Duke University Alumni Magazine


ADF Summer sessions: the Trisha Brown Company premieres a new work
Photo: Chris Callis

ontinuing its sixty-four-year tradition of increasing the repertoires of the country's modern dance companies, the American Dance Festival celebrates its twentieth anniversary this summer with eleven world premieres. To be held June 12 through July 26, the 1997 ADF season includes world premieres by Paul Taylor, Pilobolus, Trisha Brown, Donald Byrd, Bill T. Jones, Ronald K. Brown for the African American Dance Ensemble, Goldhuber & Latsky, David Dorfman, France's Myriam Herve-Gil, David Grenke, and Spain's Maria Rovira.

     The ADF also hosts an International Choreographers Residency Program and a school. Last year nearly 500 professional and pre-professional dancers from around the world participated in master classes and workshops in all forms of dance technique, composition, repertory, and body therapies.

     The recipient of this year's Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award honoring lifetime achievement in modern dance is Anna Halprin. As part of the awards ceremony, Halprin is scheduled to perform excerpts from her historic dance Parades and Changes, which is credited with closing out New York City's "cabaret laws" in the Sixties.

     Twenty years ago, when the decision was made to move the ADF from Connecticut College to Duke, critics questioned whether the historic festival could be transplanted to a new environment outside its traditional base of support in the Northeast. Since its move to North Carolina, ADF has expanded its base of audience support and has presented more than 220 premieres. The 1997 anniversary season is dedicated to its audience.


hen graduating senior Robert Schneck attends England's Cambridge University this fall as the latest winner of a prestigious, all-expense-paid Churchill Scholarship, it won't be his first international foray. In his junior year, the mathematics major spent six months visiting Beijing and Nanjing as a participant in the Duke Study in China program. That adventure capped two years of intensive Chinese language, art, and philosophy courses, as well as a stint in the Duke Chinese Folk Dance Club.

     Despite his long captivation with math, he says for a while he considered majoring in Asian studies. Schneck was struck by the contrasts between Western and Eastern languages and cultures. "They have a totally different mythology," he says. "Everything is unrelated to the way history developed over here. And I found that just fascinating." But being there, he says, changed his perspective. "While I definitely enjoyed my time there, a lot of what was very old was destroyed in the upheavals of the past fifty years."

     Another big discovery during his China visit was that "I missed mathematics. The excitement that I felt getting back into mathematics really convinced me that was what I was supposed to be doing."

      At England's Cambridge, Schneck expects he will also encounter "a culture that's very different from what we have in the United States. But there is also a lot of similarity." And this time, he will also concentrate on mathematics.

      Since 1989, a Duke senior or recent graduate has won a Winston Churchill Foundation Scholarship in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science every year except 1993; four of those recipients have been math majors. The foundation awards just about ten annually in the entire United States for a year of study at Cambridge leading to a master of philosophy degree, a certificate of postgraduate study, or a diploma.

     "I see it as a way to broaden my mathematical background before getting into graduate school," Schneck says. "Right now, the job market in mathematics is quite bad. There are too many mathematics Ph.D.s out there wanting jobs in colleges and universities. But I feel it's what I really want to do."

     The son of a Charlotte pet store owner, he has been math crazy since elementary school, when he remembers devouring a book called How to Count Like a Martian, which described the various ways that different cultures handle numbers. Beginning in junior high, he participated in the Duke Talent Identification and Precollege Programs summer courses. When he "exhausted the offerings of the public school I attended in Charlotte," Schneck managed to switch to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham. After his junior year at the state-supported school for gifted students, he spent the summer living in an M.I.T. dorm and working at a Cambridge, Massachusetts, software development firm under a Research Science Institute program. The following spring, he won Duke's North Carolina Mathematics Contest Scholarship, which provided him full tuition for four years.

     His honors at Duke include the mathematics department's 1994 Julia Dale Prize for excellence in mathematics, induction into Phi Beta Kappa, and a 1996 Duke Faculty Scholar Award. In 1994, he was on the first-place team in the Association for Computing Machinery Regional Programming Contest. Last summer, he was at Michigan Technological University working on random graph theory and algebraic graph theory under the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Fellowship program.

     In addition to winning first place--with two teammates--in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition (see related story), Schneck scored in the top 15 percent in the national 1997 Mathematical Contest in Modeling, organized by the Consortium on Mathematics and Its Applications. "You're given from Friday morning at midnight until Monday evening to work on one problem," Schneck says of the modeling contest.

