Your wonderful story about the NCAA basketball championship team UVA Cavaliers under Coach Bennett was inspiring and illuminating. The values our Wahoos display on and off the court are admirable. We will be celebrating this historic moment for many years to come. Congratulations to these scholar athletes who lead by example.
Shawn Grain Carter (Col ’82)
South Orange, New Jersey
I graduated in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. I eventually earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Stanford in 1968—quite a switch in fields, I agree. I was a member of the student government, then of the Honor Committee—so I know the system somewhat well. I began to reflect on my time at UVA. I believe we set a record for most consecutive losses during my time there. It did not dampen my love for Mr. Jefferson’s university—not for its athletic prowess but instead for the love of the University itself. I realize how fortunate I was to have attended and to have been graduated by it. So, congratulations on the big, big win. Keep up the academic standards and, to quote your cover, Wahoowow.
Edward B. Blanchard (Engr ’61)
East Greenbush, NY
Your special edition’s five articles on the men’s basketball national championship absolutely captured why the University is a wonderful (and continuing) learning experience: gaining introspection (from writer Anna Katherine Clemmons), enjoying the “verve” (the player bios), culling through details (the specifics of the clutch moments), imparting philosophy (the gravitas of Coach Bennett’s quotes), and feeling the poetry (the Gasp by Chuck Culpepper) of being a part of this wonderful event. Thank you.
Charles L. Woody (Col ’69)
Charleston, West Virginia
While reading Decoding Honor (Summer 2019), I was reminded of the time I took my oldest grandson, a high school senior, to see UVA. While walking around the Grounds I told him about the Honor Code, and how it was strongly enforced. He asked me, “If the Honor Code is so strong, why are all of these bicycles chained to trees?” I called the then-dean of the school of engineering, with whom I had a personal relationship, and asked him the question. Without hesitation he replied: “Those ‘townies’ are bad people.”
L. Martin Flanagan (Law ’58)
I applaud Ernie Gates for writing “Beyond Blackface,” which, to help us understand the richness of its subject matter, takes us back to 1888 with the naming of the Corks and Curls to present-day when two out of three members of the state executive branch have admitted to using blackface in their collegiate years. Learning what Corks and Curls actually refers to is an eye-opening look into the lengths some will go to hide their nefarious intentions behind what was supposed to pass as 19th-century slang.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to Kirt von Daacke, who did much of the heavy lifting in unearthing not only UVA’s footprint in blackface and racism in higher education, but examining how neighboring institutions also behaved.
What I found most harmful was the Alumni News 1955 reprint of the 1916 Corks and Curls material recalling the long-suffering Henry Martin, former enslaved worker, janitor and bell ringer who died in 1915. “Uncle Henry” is made to shuffle and scrape once more, and is purported to say there was little value in educating colored folks because too many ended up in the state penitentiary “cause they knowed too much.” How often must this poor man, who spent his life giving deference to UVA students, be trotted out to show the impact of white supremacy?
I’m pleased that President Ryan has continued the efforts begun by then-President Teresa Sullivan to review the University’s history with slavery. I commend the editor of Corks and Curls who says the name will be changed (with all deliberate speed?).
I find it extremely bothersome that there was no mention as to the import of this article on the cover of the magazine. That’s unfortunate, given the extensive knowledge and history Mr. Gates and others put into this article.
Eric Fontaine (Law ’79)
It is important to me that decisions made by parties I trust and regard highly are fact-based decisions, free of personal bias.
No party is more trusted and highly regarded in my mind than the University. I applaud President Sullivan’s establishment of the Commission on Slavery and the University, now the Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation.
I acknowledge and accept the facts about the blackface past at the University. However, in my eight years at the University, I personally never saw or heard anything about blackface images. To be clear, I’m not saying that because I didn’t see or hear about it, it didn’t exist or shouldn’t be addressed.
What I expect from my beloved University is fact-based reporting and accountability free of bias. I take issue with the statement by Alumni Association President and CEO Jenifer Andrasko that “contextualization,” which is used to justify behavior by the cultural norms at the time, allows people to feel less accountable.
Contextualization calls out the facts evidencing the cultural norms at a particular time in history. Accountability comes in future actions that change the cultural norms—actions that take many forms after much reflection and debate, interactions, protests and discussions of any and all kind.
Report factually on mock lynchings, etc., but spare me your characterization of “blatant racism.” Today the use of the n-word is not part of our cultural norm, although still used by some people, but in 1922 you report that former President Wilson used it. Cultural norms are constantly changing and calling out the words or deeds that are offensive can change those norms. But the way to do that, in my opinion, is to call out the facts, not wrap it in an adjective that reflects the bias of the writer.
David I. Greenberg (Engr ’66, Law ’69)
Glen Allen, Virginia
I recall priding myself on knowing some lyrics to the Rugby Song that I learned from alumni. Reading this article made me wonder which “riders of the night” we were singing about when we sang “We’re Edgar Shannon’s raiders/We’re riders of the night.” (This verse may have been updated from prior UVA presidents.)
