Letters to the Editor

ATHLETIC ASSETS

I was glad to read “Bring Your ‘A’ Game” (November/December) by Kelli Anderson, ’84. Stanford, instead of heading down some slippery slope toward a broad academic chasm between the athlete population and the general students, has been steadily moving in the opposite direction. SAT scores of Stanford student-athletes have climbed significantly, and Stanford now far outpaces every other major athletic program in the country in this regard.

There is an alarmist tone to Anderson’s piece, which I believe is unwarranted. Stanford has lost not one iota of its reputation as a world-renowned place of learning, despite its tremendous success on playing fields. Stanford is currently nowhere near a “tipping point.” The University is functioning in both regards beautifully.

Perhaps there are some faculty and alumni who are bothered by the idea of high-level athletic success, as Anderson suggests. But Stanford is ultimately a place to serve its students. I would argue that the experiences of a great percentage of Stanford students are significantly enhanced by the presence of outstanding student-athletes in all sports. Our athletes go on to be leaders in the world and outstanding representatives of Stanford in great numbers. I hope that the University realizes what an asset the athletic department is, and looks for ways to keep our athletic excellence intact. Otherwise, Stanford will cease to be Stanford.

David Flemming, ’98, MA ’98
San Francisco, California

Your article describes well the challenge of balancing NCAA Division I athletics with demanding academic curricula. The article reinforces my dismay and disappointment that the Stanford trustees recently approved the extravagant $85 million investment in rebuilding the Stanford stadium.

Even with the most generous assumptions regarding additional gate receipts, this investment would never pass the kind of return-on-investment tests taught in Stanford’s business and engineering schools. My calculations suggest a shortfall equivalent to about $1 million per game over 25 years. Are the intangible benefits of the new stadium really worth that kind of subsidy—equivalent to about four endowed scholarships per game or a new endowed professorship every two or three games? I cannot imagine.

The argument that “It’s donors’ money, not Stanford’s money, so don’t worry” doesn’t wash. All taxpayers are also contributors. The U.S. Congress accorded favorable tax treatment to philanthropic gifts to not-for-profit enterprises used for socially beneficial purposes—and permitted resulting endowments to accumulate tax-free. As your article makes clear, big-time college football is hardly “not-for-profit,” and only the most rabid fan could find it socially beneficial.

Henry E. Riggs, ’57
Stanford, California

Kelli Anderson’s article is a nice tribute to Stanford’s athletes, but it is too negative about the future. Proposing that one recruiting violation would be cause to abandon Division I athletics is akin to wanting to shutter the English department if there is a case of plagiarism. Worrying that we will come to a tipping point within 10 years is analogous to suggesting that we might abandon physics soon because achieving research results is becoming too expensive. If there are future problems, we should expect to face and overcome them—not to anticipate surrender.

The athletic enterprise has been an integral and distinctive part of Stanford’s tradition for 115 years. Abandoning it to become more like MIT, Caltech, Chicago or the Ivies would fundamentally change our culture for the worse and might even diminish our academic prestige in the long term through loss of alumni commitment and donations. That does not argue for emulating USC, Notre Dame or Cal in paying outlandish football-coach salaries and admitting virtually anyone. We should continue to be the best we can be without compromising academic values primarily as measured by athletes’ rates of graduation. That will be plenty to compete effectively in Division I athletics even if we do not win the Director’s Cup every year and seldom go to the Rose Bowl.

The 199 Olympic medals won by our athletes are a proud contribution. May there be as many in the 21st century. The universally recognizable names of great Stanford athletes—Mathias, Woods, Elway, Plunkett, McColl, Luisetti et al.—have brought great credit to us, not for their athletic feats alone but as well for their grace and integrity. Some athletes (notably Arrillaga and Chandler) have amassed great fortunes that they have shared generously with the University. Sterling and Terman, probably the most significant architects of Stanford’s rise to academic preeminence, were also great football fans. The fact that our athletic department endowment is the largest of any university in the world is a good measure of our alumni commitment to the athletic endeavor. With the new stadium, our athletic infrastructure will be unsurpassed. These are all valuable assets not to be trivialized nor squandered.