     This year's modeling challenge? Devise an "optimal hunting strategy" for velociraptors--the brainy carnivorous dinosaurs that preyed on occupants in Jurassic Park.


ieces of historic American sheet music from the Special Collections Library at Duke will be available via the Internet for the first time this summer at "American Memory," an on-line site of the Library of Congress. The sheet music, which spans the period 1850 to 1920, includes a wide variety of songs from the antebellum years, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and through the beginning of the twentieth century and World War I.

     In all, about 3,000 compositions at Duke will be digitized, thanks to a partnership between the Library of Congress and Ameritech, a Chicago communications company. The organizations have awarded Duke a $64,688 grant to support the project, which could take as long as eighteen months to complete. "Having this material on the World Wide Web will make it much easier for people to study and appreciate our country's musical heritage," says University Librarian and vice provost for library affairs David S. Ferriero. "We're very grateful for the gift."

     The grant is part of a larger initiative by the Library of Congress and Ameritech to assist U.S. libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies in digitizing their historical materials for inclusion in "American Memory," a digital collection of primary source materials in U.S. history and culture; it is accessible on the Web via http://www.loc.gov/.

     Ten libraries across the country have been granted awards made possible by a $2-million gift from the Ameritech Foundation. North Carolina is the only state with two recipients; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also received an award. Other institutions receiving grants are Brown University; Harvard University; North Dakota State University; the University of Chicago; the University of Texas, Austin; the Denver Public Library; the New York Public Library; and the Ohio Historical Society.

     Duke is already successful in making available rare materials on the Internet, such as papyrus fragments and the Civil War diary of a Tennessee schoolgirl, says Linda McCurdy, the Special Collections Library's research services director. "If this project follows the pattern of what we've already seen, a great many people who access the sheet music on the World Wide Web will be school children and their teachers, who will be delighted to have these resources at their fingertips."

     The materials Duke intends to place on the Internet site will represent nearly the entire spectrum of music types from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, according to McCurdy. The sheet music encompasses patriotic and political songs, Civil War battle songs, minstrel songs, plantation songs, spirituals, sentimental songs, vaudeville songs, college songs, "Tin Pan Alley" songs, World War I songs, and songs of protest, touching on issues such as abolition and suffrage. Also included is piano music of marches, ragtime, and opera excerpts. There's even some dance music: waltzes, quadrilles, and polkas.

     Officials at the Special Collections Library say the project is coming at an appropriate time because some of the works are brittle and virtually all the sheets have browned with age. What's more, they say, the materials are under-represented on the Internet and under- utilized in research.


enouncing the presidential campaign finance system as inherently "broken," CNN prime anchor and senior correspondent Judy Woodruff '68 set the tone for the twelfth John Fisher Zeidman Memorial Colloquium on Communications in April. The panel discussion on press coverage of the 1996 campaign finance scandals and ensuing reform movement featured four veteran reporters--Woodruff, Al Hunt, Alex Jones, and Susan Tifft '73--convening at the Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

     The annual colloquium was moderated by public policy professor Ellen Mickiewicz, director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Communications and Journalism, and is funded by a gift in honor of former student Jeffrey Zeidman, who died of viral encephalitis in 1982 while in China.

     The noteworthiness of the fund-raising scandals of the 1996 presidential election has refused to subside because Clinton administration fiascos--such as the overnight stays of campaign contributors in the White House's Lincoln Bedroom--have hit the American public harder than any finance scandal since Watergate. Jones, former New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and current host of National Public Radio's On The Media, argued that the Lincoln bedroom story and worries of political connections with Chinese and Indonesian financiers have served "as a wedge or a lever for getting the story pried open." Woodruff pointed to Clinton's broken 1992 campaign promises of campaign finance reform, the developing role of Vice President Al Gore as "solicitor-in-chief," and similar abuses at the congressional level as equally "offensive to most Americans."

     Hunt argued that the scandals came as a result of Clinton's determination not to be relegated to the history books as a one-term president. Hunt, Wall Street Journal executive Washington editor, has been on the campaign finance trail since the height of the Watergate scandal in 1973. "At the end of 1994, the Clinton camp was worried about having lost the health-care plan due to opposition spending outcampaigning it," he said. "They were determined not to lose something to money again."

