Letters to the Editor

Narrowing the Gap

Reading “The Gravity of Inequality” (November/December) awakened my awareness of the disparities in educational opportunities, as well as the many solutions proposed and implemented by both educators and nonprofessionals. No doubt, some progress has been made; however, the disparities continue, and a great deal of time, effort and money has been misspent. As the author states, “If you can narrow the gap in readiness, you have a much better chance of keeping the gap narrow as kids go through school.”

Yes, but how? It is just possible that the greater Stanford community is the ideal demographic to determine and propose opportunities that lead to success. Think of the tremendous pool of socioeconomic diversity, as well as ethnicity, that is represented! So I challenge a Stanford researcher in quest of a project to consider the following.

Survey faculty, students and alumni who have come from economically deprived backgrounds but who have become eminent in their fields of endeavor, or, as students, are well on their way to success because they have had the benefit of our illustrious university, as well as the motivation to get there in the first place.

Which remembered or documented experiences, both negative and positive, beginning in early childhood, influenced and motivated them to succeed? Which parent/family and educational opportunities served them well? Then, after compiling and analyzing the data, propose and develop parent training and pre-K through 12 curricula that include those kinds of experiences. Simplistic? Perhaps. However, gaining insights before establishing curricula, and assessing, refining and maintaining what works, over time, might just matter. Changes in delivery and media should and will happen, but changes in outcomes, based on appropriate curricula, should have solid rationales based on societal needs.

Once curricula are established, develop tests that assess what was taught. Establish a pilot program in a community of apparent need. Provide training, monitoring and assessment. Disseminate what works, so that the program can become institutionalized. Carefully align the tests with the curriculum, and analyze and refine both curricula and assessment on a yearly basis. 

Granted, this proposal, implemented successfully, would take time, money, endless perseverance and unwavering belief in a beneficial outcome. The process would also need to exclude politics and ego-building. Pie in the sky? Yes, but should that stop the determination to make lasting changes in an imperfect system? No way!
Myrna Graves Fleckles, ’50
Santa Rosa, California

After reading “The Gravity of Inequality,” I can’t help but wonder if one of the major causes of this problem isn’t the government policy of paying teenage girls to have babies (Aid to Families with Dependent Children). This has been going on for decades, and, while studying its effects is politically incorrect, this policy is, in my opinion, the “elephant in the room.” I think all aspects of this policy should be explored as an integral part of this problem.
Greg Merwin, ’56
Clarksburg, California 

Two Supreme Court cases, San Antonio Independent District v. Rodriguez (1973) and Milliken v. Bradley (1974), guaranteed inequality in the schools. The first case left it up to local authorities to set property tax rates that funded public schools: Wealthy areas subsidized excellent schools, while poor districts did the best they could with little or no tax base to call upon. The second case prohibited busing children across district lines to achieve integration, which led to even more white flight.

Both cases are part of the reason a child born in poverty today will most likely die in poverty.
Susan Echols (Lee Purcell), ’60
Marietta, Georgia

Without having a degree in statistics one can predict with absolute certainty that everyone who read Sam Scott’s “The Gravity of Inequality” has been exposed to some form of schooling, and has a fail-safe plan to reduce the growing disparity between “rich” and “poor” school districts.

Before I offer my plan, let me reduce the current cause du jour to the crux of the matter: Conservatives want more choice via vouchers; liberals want more money spent on public education. My plan acknowledges that both sides have legitimate aspirations. It offers a grand compromise.

The liberals get a financially strengthened, focused, traditional preschool-to-grade-five school system. Heavy emphasis would be placed on promoting the role of the student-citizen as an active, contributing member of the community. Healthy living and environmental concerns would be accentuated. The students would be provided with free food and after-school care.

Grades six through 11 would be entirely by voucher. State-licensed qualified teachers, singularly or in teams of their creation, would fashion schools of whatever persuasion that they can “sell” to parents and students. In lieu of salary, the teacher(s) of a voucher school would receive the full value of the vouchers and from these funds pay rent and utilities, supplies, administrative and clerical help as needed, etc.

The only criterion for voucher-school offerings would be common decency. Otherwise, anything goes: Basketball School, Latin Academy, Special Needs School, Transcendental School, Bible Study School, Mechanic’s School, Cosmos School, Desert Survival School, College Prep School—anything!

