The Rochester Review, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA
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Letters To The Editor

The Review welcomes letters from readers and will print as many of them as space permits. Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity. Unsigned letters cannot be used, but names of the writers may be withheld on request.

John Mueller's 11 O'Clock Number

I was delighted to receive the latest copy of Rochester Review with the news that Professor John Mueller was recognized for his outstanding teaching ("The 11 O'Clock Number," Winter 1997-98). In my biased opinion, this recognition is long overdue. When I went to Rochester, he was already known as an outstanding teacher, and in the four classes I was lucky enough to take from him, I was able to see this for myself.

As I read the article, I found myself remembering similar stories from my time at Rochester. The only difference in my experience is that I do seem to recall that once when Professor Mueller was asked if he danced himself, his reply was "Not where anyone can see me."

Favorite Prof Stories

As the letters in this issue of the magazine attest, stories about favorite professors strike a responsive chord among our alumni.

Do you have a tale about a cherished professor that you'd be willing to share with our readers--either a teacher, like John Mueller, currently on the faculty, or perhaps a well-remembered figure from the past?

Please mail, fax, or e-mail your reminiscences to Rochester Review at one of the addresses listed on the contents page. We'll use what you send us either as a Letter to the Editor or as fodder for a possible future Rochester Review story. Write home--we'd love to hear from you.

I have a special feeling for Professor Mueller because he played a significant role in my life. Inspired in great measure by his courses--as well as other political science professors at Rochester--I decided that I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in political science. Since 1979 I have been teaching political science at Rice University, and I have always tried to live up to the high standards that Professor Mueller set. I don't fool myself that I have been able to do that, but one should always aim high. He was--and is--a true inspiration.

I suppose I should end this letter with a confession. Since my first year at Rice I have taught a variety of courses on international relations. Starting in my very first year, I taught an undergraduate course in national security policy. At the very first lecture, I told my students that the course was "Bombs and Rockets." I hope Professor Mueller will take this as a compliment; it was certainly intended that way!

Richard J. Stoll '74
Houston, Texas

Apart from the Crowd

What sets Professor Mueller apart from the crowd is not just his writing, but his dedication to students both inside and outside the classroom.

Here's a case in point: Before his 1993 "Bombs and Rockets" final exam, Professor Mueller spent a late night at Jay's Diner with us and two friends discussing class material, the Rodney King verdict riots, and a variety of other insightful topics. He did this immediately on the heels of a cross-country flight after delivering a paper in California. Rather than return to his home, he furthered our education over coffee and a strawberry milkshake.

On other occasions, Professor Mueller has adapted some of his published works for use by the Campus Times, enabling students outside his classes to learn from his expertise. Professor Mueller has always been willing to write without compensation for his primary audience: Rochester students.

The reality in higher education today is that few professors demonstrate a consistent and capable ability to "profess." Instead, too many remain holed up in their offices conducting research, writing papers, and chasing grants. Professor Mueller proves that in contemporary higher education, students can come first. While Madison Avenue constantly searches for new ways to advertise and reach today's college students, Mueller already understands how to bridge their world to his.

We are both proud to have learned from him and will continue to apply his lessons in our lives.

Adam Keats '95

Josh Shapiro '95
Washington, D.C.

Not So Golden Memories

If only we had had as devoted a history instructor as Professor Mueller during the 1943­46 years. Instead we were treated to the seemingly endless presentations of a "world famous" expert lecturing to himself and his teaching assistants while standing in front of some 700 bored students.

History should be either an interesting story, or a help in understanding how people behave under various conditions. His course was neither.

Owen Gailar '46
Fresno, California

Born in the Right Century

The sidebar article, "Two Modest Predictions," by Professor John Mueller in the Winter 1997-98 Rochester Review begins:

I have yet to run into an American over the age of 47 who regularly observes, "You know, if I had been born in the 19th century, I'd very probably be dead by now." Nobody really thinks in such terms, yet the statement is completely true. . . .

I have never met Professor Mueller (although, from the main article, I wish I had), but it sounds like he is describing me. I am well over 47 (62 currently), and for many years I have stated, "I'm glad I live in this century. If I had lived in any other, by now I would be either dead or blind." I then go on to explain that I have two chronic medical conditions, hypertension and glaucoma, and that the sustaining medications for both were unknown until the middle of this century. But, of course, I often complain about the nuisance of having to remember eye drops and pills every day. C'est la vie.

