Addiction Research

I found the article “Targeting Addiction” (Fall 2009) very intriguing. I especially was curious if Dr. Bankole Johnson’s research (or even topiramate itself) is applicable to other psychological medical conditions. I wondered particularly about those conditions that are or could be related to the release of dopamine and/or its failure to be inhibited by the body in certain people. For instance, is Dr. Johnson's research being looked at for issues related to sex-addiction or obesity?

On an unrelated note, I found the description of his path to medicine fascinating. After leaving UVA, I spent a brief stint in medical school but ended up choosing a career in higher education instead. I’m always interested to see the path students take to get where they ultimately want to be. I also still love science and like it when Virginia Magazine profiles research in this area.

Christine Jansen Coons (Col ’89)
Granada Hills, Calif.


Glancing at the cover of Virginia Magazine’s Fall 2009 issue, I saw the topic of “Treating Addiction” and immediately turned to the article. I attended UVA but never graduated, primarily because I had a drinking problem, so I was pleased to see the topic addressed in your magazine.

I read the article and am annoyed enough to write a letter to the beautiful university that I attended. For me and many recovering alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was the answer. The fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous helped me to stop drinking, and I urge you to offer that as a suggestion to anyone with a drinking problem.

Through the grace of God and folks in AA meetings, I am approaching 21 years of being sober.

Rosemary Sales
Virginia Beach, Va.

Cartoon Cover

As I am writing this letter, I am looking at the cover of the Fall 2009 issue of Virginia Magazine with disgust. Not with displeasure with the talent of Jen Sorensen, but the apparent lack of mature judgment by the editors for choosing to celebrate the demise of culture, good taste, social behavior and tradition at the University of Virginia. The scene satirically portrayed on your cover is best described in Sorensen’s own words, “I really try to be very empirical and tell it as I see it.”

I entered the University in the fall of 1947, graduating (after the Korean War) in architecture in 1958. In my first year, there were 4,000 men students and 19 women in the Nursing School; all men wore jackets and ties, and first-year men wore felt hats. In the spring of 1948, the Archbishop of Canterbury led the graduation procession down the Lawn while the Philadelphia Orchestra played incidental music for the ceremony.

Robert R. Sowder (Arch ’58)
Redmond, Wash.


Your story on UVA cartoonist Jen Sorensen brought back memories of my “15 minutes of fame” my sophomore year as a cartoonist for The Harlequin in 1958-59. I rummaged through my attic and retrieved a few issues of the University’s humor magazine that I had not looked at in decades.

Although my work will quickly reveal that I was not destined for a career in cartooning, I enjoyed contributing a few covers, individual cartoons and even a comic strip called “Hot Lips for Sale.”

I never pursued my interest in cartoons after that year. Thanks to the inspiration and guidance of my French professors, T. Braxton Woody and Fred Proulx, I went on to study in Paris and then on to Princeton graduate school. I taught French language and literature for eight years, leaving the academic world in 1969 to work for an advertising agency in Knoxville, Tenn., for another eight years. In 1977, I joined a newly created business newspaper called Furniture/Today. I went on to become its publisher and am still selling ads. You never know where life will lead you, but I’m a big proponent of the liberal arts education I received at the University.

Joe Carroll (Col ’61)
Greensboro, N.C.

Opinions on Opinions

The essence of what J.M. Perry Archer has written about Barack Obama in the Fall 2009 issue is such as to shake one’s faith in creative design of the universe. Surely there is no good cause behind the existence of such hatred.

Gilbert S. Bahn
Moorpark, Calif.


Mr. [Norman] Land asks why “progressive thinkers” fear Sarah Palin (Letters, Fall 2009). While I can't speak for other alumni or Virginia Magazine-reading progressives, I feared Palin when she was a candidate for vice president because she seemed to me to be totally unqualified for that position. Remember when she couldn't name one newspaper or magazine she reads? If I had been asked that question, I would have said I read Virginia Magazine, among others.

Larry Chamblin (Col ’60)
Pensacola, Fla.


It was frustrating to read Norman Land’s letter to the editor last issue, in which he described Katie Couric as “a cynical, self-serving journalist” who “ambushed” Sarah Palin during her infamous interview. The only things remarkable about the way Couric conducted the Palin interview are that Couric was eminently fair and that she asked simple, relevant and straightforward questions. And for good reason; Palin needed no help in sounding like a buffoon.

Josh Kolsky (Engr ’01)
Washington, D.C.

Civil Discourse

Some of the letters published in Virginia Magazine seem to indicate that UVA has graduated a number of people who feel that argument should be based on personal insults instead of reasoned dissent. This casts aspersions on all the rest of us who feel strongly about various topics but who try to maintain civil discourse.

Has common courtesy fallen out of the curriculum somewhere along the line?

Lee Goeller (Engr ’53, ’54)
Haddonfield, N.J.

Polo Road

I enjoyed the many fine articles in the Fall 2009 issue, especially “The Vision for the Village.” I would, though, like to offer a comment on the polo article “Half-Horse, Half-Human” in the same issue. The article says that, “In 1953, three students leased a field north of Grounds off old Lynchburg Road.” However, Old Lynchburg Road is south of Grounds (and south of Charlottesville, of course). This obvious error jarred my recollections (I was a first year during the 1952-53 school year) and I seem to remember that a field north of Grounds and Charlottesville was used, but it was off Polo Grounds Road.