In short, the universal voucher system would allow the market to set the curricula, and it would unbind the professional teacher from bureaucratic restraints. Teaching would begin to attract people with a more entrepreneurial bent. The second plus would be that teachers of the various schools would be in charge of hiring and firing all auxiliary help, including administrators.

Twelfth-grade students who demonstrated competence in reading, writing and arithmetic (here’s how the 3R’s sneak back into the Basketball School’s offerings) could use their vouchers to attend a special class in which freshman college credits could be earned.
Eugene L. Conrotto, ’51
Modesto, California

The Ups and Downs of Drones

I, too, am enthused about the endless benefits of drones (“Droneland,” November/December). Drones deployed by remote controllers in the United States military to selectively target terrorist cells make it possible to avoid exposing ground combat troops and fighter pilots to direct combat. By enabling better identification of insurgents, fired missiles incur less “collateral damage” than direct combat, and are far less likely than ground forces to kill and seriously injure innocent bystanders or children who wander into target zones. Drones with resuscitation equipment that carry simple instructions can be rapidly launched to victims of cardiac arrest using the GPS coordinates of the cell phones used to notify emergency services. This will definitely save lives in traffic-gridlocked and congested cities. A telemedicine mount on these drones would allow live instructions to be communicated to bystanders to deliver better cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a scenario that is in the preliminary stages of being tested in the Netherlands.

However, a new technology could just as easily fall into criminal hands. A drone that ferried tools recently enabled a daring escape from a high-security London prison. Drones could be used to infiltrate civilian airspace, risking collisions with passenger planes. Drones aren’t easily spotted by air traffic controllers at busy airports, where safe margins of separation for jets are already razor-thin. I can imagine a nightmare scenario at London’s Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport. A proposed third runway would incur noise contamination over extended periods and increase flight frequency to greater than one aircraft every minute. One worries about more congested air space risking collisions both on the runway and in the air even before rogue drones come into consideration.

Which begs the question of whether innumerable drones launched into city skies require their dedicated drone-port and traffic coordination.
Joseph Ting
Brisbane, Australia

Faith and Endurance

A Brief History of Faith” (Consider This, November/December) aptly illustrates the hardships that multiple faiths must endure. Interpretations and perspectives and restrictions and refusals alike will provide
an inextinguishable fire for all intrinsically incompatible faiths.

If pluralism is to continue, it should promote censorship of criticism of any faith, and it should attempt to support rules that accommodate the greatest number of religious dogmas. If the faithful are to have any meaningful relationship with members of another faith or those of no faith, they must detach their insecurities and believe, without hesitation, that their faith is absolute. That seems shallow, though—to look at one’s nearest neighbor and believe, as a starting point, “I can be your friend because I know my faith is true.”

It is better to focus on what can be agreed. Air bags provide safety. Smoking presents a health risk. Water provides sustenance. DNA provides continuity. This is our foundation. We are all from the same Lucy, and we know this because of science.
Kevin Henderson, ’92
Los Alamos, New Mexico

I appreciated Susan Wolfe’s article, “A Brief History of Faith.” I was especially interested in the recounting of the events in 1966 that led to the acceptance of Jewish prayer services on campus, and I would like to add a bit to that history.

The events began in early October 1965, when the mother of a Stern Hall freshman died during Orientation Week. He wanted to follow the traditional Jewish practice of reciting the memorial prayer for the dead (Kaddish), which is read aloud as part of daily prayer services during the first year following the death of a parent. Since the saying of this prayer requires a quorum of 10 adult Jews (a minyan), a daily prayer service was organized by word of mouth, and it met each afternoon in the student’s room.

One highlight of that year was the attendance at the service of the distinguished civil rights leader Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel, who happened to be speaking on campus. He was invited to attend the daily minyan, and, when asked to lead the service, he declined, saying that it was more appropriate that he simply be a participant. Declining the honor was a lesson in humility and a fine moment for all who were there.

