Duke University Alumni Magazine

Please limit letters to no more than 300 words. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Include full name, address, and class year. Our fax number is (919) 684-6022 and our internet address --for Forum and class notes only--is: dukemag@acpub.duke.edu


     As the program development coordinator of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, I was very interested in Maurice Wright's letter under the heading "Why Sports Programs?" in the January-February 1996 issue. In voicing his opinion that college student-athletes should be paid, Mr. Wright bases his analysis on his answers to the question, "Why have intercollegiate sports programs?"

     He lists three answers:
     1) Intercollegiate sports provide a pathway to a better life for disadvantaged inner-city African Americans,
     2) the public relations value to the university is so significant that enrollment surges are often explained by the success of teams in national championship play, and
     3) a well-managed sports program brings significant revenue to the university.

     Mr. Wright fails to realize that, while his three points are legitimate, they are not the reasons for having intercollegiate sports; they are its side effects. The real reason for having college sports is that athletics-like history, mathematics, and the arts-teaches young people how to live well. Athletics gives all of its students, no matter what skill levels, the opportunity to challenge themselves and to learn.

     We must not forget that intercollegiate ("between college") sports occurs at many levels. Introductory physical education classes often have matches against local counterparts. Club teams compete on a national level. Only the most advanced teams participate in the high-profile events that dominate Mr. Wright's thinking.

     From a beginning tennis student to a member of the men's varsity basketball team, each student of athletics learns to set goals, to study the techniques needed to achieve those goals, and to practice those techniques until they are mastered. Each student learns both to improve his or her individual skills and to integrate those skills with a team.

     Dismissing all but the most talented, Mr. Wright casts unfair and untrue blanket judgments upon student-athletes. He assumes that every college student-athlete is blinded by the dream of professional sports. He implies that all students with such a goal spend more time "looking for short cuts" than "persevering in the classroom." He calls "laughable" the notion that we might see athletes "reading books, entering into informed discussion...[or working] effectively in groups."

     The argument that we should pay the most talented student-athletes forgets that most colleges already do just that. The term is "scholarship"; it means, "A gift made to a scholar to enable or assist him or her to pursue his or her studies." Colleges give them to the most advanced students in many fields of academics-including athletics.

     I am not saying that there are no problems associated with college sports. There are. I applaud those who enter into serious discussion of them.

     Often, it seems that some "big time"college sports programs have lost sight of the true reasons for teaching athletics. If we are to engage in a realistic discussion of intercollegiate sports, we must be sure not to make the same mistake. Dialogue must be based upon truth, not side effects and stereotypes.

Jennings Durand '94
Boston, Massachusetts


     I am writing to congratulate you for the excellent article on Duke's many international dimensions ["Going Global," November-December 1995]. I would also like to take this opportunity to describe another important aspect of our campus internationalization that was not mentioned in the article.

     In February 1995, the libraries at Duke launched the Center for International Library Programs (CILP), which is based on the premise that an internationalized university will require an internationalized network of libraries with an expanded capability to support inernational research and teaching. Thus, the campus libraries, including those in the Perkins system and the business, law, medical, and divinity schools, are focusing their efforts to provide resources to the academic community.

     These efforts include coordinating acquisitions and services among libraries to make available a broad range of research material from abroad, offering "customized" training in the use of electronic resources, sponsoring workshops on the particular needs of cross-regional researchers, and initiating several other programs for international resources. For example, this year we have had visiting librarians from Japan and Mali, and we initiated a postdoctoral fellowship program, funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, to train a Latin-Americanist research librarian at Duke. These activities are, we hope, only the first steps for a very active center that may serve as a model for other institutions in providing library resources-print, electronic, or human.

Deborah Jakubs Durham,
North Carolina

The letter writer, who heads Perkins Library's international and area studies department, is director of the Center for International Library Programs.


     One should hardly be surprised to find another zealously liberal, politically correct, academically arrogant, shallowly unrealistic, and certainly unrepresentative (of both Duke's alumni and the American body politic) article in Duke Magazine. In the January-February issue, you tacitly laud Father John Dear '81 for violent pacifist activities ( a seemingly inconsistent and oxymoronic concept), including intentionally damaging an F-15 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base near Goldsboro.

     The article implicitly suggests that "aggressive pacifism" is noble behavior, while serving in or supporting our military is somehow immoral, unscrupulous, and less than distinguished conduct. The difficulty is that theory doesn't conform with the facts of this entire century.

     When fascism threatened civilization around the globe, the United States' military was the world's deliverer. When Soviet-dominated communism conquered Eastern Europe and jeopardized freedom throughout Western Europe, East Asia, Central Africa, and Latin America, once again America's military resolve was the essential element in restoring democracy to enslaved peoples. Since the demise of the Soviet empire, our armed forces have been pivotal in ensuring a peaceful world order, illustrated by the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. Even today, our military's sacrifice and professionalism is the key component in NATO's attempt to bring peace and dignity to the people of Bosnia.

     In addition, America's military has been a most significant force for domestic social justice and equity of opportunity. No domestic institution has done more to educate minorities and to establish advancement based exclusively on merit than our Armed Forces. It's hardly accidental that General Colin Powell is America's most esteemed contemporary leader or that our military tops all "confidence in institutions" surveys, surpassing-by a wide margin-the media, academic establishments, political bodies, the judiciary, and the clergy in America's respect.

     I am disappointed by Duke Magazine's superficial approach to reporting; "military bashing" is as easy as it is erroneous and egregious.

Roy W. Keifer M.B.A. '78
Springfield, Virginia


     I was personally chagrined reading the obituary of Ellen Huckabee Gobbel in the January-February 1996 issue of Duke Magazine. The individual referred to merely as her "husband" was in fact Dr. Luther L. Gobbel '18, A.M. '27, and the individual identified as her "stepson" is in fact me.

     In addition to her many educational accomplishments, she was a devoted wife and stepmother. I thought your alumni archives might want to have the complete record.

L. Russell Gobbel '52
Columbia, Maryland

     I have often cited Robert C. Frasure, though not by name, as an example of an excellent graduate student instructor. I had the very good fortune to encounter Frasure, who was presenting the course on "American Political Parties" during the regular professor's sabbatical. While it was a bit of a gamble to enroll in a course offered by "Staff" since the graduate students had no reputation preceding them, Frasure was a gem. His stories, including the 1960 Kennedy campaign, have stayed with me to date, and I rank him with Professors Leach, Braibanti, Cox, Blackburn, and Hubie Brown (yes, that Hubie Brown) as my favorites.      His untimely passing near Sarajevo [September-October 1995] is sad and again questions our presence in such locations.

Richard S. Clarkson '71
Chester Heights, Pennsylvania

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