The Rochester Review, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA

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University of Rochester

Class Acts


Alan Finder '69, a reporter for The New York Times, spoke to a group of alumni at the Rochester home of Richard Rice '65 and Susan Quick Rice '67 in early April. Finder has been with the Times since 1984; he covers urban affairs.

In the Rice's cozy parlor, with about 20 rapt listeners in attendance, Finder told Times' fans the tales behind the stories. "I've been a local reporter by choice," he said of his beat. "It gives you a different relationship with the subject matter."

Finder's relationship with his stories is passionate and intense. "I enjoy getting way past the news and underneath a topic," he said. Following up on his wife's comment that she had seen some elderly people foraging in garbage bins, for instance, he staked out Dumpsters across the city. For several weeks he quietly watched the patterns of the garbage hunters and then approached them to hear their tales for a report on the indigent elderly.

Another example: The Giuliani administration was hot at one time to eliminate the false fire alarms that were being pulled across the city. But numbers of the poor can't afford their own telephones, Finder knew, and he wondered if, in their zeal to eliminate the alarm boxes in some areas of the city, the city fathers (and mothers) might not also eliminate the only source of emergency communication in neighborhoods where public phones are often not working. (A member of the city administration, in a comment reminiscent perhaps of French history, said, "Let them use cell phones.") Personally checking some 700 public pay phones to see if they were in working order, the reporter found that about 35 percent of them didn't work, giving the administration a (well-deserved) public relations headache.

At the time of his talk, Finder had been working for some months on a story on the success of workfare, he said. "Giuliani says it's a model program. Advocates for the poor say it's horrible. We're just trying to see if we can get to the facts."

During a question and answer session at the end of the program, Jen Racho '96, a reporter for the Rochester Business Journal, asked, "What makes an excellent reporter?"

After some thought, Finder replied, "You know it when you see it."


University and community leaders, including Lois Christianson Giess '63 (above), president of the Rochester City Council, officiated at ceremonies to rededicate a plaque, portrait, and lounge in Susan B. Anthony Hall to Martha Matilda Harper, a 19th-century entrepreneur. (Susan B., as you might remember, was instrumental in revolutionizing the University by convincing the powers-that-be to allow women to study here. Inspired by her friend's successes, Harper went on to revolutionize American business.)

The University had originally dedicated the Martha Matilda Harper lounge in 1956. The plaque and portrait were inadvertently removed during building renovations and not returned.

Harper, a servant-turned-international-business-owner who attended classes at the University, was the first female to join the Rochester Chamber of Commerce. Opening Rochester's first beauty shop for women in 1888, Harper also launched the nation's first retail franchise in 1891. She eventually had more than 500 beauty shops worldwide operating under the Harper Method flag, while giving 100 other former servant women the opportunity to own their own businesses.

Harper had another connection to Susan B. Anthony: She used Susan's lawyer when she threatened the owners of the Powers Building in downtown Rochester with a law suit. They were reluctant to lease space to her for her first beauty shop, afraid that it would attract the "wrong kind of women" to the building. Susan's lawyer persuaded them otherwise, and the rest, as they say, is history.


The McCaughey septuplets, born in November, received some extra special Rochester attention: Hollie Bzdega '80M (Res) and Paula Malone '93M (Flw) were on the scene at the hospital in Iowa to help at the delivery. Bzdega was one of five neo-natologists who cared for the infants following birth. Malone, a specialist in maternal fetal medicine, helped deliver the little bundles. . . . Pamela Austin Thompson '79N (Mas) has been elected chair of the board of trustees of the New Hampshire Hospital Association (NHHA). Thompson, vice president of the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, as well as Women's Health and Psychiatric Services, is the first nurse in more than 30 years to lead the NHHA.


We all like a little attention when we reach a goal. When Joseph DiFede '33, '98 (Mas) successfully defended his master's thesis in June, he got a little more than he bargained for.

The 89-year-old former New York State Supreme Court judge, with a law degree and a doctorate from St. John's University, had finished his course work for a master's degree in history at Rochester back in the 1930s, but never completed the necessary thesis. After a stint as Chief Labor Officer for the military government in Italy in World War II, a political career, and a 20-year career as a judge, DiFede retired and began to think about the work left undone.

"Maybe it was that I don't like to leave things unfinished," he says. "Maybe it's that I have more free time now, or maybe it's that as you grow older you look back and think of what you'd like to do that you didn't get around to doing earlier."

Whatever the reason, DiFede wrote to President Jackson and asked if he could use a law review article he had written as a thesis and complete the master's degree. Jackson agreed, with the stipulation that DiFede come to Rochester to defend the thesis, a paper on the ambiguities and contradictions of the Taft-Hartley law.

Defending his work in front of history faculty, coupled with the knowledge that, along with the faculty members, a New York Times reporter was in attendance might have given even a savvy politico like DiFede a slight case of stage fright. The judge, however, carried it off with aplomb; his successful defense resulted in a Times' piece on Saturday, June 6, with a photo of the candidate defending his work in Rush Rhees Library. The defense also resulted in an invitation to join the history department's Ph.D. program. He's probably thinking it over, very seriously.

Ah, applause.


If there's a glass ceiling in academia, Rochester women graduates are cracking it. Cutting a swathe from the southwest to the east coast is Ilene Busch-Vishniac '76. (See Alumni Gazette, MAKING (SOUND) WAVES.)

Making a big mark on the administration in New Haven, Susan Hockfield '73, professor of neurobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, was promoted to dean of Yale's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. As dean, she will oversee academic and administrative policies for the school, the largest of Yale's 11 graduate and professional schools, and its 2,300 students.

Hockfield, who joined Yale as an assistant professor in 1985, served as director of graduate studies for the Section of Neurobiology from 1986 to 1994, and has been involved with improving graduate training in the biological and biomedical sciences throughout her tenure at Yale. She has served on the Executive Committee of the Graduate School and a committee to improve linkages among the biomedical sciences. She has also had a role in the development of the new Biological and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, a collaboration among most of the Yale's biological science departments. Her awards and fellowships include the Charles Judson Herrick Award of the American Association of Anatomists for outstanding contributions by a young scientist.


Lance Drummond '85S (MBA) was named a Henry Crowne Fellow. Vice president of Eastman Kodak and chief operating officer of Kodak's Professional Division, Drummond was among 22 high achieving young executives considered by the Aspen Institute to be among the future leaders of America. The institute offers the group a series of workshops designed to hone their leadership skills. Drummond is a member of both the advisory board for the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, and the Board of Trustees at the University. . . . Michael Sporn '59M (MD), the Oscar M. Cohn Professor of Pharmacology at Dartmouth Medical School, received the 21st annual Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research. The award recognizes his pioneering work in drug treatment for early stage cancer. . . . Warner C. Blow '59 was listed by Forbes magazine as CEO of one of the 200 best small companies in America. Blow, who has an M.B.A. from Wagner College, has been with Sterling Commerce, Dublin, Ohio, for 23 years. . . . John Barry '69 (Mas) was awarded the prestigious Francis Parkman Prize, given by the Society of American Historians. Barry is the author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America.

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