Robert Harris (Com ’79)
New York, New York
Letters to the editor
Allowing your pages to be used to defame Laura Ingraham [in a letter to the editor], or anyone, as a racist is contemptible and an embarrassment to all in the UVA community.
William F. Parkerson III (Col ’69)
University Park, Florida
Library Renewal (Spring 2019)
The fundamental issue in the Alderman Library renovation is not leaky pipes or aesthetic deficiencies but the nature of a university library. The library administration conveys one view: Advocating for research is “selfish,” and having fewer books will improve the library.
My students have a different vision and think that a university aspiring to be elite would support the most intensive forms of scholarship.
Encouraging curiosity, moreover, applies not only to tenure-track faculty but to all academic levels, including the graduate students we train and the first-year undergraduates in my college-advising seminars who have been mesmerized in Alderman’s stacks by worlds they had not imagined.
The greatest loss from the approach being implemented will be the decrease in browsability (what the writer calls “library stacks serendipity”) as hundreds of thousands of books are warehoused in a three-story concrete bunker on Old Ivy Road and eventually rearranged by size, not subject.
Furthermore, New Alderman will have only one publicly accessible classroom (according to the project manager), and even University courses studying the physical characteristics of the books held in the building (an essential component of book history) will not be allowed to meet there regularly. In contrast, Yale’s recently renovated Beinecke Library hosts six to eight full-time courses each semester.
Although planning for New Alderman has been fraught with disappointment, some useful steps could still be taken. The ban on full-time courses meeting in the new library could be rescinded. Books moved to the Ivy Stacks could be kept permanently in subject order. Public notice could be required before any more books are discarded.
As things stand, the renovated Alderman does not seem headed to “Uncompromised Excellence.”
David L. Vander Meulen
Professor of English, UVA
Nevermore (Spring 2019)
I read with great interest the [“Nevermore”] article in Virginia Magazine. It recalled to me the unsolved disappearance of Poe items and other artifacts from safekeeping in the library that went unaccounted for in 1973.
As indicated in the article, for some reason such losses were not reported to authorities by the then-librarian until months later, apparently because library officials thought the items had merely been misplaced and would turn up. The security measures in place to protect such objects were sadly not up to the task.
Upon reflection, this is a very sad state of affairs.
I would like to think that some 45 years later this apparent felonious activity would remain under investigation. While “cold” in the sense of the decades that have passed, modern techniques and expert investigative authorities are available today that could help in tracking down the items and the villains who undertook this caper.
I would hope appropriate University officials would take up this matter with the diligence it deserves.
Harry R. Marshall Jr. (Col ’61)
Former adjunct faculty
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Your recent piece about the theft of priceless items from Alderman Library, including Poe’s Tamerlane and Other Poems, made me sick. The negligence of the library’s full-time personnel bordered on criminal. That “practically everyone” knew the combination to the vault, which was stored “on a sheet of paper in a department secretary’s desk drawer” is unbelievable.
The fact that the key to the second line of theft defense “sat in a tin, unlocked, on a bookshelf, just to the right of the vault” is near-criminal. The names of these facilitators of theft should be placed on a roll of shame and prominently displayed in the library.
James T. Currie (Grad ’69, ’75)
The original Alderman Road dorms and U-Hall, both commissioned while I was at UVA, are now gone. Is it too much to expect UVA administration to design buildings that last more than 50 or so years? Seems like a failure in strategic planning.
Warren Tate (Engr ’68)
Many thanks for your sending Virginia Magazine religiously. Winter 2017 sounds like we got a fine new leader—though God knows what will erupt again in poor old Charlottesville.
Also you got a real winner with Carla Williams (a real Bulldawg through and through).
Minor point: I wonder if it would have not been better to leave alone the plaques honoring fallen Johnny Rebs and add more to stress that Wahoos served on both sides during the Civil War.
Long ago I suggested that Harvard should add plaques listing their Johnny Rebs who fell in battle to go along with their fallen Billy Yanks. I am not holding my breath on that either!
Anyway, keep up the good work.
Nash Boney (Grad ’60, ’63)
The action taken by the city of Charlottesville canceling the holiday honoring our Mr. Jefferson has greatly disturbed me.
I am shocked, saddened and frightened, and hope my sentiments are shared by everyone associated with the University. I am waiting for a public response from President Ryan. No response indicates approval or at least acquiescence, which I pray is not the case.
Cobbs Nixon (Col ’63)
Summer 2019 Corrections
The inkjet address label on some copies of the Summer 2019 issue of Virginia Magazine included a grammatical error in the tagline promoting Class Notes. The error happened at the printing plant, where someone mistyped “your” for “you’re.” It’s not that we’re not capable of grammatical lapses ourselves (or double negatives); we just didn’t make that one. We apologize for the error and thank those readers who alerted us to it; we wouldn’t have known about it otherwise.
The obituary for Charles Armstrong Sinclair (Com ’62) in the Summer 2019 issue mistakenly noted that he was a member of the Seven Society.