The biggest danger to Stanford athletics is that we will cripple ourselves by denying admission to qualified student-athletes out of an overweening sense of academic purity. The trend in this direction the past few years is disturbing, especially for football. Athletics at the highest collegiate level has earned an honored place at Stanford. Sacrificing it would be a significant loss to us all.

Finally, abandoning Division I athletics could include the eternal surrender of the Axe to the barbarian hordes from “The World’s Greatest Public University,” thus forsaking a competition that has been a core value here since the Founding Grant. Some of us would feel like the French watching Nazis parade through the Arc de Triomphe. 

Bill Martin, ’61
Auburn, California


GHOST STORY

These Old Houses” (November/December) confirmed my suspicions. In 1978, my freshman seminar on the history of music was held in a room off the foyer of The Knoll—at night. I, my four freshman cohorts and the professor were the only souls in that building, and we always had a bit of the jitters. In fact, we would dare each other to walk back into the darkened wings of the building. On one of these dares, I remember opening a door to an abandoned elevator shaft. A draft of such cold, musty air came out that we thought we had released ghosts. Now that I have read it was built on a former graveyard, it makes me ponder. I am glad to hear of its renovation and new outlook on life. Hopefully, all the care and restoration will encourage only good spirits to wander.

Timothy Sandie, ’83
San Jose, California


HOT-BUTTON ISSUES

I was struck by the number of letters criticizing Part 1 of Stanford’s coverage of global warming (“Danger Ahead,” September/ October), giving credence to some of the observations in Part 2 (“Too Hot to Handle,” November/December), specifically the media’s tendency to balance stories on global warming and the political ease of doing nothing. Therefore, I applaud local and regional efforts to control greenhouse gases, even if gas dispersion patterns benefit free riders. The United States lost its influence over the price of crude oil in the 1970s by doing nothing to prevent the formation of OPEC, and we are about to lose control over the price of refined petroleum products and electricity by failing to invest in new petroleum refineries and nuclear energy plants. Our national interest would be much better served by building newer, safer, lower-emission plants here than by importing energy from facilities built in developing countries that have shortsighted environmental policies and no antitrust laws. While this may sound anticonservationist, we need to try some global warming solutions unless we want our environmental and energy destiny to be determined by others.

Clydia J. Cuykendall, ’71
Olympia, Washington

The path to finding a long-term solution to the global warming problem is to pursue strategies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One such strategy (based on naturally occurring bacteria that consume carbon dioxide to produce hydrogen, water and a biodegradable waste) was described in a recent issue of Scientific American, and a full-scale evaluation is under way at an electric power generation plant in Tennessee. This strategy has the potential for reducing the carbon dioxide content in the stack gases of all coal- and natural gas-fired electric power plants in the world.

While solar photovoltaics continue to have economic and technical limitations, solar thermal systems provide an economically and technically viable alternative strategy to transform solar energy into electricity. One such solar thermal system is based on a solar collector and a Stirling engine (see stirlingenergy.com and sandia.gov). The November 17 issue of the Wall Street Journal describes that system’s current status and plans to build two large electricity generation facilities in California based on it.

Economically and technically viable options are becoming available to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electric power generation facilities and to generate electricity without burning coal or natural gas.

Alfred Cocanower, PhD ’65
Mesa, Arizona

I read Part 1 of the series on global warming, and thought to myself, “they did a good job.” Now there is a Part 2, and it too conveys sensible and timely information. But also in the November/December issue you have printed several letters from alumni that make it very clear that many of your readers simply do not believe the science behind global warming. They called it a “sham,” “groupthink,” “the work of Luddites,” “irrational,” “left-wing politics,” “insidiously biased” and “asinine,” and one says that the goal of the perpetrators is to “take us back to the Middle Ages.”

Those are pretty strong words, and as one Stanford graduate and scientist in the field, I want to go on record on the side of concern for the seriousness of the global warming problem.

