October 6-8, 2006
Seth Tievsky ’72 was reminiscing about his Rochester days as he sat in the stands at Fauver Stadium. Off to his right was the tower of Rush Rhees Library, where he had often met history professor John Waters, one of his most influential teachers.
Nearby was his wife and former college sweetheart, Jan Abrams Tievsky ’73. Out on the stadium’s new FieldTurf, one particularly special Yellowjacket, the couple’s daughter, Alanna ’07, was helping the varsity take on a team of alumni lacrosse players in a friendly exhibition game.
It was Alanna who had first kicked the reminiscing into high gear. Her arrival at the University three years ago had prompted her father to reopen communication with Waters, now a professor emeritus.
Family, old friends, lifelong links to campus—the Tievskys are a textbook example of what Meliora Weekend is all about.
“A lot of it is making connections with people we met here and who have become really important to us,” says Jan Tievsky.
Celebrating those connections was the focus of more than 6,000 parents, alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends who gathered on the River Campus October 6 to 8 for the sixth annual Meliora Weekend, the flagship of Rochester’s fall alumni celebrations. Combining class reunions, homecoming, family weekend, and the regatta, the weekend features a wide range of panels, symposiums, and presentations featuring some of the country’s top experts—many of them alumni—analyzing social, political, and scientific issues.
This fall was no exception with discussions of energy sustainability, the role of the United States in international affairs, analyses of stock and equity markets, and an exploration of the First Amendment in an age of bloggers and Internet-driven news.
“It’s such a wonderful variety of programs on important issues,” says Mary Jo Ferr, director of alumni relations, who notes that nearly 20 alumni took part as guest speakers this year.
“It’s a real strength of the weekend to have them participate in programs,” Ferr says. “It’s a true University community event.”
Nobel laureate Steven Chu ’70 has seen some remarkable changes brought about by the threat of global warming. Not least of which is its capacity to get scientists working together.
At his own institution, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, scientists are collaborating in a new multidisciplinary initiative to create sustainable,
carbon-neutral sources of energy.
As part of the process, researchers from fields as wide ranging as physics, biology, chemistry, and the computational sciences are willing to work under the collective direction of their colleagues if they think there’s an idea worth pursuing. The initiative draws on the collective sense of scientists that climate change should be an international priority.
“To get a bunch of academic researchers to order each other around is normally unthinkable,” Chu said. “With the highest caliber scientists saying we’ve got to find a solution, I’m confident we will.”
Hoping to find ways to tap into that sense of urgency, Chu, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley lab and a University trustee, and fellow panelists John Holdren, a professor of environmental policy at Harvard and the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Susan Tierney, former assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Energy, outlined some of the technological and scientific challenges facing the United States and the global community as the world’s insatiable appetite for fossil fuels continues unabated.
“[Rochester] is the only place in the world where you can be around a group of people who still
refer to Susan B. Anthony in the present tense.”
—Lynn Sherr, ABC News and 20/20 correspondent and keynote speaker for the Stanton/Anthony Conversations.
Joining Sherr for the annual conversations were Awista Ayub ’01, the founder of the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange; Dawn Lundy Martin, the founder of the Third Wave Foundation; Crystal Lander, the campus program director for the Feminist Majority Foundation; and Julianne Nigro ’09, the secretary of the Women’s Caucus.
The three gathered for Meliora Weekend’s Presidential Symposium on Great Issues of the 21st Century. Moderated by Hugo Sonnenschein ’61, president emeritus of the University of Chicago and a trustee, this year’s symposium focused on energy sustainability.
The current course, the panelists said bluntly, is not sustainable. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide—emitted when fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, and coal are burned for energy—has helped push up the average temperature of the globe by about 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century and a half, with the 11 warmest years occurring since 1990.
Current projections estimate the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to increase threefold over the next 30 years. That’s more CO2 in three decades, Chu noted, than in all of human history combined.
To counteract that trend, the United States must seriously investigate alternative ways to meet its energy needs and develop a more comprehensive strategy that combines technical, scientific, political, and economic approaches, panelists said. Such a strategy would include nuclear, solar, and wind energy; new forms of ethanol derived from the cellulose in plant matter; new economic incentives and tax policy; and grassroots political efforts.
“There is no silver bullet,” Holdren said. “All the energy options we know about have shortcomings.”
But one thing is certain, Chu said. The problem is not going away as long as the world remains on its current course of consumption.
“We won’t run out of energy,” he said. “We will cook ourselves long before we run out of energy.”
Watching Wall Street
When it comes to the stock market, everybody wants a prediction. But not all Wall Street watchers are as obliging as Michael Jones ’76.