By spring 1966, the group had grown and a larger, more public space was needed; here is where Wolfe’s account kicks in. As she notes, Memorial Church, then the only place on campus where any kind of religious service was allowed, was unacceptable to Jewish students because of its distracting Christian imagery. When this was pointed out to Stanford administrators, they objected that allowing Jewish prayers to take place anywhere else on campus would open the door to all kinds of bizarre religious observances, “even Satanic masses.” Undoubtedly that comment was later regretted, but it probably helped make the simple prayer service into a cause and galvanized broader interest and support. The changes that resulted made Stanford a better place, paving the way for greater religious diversity and toleration, and perhaps had something to do, even if indirectly, with the creation of Stanford’s world-class Jewish Studies program (the Taube Center for Jewish Studies), something that probably was unimaginable in the mid-1960s.
Steve Siporin, ’69
Logan, Utah

Village Life

Thanks to Merrill Joan Gerber for her reminder of life in the original Stanford Village (“What Memories Can Bring,” End Note, November/December). Our family lived in Apt. 315-3 from the fall of 1955, when my husband returned from Army service, to 1958. We arrived with one youngster and left with three; in that time, all but one of the couples in our shared front yard had babies, two adopted.

This was our first almost-permanent home, in the repurposed Army hospital barracks. Like many, we had university furniture—like the couch, a twin bed with a folded cotton-filled mattress and a $2.50 chenille bedspread tucked over it. I recall the same trek to the grocery store and the almost daily trudge to the laundry. No one minded having their underwear on display on the joint backyard clothesline.

Years later, our Village next-door neighbor and I picked up fallen apricots around our new Eichlers, reminiscing with affection about our Village days. We still own a mirror salvaged from the partly demolished apartment just before SRI took over the whole area.
Lilyan Stewart Snow, ’56
Seattle, Washington

Canine Cover-up

Your November/December issue had a piece on what to do with pet poop, especially when walking our dogs (“Canine Cleanup,” SAGE, Farm Report). The flush idea is good. The more natural idea is simply to start in a fairly natural area, if possible.

When your dog evacuates, just be sure it’s off the path and there are leaves/grass/dirt, etc., to cover it with. Covering keeps flies from laying eggs there and allows natural bacterial processes to turn Dano’s dump into soil in a few days.

Regardless of events, never use plastic bags or put them into the bin to the dump (landfill).
Alexander Cannara, Engr. ’66, MS ’74, PhD ’76
Menlo Park, California

The Fourth Estate

Professor Glasser astonishingly declares objectivity a handicap for journalism, apparently unaware that mainstream political reportage already abandoned it decades ago for uncritical, one-sided reporting and progressive advocacy (“The Ethics of Election Coverage,” Consider This, September/October). If physics, engineering, medicine, historical musicology or any other discipline abandoned objectivity, their research would be a joke.

To claim moral high ground on social and political issues while selectively reporting or interpreting the news is dangerous hypocrisy. Democracy depends upon an informed electorate, and the fourth estate has long been the public’s primary access to information about government and news in distant places. Young journalists should be schooled in pursuing and telling Truth, as in all other disciplines at Stanford.
Douglas Alton Smith, MA ’74, PhD ’77
Gig Harbor, Washington

‘Dwelling on Pettiness’

I read with interest the recent article highlighting Stanford’s new president, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, and his spouse, neuroscientist Mary Hynes (“A Leader in Full,” September/October). I was very pleased to read of their focus on improving the well-being of both mankind and the university—worthy goals for leaders of a premier university such as Stanford.

Although I have enjoyed reading the magazine over the years (not as a graduate but as the wife of a ‘72 alumnus), I was saddened to read an alumna’s response regarding the so-called “stereotypical coverage” of questions asked to the couple about how they handle balancing work and family demands (“The New President,” Letters to the Editor, November/December). 

I would have hoped that a Stanford graduate could have formed a more substantive response to these articles rather than dwelling on such pettiness. I was also disappointed in the alumnus who was upset that the new president was not a “black female.” Perhaps these alumni could have better used their remarks to instead offer their support to the new president and his wife in taking on the new opportunities and challenges necessary to advancing the original founders’ vision for Stanford University, as President Tessier-Lavigne himself has suggested.
Dottie G. Granger
Camano Island, Washington

Both Sides

This letter is regarding “To Be a Bracero: Seeing Beyond Abuses” (Farm Report, September/October).

The article reminded me of the “happy slave” narrative intentionally crafted and disseminated to distort the history of human exploitation in the 19th century. It is the reconstructed Mexican version of the singing slave, or “happy bracero” waving from the labor train. 

