Thanking Faculty

“From the Heart” in the spring issue of the magazine was a wonderful tribute to our faculty and staff who work with our students and give so lovingly in making positive differences in their lives. I have seen this firsthand. For 30 years, I had the joy and the honor of working with thousands of UVA students through my role as assistant dean of undergraduate admission and then later as associate dean in the Office of African-American Affairs. I am presently retired, but have so many fond memories of the students (who are now alumni) and of those who worked with them. I found the testimonies of the students in your article as well as the faculty/staff commentary awe-inspiring. They were profound reminders to us all of just how special the University of Virginia is.

Please express my gratitude to the photographer, Chris Tyree. The portraits were beautiful and captured the essence of each featured faculty and staff member. I have worked with many of them and felt their hearts and souls shining through the photographs.

Sylvia V. Terry (Grad ’72)
Charlottesville

 

Kudos to the photographer and/or to the editors for not overly retouching these amazing photographs—or perhaps not retouching them at all. Some publications retouch to such a degree that the subjects look unnatural.

Chris McCartney (Med ’02)
Charlottesville

 

Professor Mary Beck taught one of my calculus classes 20 years ago. She was, without a doubt, the most important professor I had at UVA. Thank you, Professor Beck!

Steve Nelson (Engr ’98)
Norfolk, Va.

 

Lou Onesty held my hand and made me feel special after I was cut from the basketball team. I think without him encouraging me to high jump and taking me for teaching interviews I would have dropped out. He made all the difference in my life.

Renny Barnes (Educ ’66)
Fairfax Station, Va.

 

I never found a school in which I felt that I so belonged and that was because of several Curry School professors, like Richard Beard and Paul Walters, along with some students.

Joseph H. Quintano (Educ ’64, ’74)
Alexandria, Va.


If God Is Good

I commend Dr. Mohrmann for posing such a profound and provocative question in the Spring 2014 edition.

According to C.S. Lewis, “God created things which have free will and free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or joy worth having.” The outcome of the abuse of this freedom, however, is a human history of slavery, war, poverty and the Holocaust, [what Lewis calls]: a “long, terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

Mention of the evil instigated by the Evil One, I am sure, will just freak everyone out, especially in modern religion classes.

Even though this does not address all of the evils listed by Dr. Mohrmann, it does, I hope, broaden the conversation.

Munford R. Yates Jr. (Law ’68)
Annandale, Va.

 

[Mohrmann] should know that Christianity offers answers that are believable, defensible and very comforting. I hope she is making her students dig for those answers, which would be consistent with teaching at a great university like Virginia. Neither her students nor Professor Mohrmann might believe the answer they find, but to deny her students the chance to learn a better answer than her article gives is unfair.

Henry A. Drake (Com ’60, Darden ’62)
Birmingham, Ala.

 

So, if God is omniscient, omnipotent, and entirely good, why does He even allow evil to occur in the first place? Other explanations could include: God does not know everything (or if He does, doesn’t care). God doesn’t choose to use his power to prevent evil because He, again, doesn’t care, or perhaps is impotent? And, if He doesn’t care, how can He be entirely good in light of the suffering that results from His inactions?

If I may, I’d like to paraphrase and maybe expand upon Professor Mohrmann’s response to this age-old quandary. “Stuff” happens. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. The occurrence of good fortune or bad often appears almost random. At best, God seems indifferent to individual suffering or that of groups of people. The most important thing that we as human beings can do to ameliorate the suffering of others is to “be there” for them, either with our material or moral support.

J.L. Jackson (Engr ’73)
Albuquerque, N.M.

 

The answer to Professor Mohrmann’s questions in “If God Is Good, Why Do We Suffer?” is simply to deny her first premise. There is no God. We don’t have to acknowledge the pain of such questions and “hold them with the sufferer” if we simply let go the idea of an “all-powerful and entirely good” being. We should apply 100 percent of our effort using the last 2 percent or so of this Short Course: “by our presence, attention and care, be the response.”

Jonathan R. Smith Jr. (Engr ’69)
Brunswick, Ga.

