Table of Contents / Letters / Home



An Embarrassment of Riches

... was what we had going in the cover department this time. Few issues of UMass produce more than one "natural" cover image, but autumn '97 had 'em bustin' out all over.

Our original plan was to use one of the phenomenal period photographs that Carl Howard '59 contributed for our centerfold photo essay. That great idea got bumped by the phenomenal topicality of alumnus Matt Golombek's achievement as chief scientist for the Mars Pathfinder project, and our chance to photograph him on campus in September. But that great idea had the drawback of using up our only powerful image of the subject, leaving nothing to use inside with the story itself. And we couldn't take another one from another angle, because Matt was no longer in Massachusetts, but out in Pasadena, where his life is.

Same problem with the magnificent image of scholars Fred Drake and Ren Fuxing, taken when the latter was on campus last summer. Their photograph with a rubbing from the Xu Jiyu monument in Shanxi, China would have made a great cover, but left nothing but snapshots for the story. And Mr. Ren, back in since August, is beyond the range of follow-up shoots.

Enter Stella Lucia Volpe! Photographer Ben Barnhart's favorite cover candidate (though perhaps not photographer Carl Howard's!) is our cover picture of everybody's favorite blur, the peripatetic professor of nutrition, a junior faculty member of such exceptional charm and zeal that we not only delight in showing her off, but think of her - come to think of it - as emblematic of UMass: spunky, unstoppable, second-to-none in the quality of its offerings to those who reach for them.

Stella offers, to her students, knowledge, illumination, and apprenticeship; to her research sponsors, marketable information; to her research subjects, tools to improve their lives. Teaching, research, service. That's exactly what literally thousands of people are doing on these acres every day. That's the real UMass and the real embarrassment of riches.

- The Editors

A Microcosm of Society

Several departments of this issue of UMass allude to an unhappier event than we wish we ever had to represent to our readers, the death on Homecoming Weekend of student Adam Prentice. Adam had been drinking on a Friday night, and at about 1:30 a.m., for reasons and in circumstances that are still not clear, he fell through the glass roof of a Morrill building greenhouse. The injuries he received in breaking through the roof and out through the door were fatal. Adam's was one of a cluster of alcohol-related deaths this fall on campuses throughout the country. It hits harder, it hurts more, because it's our death. It can't be said too often or with too much intensity that these terrible events will have any meaning whatsoever only if they are, for enough of us, finally, sobering.

Male Exclusion

AT FIRST GLANCE I thought that the Summer 97 alumni magazine was sent to me in error from some woman's colege. Such male exclusion from their alumni magazine would have been honest and consistent with the percentages of female graduates over the years. But the female staff at our UMass Magazine went out of their way to promote male exclusion and justified it in their poorly written editorial by portraying men as mincing, heavy-handed, chivalrous and dismissive, annoying and wrong-headed. If the intention of the alumni magazine is to reach out to all alumni, we should get a staff that is capable of doing so.

John W. Downey '61

Female Inclusion

WONDERFUL ISSUE! KUDOS to Dorothy Dunklee for her excellent article on Miss Skinner. I still think of Miss Skinner when I throw a dish towel over my shoulder while drying dishes. That was one of her No-No's. (Germs.)

I like to consider myself one of the "Female Firsts of MSC, as I was first female news editor during the war - 1943-45.

Kay Foley '41

Thank you for your "Tribute to Women" issue, spotlighting UMass' venerable history of outstanding women, sometimes hard-won victories, and always the logistical problems of combining family and future. And Rob Silvers' contribution, the Edna Skinner photomosaic on the issue's cover, ranks in the top ten of my all-time favorites!

Sue Jackson


I love getting UMass. Your article on Edna Skinner ["Imagining Edna Skinner," Summer 1997] was particularly interesting to me because that was the department in which I taught when on the UMass faculty. The whole issue was so well done. Thank you!

Sr. Madeleine Wheeler, D.C.
Albany, New York

For more brief comments on the women's theme of the summer issue, see page 44.

Remember the Wives

AS A MALE GRADUATE, I read the summer edition with interest - especially the construction of the cover - but there was one group of women missing or left out of the stories. Those were the wives of the students who took advantage of the GI bill and attended the University. After spending up to four years separated from their husbands in the military service, these women again sacrificed four more years of their lives while their husbands attended Mass State/UMass in pursuit of a college degree. Some of these wives cared for one to four children while waiting for the man to get his degree. It was this group of graduates who also helped to form a good nucleus for the alumni that now exists. There were also several women using the GI bill at this time.

Joseph R. O'Gorman '49

Driving Miss Skinner

CONGRATULATIONS! THE COVER of the Summer UMass is absolutely mesmerizing.

The whole issue is interesting - it was good to see Dean Helen Curtis Cole (we called her Dean Helene when I was a student) - but I especially want to thank Marietta Pritchard for her evocation of Edna Skinner. I remember Miss Skinner well. She was part of my childhood. She lived on our street for a time. My father, Emil ("Shorty") Abramson, who was the first janitor at Memorial Hall - Dutchy Barnard will remember him - used to drive her when she was in need of a chauffeur. Over the years she was an impressive presence on campus and in town.

Thanks for this tribute too her.

Doris Abramson '49
Emeritus Professor of Theater, New Salem

Calling on Miss Skinner

[RE "Imagining Edna Skinner," Summer 1997]: SINCE AS AN English major I took none of her courses, Miss Skinner and I knew one another only slightly during my four years on campus. (All girls passed in review before her occasionally, and she always remembered us, but I minded my P's and Q's and didn't require any intervention by the authorities.)