Ernesto Galarza and Frederick Douglass did not write to apologize or romanticize the abuses and dehumanization of people and laborers. Their work intentionally addressed and documented exploitation and named the injustices suffered by human beings. 

My father was a bracero, and I do not recall him being a happy camper when he had to leave his family to work in the fields of another country.

I found the socially ultraconservative perspective grounding this essay offensive, limiting, dangerous and obfuscating history. Has Stanford funded recent projects about slavery or the exploitation of other laborers (Chinese, Native American, Filipino) with the fundamental premise of “seeing beyond abuses”? Did these projects include descriptions of laborers’ “fun” while abused?
Maria V. Balderrama, EdS ’94, PhD ’95
Redlands, California

Excellent article. My father was a bracero. My parents are from rural Michoacán, Mexico. They had very limited education—rudimentary grade school—but even that was more than the previous generation. My brothers and I were born in Mexico, and that is where we were raised. Every year my father went to California to work in the fields while we stayed back in Mexico with our mother. He would return to Mexico for the winter.

As the family grew in number and the children were getting older, my father decided that the situation was not tenable—"a family should be together"—and over my mother’s objection we all moved to California. My mother would eventually accept that it was a good decision, but at the time our entire world was the extended family in Mexico. She had not left rural Michoacán until my father took her to Mexico City—therefore moving to California was an extreme decision. Nevertheless, like many thousands of desperate Mexicans and others from around the world since the time of the Pilgrims, they took the leap.

The Central Valley of California is where I would become an American. I never stopped being a Mexican, but in my mind I also became an American almost immediately. (I did not get formal U.S. citizenship until years later, when I was in graduate school.) We settled in the Central Valley because we had relatives there and because there were year-round crops.

As boys, my brothers and I would sometimes join our father in the fields. I hated working in the fields—and could not imagine doing that day-in, day-out, plus all the other odd jobs my father would pick up to make ends meet. It was a brutal life. He would leave the house for the fields before daylight and then go to the cannery in the late afternoon/evening. I resented that my father had to work like an animal.

The town we lived in had high poverty, and at times it could be very violent—at least the neighborhoods where we could afford to live. We were exposed to everything from petty crimes and street prostitution to murderous gang violence. My brothers and I were assaulted on various occasions for money or small possessions. Once I and a brother were held up at gunpoint by armed thieves. The police were not our “friends”; they treated most brown or black boys and men as suspects, even if we were the victims. At least that was our perspective back then. Most kids in my high school dropped out, and of those that did graduate, only very few went on to university.

My family was lucky. All of my siblings and I (six of us) went on to university. That broke the cycle of working poor begetting working poor that had plagued the generations that preceded us.

We “earned” our success because we worked hard, we had a stable family, and we experienced some great teachers, even though the schools at times were atrocious. Nevertheless, I say we were lucky because we knew so many others that were equally deserving, but life dealt them a tougher hand.

In retrospect, I credit my father’s psychological and physical fortitude. He had a stoic drive and determination that was intimidating. I am grateful that I will never be tested like he was.

Now with the perspective of half a lifetime, I also have to acknowledge that the fields were pivotal. While I resented them, my father found dignity in that work. Without the fields, we could not have come to California, and those same fields also motivated us to find something better. The fields shaped us.

My father is now 91 years old. When he was in his 50s, he went to night school and earned a high school equivalency certificate. He also has eight university diplomas from his six children: Stanford (4), UC-Berkeley (2), Harvard (1), UC-Davis (1).

Ours is a quintessentially American story.
Arturo Cazares, ’84, MBA ’89
Redwood City, California

Good Chemistry

I read with interest “The Chemistry of Love” (“Old Chem Lives Again,” Farm Report, September/October). Not to take anything away from the outstanding women chemists in your story, but I am proud to say that Stanford graduated female chemists as early as its third graduating class. My great-grandmother Katharine (“Kitty”) Lois Haskell graduated from Stanford with a BS in Chemistry in 1898. There must be something about that degree, because she, too, married her Stanford sweetheart, Herbert Randall Straight, but only after she had taught chemistry for a few years to establish her independence.
Mary Hunt, ’86
San Francisco, California

Happy Endings

I really enjoyed Catherine Lowell’s End Note (“Spin a Yarn, Weave a World,” September/October). It echoes what I tell clients, prospects, attendees at my workshops. So often we hear parents urging their children to select “relevant” majors, or people bemoaning the major that is holding them back on getting started in a career. I think this is a trap in thinking.

