misreading of the text. In that year, I remember a student asking me during class if it was true that I was a communist Jew.
Despite the obvious constraints that a liberal-leaning, young, and unmarried teacher felt, Shelburne Falls had a beauty and simplicity that I found difficult to leave. I made many friends there and have always felt welcomed when I’ve visited. I was glad to learn that the town has had a rebirth and is home to so many UMass alumni.
Paul H. Levy ’63, ’66G, ’71G
Silver Spring, Maryland
The Enemy is Us
Your winter 2006 issue was, as usual, outstanding. One article, however, was a tad disturbing. I refer to “Science Under Siege” (page 12). Kevin Knobloch ’78 of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) apparently got his degree without having taken a course in logic. He asserts that the UCS’s mission is “protecting the earth and human life” by “addressing the biggest threats to these like global warming, nuclear proliferation, and the global food supply.” His program of “scientific integrity” desperately needs to acknowledge that it is “human” life, which is exacerbating global warming, and only “human” life that has developed nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction.
Animal species other than homo sapiens are not similarly guilty! Walt Kelly’s much missed comic strip years ago found Pogo Possum profoundly pronouncing, “We have met the enemy, it is us.”
Ergo, if scientific integrity is to have meaning, it needs to concern itself also with the protection of the defenseless innocents of other species as well as the human one.
Vic Urbaitis ’56
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Science and Truth
The winter issue article (“Science Under Siege,” page 12) about Kevin Knobloch ’78 and the Union of Concerned Scientists made clear the problem…with science. Dr. Knobloch’s assertion that science is the best tool we have to pursue the truth and is the bedrock of a participatory democracy is more than just arrogant and myopic, it is plainly false. Consider, for instance, the “self-evident” truths put forward in our Declaration of Independence (the bedrock of our participatory democracy) regarding equality and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Science reveals little about these truths. What about mercy, compassion, justice, beauty, or love? If science is so much about truth, why is it that more than 30 percent of scientists have been reported to lie and cheat (Nature, June 2005)?
Science is not the only finder or guardian of truth. In fact, science is so limited that those truths that are self-evident—truths that provide meaning and purpose to life—cannot be explained by the scientific method. And thank goodness for that!
Jeffrey C. Ives ’92G
Ithaca, New York
Pride and Age Prejudice
Your magazine is great, and I read it religiously, but I feel it overlooks young alumni. For example, I am one of the youngest founding members (if not the youngest) of the Alumni Club in Boston and one of the youngest Life Members of the Alumni Association. I often feel like I’m surrounded by old people (though I don’t mind), and I feel like the alumni magazine needs to cultivate the younger spirit of the recent graduates.
You should highlight those of us that are doing well. Even though we have just graduated, we young alumni are out there working alongside Boston College and Cornell graduates and are proud of our education and what it has allowed us to do. I work for the Executive Compensation Group, a premier financial services firm in Boston. We work hand in hand with MassMutual and alongside people from the most prestigious colleges and universities. I think young executives like me would get a boost from seeing more young alumni coverage in the magazine.
John Bartolo ’04
In Praise of Polymers
Praise, compliments, and kudos for the excellent Winter 2006 UMass Amherst magazine. The cover caught my immediate attention; I especially enjoyed “Why You Should Love Polymers” (page 24).
As I read the article—surprise!—there was a brief story regarding the development and study of medical stent implants! I worked for 27 years as senior scientist at Sovereign Specialty Polymers, in Seabrook, New Hampshire. In July 2006, I incorporated as a consultant, and I have been doing polymer R&D in several different areas.
My most interesting current work is research and process development in the area of drug-eluting cardiac stents, associated polymer development, polymer bonding to exotic metals, solid drug migration through solid polymers, and a variety of associated medical work. Our management calls our research in cardiac stent implants both evolutionary and revolutionary.
My special congratulations to UMass Amherst for the prodigious accomplishment with the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering.
