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Humanities and Tradition
I read with great interest President Joel Seligman‘s article, “The Future of the Humanities” (Summer 2006).
In 1935, when I was searching for a college at which to enroll, I was undecided about my career choice. I was surrounded by family who were teachers, pastors, and lawyers, but my inclinations led more toward mathematics and the sciences. To be quite blunt, a relative, then an instructor at the University in engineering, counseled that “only engineering graduates are finding jobs.”
When I studied the curriculum in mechanical engineering at the University and compared it to those at other fine universities where I might study engineering, I was struck by the fact that it provided opportunity for considerable study in the humanities as well as the necessary engineering courses.
As seniors, we were asked to take the Graduate Record Exam then being tested; engineers were advised to take whatever section they chose. I elected to write the section in English literature. Imagine my surprise to receive word that I ought to consider graduate study in that field. I consider this to be a result of my Rochester electives as a well as an inclination to read as a youngster.
I have been completely satisfied with my choice to be an engineer and found my preparation at Rochester to fit me for a career including academic experience as an instructor and associate professor at Cornell prior to becoming an engineering manager in a major American firm. The same can be said for a number of my peers who went on to graduate work at such universities as Cal Tech and MIT and then to important careers in engineering.
Our Rochester experience fitted us admirably with the tools to be successful in a technical career as well as with a broader background in the humanities to be thoughtful citizens in an increasingly complex society. I am pleased to see the president continue to emphasize the role of the humanities in the University—it is the Rochester tradition.
E. B. Watson ‘39
I was saddened by the news (Fall 2006) that Everett Gates ‘39E, ‘48E (MM) passed away last March. I believe he was just shy of his 92nd birthday.
Mr. Gates was a major figure at the Eastman School, especially during the years that he headed the music education department. I was impressed with his ideas from the time that I met him during my senior year at the River Campus (1965). The breadth of his musical knowledge became abundantly clear to me in the many conversations we had in the last 15 years of his life.
Along with several others who went through the school in the 1930s and 1940s, he represented the heart and soul of Eastman for the next generation of its students.
H. E. Crissey Jr. ‘66
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
In the story “A Sustaining Commitment” in the January-February 2007 issue of Review, the departmental appointment for James Allen was incorrectly identified. Allen‘s primary faculty appointment is in the Department of Computer Science, where he is a professor. He holds a secondary appointment in linguistics. We apologize for the error.