 

Although I commend Margaret Mohrmann’s attempt to address a difficult subject in her article, “If God Is Good, Why Do We Suffer?” I am disappointed that she didn’t make greater reference to the Bible, which more than adequately answers the question. In offering three perspectives, none of which is totally adequate, she leaves her readers to work out their own solutions. In the end, so it seems, it comes down to “your guess is as good as mine.”

Those who believe that the Scriptures are divinely inspired—and, yes, Virginia, there still are some of us around—have found the Bible to provide trustworthy answers to this most basic of theological dilemmas.

Ironically, the One who suffered more than any other person who ever walked the earth is completely omitted from the writer’s discussion. I speak of Jesus Himself. It is only through the suffering He endured as payment for our sins, that we are able to understand our own.

Therefore, we don’t have to “reach our own peace with the question,” as Ms. Mohrmann suggests. Furthermore, I disagree with her conclusion that “no ‘answer’ really solves the problem.” I prefer the time-tested solution that Jesus gave to His disciples on the eve of His suffering for them and countless others who in time would discover Him to be both Lord and Savior: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

David Gough (Educ ’90)
Alexandria, Va.

 

“If God Is Good, Why Do We Suffer?” is certainly a familiar question.

A new and, to me, a refreshingly different approach is suggested by the work of retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong of New Jersey. He is a liberal Biblical scholar who has exhaustively studied the Bible. He has authored several books and has a website with many followers. In a recent letter he asks, “Did Jesus teach us to say the Lord’s Prayer?” and suggests, after careful research, that he did not. To some, this sounds like heresy, but Spong’s research is thorough and careful.

All of which leads me to a sentence he recently wrote, in an effort to express his overall thinking. I find this a powerful sentence which, at my age of 95, I am glad to adopt. The sentence makes moot Mohrmann’s question: “If God Is Good, Why Do We Suffer?.”

Spong’s sentence is this: “God, to me, is a call to live fully, to love wastefully, and to be all that I can be.”

The more I study that sentence, the more meaning it has to me.

John Morris (Law ’48)
Bloomfield, Conn.

Mr. Morris passed away on March 28, 2014, nine days after sending this letter. —Ed.


Coaches’ Salaries

The article in the spring issue regarding the University’s recently released “Cornerstone Plan” prompted me to read that document in its entirety. About the same time, I learned from a March 27, 2014, Washington Post article that the University was paying its men’s basketball coach a “base salary” of $1.7 million plus a $400,000 bonus this season. Surprisingly, the Cornerstone Plan says nothing about how having mega-dollar Division I sports teams will assist the University in “tak[ing] its place once again among the consensus top 20 academic institutions in the United States.” Given its core mission of academic excellence, the University should not be paying sports team coaches more (and particularly many multiples more) than it pays its top professors.

If the University cannot compete in Division I sports without paying exorbitant sums to its coaches, it should consider playing at a lower divisional level. Taking that step does not seem to have hurt the University of Chicago, which is currently ranked the fifth best university in the country by U.S. News. Finally, the huge sums the University is paying its coaches make it all the more inequitable and untenable for the University not to pay the program’s athletes for their similar efforts, talent and sacrifices. Before taking this fair and logical step, however, the University should revisit the rationale—both economic and academic—for having associated professional sports teams.

Neil O’Donnell (Col ’76, Law ’80)
Anchorage, Alaska

The $1.7 million figure cited by the Washington Post is Tony Bennett’s total compensation, which includes a base salary of $309,000—none of which comes from University or taxpayer dollars. According to Jim Daves, UVA’s assistant athletics director for media relations, “Bennett’s financial agreement is the responsibility of the Department of Athletics. The department is a stand-alone auxiliary that relies on a number of different revenue streams, including ticket and merchandise sales, student fees, ACC television revenues, and philanthropic gifts to support its day-to-day operations. The department does not receive any state funding.”—Ed.


