Letters to the Editor

Our readers respond

CCL, the CIA, and WMDs.

CCL: gone but not forgotten

The article about the reopened Cross Campus Library ("This is CCL?" January/February) reminded me of my work there as a student aide in 1972–73. I was at the circulation desk when a somewhat rumpled older man stepped up to check out a book. When I asked him for his card, the librarian rushed up and threw me aside.

After the man left, I received a lecture. Apparently, Professor Robert Penn Warren didn't need a library card.
Barry Miller ’75
Chicago, IL

Validating CCL's reputation as more social scene than serious study space
, I first set eyes on my future wife -- Kimberly Davis ’90 -- at one of the tables one night during finals week. Down there more to be distracted than to actually accomplish anything, I was introduced to her by a mutual friend, and I proceeded to chat her up for over an hour, standing over the table and choosing to ignore her blindingly obvious hints regarding her final the following morning. My only consolation after finally relenting, thoroughly humiliated, and leaving her to study was the realization that I was unlikely to ever have the mortifying experience of seeing her again.

Twenty years feels like the blink of an eye, until I recall that we were in the "smoking section" (half the library at the time was reserved for smoking, which was finally banned the following year), and that I spent the hour bumming cigarettes from her whenever I ran out of things to say. Hard to say which is more embarrassing: (1) that I am old enough to remember when it was acceptable to smoke in blue-state undergraduate libraries, or (2) that for all the evils of smoking (we quit together shortly thereafter), it is partially responsible for the principal happiness of my life. I dread the day our 11-year-old daughter thinks to ask how I met her mother.
Peter Adolf ’89
Huntersville, NC

The minimalist design of CCL
, completed approximately 40 years after James Gamble Rogers's Sterling Memorial Library, was both an honest reflection of the changed material and esthetic culture of the late twentieth century and a simple,
but appropriate, way to complement a revival style that was no longer buildable. The white marble, glass slabs, and slate-and-ivy gardens of CCL may not have been Gothic, but they breathed new air into the stony architecture of the Cross Campus.

In contrast, the Bass Library demonstrates why Gothic revival, or the attempt to reproduce it, is an inappropriate stylistic and material choice for new Yale buildings. The entry pavilion is a heavy oddity with as little historic precedent as the Sterling tower but with much less esthetic success. And the conservative appearance of the interior is blandly reminiscent of a corporate boardroom rather than a place of intense intellectual practice.

Yale's architectural and urban legacy is a heavy responsibility and a difficult charge for its stewards. But this legacy is also a bringer of daily joy to the diverse population of Yale and New Haven. Augmenting it demands significantly more design intelligence and urbanistic sensibility than is manifested by the new Bass Library.
Brent D. Ryan ’91
Department of Urban Planning and Design
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

The centerfold-worthy story
on the metamorphosis of Cross Campus, which I vividly recall as the "ugly duckling" of Yale's (and, I hate to say it, most other colleges', universities', and communities') libraries, was heartwarming and uplifting. As both an alumna and a librarian of many years' standing, I found the "after" photos mouthwatering. I wish all libraries were as beautiful, as inspiring, and as inviting as Bass is, and I wish its staff and patrons many happy years working in and using it! I'll be in New England in May for my reunion at Smith, and I just might stop by the library for a day on my way up from Philadelphia. (Just one question: are they hiring?)
Barbara Pilvin ’76MA
Free Library of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA

For those of us who have never experienced the CCL
, now Bass Library, will you please print a layout of the new structure and show its relationship to Sterling and to Berkeley College? Where are the light wells located? Is the tunnel that connected the two halves of Berkeley still extant?
John F. Battick ’54
Dover-Foxcroft, ME

The tunnel (and its murals) survives. We've posted a map here.
-- Eds.



The January/February feature, "A Brief History of Groupthink," was a bit too brief, perhaps, as it ignored one of the major contributors to the development of this concept: Irving L. Janis's 16-year-old daughter, Charlotte.

Shortly after Professor Janis taught his seminal Yale seminar in group psychology in 1965, he was approached by his daughter, who needed a thesis topic for her modern history class at Amity High School in Woodbridge, Connecticut. Based on his suggestions, she researched and wrote a term paper titled "The Groupthink Hypothesis and the Bay of Pigs."