The rhetoric of these contrarians is simply not supported by fact. For example, the theory of the so-called greenhouse effect was first published in 1896 by Arrhenius (a well-known scientist) and still stands today after being tested by generations of scientists. In fact, his calculations of the temperature effect of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere are within about a factor or two of today’s best estimates.

But, perhaps more to the point, Stanford University as an educational institution might very well serve mankind beneficially by trying to educate their alumni about the facts of the matter. After having received a substantial liberal arts experience at LSJU, my fellow alumni should be open-minded enough to learn about what is really happening to the Earth’s climate system and learn what needs to be done about it. A basic science tutorial may be needed.

Robert Charlson, ’58, MS ’59
Seattle, Washington

The November/December article by your frequent contributor Joan O C. Hamilton, ’83, and the same issue’s letter from Glenn C. Waterman, ’33, MS ’50 (“Blowing Hot and Cold”), delineate the two sides of the ongoing discussion rather well. One side contends that human endeavor is producing enough greenhouse gases to cause the warming trend that many feel is an inevitable conclusion to be drawn from worldwide evidence. The other side feels that global warming itself is not yet proven, and that little or no evidence exists that man’s actions are causing a quantifiable amount of climate change. My Stanford geology degrees provided me the concept of “multiple working hypotheses” and exposure to the scientific method that put me firmly on the second side.

Hamilton states that “most University scientists working on the issue agree that human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are causing climatic shifts that can seriously disrupt agriculture and animal habitats and imperil tens of millions of people who live in coastal regions.” Where is the survey that substantiates this statement? She has extrapolated anecdotal comments from a few to an unwarranted generalization and springboards from that to flamboyant conclusions, apparently to magnify the supposed threat to a level that will terrify the reader into immediate irrevocable action.

I would welcome any scientific evidence that human-generated emissions are causing anything climatic, but I have seen none. I do not debate that ice core samples from Antarctica and many other fossil indications show that warming began to reverse a colder condition (the so-called medieval ice age) at those locations about the time of the Industrial Revolution. That doesn’t entitle you to cry “Aha!” and take away my car. Ice ages came and went a number of times over the last 40,000 years, so why is it impossible to think it is still happening? We appear to be entering the next cycle of warming.

Researchers at the University of Texas-Austin have concluded that the rise in sea level is averaging 1.7 mm to 2.3 mm per year, or 6 to 9 percent per century. If we use a generous 3 mm per year, about 1/8 inch, we can expect a rise in 100 years of some 12.5 inches, much less than the twice-daily tidal range that tens of millions of people living in coastal regions seem to deal with quite well.

Global temperatures in the Mesozoic Age, 85 to 180 million years ago, were much higher than at present; we see fossil palm trees in Alaska and greatly reduced areas of glaciation. If greenhouse gases are to blame for holding in the heat and raising the temperature, the only logical sources during that period are unusual volcanic activity, of which there is no strong evidence, and dinosaur flatulence.

Why should warming increase the suffering of the poverty-stricken around the world? They can’t grow the traditional crops anymore, but they can learn from the Ecuadoreans, Masai and Hawaiians how to feed themselves in alternate ways, and they won’t need as much firewood to keep warm. The mastodons go north, but the zebras take their place; loincloths are easier to make than parkas.

Hamilton writes, “insurance giant General Re and oil giants BP and Shell . . . have affirmed their belief that global warming is an imminent threat and . . . have made large investments in new technologies . . . to address it.” That is known as the diversification, research and forward planning that any corporation must do to carry out the objective of increasing stockholder value. They aren’t endorsing the causation of anything; they are taking reasonable precautions to prepare for a possible shift in the future business climate.

I must have missed the degree that says Law School professor Barton H. “Buzz” Thompson, ’73, MBA ’75, JD ’76, knows more than Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear about scientific evidence for rates of dispersal, local versus migratory pollutants and their effect on temperature. He is quoted calling for solid biological research to link climate change to what happens locally, for which I applaud him, but he shouldn’t be cited as an authority.

