In Other Words
Letters to the editor.
The new look, layout, and feel of UMass ’zine is very creative; flows like a river and seems easier to navigate . . . and recyclable, of course.Annie-hannah Mancini ’86G, ’94GWoodstock, New York
OUR NEW LOOK
Congratulations on your new look! The content of your Fall 2016 issue is superb. Keep up the good work!
I was thrilled to see the new design of UMass magazine. When I received the fall issue, I immediately sat down and read it cover to cover. The compelling stories with great photo choices in a wonderful layout all speak to UMass as a great university with high aspirations. It makes me proud to be an alumna.
The new look is sharp and very professional. I also like the texture. Of course it’s what’s between the covers that is most important, but the cover itself drew me in in ways the old style did not. You put together a wonderful and topically diverse set of alumni stories from programs across the spectrum—theater, literature, environmental sciences, neurobiology, astrophysics. I read all of them with interest. My only critical feedback is that for this alum with aging eyes, the font got a little small on the “Sports Talk” page.
I really enjoyed the Fall 2016 issue and your new format. I was disappointed to see the “In Memoriam” section and other content moved to the online-only format. While it is not difficult to access the online edition, I am somewhat old-fashioned and have a strong preference for holding my UMass news in my hands. Otherwise, nicely done.
As a publication designer myself, I want to congratulate you on a brilliant redesign.
From the editors: Thanks to our readers for your many letters. We have increased our font size where possible in this edition. To conserve space for articles, the “In Memoriam” list of the deceased will continue to be published online. We invite readers to go to umass.edu/magazine to read “In Memoriam” and “Class Notes” and to explore our web-exclusive content, including articles, photo galleries, and videos.
Re: “Back from ’Nam” (Fall 2016): I returned to UMass in January 1969, ten days after being in the Army, including a tour in Vietnam. It was really a culture shock. I served in a rear area in Vietnam, where the biggest problems were race riots among the troops and an occasional mortar attack. After that, I came back and served stateside in an Army suffering from a discipline breakdown and, in my area, racism and anti-Semitism. It was bad! I really felt out of place at UMass, but used my acceptance to get out of the Army three months early; I’d have done anything to get away from that sick environment. I eventually graduated as a mediocre student, but nobody tried harder than me, and I ended up working in the computer field throughout my working life. I’m retired now, but will always look to UMass as a place that changed my life for the better.
I graduated from UMass with a BS in electrical engineering in 1979. I was moved to read about John Fitzgerald, who was my high school social studies teacher. He had a real impact on my thinking about persistently challenging the status quo and asking questions, especially to those in authority. I remember vividly one of his stories about going door-to-door canvassing for Senator McCarthy for president and approaching one house with an enclosed porch with a glass door. When Mr. Fitzgerald told him why he was at his door, the homeowner slammed the door so hard in his face that the glass shattered to bits. Mr. Fitzgerald told us with a big smile that that really made his day.
I’m a Vietnam vet, although I had a lot easier time of it than the three gents in the fall issue. One small bone to pick: the picture of John J. Fitzgerald’s Bronze Star should have a V device for valor in combat. There are two kinds of Bronze Stars, and the one you pictured is for meritorious service; John’s was for valor.
John Fitzgerald responds:
He’s right: that was a photo of my medal, but I don’t know where the V device went.
“Back from ’Nam” was well done and really hit home. I was 1A in the draft but drew a high draft number and never served in the military. I had many friends who did, and I lost a few, too. During my first year at UMass, my roommate was a former Army officer who had done two tours of Vietnam. He was totally serious about wanting to get his degree in accounting as quickly as he could. Very quiet, older—I was a 21-year-old transfer student—he quietly told me that war was something he had done and wanted to put behind him. I had no doubt he was going to succeed. I had another veteran roommate and several friends who were in the military during the Vietnam years. I also knew a South Vietnamese woman who roomed in Prince House while I was there. We all had interesting group dinners, along with grad students from several countries.
As an ex-GI, I jumped into the advanced ROTC at UMass for a grade and $30 a month to feed my family. Between multiple tours in Vietnam, one of my most satisfying and edifying stateside tours was when I started an ROTC program at Western Illinois University between 1968 and 1972, at the peak of the anti-war movement. My walks through campus in uniform drew plenty of cries of “You (expletive deleted) fascist!” But my participation in panel discussions during the moratorium and in the aftermath of the Chicago election protests—along with continuing discourse with campus antiwar leaders, both student and faculty—earned me the sobriquet of “the hippie major.” That proved valuable in the aftermath of Kent State, when our ROTC facility was taken over and I was able to maintain a dialogue with the protesters and liaison with the university president. I convinced the student leaders to organize a “red guard” to prevent any violence and to guard against an incursion into our arms room, which would automatically have brought the National Guard unit, already standing by, into play to bring the occupation to an instant close. After allowing a five-day occupation, the president called for evacuation, which occurred peacefully. I considered that tour at least as gratifying and successful, if not more, than my three tours in Vietnam.
As a UMass grad and Vietnam veteran, I enjoyed the piece on my three courageous fellow grads. I was saddened, though not surprised, to read that 55 UMass grads were lost in that war. Is there a list of these individuals available? Is there a memorial in their honor on campus? I would appreciate any information you could provide. Not long ago, I learned of the death in Vietnam of a friend and fraternity brother, Carleton P. Miller ’67. He is the only grad I knew who was lost in Vietnam, and I would very much appreciate learning about others.
Thank you for the recognition of Paula Hodecker’s retirement and the creativity she brought to campus as the director of the Student Union Craft Center over the years (“Handmade,” Fall 2016). The value of working with your hands as a break from working with your mind is an invaluable experience. Paula helped bring that experience to so many students over the years, myself included. I remember learning to stain glass, making holiday gifts for family and friends, and when Paula taught a special workshop for one of my classes on mask making (I still have that mask).
Thank you, Paula, and all the best in your retirement!
I was delighted to read the article about Kevin Harrington [“Galaxies Far, Far, Far Away,” Fall 2016]. As director of the UMass Amherst Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, I had the privilege to support Kevin in creating a weekly student-led meditation group during his freshman year. Previously, there had been no regular meditation opportunities on campus, but in the ensuing years (until Kevin’s graduation last May), our meditation listserv grew to 700 students, with two meditation groups every week. No small part of that achievement was due to Kevin’s engaging personality and his unswerving commitment to contemplative activity. It didn’t surprise me when he became the first undergraduate to gain access to the LMT or the lead author of an article in an important astronomical journal. That’s Kevin! I was surprised, however, to learn from your article that Kevin also led the campus’ first nondenominational “mediation” group. Although undoubtedly a typo, I don’t doubt for a minute that Kevin could have carried that off as well!
BREN & DOROTHY
What a treat to open the Fall 2016 magazine and see the story [“60 Years of Marriage in 5 Words”] on Dorothy and Brendan Whittaker—two of my favorite fellow UMass alumni living here in the northern territories of Vermont and New Hampshire. It is impossible to overstate the influence these two have had on this part of the world, where they have long been advocates for sustainable use of our natural resources. Brendan was a member of the Northern Forest Lands Study and serves on the Connecticut River advisory committee, reminding us all that the natural world is a gift we have been given. Long before the local food movement, Dorothy was growing and selling delicious organic vegetables, and I always try to catch her peas in season. They are warm and caring people, and we all feel so blessed to have them living here. Thanks for sharing their story.