The paper earned a well-deserved "A." In the early stages of his own research, Professor Janis often sent copies of it to social scientists who inquired about the theory. He always gave his daughter full credit, not only for coining the term itself, but for having helped to define and substantiate it.
Everard H. Smith ’71
Wilmington, NC

At last a rational explanation
of the U.S. Supreme Court's opinions in Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, and Brown v. Board of Education: groupthink!
Horace McCowan ’49JD
Richmond, VA


One Prius, two Pri...

In the January/February Letters section, Professor Michael J. Prather referred to his three Toyota "Prii." As an owner of a hybrid car (a Nissan Altima), I noted his effort to create a plural for Prius. Recently, there has been a flurry of research on the subject by Latin scholars, and the authoritative conclusion, according to Boston Globe language columnist Jan Freeman, is "Priora." As for my car, I think that the plural is clear: alumna, alumnae; Altima, Altimae. However, as one who needed assistance to read his Yale diploma, I forbear to press this further.
John Hansman ’61
Rockville, MD


Hallorans v. Harvard

Star running back Mike McLeod ’09 may not play, alas, on an unbeaten Yale team ("The Disaster of ’07," January/February). But an earlier native of New Britain, Connecticut -- my brother Mike Halloran ’62, ’65LLB -- was junior fullback on the last undefeated and untied Yale football team, in 1960.

A knee injury kept Halloran from his senior season but not away from Yale football: he coached the Saybrook College intramural team in the fall of 1961. Saybrook held a traditional Friday morning playoff with Adams House of Harvard the day before the Yale-Harvard game. That year, the Yale-Harvard game was to be played in New Haven on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Realizing that much of his team would be home for the holiday on Friday morning, Mike found ringers in New Britain. Five of his brothers participated: Bill, Frank, and Joe played defense, while John and I worked the chains along the sidelines. Saybrook won 6-0 in a muddy, wet, defensive game. Our father, Francis J. Halloran, wrote in his family chronicle that 1961 would be recorded as the year the Hallorans beat Harvard.
Edward J. Halloran ’75MPH
Chapel Hill, NC


Honorable honorands

Reminded of George W. Bush's ire that Yale was tardy in awarding an honorary degree to George H. W. Bush, and then "as soon as the younger Bush took office, Yale gave him a degree," President Rick Levin explains, "We were aware that the university had recognized the senior George Bush rather late, and the committee wished not to make the same mistake" again ("Q&A: Rick Levin," January/February). That is, Yale's neglect of the father led to instant recognition of the son, the worst president in American history. So two wrongs do make a right?
Mark Taylor ’61
South Nyack, NY

It is obvious to me, and, I expect, to many others
, that the university was wise to wait until late in George H. W. Bush's presidential term before awarding his honorary degree. By then it was apparent that a strong case could be made that this President Bush deserved such recognition on the basis of his performance in office.

The mistake was to give George W. Bush this high honor without waiting to measure his accomplishments as president. His achievements prior to becoming president hardly reflect the criteria President Levin articulates: "excellence -- truly distinctive, pathbreaking contributions in whatever field of endeavor the recipient represents."

At the University of Florida, where I taught for many years, honorary degrees are awarded only if approved by the University Faculty Senate. I have long thought it odd that the Yale faculty is not similarly involved, along with "the committee," in the honorary degree process.
Richard H. Hiers ’54, ’57BD, ’61PhD
Gainesville, FL

The comment by President Levin
that the committee in charge of finding candidates for honorary degrees could not find a truly inspiring schoolteacher needs more explanation. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of awards made each year for "Teacher of the Year" or lifetime achievement in teaching. I have read scores of stories of testimony by former students and others touched by the teacher that describe what to most of us is a truly inspiring presence in a community. I have even known some of them.