Underground caverns are not produced when water, oil or gas are removed from sedimentary or other porous strata. The pores just fill up with whatever is available, and it takes power to inject water or any gas into the formation for storage or maintaining the pressure to push more oil out, or to pump it out. You don’t pump gas out, by the way. Caverns can be formed in salt beds by solution or mining, but it costs a lot to dig them, and the salt isn’t always close to the sources of CO2. Plants are great at turning the carbon in CO2 into leaves, roots and sticks, and ultimately into hydrocarbons and coal. Green belts work better than holes in the ground, and use sunlight to do the work.

Climatologist Schneider feels “the media give disproportionate attention to skeptics who represent a very small faction of scientific opinion and often are funded by energy concerns.” I call that a cheap shot designed to diminish the influence on the subject by anybody who doesn’t follow the party line. Are Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project and all of its projects entirely funded by University or tax money? Do Professor Schneider and his wife ever accept a grant or other support from industry or endowed private sources for work done at the center for environmental science and policy?

My major concern is that Stanford University and the Alumni Association appear to be supporting this one-sided activity. I am proud of my school, my degrees, and the reputation they carry, and I hate to see them tarnished by less than world-class scholarship.

John Nisbet, ’51, MS ’52
Upland, California

My thanks to Stanford magazine for (inadvertently?) providing much valuable information on the global warming issue. Even though the article was rather one-sided, the alumni it stirred to respond added much more to the discussion than most pieces I’ve seen.

Keep up the good work of publishing articles on important topics, and I’ll look forward to the Letters section to add insights that may be lacking in your writers.

David Holton, MS ’55
Twain Harte, California

Of course homo sapiens is ultimately toast; all that’s under discussion is the time scale. Will the source of our demise be galactic, global or just human? Regardless, barring a most extreme galactic event, the planet Earth will survive, presumably with some nonhuman DNA left somewhere.

More troubling is the unspoken but implicit assumption that it is both feasible and appropriate for “rational scientific” humans to reverse trends toward the sixth great extinction that have been stimulated by human activities over recent times. Maybe we should just go with the flow.

Though science encourages long-range aspirations, why can’t we accept that the impetus of genetics is fundamentally toward short-run “survival” choices, and that our existence is a resultant accident? The arrogance of science to suppose that some elite few can perceive a better action path, then persuade others to follow it, seems almost a new religion, based on hopefulness but little else. Protohumans needed lots of humility to survive in arid lands of high Africa, or Hopi strongholds or Aussie lands as first peoples. Science needs a comparable humility toward natural forces.

The book River Horse, by William Least-Heat Moon, has a phrase “the opiate of venality,” which supposes that more ethical decisions than those taken were often available, starting at least from Jeffersonian/Lewis & Clark times. Can we refute or hope to overcome the impetus of each individual genetic urge to make the most of each moment (and “damn the fallout”)? The book also quotes a homespun philosopher: “The ice sheets have only left to get more rock; they’ll be back.”

Considering the atomization of scientific fields, how would Earth identify scientists with perspective broad enough to choose macro ecological targets? Can wisdom derive from anywhere besides hindsight? All foresight is conjecture, however consensual or elaborate the underlying models/hypotheses.

Jared Diamond is a candidate “broad view” scientist. His new book Collapse subjugates scientific knowledge to the political challenge of getting any group of humans to coalesce on a policy that is not the short-term easy way—which I’m suggesting is a predilection hard-wired into evolution and genetics. Do any of us feel comfortable that a U.N. committee called IPCC can contain some goals of the ambitious, be accepted by the skeptics, then implemented in ways that satisfy many?

Until the seventh great extinction due to an asteroid impact drives Earth back to a state resembling Devonian time, we can only let our present experiment continue. There may be only a modest risk/harm in continuing scientists’ efforts to understand, predict, influence some local outcomes, but our evident power to screw things up should not mislead us to suppose we have the concomitant ability to reverse or even slow the juggernaut we’ve already accelerated.

Stanford is rightly renowned for crossover science, integrating disparate disciplines. Such cross-cultural communication is clearly needed. Will Stanford similarly contribute a distinctive clarification of the ethics issues of global ecological efforts? Or will it simply proceed with the scientific arrogance that whenever, however we can find a way to tinker with Earth, prima facie it’s appropriate to do so?