Instead of worrying about what field of study or type of experience will help you land a job, it’s more productive to pursue something with passion and examine what story to tell that incorporates that passion to help you move in the direction you want.

In Catherine’s case, she was able to see how an English major would help her. Consider this situation: Jim wants to be a theatre arts major, but ultimately plans to seek a highly technical corporate role. How can that possibly help?

For one thing, those in highly technical roles have a tendency to lack communication skills. Jim might stand out as one able to turn technical subject material into engaging presentations. He would likely be more persuasive in negotiation situations, and better suited to inspiring fellow workers and staff members. Sure, Jim would also have to demonstrate technical skills, but these additional elements might make him stand out among all the candidates who do have such skills.

Perhaps this is why one of my most requested workshops is “Storytelling to Get Hired.”
John Hadley, ’76
Somerville, New Jersey

Faulty Assumptions

Because all seven letters in September/October on the topic of oil and gas divestment (“Dangerous Decision”) aim to excoriate the Board of Trustees for their decision, a word in their defense is called for.

Each letter makes a hidden assumption that is factually incorrect. Two, in some. This, even while the goal envisioned by each writer is profoundly correct.

Yes, we face a climate change crisis. No, we are not working quickly enough to address climate change in the time frame needed to avoid major upheavals. Yes, we need to decarbonize the global economy and displace fossil fuels. Yes, our children, and theirs, will suffer if we delay. And yes, we need to radically crank up the pace of developing clean energy alternatives.

The problem is that divestment accomplishes none of these. An erroneous assumption found in several letters is that by holding investments in oil and gas companies, Stanford is “funding” their development and extraction of these fuels. In reality, Stanford funds do not flow to these companies—even were Stanford to increase investment in them. Rather, the money spent to purchase oil and gas company securities goes to whatever entity (individual shareholder, pension fund, etc.) previously owned the securities, not into the pockets of the companies themselves (with a few insignificant exceptions).

Similarly, divestment does nothing to hurt the oil and gas companies or contribute to keeping oil in the ground. Securities sold to others merely reallocates ownership of oil and gas assets; the companies themselves are unaffected by this. Were there to be a massive global divestment, securities prices would fall precipitously and those few who astutely entered the market to buy them would end up rich beyond belief. But company activities would be unchanged. This is because changes in ownership (e.g., divestment) do not change the underlying economics of oil and gas production or corresponding company decisions. This reality makes the divestment movement a distraction from the larger problem to be addressed.

Divestment advocates often underestimate the true challenge we face. Something like 2.5 billion people today live in energy poverty, relying on wood, dung and charcoal to fuel their households, with unconscionable health consequences and the disempowerment of women. Energy use must grow in the coming decades if we are to accept an ethic that all deserve to live as we in the rich countries do. But in light of climate change, we need to make this energy not just affordable but clean.

The cause of the divestment movement is deeply admirable, but the strategy is deeply flawed. Stanford’s endowment is best used to maximally fund today’s youth to find true solutions to this existential problem.

The Board of Trustees evidently understands this larger imperative and has acted as wise stewards of the institution’s endowment. They have shown courage in the face of opprobrium and deserve our applause.
Harry Saunders, PhD ’82
Newbury Park, California

One Man’s Courage

My voice joins the many others who admire the character and courage of Stanford alum Dushan “Dude” Angius (Class Notes 1950, September/October). Back in 1989, when the word AIDS was uttered only in hushed phrases, he spoke out to make a difference in the lives of others when his beloved son Steve succumbed to the disease. In their grief, even his family was not sure that speaking out would be the right thing to do.

But Dude courageously stood up and spoke for all who were suffering in silence, hiding their friends and family who showed symptoms of HIV/AIDS, isolated in their fear. Dude had been a former coach and high school principal, and he was just starting his presidency of the large Rotary Club of Los Altos. He stood before the members and shared his terrifying secret, calling out to his friends in the club for support. The wave of courage began to grow.