President Levin should be asked to explain why none of these people were deemed "truly inspiring" by the committee. What standards did they use to determine the lack of inspiration? Would it be possible for any human being to meet the exalted standard for schoolteachers? The committee seems to be saying that school teaching is not a worthy profession. The awarding of an honorary degree to the current President Bush clearly did not meet (true whether or not one supports his goals and policies) the standard of excellence required of schoolteachers.
Fred Graf ’70
Concord, NH


Yale's CIA connection

I was fascinated by Judith Ann Schiff's account of the Culinary Institute of America's early days (Old Yale, January/February) and to learn of the Yale connection. During the 30 years I lived in western Connecticut, I regularly journeyed to Hyde Park to enjoy some of the best meals I have ever eaten. I also took non-credit courses there, allowing me to claim to be CIA-trained. I was delighted to find out that Katharine Angell had founded the original school. The next time my wife and I return east, we will dine in Hyde Park and drink a toast to Mrs. Angell.

Her statement that every cooking school should have a chapel was certainly validated when the CIA moved to the Hudson Valley: the property it purchased was formerly St. Andrew's Jesuit Seminary. Today, the nave of what was the huge chapel serves as one of the kitchens. I suspect the Jesuit Fathers who once populated St. Andrew's Seminary would be pleased.
Michael L. Lazare ’53
Larkspur, CO


Thanks for the honesty

This is just a quick thank-you. For years at home we've gotten both the Yale Alumni Magazine and the Harvard one and I was always disheartened to see that the Crimson one seemed to be a much better read. The last few months I had ignored the Yale one and only looked at the alumni notes. This month I looked at the rest of the magazine and was astounded. I love the format and found the articles truly interesting. I was very saddened to read about the accident and untimely death of the theater student and was appreciative that you had written about what must be a very difficult topic to present in an alumni magazine. Thank you for including that brief story and for including other stories that don't reflect positively on the university but rather show it as it is, great but with flaws.

Please continue the honesty and the fresh approach.
Manuela Orjuela ’85, ’89MD
New York, NY


Who's studying whom?

Growing up and attending public schools in New Haven from the 1950s to 1970 offered a unique perspective on Yale. Between 1966 and 1970 when I attended, Hillhouse High School was site to riots and ongoing violence and tension. Yale was another world, of the wealthy, insulated, and elite who were safely tucked in behind thick stone walls. Yale and Yalies were a distant mystery. When I returned to New Haven to attend graduate school at Yale, I found myself living on the Yale side of the divide.

Recently, a young man I know who attends a private university (just a few miles up the road from New Haven) returned from a semester abroad in a third-world country where he was studying the people and life there. I asked him if, rather than traveling thousands of miles to a foreign country, he would be interested in spending a semester in New Haven. There are multiple languages spoken; people of many skin colors, religions, countries of origin; a tremendous range in wealth, crime, art, sports, history . . . a great place to immerse himself in a world different from his own. My young friend was inclined to travel to more exotic (and perhaps less dangerous-sounding) places than New Haven.

I was delighted to read the cover story about Professor Elijah Anderson in the January/February issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine. He offers his students an opportunity to get a picture of life on the other side of the town in which they live.

I suggest going even further. I believe the world would be better served if people at the bottom of the economic/power totem pole studied those with money, schooling, and power. Of course, this happens but from a distance. The stone walls and private police do create significant barriers. Imagine if students from Hillhouse and other public schools in New Haven had free access to researching and studying the people and culture of Yale. I look forward to hearing their findings and recommendations.
Mark Judelson ’85MF
Chestnut Ridge, NY


Premodern prodigies

In my Sporting Life article on Michael McLeod ’09 (November/December), I omitted mention of Yale's most prolific scorer of touchdowns, Henry Ward Beecher, Class of 1888 (grandson of the famous minister). In three years on the varsity (1885-87), Beecher had 66 touchdowns, including 33 in one season (1886) and 11 in one game (vs. Wesleyan on October 30, 1886). McLeod has 48 touchdowns in three years.

Yale's career scoring leader is Thomas Lee McClung, Class of 1892, a halfback and kicker who had at least 510 points in four years (1888-91). I cannot find an exact total.
Robert E. Barton ’57
Farmington, CT


Carbon source

I read with interest Mr. Blankenship's letter regarding Yale's efforts to mitigate its environmental impact (January /February). He expresses a widely held misconception that all sources of greenhouse gas emission are part of the problem of global climate change. It is critical to address this misconception.