James D. Greenfield '57
Phoenix, Arizona

A Twofer

I had to write in response to the Winter edition, not only because one of my favorite professors, John Mueller, was on the cover and featured inside, but because there was also included an article on the man who was my boss for almost two years, Karl Kabelac, special collections librarian at Rush Rhees Library.

When I became a poli sci major, everybody told me I had to take "Bombs and Rockets" (National Security Policy) because the professor was funny and the material was terrific. It was a fascinating course, and not just because of its material and the funny Fred Astaire­expert professor.

It was obvious that he was not only interested in the material, but was excited about it, and more, excited about telling us about it. Oftentimes a lecture would take tangents that seemed unrelated to the topic, but they always came around to prove the point he had started explaining 10 minutes earlier.

To this day I can recall and apply many of the same principles and strategic-planning processes to my own professional life as I strive to survive in the business world, where politics is no less a functionality than it is in international relations.

When I applied for a work-study job in the library, I had one goal in mind: Make some cash to fund my extracurricular life. (Did somebody say beer fund?) The job I got with Karl Kabelac in Rare Books and Special Collections certainly fulfilled that goal. It also taught me a deeper appreciation for finding history in more than just textbooks. I got a chance to assist research patrons, compile exhibits, and review and catalog hundreds of photographs taken by George Eastman. I quickly came to see that the stacks were full not just of dusty books and boxes, but of life.

Karl taught me that the best way to learn history was either to experience it first hand, or else experience it as communicated by people who had lived it. A textbook, he once told me, relates what has happened, while a person's letters and possessions can relate how it happens, or why, or to what effect. I wish him much happiness in his retirement.

Tom Graham '85
Clay, New York
Via e-mail

Metzger's Namesake

The profile of Thomas Perry '74 (MA), "Serial Thriller," in the Winter 1997-98 issue recalled my contact with the author shortly after his second book, Metzger's Dog, was published in 1983. At first it seemed just an amusing coincidence that the protagonist had the same name as mine and had pursued the same profession. But then matters got curiouser and curiouser. I found that Perry's prior book was called The Butcher's Boy, and Metzger is a German word for "butcher." Furthermore, the dust jacket indicated that Perry, like me, had attended the University of Rochester!

I wrote to Perry, and in his delightful reply he assured me that it really was just a coincidence and expressed pleasure that it had amused rather than embarrassed me. Although I enjoyed the two earlier books enormously, I had not followed Perry's career and was pleased to read of his continued success in Jan Fitzpatrick's follow-up.

Henry Metzger, MD '53
Chevy Chase, Maryland

Putting English on the Ball

A line to inform Professor Grella that he is correct (Letters, Winter 1997-98). We were reading Bernard Malamud's The Natural in his English class at the time he had us tossing the ol' baseball in front of the library. This was many years before Robert Redford's movie.

Jan Zuckerman '71
New York City

The Van Ostrand Story

I enjoyed the letter from Kirsten Van Ostrand Wagmeister '89 about the association of the Van Ostrand family with the University. I was acquainted with Kirsten's grandparents through my friendship with her father, Dr. Jim Van Ostrand. One small error crept into her letter, however: Jim graduated in '55, rather than '51. We both entered the University in '51. If Jim is not out of the country, I'm sure he's already spotted that inconsistency and written you about it.

Jack Letarte '55
Upland, Indiana

Having Children 101

I am always happy to receive my latest copy of Rochester Review, and I usually go right to the Class Notes section to see what my classmates from Eastman are doing.

I am rather disappointed to see that some people seek to use that section for birth announcements. Frankly, I am surprised that the editors allow that kind of stuff to be printed in the Review! If everybody who ever attended the University were to write in and announce the arrivals of their babies, I'm afraid of what the magazine would weigh.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy for all those who are fortunate enough to have kids, but isn't Class Notes a forum for announcing accomplishments pertaining to career milestones--for demonstrating that what we had studied attending school was paying off with a new position in an orchestra or a professorship at a college? As I recall, "Having Children 101" was not offered as a course we could elect to study while at Eastman.

Gordon Johnson '74E
Via e-mail

Reader Johnson is right, of course. If everybody wrote in about all their accomplishments, both personal and professional, Rochester Review would indeed have a weight problem--but we would welcome the opportunity to deal with it. Our real problem, we think, is that we still don't hear from enough of you--which is perhaps why the occasional birth announcement among notes on career moves may perhaps be a bit of a surprise in some contexts.

