The Physics of Paradox
I came upon Tom Rickey's "The Physics of Paradox" [Spring-Summer 2000] after putting aside a classic little tome by Heitler, Elementary Wave Mechanics-the same counter-intuitive stuff that Rickey reports as currently tantalizing my alma mater, the University's Institute of Optics.
In 1932, a thin time, the institute offered a chance to learn skills marketable in Rochester, my home town. I handed my filled-out application personally to T. Russell Wilkins, the founding director.
So I learned how to make myself useful to Bausch & Lomb and Kodak (which employed me successively), but not a word did I hear about quantum mechanics, the then new belief system in which mere knowledge of physical reality at small dimensions affects it demonstrably.
After 10 years of optics I switched to word-mongering for a living and finally to the study of mushrooms. Now, 25 years into retirement, I am afflicted by a compulsion to teach myself about the quantum mechanics that I missed out on to pursue money (the subject of another article, "Money? Thanks But No Thanks," in the same issue of the magazine).
Walter Litten '36
Economist Steven Landsburg was noted in the "Rochester Quotes" column in the Spring-Summer 2000 issue for his comments comparing the salaries per fan of star athletes with the salaries per student of kindergarten teachers.
"Even the most poorly paid teacher earns well over $1,000 per student," he stated.
Even if one overlooks the foolishness of the comparison, Landsburg has stacked the deck in favor of his argument by choosing to focus on elementary school teachers, who teach the same unchanging class all day. But most teachers teach an ever-rotating roster of students, greatly increasing the total number of students taught.
And indeed, by Landsburg's strange formula, college teachers are even more poorly paid. University professors' three (or four) classes each semester, with 30 to 100 students in each class, place us well below the level of $1,000 per student, even with relatively small classes.
f each semester one taught two 30- student sections of American history and one upper-level class with a dozen students, one would be teaching 72 students per semester, or 144 per year.
Few are the professors, even at wealthy elite institutions, who earn over $144,000. By Landsburg's measure, then, we college professors are paid more poorly than kindergarten teachers. This standard for measuring salaries needs serious rethinking.
Barry H. Bergen '78
Credit Where Due
First, my thanks for featuring the success of the Memorial Art Gallery's Maxfield Parrish exhibition in a recent issue of Rochester Review [Fall 2000].
I just want to add that this record-setting exhibition would not have happened without the early and generous support of Richard F. Brush. Indeed, his initial gift was the largest individual gift for a temporary exhibition in our 87-year history. We all owe him our deepest gratitude.
If information reaching this North Carolina sand hills outpost is correct, Genevieve Sheeler died November 6.
For periods of time she was Genevieve Mahoney, then Genevieve Walker, and then Genevieve Sheeler. She was Genevieve to all.
She served the University for four decades as secretary and administrative aide to the director of athletics. For much of the time she was the only secretary in the men's athletic and physical education department.
When I returned to the University as director of athletics in 1974, Genevieve became my administrative assistant. By that time the men's and women's programs were combined, and the responsibilities of the department had increased. Genevieve remained invaluable because of her knowledge of the past and her facility in all facets of the daily office business.
Those of us who worked with her for the betterment of Rochester athletics, and enjoyed her often feisty demeanor, were certain of one thing: her loyalty to University athletics and coaches and athletes. I shall miss Genevieve, but so will many, many others.
Dave Ocorr '51
That Hobart Game
The purpose of this note is to provide a footnote to the fine sesquicentennial history of the University, Beside the Genesee. On page 79, it is said that Rochester's intense football rivalry with arch rival Hobart was suspended in 1947 by President Alan Valentine because of "hoodlumism" at the games.
As an attendee at the 1947 Rochester-Hobart game, I'd like to explain what happened that caused "Al Val" to suspend the series.
It was an overcast, chilly day, and the game's outcome was very much in doubt at halftime.
Everyone wanted the second half to start quickly. But Valentine had scheduled a ceremony in which the U.S. Navy honored the University for its participation in the wartime V-12 officer training program.
An NROTC honor guard marched onto the field, and after an admiral gave a lengthy speech lauding the University, Valentine responded in kind. During his talk, mild booing broke out in the crowd-no doubt in part from restive students-since the ceremony seemed interminable. Valentine was visibly irritated, and announced the following week that the series was suspended. (I've forgotten who won the game!)
This was not a major surprise, since while he was an able man who brought good things to the University, Valentine was a patrician through and through and lacked rapport with students. Within about two years he left academic life for government service (and then resigned his State Department post after a few months, complaining about "excessive politics"). I felt the atmosphere on campus improved significantly under his successor, Cornelis de Kiewiet.
Bob Hendricks '51
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