David Y. Miller (Col ’57)
Nellysford, Va.

Top Quarterbacks

Bob Davis Photo from 1967 Corks and Curls

I don’t expect the young whippersnappers who wrote your sidebar “Virginia’s Top Five Quarterbacks” to remember a guy who played in the ’60s, but omitting Bob Davis from the list is a felony if ever there was one. I’ve seen all the great runners in the history of football. Nobody was as exciting as Davis, who held the UVA record for longest run from scrimmage (88 yards in 1964 until broken by running back Mikell Simpson in 2008, 44 years later) as a quarterback. Davis also led the ACC in passing in 1966.

However, it was as a runner that Davis electrified. I remember one game where he actually ran out the clock, cutting left and right and retreating and keeping on his feet until the clock expired. He suffered a serious knee injury on the last play of his college career but was still able to back up Joe Namath on the New York Jets. Maybe the guys you mentioned were wonderful, but Davis belongs in the group.

Tony Medley (Law ’65)
Marina del Ray, Calif.


Taking nothing away from Scott Gardiner, Aaron Brooks and Matt Blundin, perhaps Gary Cuozzo and Bob Davis deserve consideration for their accomplishments in the ’60s.

Burnett Trueworthy (Col ’66)
Woodville, Va.


Bob Davis was one of the most exciting UVA quarterbacks. [Former UVA head football coach] Bill Elias once said that Davis was the kind of player that you had to be careful not to overcoach. Subsequently, after Elias went to Navy, Davis was moved to other positions, reducing the possibility that his overall record would reflect his talent.

Marvin Hilton (Engr ’59)
Charlottesville, Va.

Budget Woes

Predictably, Dr. [John T.] Casteen pointed fingers at the car tax reduction (Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore) and no-tax-increase pledges (Republicans in the House of Delegates) as the primary reasons for the Commonwealth’s budgetary problems. I may have missed it, but I didn’t see any reference to the rapid growth in spending during the past 20 years; the annual spending increases have exceeded both population growth and inflation.

Recent governors have made the problem worse by projecting extremely rosy future revenue growth projections. Spending was ramped up based on those rosy projections. Now that the projections have turned sour, there is lots of handwringing. I suggest that before raising our taxes, the politicians should take a hard look at the spending and make realistic revenue projections.

Jim Miller (Engr ’68)
Moneta, Va.


As I read the Fall 2009 edition of the magazine, I was struck by the contrast between President Casteen’s letter and the article with Admission Dean Greg Roberts. President Casteen’s letter discusses how unreliable state funding has been for some time, declining to a low of 7 percent this year. At the same time that the legislature is skimping on funding of the University, it became apparent from a question posed to Roberts that there is pressure to increase the share of in-state students. The University is being pressured to admit more lower-paying students while state funding is being cut.

This seems like a recipe for financial disaster and the opposite of what should happen. Increasing the share of students paying the lower in-state tuition rate while receiving reduced funding from the state does not make sense. Instead, the University should increase the share of out-of-state students to partly make up for the lost state funding and to secure a more reliable source of funding.

Jon Masters (Col ’98)
Sherborn, Mass.


Reading the article “Carrying on the Legacy” in the Fall 2009 issue, I was reminded of the perennial argument about how many out-of-state students should be admitted to UVA.

Out-of-students pay 3.2 times the tuition in-state students pay. Using the figures on the UVA Web site as an estimate, I determined that the 31.5 percent of out-of-state students pay nearly 60 percent of total tuition dollars. If only in-state students were accepted, their tuition and fees would have to increase by 70 percent to $16,800 in order to bring in the same number of tuition dollars, all else being equal. Of course, that's the upper boundary. Those who would like to limit out-of-state enrollment can decide how much in-state tuition they’re willing to pay and calculate the out-of-state enrollment percentage from there.

Cynthia Vervena (Col ’86, ’88)
Oakton, Va.

Baseball Error

How disappointing to read such a short article regarding the 2009 baseball team’s fabulous and record-setting season. Once again it seems the University is only interested in promoting their football and basketball teams. Your article also contained an error by identifying Coach Brian O’Connor as Dennis O’Connor.

Corinne Conlon (Nurs ’76, ’81)
Barboursville, Va.

True Leader

I was a captain of the 1962 Virginia Beach High School Seahawks football team and well remember the game against the mighty Bulldogs of Norfolk Academy. Dubby Wynne (Law ’71) quarterbacked the Academy team. And what a fine athlete and leader he was/is. He was gifted, resourceful, intelligent and a true sportsman. Of course, he has manifested all of these qualities in his professional life. The University is fortunate to have him as its rector and leader of the Board of Visitors.

Tom Ayres (Col ’68)
New Albany, Ohio

Who’s Pictured in Poster?

The following are comments posted on about the 1979 preppie poster.

Key piece of trivia—who is the Sigma Chi fraternity brother that Tom featured on the poster (Retrospect, Fall 2009)? Hint: his first name is actually Spencer.

Stephen Lord (Col ’78)
Oakton, Va.


Trivia? Obviously, Sigma Chi brother Spencer Tunnell. Great to see the poster as well as the nice tribute to Shady’s success and giving back to the community.

Ken Barnes (Com ’80)
Knoxville, Tenn.