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True to their school
IMMERSED AS THEY OFTEN ARE in faraway periods and places, historians are probably seldom associated in the public mind with the thoroughly here-and-now practice of raising money.
And yet, reports development officer Sharon Davenport `82, the UMass Department of History is a standout in the fundraising department, among the nineteen academic units of Dean Lee Edwards's College of Humanities and Fine Arts. Historians, along with their colleagues in English and music, rank as the top money-attractors in the college.
It's not that scholars of history have been reprogramming themselves as fund raisers. Development staff like Davenport and her colleague Quang Bao do the actual asking for money.
"It's that they're such good `friendraisers,'" Davenport says. "When I'm out there talking to history alums, it always seems that there are faculty members they're still very attached to, still in touch with in many cases."
Dean Edwards agrees: "I think the historians work on it," she says. "They just stay in very good touch with their alumni."
Ned Dubilo `71, a Holyoke boy who made good, is an example of a history alumnus who'd fallen out of contact with the campus for a time but found his way back through the good offices of professor of American history Ron Story. Dubilo, now a senior vice-president at the international brokerage firm of Smith Barney, Inc. in Boston, says his identification with the campus far predates his undergraduate days. From the age of four onwards he accompanied his father to the UMass playing fields where the senior Dubilo would officiate football scrimmages. "I used to run round and look at the horses, who were also running around," Dubilo recalled this winter. "There was only one place I was going to go to college, and that was UMass."
Looking back now, Dubilo is certain that he "wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for the education I received there." But in the years after graduation he'd fallen out of touch with his alma mater. "And frankly," he says, "the university had fallen out of touch with me." He was introduced to Story by mutual friend Ed Lashman, the commonwealth's secretary of administration and finance under Michael Dukakis. "Ron was kind enough to re-introduce me to the university, and the rest is, literally, history," Dubilo jokes.
"Lo and behold, they like me, and I very much like them, and it evolved to the point where the governor appointed me to the board of trustees," says Dubilo. In addition to this service Dubilo decided to fund a lecture series at UMass, and he requested that the talks be given not only on campus but in neighboring communities such as Holyoke. If people can connect with the campus where they live, Dubilo believes, it will be easier for them to find their way to Amherst in the future. He has committed $37,000 to the project.
D UBILO IS ONLY ONE example of the generous history alum. Krikor Ermonian `52 is an engineering graduate who is also a history buff, and who asked that his contributions be split between two disciplines. The history portion added some $60,000 to the department's endowment for scholarships last year. Alumna Barbara Greenberg `45 of Maryland made a $25,000 contribution to a History Undergraduate Opportunity Fund established by a challenge grant from Ron Story; department chair Mary Wilson expects Greenberg's gift to fund travel opportunities for history majors. And Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg `67, who has contributed $100,000 toward an endowed chair in history, is helping to arrange an upcoming fund-raiser in Boston that will feature the inimitable Senator Edward Kennedy, whose chief of staff Feinberg once was.
In a good many cases, says Wilson, UMass graduates represent the first generation of their family to go to college: "They come from a modest family and get an affordable education; then they make it, and they're exceedingly grateful." But Wilson, a scholar of the modern Middle East, and her predecessor, labor historian Bruce Laurie, say that alumni ultimately think well of the time they spent in the history department because it helped them to hone skills such as close reading, analysis, and summarizing "Both assessing ideas and coming up with their own," as Wilson puts it. UMass history degrees have proven to be a springboard to careers from business to law to screenwriting. Jon Hensleigh `81C is a screenwriter whose most recent blockbuster credit is Armageddon. Dennis McNally `78G, who wrote his dissertation on Jack Kerouac, went on to become press manager for the Grateful Dead. The history department frequently invites alumni back to career nights to talk about how they got from their undergraduate days to where they are now, and unfailingly the returnees urge current students to take advantage of their opportunity to read, write, and think.
One thing that really sets the department apart, these professors agree, is the writing seminar all majors are required to take. The class size is small, the standards are high, and the faculty are in charge. "History is practically the only large doctoral department on campus where the faculty teach the writing seminar," says Story. "We really get to know our students well." Other upper-division undergraduate courses are also taught in seminar format; in a recently completed survey of alumni, says Wilson, "the response was overwhelmingly that they liked their seminars and wanted more small classes."
Wilson believes there's also something about the subject matter of her discipline that lends itself to inspired, and memorable, discussions. "History is about story telling, and people really love stories," she says. Story adds that history is about "change over time and space;" studying history, he says, allows one to take the longer view, to think about how actions taken now will resonate over time. Maybe that's part of what's made these history majors so generous in contributing to the future of their school.
· Distinguished University Professor, Ronald K. Hambleton, educational policy research and administration.
· Honorary Member, Microbeam Analysis
Society, Joseph I. Goldstein, dean.
FOOD AND NATURAL RESOURCES
· Nominee, 1999-2000 American Council on Education Fellows, Elizabeth Dale, hotel, restaurant, and travel administration.
· Editor-in-chief, International Journal of Phytoremediation, Guy Lanza, environmental science.
· 1998-99 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, Glenn M. Wong, sport studies.
HUMANITIES AND FINE ARTS
· 1998-99 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer,
Eric M. Beekman, Germanic languages and literatures.
· Whitney Fellowship, Metropolitan Museum of Art, David Grose, classics.
· $250,000 U.S. Department of Education grant, Laetitia La Follette, art history.
· First Prize for Distinguished Technical Communication, New England Society for Technical Communication, John Nelson, English.
· Second Prize, Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award, New England Theatre Conference, Dennis Porter, French and Italian.
NATURAL SCIENCES AND
· Distinguished Lecturer1998-2000, the Paleontological Society, Emily CoBabe, geosciences.
· Chancellor's Medal, Constantine Gilgut, botany emeritus.
· Distinguished Lecturer, Sigma Xi, Susan Landau, computer science.
· Invitation to archive personal papers at Library of Congress, Lynn Margulis, geosciences.
· $250,000 IBM University Partnership Award, Eliot Moss, computer science.
· $6 million NSF grant, Thomas Russell,
Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.
· 1998-99 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, Lawrence M. Schwartz, biology.
· 1998-99 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, Jeanine Young-Mason.
PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH
· Chapter Adviser Honors Award, National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, Mary Andrianopoulos, communication disorders.
· Board of Directors, Society of Nutrition, Nancy Cohen, nutrition.
· Kinesiology Alumni Achievement Award, University of Michigan, Patty Freedson,
· $102,500 research grant, Titleist and FootJoy Worldwide, Joseph Hamill, exercise science.
SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL
· Chancellor's Medal, Andrew Brimmer, economics.
· President-elect, American Society of Criminology, Roland Chilton, sociology.
· Chair, Massachusetts Board of Registration of Psychologists, Morton Harmatz, psychology.
· 1998 Sim Memorial Lecturer, Pennsylvania State University, Michael Lewis, sociology.
· $232,000 grant, Templeton Foundation program on Scientific Studies of Forgiveness, Ervin Staub, psychology.
W.E.B. DU BOIS LIBRARY
· Chancellor's Medal, Pauline Collins, Latin American bibliographer emeritus.