University of Rochester

Letters to the Editor

See ‘America’s Birth Certificate’

I enjoyed reading “Happy Birthday, America,” which told the story of the Waldseemuller map, printed in 1507, and the first map which includes the word, “America” (Alumni Gazette, July-August). I’d like to point out that the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., where I work, now owns the map, which we call “America’s birth certificate.”

We purchased it a few years ago and a facsimile is currently on display in our Thomas Jefferson Building. Anyone can view a digital version of the map on the Web at

Later this year, in its 500th anniversary year, we will put the original map on permanent public display. It will be housed in a state-of-the-art, oxygen-free encasement designed by the Library’s Preservation Directorate and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The digital version is fine as far as it goes, but if you have the chance, please come to Washington to view the real thing. It’s quite large, has marvelous detail, and is really quite spectacular.

Bob Dardano ’77
Washington, D.C.

‘Dream Team’ with Few Women?

The president’s message in the July-August issue was upbeat and positive about his management team, the “Dream Team.” What stood out, however, was the lack of diversity. After reading the president’s message and the following article about two new management team hires, it left me wondering: Where are the women?

It appears only one person out of 10 on his team is a woman. How would Susan B. Anthony view this? Simply, as a woman, and a graduate of the University, I’m extremely disheartened.

I encourage the president to take a hard look and consider whether this is really a ‘dream team’ that sets an example of leadership for Rochester students?

Ellen Sachs Leicher ’77
Concord, Mass.

A Scholarly Tradition

Back in my day as an undergraduate, Rochester had a winning football team and it was noted with pride that all the players met the academic standards set by the University. I can attest that this was the case because I was in a graduate seminar with one of the players. The July-August issue (“Bringing their ‘A’ Game”) indicates that this tradition, like the dandelions, continues to be part of the University.

J. B. Post ’60
Paoli, Pa.

An Eternity of Junk Mail

As a mother whose son died in a military training accident 10 years ago, I empathize with Gary Wiener ’86 (PhD) (“Dear Junk Mailers: Enough,” Alumni Gazette, May-June) from the depths of my soul.

Standouts from our collection of similarly egregious mail included a letter from a psychic who sensed our son would soon come into good fortune but failed to sense that he had been dead for two years.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when his Internet service provider acknowledged the cancellation of his account with the assurance that they had a local dial-up connection available wherever he had relocated.

To attempt to stem the flow of such mail is to develop an entirely new perspective on the concept of eternal life.

Jeanne Grace ’67, ’89 (PhD)
Fairport, New York

Why Powell?

As a former naval officer (commissioned in 1964—after NROTC training at Rochester—the same day I received my diploma), I regret that Colin Powell is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the October 2007 Meliora Weekend. As Secretary of State, Gen. Powell was an enabler of the disastrous decision by the Bush Administration to invade Iraq. The University should not be providing him with a forum.

Alan Posner ’64
East Lansing, Mich.

I am very dismayed to see Rochester Review proudly announcing Colin Powell as keynote speaker of Meliora Weekend 2007.

Colin Powell has blood on his hands. In his famous February 5, 2003, speech at the United Nations, Powell claimed absolute proof that Iraq had biological, nuclear, and other advanced weapons, with the implication that they were about to attack countries like the United States. These were Powell’s bold-faced lies, leading to the illegal, preemptive invasion of Iraq. The excuse that came later (“We were mistaken”) was not believed by the rest of the world, or by me.

Powell’s lies ushered in our long-term occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and veiled threats to do worse to Iran. These misguided “9/11 Wars” have cost 3,500 U.S. military dead, 26,000 wounded, and 655,000 Iraqi deaths (the latter according to the respected journal The Lancet.)

What don’t you understand about Powell’s role in these 658,500 deaths?

Review now proudly quotes Powell: “America stands ready to help any country that wishes to join the democratic world.” Doesn’t he sound disingenuous to you? Does Powell’s “help” mean democracy at the barrel of a gun, 655,000 deaths, and the pilferage of a country’s oil resources? Or, are you hiring Powell simply to attract more military funding?

This is not the University that I remember. This is intellectual pandering. I am deeply ashamed of all of you involved in this.

Kevin O’Donnell ’83 (PhD)
Ensenada, Mexico

The author is a professor of optics at the Centro de Investigation Cientifica y de Education Superior de Ensenada—Editor.

Great-Great-Grandfather Burbank

I read with both interest and satisfaction about Gideon Webster Burbank (“The Power of a Name,” Summer 2006) who, through a gift of $20,000 in 1855, endowed a professorship in moral and intellectual philosophy. Gideon, my great-great-grandfather, was a successful flour miller in the mid-1800s. He held several offices of trust and in 1854 was elected to the Board of Trustees of the University.

He later suffered great financial loss and went bankrupt. However, of his gift to the University, he said, “That I have saved.”

David Burbank Strong ’52, ’64
Penfield, N.Y.

Give Credit to the Contractor

The May-June article about the new Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics (“Lighting the Way”) showed an impressive and well-planned new facility that clearly will provide state-of-the-art programs in optics and biomedical engineering that are important in this fast-paced and high-tech world we live in. Mr. Goergen is to be congratulated on his generosity. The University is also to be congratulated for its continuing effort to make capital improvements to the University that make it the advanced, attractive, and highly respected institution it is. As a parent of a 2005 Rochester graduate, I’m impressed and proud of the University my daughter attended.

The University is also to be congratulated for adopting “green,” or environmentally sound, building standards in its design and construction process. Your pages recognized the well-known and highly regarded architects Perkins & Will of Boston, who designed the facility. Unfortunately, you overlooked the other leader of the project team, general contractor LeChase Construction Services of Rochester.

It takes an entire team from the University, the design community, and the construction industry to make a project like this so successful. It would be nice if you, in your pages, and project owners in general, would do more to recognize that.

Jeffrey Zogg
Delmar, N.Y.

A Choral Correction

I rarely write to correct information in articles. But I felt compelled to correct your mention of new University Provost Ralph Kuncl’s choral group here in Baltimore (In Review, July-August). There is no “Baltimore Choral Society.” The correct name is the Baltimore Choral Arts Society.

This is a distinguished musical group with a long (41 years) and prestigious history in our area and surrounding venues. The group has its own Web site——that you may want to check out.

The group recently completed a “Tour de France,” traveling to several locations in France to perform. I’m sure the group would be happy to receive mention in Rochester Review with the correct name.

Hilary Sargeant ’70

Review welcomes letters from readers and will print 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. Send letters to Rochester Review, 147 Wallis Hall, P.O. Box 270033, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627-0033;