University of Rochester

Rochester Review
July–August 2011
Vol. 73, No. 6

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More on the Global College

Daniel Schesch ’67 (Letters, May-June) and I were not U of R students at the same time, but we both knew, and were deeply influenced by, the African undergraduates whose years on campus spanned both of ours. Macdonald Banda ’65 from Malawi (then northern Rhodesia) and Humphrey Iroku ’66 of Nigeria, whom he mentions, were also friends of mine. Others of this era include Tonye (Tam) Erekosima ’64 of Nigeria and Payne Masuku ’65, ’66 (MA) of Zimbabwe (then southern Rhodesia). Mr. Schesch wonders what “these earlier African alumni” have “accomplished against the impossible odds facing them on their return.” Tam, who possessed one of the most brilliant minds I have ever encountered, belonged to a minority tribe in his country and was reportedly killed in ethnic violence within a few years of his return home. Payne stayed at the U of R after receiving his baccalaureate degree to earn a master’s degree in history. He returned to southern Rhodesia to become a secondary school teacher, was promoted to headmaster following independence, and has spent his career in his troubled country of Zimbabwe promoting crosscultural understanding and a broad worldview among his school’s teachers and students.

Mr. Schesch is correct that many of these students, “especially those from the colonies, may have been on full U.S. State Department scholarships.” They were, and Review missed an obligation to research the University’s history and discover this fascinating story. If memory serves, these first African students came to the University at the start of the 1961–62 academic year, under what became known as the John F. Kennedy Airlift. This was a Cold War U.S. foreign policy initiative to counter the Soviet Union’s focus on educating promising young Africans from its sphere of influence, such as the Congo, in Moscow to prepare them to return as future leaders. What is especially remarkable is the active role of then University president Cornelis de Kiewiet in ensuring that Rochester would receive and educate Airlift students. De Kiewiet was an expatriate of South Africa of Dutch descent, the powerful Boer group most associated with the perpetuation of apartheid in South Africa.

The political backdrop was unknown in the late spring of 1961 to those of us undergraduates who were interested in forming an International Club to help integrate a larger population of U of R foreign students (many of them graduate students) into student life. George Georgantas ’63, Brian Fleming ’63, Susan Fairman Anastasopoulos ’63, ’66 (MA), myself, and a few others obtained the faculty guidance of the Dean of Students Helen Nowlis, and by the fall, when the Kennedy Airlift students arrived, we had an orientation program up and running. Little did we Americans realize that the “orientation” would run both ways. When I graduated in 1963, the International Club was a strong social institution, its journal/newsletter, the Cosmopolitan, which I had edited, was an important vehicle for sharing the “humanity, intelligence, perspectives, and experiences,” which Mr. Schesch had commented on as being “as much a part of [his] education as coursework.” Mine too, and my coursework was an interdisciplinary major in non-Western civilizations.

So, yes, the University was “A Global College” (January-February) back in the 1960s. How could this history have been lost? This suggests to me a possible role for the new Alumni Lifelong Learning Advisory Council, on which I am now privileged to serve. The recollections of older alumni are too valuable to lose. The “Meliora Moments” campaign [], which University Advancement has begun as a way to collect online the University’s influence in the lives of alumni, parents, friends, faculty, staff and students, should be linked to or integrated with the documented University archives and made retrievable in order to ensure a fuller, richer, more personal history of the University and its impact.

Dorothea de Zafra Atwell ’63

Silver Spring, Md.

A General Correction

I am writing to point out an observation regarding the article announcing former President Bill Clinton as the guest speaker for this year’s Meliora Weekend (March-April). The names of previous speakers were given along with their formal titles, e.g. “U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu ’70, ’98 (Honorary)” and “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.” However, Colin Powell was blandly described as “a retired general and U.S. statesman.” To be consistent and accurate, he’s a former secretary of state (at the time of Sept. 11) and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the senior military position in our government, a position he held during the first Gulf War), which are a little more than just a retired general and statesman.

I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that this was an oversight or a lack of research and not a politically motivated snub. That would be quite unbecoming of the U of R.

Joe Gelsomino ’76

Alexandria, Va.

Who’s in the Queen’s Court?

The photo on page 50 in the May-June Review has my mother in it. She’s Janet Gilbertine Sprague, Class of 1926. She’s seated on the ground in front of the May Queen just in front of the Queen’s white robe and her feet. She married Chester Wheldon Williams in 1938, and I was born in 1942. It was fun to see a picture of my mother that I had never seen. Thank you for printing it.