Harold Garey ’60
Soon after your publication’s mention of my new business, Phonies LLC, (Winter 2006, “Class Notes,” page 70), my product appeared on ESPN’s sports television show Cold Pizza. Coincidence? In fact, Minuteman “Sam” is highlighted in the ESPN clip. Some alumni contacted me too! Thanks again; my business is budding, and I will keep you informed.
Frank Sykes ’90
A Unique and Complex Solution
Our “Adoption Question” article (Winter 2006) provoked strong reactons. Readers have pointed out, there are as many ways of experiencing adoption as there are adopted children and adoptive parents. In endowing the Rudd Chair, the Rudds hope to foster research into the diverse environments in which adopted children grow up and into the many facets of adoption—for example, how adoption of older children, as Mel Fisher wrote us, may differ from that of infants. Such research should dispel misassumptions and expand understanding about this “unique and complex solution,” as Susan Cox describes it.
Ultimately, better understanding may lead to more adoption-friendly public policies and may influence institutions, such as the courts, to act from a basis of accurate information in regard to adoption. Susan Cox noted that she has been an unofficial spokesperson for adoption all her life; individuals will always provide the most compelling explanations, but more research might remove the burden of having to be the only source of information. And it may lessen the occurrence of painful moments such as those Holly Anderson referred to, when she has been “treated as damaged goods.”
As is true of non-adoptive family contexts, it is an understanding of the complexity and variability of family stressors and strengths that will enable researchers, policy-makers, and parents to understand what factors help children to thrive. In endowing the professorship, the Rudds have demonstrated their own keen awareness of, and determination to counter stereotypes. –Ed.
I hope that the scope of the study on adoption will cover the issues regarding older children. My wife and I adopted a boy when he was seven years old. Friends of ours adopted a five-year-old boy and a three-year-old a girl.
A network television station in Rhode Island has a once-a-week feature, “Tuesday’s Child,” which makes the adoption of older children seem easy. Our experiences, as well as those of others we’ve met, are in sharp contrast to the television version of adoption. I hope your study will look at the issue of older children as well as that of children exposed to the chaos of drug use. “Angry” just doesn’t start to describe the emotions trapped in these children.
Mel Fisher ’67
Warwick, Rhode Island
I applaud Andrew and Jinny Rudd for endowing a Psychology Department chair for the purpose of studying the adoption. However, as an adoptee myself, I was struck by the tone of the article.
I (as, I suspect, do most adoptees) view myself, correctly, as just like other children, with loving, albeit genetically distinct, parents—and with my own set of individual foibles, quirks, and maladjustments. The only time I have felt any pain or trauma from being adopted has been when others have treated me as damaged goods. Thus, I found quite upsetting the suggestion that adopted children as a class are traumatized and have issues, or live with a condition that requires accommodation. This perpetuates a stigmatizing stereotype of adoptees as inferior, and adoptive families as second best. To be sure, some adoptees struggle with feelings of abandonment and rejection. But how much of that “trauma” is inflicted by our DNA-obsessed society’s elevation of blood ties over a lifetime of loving parental attention? Now that is a question worthy of study.
Holly Anderson ’90
I am adopted. I have a different perspective and experience in the world as a result, though I am not from a foreign country or of mixed race. Fortunately, I have never been treated in ways that the article described—like I was undeservedly “lucky,” a defect, or the result of monstrous birth parents—and rejection is not a common theme in my life.
Any problems I have experienced were almost always the result of simple ignorance. I have always been happy to explain my situation and what it was like to be adopted, to not know anything about my birth parents, and to be a part of a family that looks nothing like me. Without exception, I found that people were relieved to have their questions answered and to realize that adoption was not a sore subject.
The generalizations communicated in the article underscore the need for more research on adoption. But the focus should not be on finding some kind of clinical diagnosis of adoptees. Adoption is a unique and complex solution that is constantly evolving, and should be viewed as such, not as an age-old stigma or a new disease. While I know that there are many unhappy and even tragic adoption situations in the world, I feel that the money would be better spent on an examination of why patronizing attitudes persist outside of the adoption triad and why even sympathetic people continue to view adoption as something to be ashamed of and overcome.
Susan I. Cox ’90
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