Then an amazing chain of events developed. One club member contacted his son, who happened to be taping a popular Hollywood film series. Robin Young, a friend of his son’s, was a former NBC news correspondent who recognized the value of speaking out; she wrote an amazing story that came to be known as The Los Altos Story. She came to the Angius home with a Hollywood film crew to document the compassion of the family in the face of AIDS. Raw emotions were recorded as his family struggled to share their love and support. At a defining moment on the first day of filming, a medical crisis developed and Dude’s son was rushed to the hospital, where he died that same day.

The Los Altos Story soon earned cable TV’s ACE Award for best public affairs special and the Peabody Award for broadcast excellence. The Dude Angius Award for Leadership in HIV/AIDS was created by the U.S. CDC and Business Responds to AIDS.

Invited as a keynote speaker at the 1992 Rotary International Convention, Dude again stood up to share his secret with a shocked audience of 20,000 international Rotarians. That shock has matured into action plans
for international service clubs, corporations, NGOs, local governments and even the United Nations. The year 2003 saw bipartisan congressional approval of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief—the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease internationally. The courage of this one man—Dude Angius—continues to motivate humanitarian action around the world.

The Los Altos Story, written and directed by Robin Young, can be seen here.
Marlene Cowan
Foster City, California

President, Los Altos Rotary AIDS Project

The Flügges’ Wartime Work

This is in reference to the article “4 Memorable Monikers” in your July/August issue (“17 Lists You’ve Never Seen Before”). It is stated that Irmgard Flügge-Lotz and her husband, Wilhelm Flügge, joined Stanford’s engineering faculty in 1948 “after leaving Nazi Germany.” The reality is quite different: The Flügges were from 1939 to 1945 in the employ of the Deutschland Versuchsanstalt Luftfahrt (German Aeronautics Research Institute) in Berlin and transferred to Saulgau in 1944. The Flügges were from 1945 to 1947 interrogated by the Occupation forces on their activities, before being hired in 1947 by the Office National d’Etudes et de Récherches Aéronautiques (French National Office of Aeronautical Research) in Châtillon, near Paris. They joined the Stanford faculty in 1948, Wilhelm as a professor, Irmgard as a lecturer.

Out of respect for the victims of the Nazi regime who had to flee Nazi Germany and those who lost their lives when they were not able to do so, out of respect for the innocent victims of the bombings facilitated by the military research conducted by the Flügges and their colleagues at the Versuchsantstalt Luftfahrt, Stanford should, at a minimum, publish a retraction in order to dispel the incorrect impression that the Flügges themselves were victims of the Nazi regime who had to flee Nazi Germany. Rather, as is readily ascertainable with a minimum of historical research, they were scientists employed in the Nazi military armament (e.g., the V2 rocket) that devastated so many.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Jean-Louis Armand, MS ’68, PhD ’71
Aix-en-Provence, France

The following did not appear in the print version of Stanford.

Not Funny

My copy of the current issue of Stanford arrived yesterday, and as I scanned the contents, my eye fell on “A Closer Look at Comics” (Farm Report, November/December). I have to admit that I love comics, and in our local newspaper, they may be the only thing worth reading. But as it happened, yesterday I was also trying to digest the consequences of a Trump victory. My daughter, who is an archivist in Washington, D.C., sent two “comics” that she processed recently in the collections of the National Holocaust Museum. Let’s not forget that all is not funny in the comics. I can only hope that this kind of graphic art is not resurrected in America under President Trump.
Steven J. Livesey, ’73
Norman, Oklahoma

Postmodern Reportage

Journalism professor Glasser’s candid account of an elitist postmodern version of reportage that largely suits the reporter’s own personal motives (even preceding those Wikileaked email confirmations of how widespread mainstream media’s servicing of the Democratic National Committee has become) adequately accounts for the current death spiral of that profession in the confidence of responsible ordinary citizens who are left to seek their essential knowledge elsewhere (“The Ethics of Election Coverage,” Consider This, September/October). Nor can this eventually hold much promise of a satisfactory return on investment for many of his students. But of course the roots of this outlook aren’t really all that contemporary either. (Those so inclined may care to consult John 1:5; 3:19; 18:38.)

And neither can there be any surprise in such a deferential revisiting of Ed Morrow’s acerbic tongue without the slightest mention of numerous revelations with the opening of KGB files several decades later: that Sen. McCarthy (to whom Bobby Kennedy always remained devoted) had indeed significantly underreported their assets in sensitive American leadership positions (whom Lenin had previously been pleased to label as “useful idiots”). After all, having jettisoned every durable standard, why spoil a long serviceable tale that we can all smugly rally around?