Barbara Sprague Williams Olmsted ’64

Napa, Calif.

I am fairly certain that the seated woman on the far right wearing the hat with a feather is my aunt, Julia Zuck Brown. I believe she was in the College for Women, Class of 1926. Julia was my favorite childhood aunt and a role model for me in my formative years. She taught French in the Irondequoit and Brighton (N.Y.) schools.

Rosemary Zuck ’74W (Mas)

Rochester, N.Y.

Setting the ‘Records’ Straight

Thanks for the May-June 2011 issue of Rochester Review—it is excellent. I note in the letters section, there is an interesting communication from Dr. Steve Peters ’79M (MD), entitled “Translating Medical Records” that deals with a picture of me standing in front of a wall of medical records. If you publish response letters, you might want to publish my following humorous letter:

Dear Steve:

Thanks for your kind words about my “remarkably unchanged” appearance since 1979 in the Rochester Review photo. I appreciate the compliment that the records look old and I look young, but I have no control over the latter. Regarding the old paper records in the picture, it could be that: 1) we simply do not like digital records or can’t afford them; 2) we are antigreen; 3) we like to read cursive notes; or 4) we had to use up shelf space. But none of those reasons explain the “massive wall of paper records.” All our research data has been entered online and has been retained in a sophisticated digital management system for the past 30 years or more. During this time, we have carried out a series of randomized clinical trials, and the FDA requires that we maintain the original paper copies of the signed consent and yearly updates of each patient enrolled in our clinical studies—for the duration of the trial, afterwards during the FDA review/approval process, and thereafter in case any questions are subsequently raised about ethical issues related to the patient enrollment process. When the photo was taken for Review, the hospital was just initiating the electronic health records for patient care, but the “eRecords” system does not include the signed research consent forms. You showed your excellent Rochester education by picking up on the irony inherent in the digital photograph. Well done.

Arthur J. Moss, ’62M (Res)


Moss is a professor of medicine at the University.

A Family of Portraits

When I saw the portraits of Gideon Webster Burbank and his wife, Mary Goodrich Burbank (March-April), I could not believe it. I thought my younger brother, Conrad, had all that existed. Little did I know that three sets came out of my grandfather Cobb’s attic. There are two more sets of Burbank portraits, which went to two of my sons, George Warren Cobb III and William Tyler Cobb.

My great-grandfather, George Warren Carpenter (1841–1916), and Susan Maria Burbank were married in Rochester on Oct. 15, 1868. They had only one child, my grandmother, Mary Grinnell Carpenter (1876–1952). Consequently, my grandmother inherited the home that my great-grandfather had built at 171 Penfield Road in the town of Brighton in 1916, when her father, George Warren Carpenter, my great-grandfather, died.

On Oct. 1, 1896, my grandmother married Amos Hubble Cobb II (1874–1926). My grandfather Cobb died at the early age of 50. My grandmother lived alone until her death in 1952.

My brother, Conrad, probably found the portraits in our grandmother Cobb’s attic on or after her death. I was stationed at Camp Gieger Marine Base in North Carolina at the time of her death.

G. Warren Cobb ’57

Cardiff-by-the Sea, Calif.

Of Memories and Motorcyclists

Nostalgia informs our alumni interests, clearly, a nostalgia that tends to idealize our college years as untroubled and idyllic in comparison with postgraduate reality. The photo that appeared in the last two issues frames that nostalgia almost archetypally, even for those not of that era: a carefree couple on a vintage motorcycle, evocative of James Dean or Kerouac, the mild transgression of riding on the sidewalk, the dress . . . but the tragic end of that easy rider reminds us, and harshly, how contingent and fleeting the idyll is.

Tom Bonfiglio ’72

Richmond, Va.

The writer is the William Judson Gaines Chair in Comparative Literature and Linguistics at the University of Richmond. Honors Addenda As we were sending this issue’s special section on national honors to the printer, the Department of Athletics and Recreation learned that tennis player Lia Weiner ’11, a mathematics and economics major from Sarasota, Fla., had been named an All-American and that hammer thrower Yaneve Fonge ’11, a microbiology and immunology major from Cheshire, Conn., had been named an Academic All-American—Editor.

Department of Corrections

In the May-June issue, two photos of Suzanne Davis Arms ’65 should have been credited to photographer Robert McLean.

Review welcomes letters and will print them as space permits. Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity. Unsigned letters cannot be used. Send letters to Rochester Review, 22 Wallis Hall, P.O. Box 270044, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627-0044;