Phillip Smith, MBA ’71
Southfield, Michigan

I can’t vote to adopt Kyoto. I can’t set pollution limits. But I can—and did last week—have solar electric panels put on the roof. The solar guys said there’s now a worldwide shortage of these solar voltaic modules. Although the supply has been increasing (Sanyo, Sharp, Kyocera, GE, Shell, BP), it still isn’t keeping up with the growing demand.

At present energy prices, it’s probably going to take the lifetime of the system to make it pay. But then again, maybe we’ve already hit peak oil production, and over the longer term, energy prices have nowhere to go but up. And solar technology/cost is evolving all the time—e.g., the governor’s favorite SunPower chip. In any case,
I like to see the meter run backward and know that this butterfly at last has flexed her wings.

Linda Agerbak, ’58
Carmel Valley, California


AN EARLIER REMEDY

Treating Incontinence” (Farm Report, November/December) was déjà vu all over again. In the 1970s, Dr. Arnold Kegel of USC medical school developed the famous Kegel exercises and the Kegel perineometer, all without a $500,000 grant, which will lead to an expensive electronic gadget. It is not surprising that American medicine has such a poor cost-benefit ratio. I commend the interest of Dr. Constantinou, MS ’67, PhD ’73, in this important subject, and perhaps your brief article could not encompass all the related issues.

Thomas P. Lowry, ’54, MD ’57
Woodbridge, Virginia


UNSCHEDULED PERFORMANCE

A short note in Red All Over (“’Hail,’ for the Chief,” November/December) says the Stanford Band played “The Star Spangled Banner” after Chief Justice Rehnquist, ’48, MA ’48, JD ’52, died, “the first time its arrangement of the national anthem had been played outside Stanford Stadium since 1963.”

Several thousand people who went down to dance on the field after Stanford defeated Ohio State at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 1971, might disagree.

The story that went around campus was that it was the Big Ten’s turn to play the national anthem at the Rose Bowl that year. Ohio State, impressed with the Stanford arrangement, asked the Rose Bowl committee if Stanford could play it, but they said no, because “you can’t sing along to that arrangement.” (This was the same group that refused to allow the Stanford Band to ride in golf carts in the Rose Parade, on the theory that the band was supposed to be a marching band.)

After the incredible upset victory by Stanford in the Rose Bowl, Stanford students rushed down to the field, in the tradition of the time, to dance to the Band’s music. Soon the cry went up: “Play ‘The Star Spangled Banner’!” The Band obliged (without the cannon, I suppose).

Betsy Gentry, ’71
Ashland, Oregon


Fair Use of Fedex

In response to the article “Law School Center Takes on FedEx” (Farm Report, November/December), first let me say “two thumbs up” for the young man’s creativity and resolve; Jose Avila should be granted immediate admission to Stanford’s graduate program in design for his innovative approach to interior design and furniture fabrication.

Second, I applaud the Center for Internet and Society for backing him up against the corporate behemoth FedEx. Clearly, Avila is well within his rights, and FedEx’s predatory stance in censoring his website only shows how important constitutionally protected speech is in the era of new media and corporate hegemony. As a great example of this, see Concordia University professor Matt Soar’s remix of FedEx’s logo at www.mattsoar.org/gallery/album02/Fedup.

I am currently on a semester-length sabbatical from the University of Minnesota, working on a project similar in topic—although even more politicized in content, and different in motivation—to Avila’s FedEx apartment. Called (sorry, academic-speak!) the Project of Inverse Possibilities: Defending the Domestic Environment by Making Art from Advertising, it is a body of collages, montages and assemblages that subvert the commercial rhetoric meant to colonize our homes. Using junk mail, credit card offers, food and product packaging, branded apparel, TV ads, website pop-ups and spam, etc., the body of work intentionally criticizes rampant consumption, consumer debt and corporate greed. Incidentally, a source I find invaluable regarding fair usage, and insist that my students visit, is Stanford’s own Copyright & Fair Use Clearinghouse, at fairuse.stanford.edu.