Spirit of ’76

Courtesy of Bill Bardenwerper

This picture was taken when several UVA grads—me, Charles Musson (Col ’74), Tim Pfister (Col ’74), Jeff Skora (Col ’74), Jeff Cooke (Col ’74) and Jimmy Matthews (Col ’73)—were in attendance at the University of Louisville Law School. I don’t recall how we managed to reach and attach this banner way atop the outside cupola of the Brandeis School of Law Building [after UVA’s 1976 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship], except that, as Student Bar Association president, I had been given keys to the building. As memories grow foggy with age, I have to assume that one or all of these UVA basketball enthusiasts wrestled the keys from me, although we blamed it on our civil procedure professor, Nathan Lord (Law ’57), himself a UVA Law School grad 20 years our senior, who took it all in good humor (and pride). After hanging for several weeks visible from all parts of the campus, the university president (who we think was proud to have such a large UVA graduate contingent enrolled in his law school) put out the word that UVA had enjoyed its celebration quite enough and it was time for Professor Lord, or those more likely responsible, to find a way to take it down.

Bill Bardenwerper (Col ’74)
Louisville, Ky.


Remembering Pete Gray

Thank you for telling the story behind the United States flag hanging in the JPJ Arena. Although the article does speak to Pete Gray’s exemplary qualities and accomplishments, a more detailed account of his many honors and contributions to the University will illustrate why the Gray-Carrington trustees strive to keep his legacy alive.

Pete entered the University on an Honor Award scholarship, he was a senior counselor (resident advisor), served on the IFC governing board and Cavalier Daily staff, was president of Skull and Keys and maintained dean’s list grades. In his fourth year, Pete was president of the College and chairman of the Honor Committee. He played varsity football and track, lettered and received an ACC Scholar-Athlete Award. He was a member of T.I.L.K.A., the IMP Society, Omicron Delta Kappa, the Raven Society, the 13 Society and the Seven Society. Pete also received the Alumni Association Distinguished Student Award and was a Rhodes Scholar nominee.

Third-year students Anthony Harris and Laura Kelly received the 2014 Gray-Carrington Scholarship Awards.

After graduation from the University, Pete joined the U.S. Marine Corps, completed officer training at Quantico, Va., and won the Leadership Award there. He went on to graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger School, served as a lieutenant in the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and saw combat in Vietnam.

Pete Gray excelled in personal integrity, achievement, leadership and humility: the qualities sought each year for the Gray-Carrington Scholarship Award. The trustees and all those who knew Pete are pleased that his memory is honored by his flag in the arena. However, if we could ask Pete his thoughts, he would undoubtedly say that the flag honors not him but all those who have served in the United States Military, especially the men and women from the University of Virginia.

John R. Morris III (Col ’68, Med ’72)
President, Gray-Carrington Foundation
Charlottesville

 

I am very disappointed that in the Retrospect article regarding the flag hanging in JPJ that once draped the casket of Pete Gray, you referred to his service in the Marine Corps as “Marine Core.” I hope that the editorial staff would take more care when remembering one of the nation’s and University’s heroes.

Col. Peter C. Reddy, USMC (Engr ’84)
Stafford, Va.

We received numerous letters regarding this mistake. We regret the error. —Ed.

 

Thank you for honoring Vietnam veteran Arthur P. Gray IV (Col ’68) in a tribute [in the Retrospect section] of the Spring 2014 issue. Lt. Gray’s rank is not mentioned—a rank he earned, died wearing and rightfully deserves to be addressed as. Recognition of the selfless service to our nation made by the University’s military graduates is too infrequent—and it is greatly appreciated.

Col. James R. Holaday, USAF, Ret. (Col ’75)
San Antonio, Texas

 

I had the very good fortune of being one year behind Pete Gray in school. He was truly an amazing person, and there is no telling what he would have accomplished had he lived a long life. I am certain it would have been very productive and honorable.

I would like to offer a correction to the article about Pete. He did not serve as class president while at UVA Pete Gray was rather the president of the College, which in those days was a job, position and responsibility quite different and more burdensome than being president of the class.

