A Look Back

I was excited to read the Spring 2016 article by Tom Robinson that offered a look back at UVA football coaches. Having written on the subject myself and produced a documentary on UVA football, I studied these coaches’ careers intensely. Robinson does a wonderful job highlighting the unique situations of each, but I felt compelled to clear up the misconception about “the controversial move by UVA President Colgate Darden to de-emphasize major college football.”

While it’s true Darden was a proponent of a middle ground between “big time” football and smaller levels, such as the former Division I-AA, he did not push to de-emphasize football at UVA. De-emphasis was the recommendation of a committee led by professor Robert Gooch and the now-infamous “Gooch Report.”

In 1951, English professor Atcheson Hench called for a committee to be led by Gooch to study the “problem” of football. When Gooch unveiled his report, it insisted on faculty control over football and the discontinuation of athletic scholarships. According to UVA alumnus John Watterson (Col ’62) in the Journal of Sport History, “When the Academic Faculty endorsed the report a week later, the alumni seethed with hostility. Largely unnoticed was the fact that the faculties of other schools such as Education, Law, and Medicine had yet to respond.” Darden himself pushed back with a report showing that football lettermen at UVA graduated at a rate that was only 3 percent less than the general student population. The education faculty voted down the Gooch committee’s recommendations 21-1, and it was ultimately rejected by the Board of Visitors.

Confusion about Darden might also come from him turning down UVA’s first bowl invitation to the 1951 Orange Bowl. In fact, the ACC, which would form two years later, also banned postseason participation initially. And other schools like Vanderbilt, William and Mary and members of the Ivy League were truly de-emphasizing football at that time. So Darden refusing a bowl bid was not unusual in an era that saw tremendous change in the college football world.

Kevin Edds (Col ’94)
Arlington, Virginia

Labs of Yore

Dan Grogan

I took what I believe was the first computer class in the Engineering School. I believe, but am not absolutely certain, that it was in the fall semester of 1960-61. It was taught by Mr. Rideout, who was retired from General Electric computer operations. (He also taught calculus.) While this course was going on, we went over to the basement of the physics building to see an actual operational computer. It might be difficult to believe now, but we had a semester course on analog and digital computers, including writing programs, without access to an actual computer.

But we did get to see one from the outside of a glass-enclosed air-conditioned room in the physics building. At the time, we believed, probably accurately, that the only other air conditioning at the University was in the president’s home.

Kenneth Dobyns (Engr ’61)
Culpeper, Virginia

Editor’s note: Some readers commented that they used computer labs at UVA before 1985. While Stacks was UVA’s first personal computing lab supported by central computing, we did confirm that a computer lab opened in the McIntire School in June 1983.

Discovery and Loss

Eleanor Gould (2)

As a child, I used to play (1937-38) in Monticello before it was bought and restored. Cornelia Gordon, wife of Professor Armistead C. Gordon, was a volunteer docent, before it was officially open to the public. It was unfurnished, dusty and dirty, but we could run up the servants’ spiral stairways all the way to the attic. … Charlottesville was a small, homey community in those days. I live in California, but I still miss the red clay country. I loved seeing these marvelous photos of my favorite place. Thank you.

Malcolm MacLeod (Med ’62)
Sacramento, California

The Pause

Brian Stauffer

What an impactful article and concept. …

I was hit with a powerful example of the role of humanity in serving our patients. Thank you! The [mention of] the outrageous and erroneous expectations set by TV medicine highlights the frustrations that occur for both real-world caregivers and recipients on a daily basis.

Carl Douglas Porter (Col ’85)
Beavercreek, Ohio


Your article really touches on our humanity, and the respectful way to mark a person’s passing from this world to the next. Thanks.

Nan Gunnell (Educ ’69)
Torrance, California