Steven McCarthy, MFA ’85
St. Paul, Minnesota


JUDGING THE JUSTICES

President Hennessy (“A Tradition of Service,” President’s Column, November/December) says that Justices Rehnquist, ’48, MA ’48, JD ’52, and O’Connor, ’50, JD ’52, “made enormous contributions to the public good.” I am confident that many members of our community share my view that in Bush v. Gore Justices Rehnquist and O’Connor substituted for judicial objectivity naked political favoritism, doing incalculable harm to our nation. They ought to be condemned, not lauded in an alumni magazine.

James R. Speer, PhD ’80
Rockport, Texas


ROOSEVELT AND THE COURT

The point made by Frank Tangherlini about FDR (“Justice and Justices,” Letters, September/October) is wrong, as the writer should know. President Roosevelt tried to pack the Supreme Court since they were not favorable to his social positions. Many historians call his attempt his worst hour.

Packing the Supreme Court was not a new idea; in 1933 there was even talk of adding the entire membership of the U.S. Congress to the Supreme Court. One almost suspects the writer has a hidden agenda.

Walt von Riesemann, PhD ’68
Castle Rock, Colorado


MUSICIANS' PLIGHT

The experience of Blair Tindall, MA ’00, as a professional musician caught in the job trap of many a classically trained musician (“Escaping the Pit,” September/October) reverberated like the sour notes of a preconcert tuning: so much noise, so little harmony. I completed my degree on the Farm and, wanting only to teach at the community college level, went on to get a master’s degree. My professional gig had to be augmented with whatever odd jobs I could manage, while my classmates earned five times my total gross. Upon my return to the Bay Area to teach, I was literally advised to “take a number”—that adjunct professor jobs were for those with PhDs. I realized I needed to bail out and got employment in the business sector during my spouse’s B-school years. It was an ego blow to sacrifice years of study—for what?

I’ve seen the graduate programs at both Stanford and Northwestern scuttled as young adults reject the prospect of poverty in today’s world, and communities fight to keep the arts alive and funded. By contrast, in Europe and Asia, musicians fare much better and concert venues are crowded; many Americans get valuable exposure and greater appreciation overseas. Classical musicians have struggled to make a living in the United States for decades. Time, energy and much-needed funding are the only way we can support fine arts budgets at the community, state and federal levels, or too soon, that part of our culture will fade into obscurity.

Joan Carne Carter, ’71
McMinnville, Oregon


The following letters did not appear in the print edition of Stanford.

Stadium Sizing

I have recently come to really appreciate your many fine articles. Keep up the good work.

One point on the Stanford Stadium discussion (“Stadium Renovation Planned,” Farm Report, July/August): I, like many other graduates, was led to believe by articles in STANFORD that the stadium was being downsized because of reduced attendance at football games. However, I attended the November 17 meeting of the San Ramon Valley Alumni Association, and found out that the true reason for the reduced seating was entirely different. Thanks to the excellent presentation of Dave Schinski (assistant athletics director, capital planning), we learned that the downsizing is due to the application of all codes and requirements (especially the Americans with Disabilities Act) to stadium facilities, walkways and aisles. Underlying this is the University’s struggle to stay within the maximum 2 million gross square feet of new facilities allowed under its 2001 General Use Permit negotiation, which forces the elimination of the construction of many new facilities that could be associated with the “expanded” new stadium.

Dave related that with the current requirements, if the new stadium were to have as many seats as the 84-year-old model, the area of construction would balloon up to consume all real estate to El Camino Real to the east, and into current track facilities to the west. The real story is that the 55,000 seating capacity is as big as the stadium can possibly be and yet fit within its current footprint, the wonderful regulations we have all allowed to be passed, and the restrictions under Stanford’s use permit with the County of Santa Clara. (Moreover, temporary seating can expand capacity to 65,000 for Cal or Notre Dame games.)

If we dispel the misconception of why the new stadium will have fewer seats, then we can have room for more letters debating global warming.