Rochester Review, however, considers Class Notes a forum for the exchange of whatever news alumni wish to share with their classmates. So, keep it coming, you-all, and let us worry about putting on the weight --Editor.

Remembering George McKelvey

I write to report the death on January 18 of George I. McKelvey III '50, '57 (MA), vice president of development at Harvey Mudd College and, 1950­56, former head of alumni relations at Rochester.

I first met George in 1948. He was at that time an undergraduate at the University, where I was assistant professor of physics. George had decided the campus needed a radio station, and he asked the Board of Control for $1,500 to equip a small broadcast studio and to build a low-powered FM transmitter.

I found that George knew what he was talking about. He knew his radios. He also knew how to recruit and organize a group of undergraduates who wanted to help put Station WRUR on the air and keep it there.

Eight years later, in 1956, I became the first president of Harvey Mudd College, a college with a board of trustees and a campus, but as yet with no buildings, faculty, or students. Furthermore, we had or could expect about one tenth the money it would take to build, equip, and operate the college. We needed to raise money, and we needed a director of development. We offered George the job and he agreed to come. He arrived in September 1957, as did our first entering class.

All of this worked out. Harvey Mudd College does exist, and has been teaching students ever since 1957. George raised money by involving many volunteers, and he developed the staff we needed to keep them productive.

You will gather from my remarks that I am a warm admirer of George. I am, as are many.

Joseph B. Platt '37
Claremont, California

WRUR, the radio station George McKelvey helped found, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. See page 40--Editor.

And Harriet Van Horne

When I read the New York Times obit for Harriet Van Horne '40, a pioneer radio and television critic who died on January 17, I was mentally transported to those long-ago days at college when Harriet already gave promise of her future career.

Harriet was a sophomore on my arrival as a freshman. We met on the old Prince Street Campus when I started to write for Tower Times, our college paper. Harriet was editor-in-chief. I quickly learned that this innocent-looking curly-headed blonde was no slave to popular thought whether dealing with campus affairs or national politics.

As an undergraduate, she did a weekly column, mostly college news, for the Democrat and Chronicle. Once she announced that Frank Gannett was the hole in the doughnut--an opinion she was about to impart to her readers when she suddenly recalled that he was the paper's owner.

Harriet always wrote or co-authored the book for our annual musical, Kaleidoscope. It was her idea one year to publicize the event by sending a cable to Hitler, begging him to avoid any significant military coup during the period our show was scheduled. (In the late '30s and even beyond, most of us were so insulated from "the gathering storm" of World War II that we regarded Der Führer as a relatively harmless buffoon.)

When choosing her major field of study, Harriet opted for government, the only department that gave oral senior exams. In her words, "At least I can talk myself out of anything."

There was a rule then that every student had to swim the length of a pool in order to graduate. In total defiance of this order, Harriet swore she would never swim across anyone's pool to graduate. And I doubt she ever did.

Her meteoric career as a syndicated columnist came as no surprise to me. I had always known she would distinguish herself in some form of communication.

In a permanent niche of memory, Harriet will remain for me an energetic sui generis undergrad. I can still see her in the accepted costume of that period--sweater, skirt, reversible raincoat, and saddle shoes --but with one distinctive touch: topping her curls, a blue slouch hat with a saucy feather pointing upward and jiggling wildly as she vigorously crossed our campus with a Spanish textbook tucked under one arm.

Dear Harriet, how refreshing you were!

Leah Gadlow '41
New York City

The Times obit reported that Van Horne "got her first full-time newspaper job, at The Greenwich Times in Connecticut, by running an ad in Editor and Publisher that began, 'Blue-eyed blonde with a nose for news and a way with words, fresh out of college' " --Editor.

The Jacob Lawrence Catalogue

The nonprofit Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonné Project is seeking information on the whereabouts of original artwork by University of Rochester honorary alumnus Jacob Lawrence '92 (LHD) for documentation and publication.

If you know of such works, please contact Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonné Project, P.O. Box 21747, Seattle, Washington 98111-3747; (206) 682-4889; (206) 682-5092, fax;

Stephanie Ellis Smith

Research assistant

Magic Bus Rolls Again

The OMEGA fraternity alumni association invites all who have ever taken a trip on the Magic Bus to rejoin us at

Jeff Rosenblum '84
New York City
Via e-mail

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