‘Absolute Gem’

The article about President Sullivan (“Welcome President Sullivan,” Winter 2010) captured her so well I felt as if I were there at the University. I’m hoping I’ll have a chance to meet her next time I’m on Grounds. In the meantime, I want to share a comment made during a recent college fair. I was staffing the UVA table as an alumna representative and was directly across from the University of Michigan admissions office representative. During a lull, she approached me and said, “I just have to tell you how heartbroken we were that Provost Sullivan left to become your president. She’s an absolute gem.” And I absolutely agreed.

Christine Payne (Col ’83)
Louisville, Ky.


Weather Vein

I note that President Teresa A. Sullivan “hit the ground running while visiting important state agency heads.” I hope that one such individual was Kenneth Cuccinelli II, Virginia’s attorney general.

Quoting one of the University’s distinguished scientists, atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer (professor emeritus of environmental sciences and founding director of the National Weather Satellite Service) in an article in American Thinker magazine:

Kenneth Cuccinelli II … has demanded from the University of Virginia (my university) the e-mails and other information of Dr. Michael Mann, who was an assistant professor of environmental sciences there from 1995 to 2005. …

The University of Virginia is fighting the demand for the data using outside lawyers and claiming “academic freedom,” among other such excuses. I cannot comment on the legal implications for the AG’s investigation. It should be noted, however, that UVA was quite willing to deliver up the e-mails of Professor Pat Michaels when Greenpeace asked for them in December 2009. It makes the UVA protestations sound rather hypocritical.

Allison B. Keye (Nurs ’47)
Redding, Calif.


Tuition Figures

In the Winter 2010 issue of Virginia Magazine, President Sullivan is quoted as saying “our faculty have had no raises for three years, and neither have our staff.” In the same issue, alumnus Randolph Cole suggests in his letter to the editor that the University administration make a truly “bold” move and, rather than continue its obsessive focus on new building projects, “concentrate on building an endowment dedicated to covering the tuition of students attending the University.”

As a financially beleaguered parent of a first-year student, my sentiments are aligned with Mr. Cole’s.

With all due respect to President Sullivan, and while agreeing that we need to address faculty and staff compensation, I would offer that she meet more with alumni employed in the private sector away from the Grounds. Due to the economic chaos in the financial industry, my total compensation has been reduced drastically over the years.

I implore President Sullivan to understand that American families making between $125,000 and $250,000 can no longer afford after-tax college costs. Commence a capital campaign solely dedicated to endowing a fund whose income goes directly toward reducing tuition costs.

Thomas Matthews Neale (Col ’74)
Baltimore, Md.


Sports Figures

In your very good retrospective, “Virginia’s Finest,” Winter 2010, you may have left out one important Virginia alumnus, who transformed his athletic experience in Charlottesville into a lifelong career of service and dedication on the field as well as off. Patrick Henry Callaway was Eppa Rixey’s teammate on the Virginia baseball club. Although Callaway, who died in 1995, did not make it to the major leagues, he did enjoy a brilliant career as a coach and teacher.

Until his retirement in 1984, Mr. Callaway taught mathematics and Spanish, and coached baseball at Episcopal High School with the same grit and determination that Eppa Rixey employed in the National League. I like to think that much of Mr. Callaway’s fame derives from those days on the Virginia diamond, where he took to heart the lessons learned from his teammate Eppa Rixey. But then again, perhaps it was Rixey who learned that the lessons of baseball were the lessons of life from his teammate.

Richard S. Dixon (Grad ’78)
Alexandria, Va.

John LaRowe

I was disappointed that a picture of John LaRowe didn’t appear in “Virginia’s Finest.” He was the boxing coach during the years I was a student. I wasn’t a boxer, but boxing was a major sport at Virginia during his tenure. LaRowe made the boxing team outstanding, and Memorial Gym was always full for the matches.

Paul A. Hunter (Engr ’44)
Newport News, Va.

Tiki Barber (Com ’97) is the latest Cavalier to be chosen for the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. Barber, who retired from the NFL in 2006, is the second-leading rusher in UVA history and holds the New York Giants’ record for career rushing yardage. —Ed.


Debating Memories

It is with sadness that I read of the passing of Smith Simpson (Col ’27, Grad ’28) in the Winter 2010 issue of the magazine. In addition to his numerous professional accomplishments in helping to establish the structure of international relations after World War II, Mr. Simpson was also the patron of the annual Smith Simpson Debate on International Affairs between the Washington Society and the Jefferson Society. I met him a few times and was impressed with his command of current international affairs even in his later years.

Though the debates are not well known on Grounds, they are an honor for the participants, and Mr. Simpson came every year to add his insights to the discussion.

Evan Macbeth (Col ’97)
Leesburg, Va.


Correcting the Record

My apologies for an error I made concerning information in the Winter 2010 issue (Retrospect, “1888: The Origins of the Orange and Blue”).

Allen Potts, the UVA alumnus who wore the orange-and-blue boating scarf that inspired UVA’s school colors in 1888, did not lose half of the scarf in a fire at his one-time home, Castle Hill, in Keswick, Va. Castle Hill still stands and never burned to the ground.

It was Happy Creek, the home that Allen Potts and his wife, Gertrude Rives Potts, moved to 10 miles away from Castle Hill, that burned to the ground on Thanksgiving Day 1920. The fire destroyed half of Potts’ famed scarf, but fortunately he had given another piece of it to his good friend and colleague, John Stewart Bryan of Richmond. The Bryan family donated the scarf to the Virginia Historical Society, where it now resides.

Kevin Edds (Col ’95), director of Wahoowa: The History of Virginia Cavalier Football
Arlington, Va.


Fashion Statement

I loved Myung Joh’s article (“Arbiter of Style,” Winter 2010) on Robert Bryan and current and past clothing styles. I’m reminded of a comment my wife, Judy, made many years ago when asked why we continued to dress predominantly in the modified preppy look Bryan loves so much. She said simply, “It’s the only thing we can really afford.”

Brawner Cates (Col ’67)
Siesta Key, Fla.


Stanford Model

I agree with Roger Allison in his letter to the editor (Winter 2010) that modeling Virginia after Stanford is a better approach than the Ivy League. Unfortunately, our major men’s sports programs in football and basketball have not been distinguishing themselves lately. Academically, Virginia is also lagging far behind Stanford. I am delighted that the latest class is the strongest ever, as mentioned in the “Most Superlatives” article, but that hasn’t stopped us from sliding down the rankings in the past 15 years. I know there are many factors at work here, but one of them is that Virginia is forced to take so many in-state students. Out of state, Virginia has become very difficult to get into, but the total student body lags far behind what private schools like Stanford, Duke, Rice or Washington University in St. Louis can attract. In my view, the competition is the private universities, not the public ones, and it has been that way for decades.

Byron Hewett (Com ’77)
Bryn Mawr, Pa.


Chapel View

I’m no art critic, and Olivia Kiers’ Pavilion I painting of the University Chapel (“View from a Garden,” Winter 2010) seems fine to me. I recall the Chapel well only because my sister was married there in 1946. Yet, I confess that as an undergraduate in the 1950s, I sort of resented its intruding upon one’s view of the beautiful Rotunda when leaving Alderman Library. Further, I gather that, at the time its construction was first proposed, there was a great deal of opposition, quite possibly for that reason but, far more significant, because of Thomas Jefferson’s strong opposition concerning giving the slightest appearance of any state sponsorship of religion.

Jeffrey J.W. Baker (Col ’53)
Ivy, Va.