Back then, the president of the College was also the “de facto” chairman of the Honor Committee. In the ’60s, the position of president of the College was voted on by the entire College. We were voting for the person who would undertake the very substantial responsibility of guiding our treasured Honor System. It was a position of great responsibility and trust. I do not think I exaggerate when I say that then the president of the College/chair of the Honor Committee was by far the most significant position a student at Virginia could possibly be elected to.

Bob Green (Col ’69)
White Hall, Va.

 

I enjoyed the Spring 2014 issue of Virginia Magazine and was humbled by the Retrospect story “Flag of Honor” on the JPJ Arena flag which draped the casket of Lt. Pete Gray. As a lifetime member of the Alumni Association and an active-duty Marine Corps Infantry Officer, I was astounded by the background of the flag and am very proud of my alma mater for drawing such a deeply personal and patriotic connection with America’s Marine Corps.

Maj. Jason R. Goodale, USMC (Col ’02, Educ ’02)
Alexandria, Va.

 

One does not enlist to attend Officer Candidates School (OCS), rather one attends OCS, located in Quantico Virginia, to obtain a commission as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

I know the military is an alien culture to the University community, but at least get the basics right.

James L. White Jr. (Col ’75, Grad ’85)
Mount Vernon, Iowa


Reaction to “Reincarnation Reactions”

I am glad that you provided space in the Letters section of the Spring 2014 issue of Virginia Magazine for divergent opinions regarding the unfortunately titled cover story: “The Science of Reincarnation” that was published in the Winter 2013 issue, including, happily, a thoughtful letter from an actual physics professor.

As a sociology/anthropology major who transferred from the Engineering School after my first year and went on to law school and a long career in public health practice, I confess that physics was never my strong suit. Three things make me a deep skeptic regarding the question of any true “scientific” basis for reincarnation. The first is the apparent anecdotal nature of the “data” involving interviews with impressionable, imaginative children who are exposed to innumerable influences and cues from their family, their peers, the mass media and the outside world and may be highly suggestible regarding what one letter writer described as “coincidence.” The second is the apparent willful ignorance people have regarding quantum theory, quantum mechanics and the New Agey “woo” spawned by a superficial acquaintance with complicated, detailed theories based upon nearly incomprehensible higher mathematics—I doubt that Dr. Tucker or his colleagues have taken the time to work through the equations or broadened and deepened their understanding of the extremely complex concepts of the subatomic particle/waves and energy bundles with which they dazzle the layperson.

Finally, it is more than a little curious that these anecdotal renderings of past-life regression experiences are so heavily weighted toward the famous, notorious or elite figures in past human history as opposed to the overwhelming majority of serfs, vassals, peasants and uninteresting ordinary people from these times, and the identities of the persons who describe or narrate these past life experiences are so heavily weighted toward privileged people in high socioeconomic strata relative to the world population. How many instances do you hear of some starving boy in Africa claiming to have been Napoleon, Alexander the Great or Ghengis Khan?

How about a more rigorous inquiry into the research of a professor before publicizing it as “real” and funding it through taxes and our alumni contributions?

Michael P. Weinstein (Col ’71)
Guilderland, N.Y.

Tucker’s research is entirely funded by an endowment. —Ed.


Tribute

A fellow Wahoo recently passed away at age 37. Robert “Bert” Musick, Class of 1999, was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Monday, March 17, 2014. He underwent emergency surgery the next day and passed away on Wed., March 19. Through his short life, he accomplished more than most and he did it with integrity [See “In Memoriam,” 1990s]. More than 1,300 people attended his funeral service, evidence of the widespread impact he had on others.

Nine of Bert’s UVA fraternity brothers flew in from around the country and gathered in Richmond to attend his funeral. After the service, they flew together to Raleigh in time to watch the UVA basketball team take on Memphis in the NCAA tournament. They bought the best tickets they could find (two rows behind the Memphis bench) and throughout the entire game held up signs with “BERT” on them as a tribute to their friend as they cheered on their beloved Cavaliers. The signs could be seen on TV throughout the game. Bert was a huge Wahoo fan, and friends and family felt as if he were there supporting them even after he died.

Thomas B. Rose (Col ’06)
Richmond, Va.