The world's carbon can be divided into three pools: atmospheric, biomass (plants and animals) and geologic (rocks, fossil fuels). Carbon is constantly cycling in the ecosystem between the biomass and the atmosphere. Plants extract carbon from the atmosphere, and animals use carbon from plants. Forest fires and biological processes return carbon from the biomass to the atmosphere. This carbon is essentially "recycled" between the biomass and the atmosphere. Geologic carbon, however, has been sequestered in the ground for millions of years and has not been involved in this cycle. When we burn coal, natural gas, and oil, the carbon that was underground is added to the ecosystem. This is the problem.

Burning fossil fuels will return us to the time when the carbon sources of those fuels were alive and part of the ecosystem, when dinosaurs walked the earth, the climate was warmer, and the sea level was higher. My son loves dinosaurs, but I'd prefer not for him to live with their climate.
Mark Block ’83, ’87MD
Hollywood, FL


Nukes, Bush, and Bill Clinton










Strobe Talbott's essay "The WMD The World Forgot" (Forum, January/February) hit the nail on the head. So long as some states possess nuclear weapons other states will desire them and, in some cases, will seek to obtain them through whatever means are available. As a result, the only way to stop the proliferation of nuclear WMDs is for all nuclear powers to disarm. As the world's most powerful nation, the United States is in a unique position to lead nuclear disarmament by example.

Talbott is also correct that the Bush administration's penchant for facilitating violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty when the violators are "friends," while denying "enemies" their rights under the treaty, has been a dismal failure. But he fails to acknowledge that the Clinton administration in which he served as deputy secretary of state also failed in a similar, but not so public, fashion.

The Clinton administration, for example, did not push for accelerated nuclear disarmament; nor did it put pressure on Israel -- the Middle East's only nuclear power and the main reason certain Arab states want their own nukes.

Nuclear disarmament is not a partisan issue; nor can it work if certain states are exempted from participation. If Mr. Talbott truly believes that nuclear disarmament is the way forward, he can advance that cause most effectively by balancing his criticisms of the Bush administration with a critique of his own past failure to aggressively push for disarmament within the administration in which he was one of the main foreign policy architects.

Strobe Talbott may soon be within the inner circle of those who direct U.S. foreign policy. Let's hope he will push for real disarmament this time around.
Felice Pace ’69
Klamath, CA


Fall sports report falls down

Your coverage of the sailing team in "The Fall Sports Roundup" (January/February) bears a surprising and disappointing inverse relationship to its success. In a single final sentence of a page-long spread, you mention only a "plethora of top five finishes across the Northeast."

Where were you when the women's team was ranked first in the country by the ICSA (the sport's collegiate governing body) and the coed team third? More importantly, how can you ignore the unprecedented domination of Eli sailors at the college single-handed nationals, where Thomas Barrows ’10 won gold in the men's division and Jane Macky ’09 took silver in the women's?

The only constants in this thread are the sailing team's continued national prowess under the leadership of coach Zack Leonard and the alumni magazine's dismal failure to feature these exemplary student athletes.
Tim Platt ’77
Henniker, NH


Lyme and Insurance

I read with strong dismay about the conclusion of School of Medicine epidemiologist Eugene Shapiro ’70 that chronic Lyme disease may not be real (School Notes, January/February). I may just be a country lawyer, but it seems that Dr. Shapiro fails to reconcile his declaration with other published data concluding that tests for Lyme disease are highly unreliable. If there is no accurate test, how can we know for certain when the infection is gone?

The terrible problem with Shapiro's position here is that the authority of the Yale brand sets a standard of care, which guides insurance companies and what they cover. Families can be bankrupted when insurers fail to cover extended treatment. Further, Dr. Shapiro's approach may lead state medical boards to discipline physicians whose patients wish to extend antibiotic dosing. In my humble view, absent reliable testing for Lyme, patients should have the freedom to choose. Those who respond to continued antibiotic therapy should have the freedom to decide with their physicians if the benefits for treating chronic Lyme disease outweigh the risks. Dr. Shapiro has more work to do to justify ending the debate and removing that freedom.
David Friedman ’94, ’99JD
Salem, OR


Author's query 

I am trying to contact former students in English department courses taught by Charles Fenton in the 1950s in order to assemble recollections of him.
Matthew Bruccoli ’53
Emily Brown Jefferies Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Department of English
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC





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