Jake Rudisill, MS ’76
Pleasanton, California

The double-latte, touchy-feely folks must have control of whatever group voted to destroy the best stadium on the West Coast. Newer ladies facilities hardly seems powerful enough, or the last straw, to warrant demolition of a major block in Stanford’s traditions.

Is there a sub-rosa plan to update the Old Quad? Hoover Tower?

Not one alumnus I have talked to so far (10 to 15) can cobble together a partial understanding for this “step forward.” Maybe, just maybe, a review of how, who and why the plan ever saw daylight could be presented in the magazine, or in a president’s letter, or the next fund-raising request (risky?).

This is not the old post office or the Band Shak. This is a special place. People don’t stay away due to the facility, but to what was on the field. Theater seats, boxes, exec areas—please, next it will be the Pharm.

Loren D. Smith, ’55
Mountainside, New Jersey


Global Warming

Your report is one more story on global warming stating real facts by real scientists (“Danger Ahead,” September/October). Is this a phenomenon Earth experiences—from ice age to tropical climate and back again—or is it a new reality Earth has to deal with? Did Mars experience this dooming of life?

Or should we consider that overpopulation on the planet has taken a toll on the carefully woven habitats, the environment that gave Earth its Eden? For one who has lived not quite a century on Earth, I can vouch that the world has changed dramatically with the explosion of population. The more demanding we are of Earth and its generosity, the more destruction to natural habitats, the more the atmosphere bears the brunt of our mischief. Yet, who dares note the population growth, the suffering of man and animals on an Earth shrinking from its results: our wars, our diseases, our religious conflicts, racial discriminations, poverty of mind and body.

I believe that when God told Adam and Eve to fill the Earth, that He also gave common sense. We should heed the latter now; we have fulfilled the other request.

V. Jean Parker
Hayward, California

As a fellow concerned scientist and citizen, I was glad to learn of the activities under way to understand and mitigate global climate change. However, I am frustrated with Ms. Hamilton’s choice to quote an economist (Thomas Gale Moore) on this scientifically complex issue. I suspect that she had difficulty finding a Stanford scientist to say, like Moore, “We are having global warming but I find the effects are going to be small.” In fact, upon establishing Stanford’s Institute for the Environment, President John Hennessy was quoted saying, “This is the century when human beings must learn how to live on this planet in an environmentally sustainable way” (President’s Column, March/April 2004).

Surely the Stanford reader is discerning, but I’d like to call on journalists to minimize the confusion of the masses; Moore could have been identified as an economist on the full-page photo of him titled “Skeptical.”

Linda Vanasupa, ’91
San Luis Obispo, California


Remembering Rix

The September/October issue reported the appointment of Richard Shaw as the new dean of admissions, one of the most difficult and demanding jobs in a college or university today (“Yale Dean Finds a New Haven,” Farm Report). While welcoming this news, I could not help remembering an earlier time.

The first full-time chief admissions officer at Stanford was the great Professor Rixford K. Snyder, ’30, MA ’34, PhD ’40, whom President Wallace Sterling, PhD ’38, appointed in 1950. I was Rix’s first assistant director, from 1951 to 1957. Rix Snyder, following Sterling’s charge, made the entire nation Stanford’s recruiting ground. Under his leadership, we visited secondary schools in regions relatively untapped, such as much of the Midwest and Southwest. It was hard work but great fun. As one of Rix’s team, I was proud to be part of this effort. Rix was a key player in Wally Sterling’s plans for Stanford’s tremendous development, aided and abetted by Fred Terman, ’20, Engr. ’22, Stanford’s great provost from 1955 to 1965. Rix also served as faculty athletic representative to what is now the Pac-10, and later made another great contribution to the development of the Alumni Association’s Travel/Study programs.

When I later became a college provost and president, my experience with Rix made me understand and appreciate what admissions deans and staff must do.

E. Howard Brooks, ’42, PhD ’50
Assistant Director of Admissions 1951-1957
Vice Provost 1966-71
Manhattan Beach, California


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