She and I came to know one another in a different way several years after I graduated in 1940. My husband, Parker Jones '41, while he was teaching at St. Lawrence University after the war, received a phone call from Frank Prentice Rand asking if we wouldn't like to spend a summer in Amherst while Parker taught an English course at the University. We were able to sublet a house near campus, and the three of us enjoyed a return to college life despite my uncomfortable pregnancy and a disagreeable neighbor.

We were encouraged return the following year - four of us (a daughter joined us in April) - and live in the apiary up the hill near Thatcher. A neighbor, we discovered, was Miss Skinner. Our son took a liking to her and became a frequent caller, hopping aboard his tricycle and pedaling around for conversation and refreshments. Occasionally, Miss Skinner would invite him to drive to the dump with her, clearing it first with me like the caring, conscientious lady she was.

Our son and I remember her fondly.

Kay Leete Jones '40

Heart and Home

The article "Imagining Edna Skinner," in the Summer UMass, closes wondering what her title was. I always thought of her as "Dean of Women," but also as a friend.

No matter what the problem, Dean Skinner was always cordial, always concerned, giving of her time in her office to meet with you for whatever length of time you needed. Since engrollment was so small from 1941 to 1945, she knew all the Massachusetts Sate College women by name.

Mentioned in the article, too, is Dr. Maria Gutowska, the Polish scientist who lived with Miss Skinner, but no explanation given. I had a student typing job with Dr. Gutowska, herself a wonderful woman. She had come to MSC for a home economics conference, coming from the University of Warsaw. Then Hitler invade Poland and she could not go back. Miss Skinner opened her home and heart to Dr. Gutowska and she lived with her for many years.

Certainly in the history of UMass, Miss Skinner is one of the outstanding persons to be remembered.

Irmarie (Scheuneman) Jones '45

Error in "Exhales"

I WAS IMPRESSED with the article on Beth Brainerd in the most recent UMASS ["Learning Who Exhales," Summer 1997]. However, I would like to point out an error. On page 18, it is stated that biomechanics applied to humans would be sports medicine. That is absolutely not true. Whether applied to humans or animals, biomechanics is biomechanics. The definition of biomechanics by the American Society of Biomechanics (of which I am a member) states the "application of the principles of mechanics to animate motion." Both human and animal motion fit into this definition.

As an aside, the Biomechanics Laboratory in the exercise science department is over thirty years old. Presently, there are two faculty in this lab, myself and Dr. Graham Caldwell. Neither of us claim to work in the area of sports medicine. My area of research involves lower extremity mechanics particularly during locomotion, while Dr. Caldwell's research is in muscle mechanics and muscle modeling.

Joseph Hamill
Professor of Exercise Science, Campus

Scientia Prodest

Brian E. Silman's letter in the Summer 1997 issue, arguing for a new logo for the Amherst campus, struck a chord with me. In 1984 the classics department sponsored a motto contest for this university, one more suitable than the state motto which, we felt, does not reflect what we try to do on this campus. It is too long, complex, and few know what it means anymore.

The winning entry, one that Marcus Tullius Cicero would admire, was submitted by a Classics major in our department, Karen McDonald, a junior at the time, who hailed from Ralls, Texas: Reipublicae scientia prodest, "Knowledge benefits the Commonwealth." It is short, dramatic, memorable, and does capture the missue of this university.

I second Brian Silman's idea and suggest that one part of the new symbol he suggests would be this motto: Reipublicae scientia prodest. Let Harvard have itsVeritas, Amherst College its Terras irradient. Our motto strikes just the right chord for the Amherst campus.

Vincent Cleary
Professor of Classics, Campus

Earlier Sailor on Our Little Sea

As I read your "Sailors in Search of a Sea" [Great Sport, Summer 1997], the spirit of Dick McHugh, who was a Navy veteran, sailed again at the Oxbow! Way back in 1980 Dick lamented the growing number of motorboats there, as he had guests like me on his sailboat to show the calming effects and other benefits. Best wishes to the nascent Five-College Sailing club, and may you be blessed for reviving the memories.

Dick died in 1982, at fifty-six years of age; he was a great friend of Father Joe Quiguley and the man in the knit cap on the Newman Center parking lot. They had to put up no-parking signs when he died - it was a kinder, gentler "system" when he stood telling people where else they might park.

Congrats on a fabulous issue.

Jacqueline Harris '73G

Singing John Killeen

ON THE "EXCHANGE" page Of the UMass Magazine that came today was a small box solicting letters from alumni. Usually I don't have much of interest to write about. However, this time, as I looked through the Summer 1997 issue, I saw the mention of the death of John Killeen '32. He was my third-year roommate.

In English we learned of some figure of speech of which I cannot remember the name, but it concerns drawing a logical conclusion by using a non-logical combination of words. One that John Killeen would come up with occasionally I have always remembered. He would say, "The minds of great men run in the same channel. My mind always runs in the same channel. Therefore, I am a great man."

My other memory of sharing a room with John Killeen was that Sunday mornings he would lie in bed late and sing. He was one of the only two of my friends whose singing was done in a way that was soothing for me, rather than irritating, seeing that I have "tin ears" for what most people call music.

I was sorry in a traditional way to read of John Killeen's death, but recently I myself have times when I am just about read to see Dr. Kevorkian.

John. B. Barr '33

Accelerated Aging

I WAS PLEASED to receive my copy of the Summer 97 UMASS Magazine, and to see that you printed most of my letter regarding the Oxford Summer Seminar. My only concern here is that you've aged me by 40 years. I didn't receive my graduate degree in 1955, but in 1995. That's quite a difference.

Paul M. Puccio '95G
Orlando, Florida