During an alumnus-filled panel discussion on the stock market and the economy, the CEO of Clover Capital Management said he expects the Dow Jones Industrial Average to reach 30,000—some day.
“There’s a rule about predictions,” Jones said. “If you make a prediction and you give a number, then don’t give a date.”
“If the media sees its role as giving people what they want to consume, we’ll all be eating cheeseburgers.”
—Robert Steinback ’77, former Miami Herald columnist, during the roundtable discussion “Miller’s Court.”
Steinback was one of several alumni participants for the session led by Harvard law professor Arthur Miller ’56. Joining him were Judge Lewis Kaplan ’66 of the Second U.S. District Court of New York; Richard Leibner ’59, head of the nation’s leading broadcast journalism talent agency; Judge Robert Sack ’60 of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals; Mark Zaid ’89, a Washington, D. C., attorney specializing in national security and the freedom of information; and Dana Priest, correspondent for the Washington Post.
But, he added, “It will happen sometime in my lifetime.”
While his forecast for the market’s more immediate future was less stratospheric, Jones was one of four alumni financial experts who shared their views on where the markets—and the nation’s economy—are likely to head in coming years. Also on the panel were Brian Roseboro ’81, a managing director at Promontory Financial Group and former assistant secretary for financial markets and under secretary for domestic finance in the Treasury Department; Dan Cantor ’81, a managing director of CK Advisors; and Joan Lavis ’83S (MBA), a managing director at UBS.
The panel was moderated by Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon School.
While the stock market has historically been a good investment, all four analysts emphasized that market growth is cyclical. With an overall upward trajectory over the past four years or so—the average span for a period of growth—investors should not expect above-average growth much longer, panelists said.
Describing herself as the most bearish of the panel, Lavis said the impending retirements of the baby boom generation, the impact of rising new economies in China, India, and Brazil, and the growth of hedge funds all will affect investment opportunities.
And Roseboro cautioned that Social Security and Medicare will heavily influence the nation’s economic strength because the programs’ true costs are not accurately reflected in government accounting methods. By some estimates, the programs could owe more than $3 trillion by the time most baby boomers retire, he said.
“When you go to Washington, it’s important to know there are three ways to do things—the right way, the wrong way, and the government way,” he said.
And while he’s optimistic that the market will continue to reach new heights, Jones says it’s important to pay close attention to economic trends.
“The stock market doesn’t have to make you lose much value to make you say, ‘Ouch.’”
Future of Freedom
As a political scientist, Fareed Zakaria takes a long view when he gauges the influence of the United States in international affairs.
With nearly 1,500 alumni guests and their families arriving to celebrate more than a dozen class reunions, Meliora Weekend relies heavily on alumni volunteers. National reunion cochairs Myra Gelband ’71, a member of the Board of Trustees, and Harry Orchard ’91, a former member of the Trustees’ Alumni Council of the College, took time out during the weekend to present several alumni service awards to recognize that commitment.
Diane Davies Parrinello ’61 and Erik Penney ’96, ’05S (MBA) received Reunion Service Awards for their work in helping organize reunion activities.
President Joel Seligman presented Robert Klimasewski ’66, ’67 (Mas), a longtime Rochester business executive and a member of the Department of Athletics and Recreation’s Hall of Fame, with the James S. Armstrong Alumni Award for service to the University.
The Armstrong Award honors the University’s former director of alumni relations, a member of the Class of 1954 who served at the University from 1976 to 1987.
Over the past half century, the U.S. has helped transform the economies of foreign nations by pushing for open markets, free trade, and economic transparency. But America has been less successful in trying to understand the world from the perspectives of other countries.
“I hope that 50 years from now historians won’t be able to say, ‘The United States was completely successful in trying to globalize the world, but, in the process of doing that, it forgot to globalize itself,’” Zakaria told a packed Palestra.
The editor of Newsweek International and host of the PBS program Foreign Exchange, Zakaria combined lessons in economics, politics, history, and international affairs as he outlined the place of the United States on the world’s stage.
While he said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and hotspots in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon make the world seem a scary place, the overall trend is toward more economic freedom, especially in emerging economies like China and India.
The challenge is to recognize that as other countries become more economically powerful, their leaders are less likely to acquiesce to the political demands of the United States.
One example, Zakaria noted, is Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is widely popular outside the United States because he speaks to the grievances of countries that think the U.S. is too domineering.
But he said there’s hope if U.S. leaders recognize that the success of creating economic opportunities around the world requires a new approach to diplomacy, one that emphasizes a broader perspective of listening to, learning about, and acting as a partner with other countries.
“It’s a different world now, where you’re not trying to establish state-to-state relations, but society-to-society relations.”