Of course, I am bound to wonder how Glasser will in turn receive my addressing some infirmity of his with a periodic bleeding that is likewise considerably more convenient for me than some cumbersome treatment based on firm evidence that he is loath to acknowledge the standing of anyway. And as one who is long familiar with what this magazine serves up, I would be truly curious to know how many of my fellow alums have any actual notion of the observed average global temperature trend (or even the more revealing trend of averaged global daily highs themselves, since all the alarm has been about the top of the range) that has accompanied the continuing elevation of atmospheric CO2, let’s say over the entire lifetime of a current Stanford freshman. These newly enrolled will no doubt have earlier been shown Al Gore Jr.’s movie a number of times in the classroom in that familiar pattern of frank indoctrination, while never being made in the least aware of multiple contrary pertinent observations by several interviewed scientists in The Great Global Warming Swindle, originally produced for television in the UK around the same time.

We might all consider how far we are likely to be led astray by those who share no very compelling regard for the truth itself—not that this should concern any self-respecting university, you understand. But I’m told that a word to the wise is sufficient.
Charles Faris, MD ’70
Port Hueneme, California

Dushan Angius

I was pleased to see a write-up in Class Notes ’50 (September/October) about my former principal, Dushan “Dude” Angius, but feel his remarkable accomplishments deserve more space and explanation.

I was a student at Los Altos High School in the early ’60s, when Dude Angius was athletic director and basketball coach, and shared the glory of the years when his skills and leadership made that school the powerhouse of Santa Clara Valley, winning division championships in football, basketball, baseball, track and swimming.

My younger sister remembers him as the principal at Los Altos in the late ’60s and ’70s, striding the campus corridors, greeting students by name and managing to keep a balance during that chaotic time, giving students freedom to express feelings and organize protests and symposiums while maintaining order.

Later, as a citizen of Los Altos, I was amazed and moved at Dude’s ability to transform the personal tragedy of his son’s death into a project with worldwide repercussions. At the time of his son’s death, AIDS was a subject one could barely speak about. The award-winning documentary featuring Dude and his family, The Los Altos Story, took the covers off this disease and helped start the worldwide conversation that has resulted in so much progress in controlling AIDS.

I hope that in reading about Dude Angius’s efforts, there may be some alums who will be moved to pick up the torch.
Allyson Johnson, ’66, MA ’67
Los Altos, California

Seeing the mention of Dushan “Dude” Angius in Class Notes 1950 brought back many memories. I first met him in 1962, and he has been a friend ever since. He was an award-winning coach and high school principal, and he retired as superintendent of schools of Lassen County in 1984.

In 1989, he again showed his leadership skills and courage when his son Steve died of AIDS. In those days, people were ignorant of the mounting problem and none of my friends in Rotary wanted to talk about AIDS. But as the new president of the Rotary Club of Los Altos, Dude announced that he and Barbara had to do something about Steve’s death. They were determined that their son’s beautiful life and untimely death would not be in vain.

Today, we know that that “something” became the film Los Altos Story, which has been distributed to every Rotary district in the world and continues to be distributed worldwide in eight languages. It is a moving story of how one family handled this frightening disease while supporting their son in his last days.

As the Los Altos Story influenced more and more people, thousands upon thousands of families were brought back together. People and health workers throughout the world learned how to avoid this dreaded disease, and that saved an untold number of lives.

Rotary International was slow to show concern, but progress was finally made and Dude Angius was invited to be the keynote speaker at the 1992 R.I. Convention in Orlando, Fla. There were over 20,000 Rotarians in the vast auditorium and as he talked for a half hour, you could have heard a pin drop. When he concluded, he got a rousing, sustained, standing ovation—one of the longest in modern Rotary history. This was a groundbreaking moment. The stigma of AIDS among those Rotarians in that audience no longer existed.

Dude Angius is a legend throughout the Rotary world and today he still continues his work on finding a cure for AIDS.

One man, with courage, can make a huge difference.
Richard Henning
Mountain View, California

Stanford is more than the name of a university—it stands for excellence, integrity, enrichment of both the person and of the soul.

The tragic death of their son from AIDS set Dushan Angius, ’50, and his wife, Barbara, on a crusade to bring knowledge and compassion to this disease and its victims worldwide, as documented in The Los Altos Story.

Starting in grammar school, through high school and the Stanford Fire Truck House, and in all the years since, I have had the privilege of seeing my friend live the Stanford ideal. 

Stanford would do well to tell its readers about one of theirs who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of knowledge and compassion.
Eugene Conrotto, '51
Modesto, California

I read with interest the short segment about Dushan “Dude” Angius, MA ’51. I have the great good fortune of knowing this very special man, starting from the day I entered Los Altos High School as a freshman in the fall of 1958. Dude was my first P.E. teacher and basketball coach, and served also as adviser to the various elements of student government in which I became involved during my high school career. Back then, Dude was almost a mythic figure to us teenagers—tall, quick-witted, athletic, loud-voiced, commanding presence, cool name—the image of the confident and powerful male figure of that period. We were careful in his presence to be on our best behavior to avoid any confrontation with that giant of a man.

This image of Dude that I carried in my memory was to change suddenly the night that I sat down to watch the Los Altos Story, sometime in the early 1990s. I had heard it was a documentary, though I didn’t know the subject matter beyond that it took place in my hometown. Imagine my surprise when I first saw Dude on the screen and began to understand what this story was all about. I sat, dumbstruck, as I watched the events unfold and was moved to tears when Dude, that man of iron, actually broke down in tears at one point. This was not the rock of a man that I thought I knew; instead a whole new Dude was revealed to me, a man exhibiting a range of emotions not associated with strong males, a man demonstrating his undying love for his dying child, a man of quiet strength, integrity and vast courage. The Dude I saw that night was the man I always felt was inside of me and, in some subtle but profound way, I felt freer to express that side of me after that night.

Dude’s story does not end here—it is just the beginning. Out of the terrible tragedy and unspeakable grief of losing his child, he forged a new purpose in his life, one that would help create some meaning out of loss. Starting with his own local Rotary, Dude told the story of his son dead from AIDS and used that to catalyze his club into creating a project to work towards the elimination of that terrible disease from the face of the earth. To do so, Dude had to have the courage to speak of things that were not accepted by most people, but he knew that if the truth were not told, the story and the project would be meaningless. The strength of his convictions carried him through that tough time, and the rest is history. The Rotary AIDS project that started in Los Altos has become a worldwide effort to combat the disease, all as a result of one man who was willing to share his painful story with the world in the service of truth and love.

In closing, I would like to suggest to you that Dude’s story would be a wonderful one to tell in the pages of your magazine. Some very few Stanford graduates make big news in the world; most lead normal, if meaningful and productive, lives that garner no headlines. Dude has led such a life, but deserves much more, as his is a story of exceptional courage, humility and grace. It would serve as a beacon to others in their struggles to overcome the challenges that life presents to us.

Thank you for considering this suggestion. I appreciate the quality and depth of reporting in Stanford and look forward to enjoying future issues.
Jerry Hearn, ’66
Portola Valley, California

As a former student of Dude’s, I think his story and accomplishments would make a good article for the magazine. He lived a life in which he was determined to “make a difference” as an educator and as a citizen—and he did make a difference!
George Estill, ’60
Los Altos, California

I would like to add my voice to those who are hoping you will consider a feature story about Dushan “Dude” Angius. As a member of the Los Altos Rotary AIDS Project task force in 1989-90 and throughout the past 27 years, I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with this incredibly talented man who has given so much to so many through his tireless efforts in promoting AIDS education and support.

I have the greatest admiration and respect for Dude. His ability to motivate others created a special synergy that resulted in changed attitudes and behaviors throughout the world about the then prevailing stigma of AIDS.

While Dude is also well-known as a fine educator and coach, and a successful businessman with a focus on his family, I believe his efforts to give back to the community through countless hours of dedication to this cause make him a true hero. 

There is a great deal of background information to be found at the Los Altos Rotary AIDS Project website. I also urge you to watch The Los Altos Story if you have not already done so. The video provides the emotional connection that continues to resonate to this day, thanks to Dude and his family.

When it comes to successful Stanford alumni, I can’t think of anyone with a more compelling story.
Jean Newton Fraguglia
Mountain View, California