     "The thread has come loose from the Democratic ball of yarn, and that's what we're pulling on right now," said Woodruff, although joining the other panelists to implicate illegal maneuvering by both political parties. "Clinton was grasping frantically to raise more," she noted, citing the fact that the Dole campaign pulled in $21 million more than the Democrats. Tifft, a former associate editor at Time magazine, added that Clinton appears to be a man of "unbridled appetites: for food, relationships with women, for staying up late, and now for campaign funding."

     Citing changes that have evolved since she left the Federal Election Commission in 1978, Tifft echoed concern over "soft money" abuses and inflated campaign budgets, but fingered consumer journalism as a major culprit as well. She decried the "News McNugget" tendencies of USA Today-style publications, and the dwindling numbers of "serious" newspapers willing to tackle complex subjects, like finance reform, in depth over any extended period of time. "Public interest is not served on this story or on others as a consequence," she said. "Stories need more reporters, more space, and more historical context--not just reducing into numbers of "who's winning, who's losing.' "

     All panelists agreed that press coverage of the developing campaign finance and similar scandals should be sustained with greater energy and commitment. "The big drawback is that the press only covers stories when they become big revelations. What's illegal is important to cover, but what we need to cover is what's legal," said Hunt, giving the example that few members of the audience could even define the term "soft money" (donations designed to build a political party's general coffers, rather than designated for a specific candidate). Jones said he hopes that press coverage of the finance scandal hearings this summer will curry the favor of an increasingly apathetic American public back to the issue of campaign reform.


or the second time in four years, a Duke team placed first in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. For math students, the grueling six-hour-long test is the equivalent of an NCAA basketball tournament.

     By amassing the highest cumulative ranking, Duke sophomore Andrew Dittmer of Eureka, Missouri; junior Noam Shazeer of Swampscott, Massachusetts; and senior Robert Schneck of Charlotte, North Carolina, beat out the perennial favorite, Harvard, which this year came in third behind second-place Princeton.

     Of the 2,407 contestants from 405 institutions who took the test, less than half scored more than two points out of a possible total of 120. By contrast, the Duke team's high scorer, Shazeer, received 68 points, while Dittmer's total was 62 and Schneck's was 60.

     "Many schools have won the Putnam one time and then never again," says David Kraines, a Duke associate professor of mathematics and the team's coach. "Duke is on the road to a very solid tradition. In large part because of our previous Putnam victory, more students who are extremely talented in mathematics are eager to come to Duke." In fact, Colin Rizzio, the math whiz from New Hampshire who detected an error on the math section of the SAT, has selected Duke, "my first choice from the very beginning," as he told the Raleigh News & Observer. He's been admitted to the Class of 2001.

     Under the Putnam rules, each university designates three students as its official team members but can also enter other students in the competition. That means the competition's highest scorers may not necessarily be members of the winning team. Shazeer placed among the top ten in the nation in the latest competition, while Dittmer ranked in the next five, with Schneck a few places behind that. The cumulative ranking of this team was higher than that of Duke's winning 1993 Putnam team.

     "What I found most satisfying was the breadth in addition to the depth of our performance," says Kraines. "Of the fifteen Duke students who took the latest test, we had seven scoring within the top 200 nationwide --by far the most we've ever had." The competition was held on December 7, but the results arrived while the Duke campus was on spring break.

     "It's a very long test," says Schneck. "You come in Saturday morning and you're there for most of the day. Definitely, at the end, you're glad for it to be over. But during a competition like this, you really get into a groove... analogous to a runner's high. It just carries you with it."

     For winning the Putnam competition, Duke's mathematics department will receive $7,500, which Kraines says helps pay for student travel to national Mathematical Society meetings. Each team member also receives $500. In addition, Shazeer won another $500 and Dittmer another $250 for their high contest rankings. For Schneck, the Putnam competition win comes on the heels of notification that he has won a Winston Churchill Foundation Scholarship for a year of graduate studies at Cambridge University in England.

     The competition, now in its fifty-seventh year, is named for William Lowell Putnam, a member of the Harvard class of 1882, whose widow initiated a trust fund to support the competition. Sample questions from this year's competition include:

  • Find the least number A such that for any two squares of combined area 1, a rectangle of area A exists such that the two squares can be packed into that rectangle (without the interiors of the squares overlapping). You may assume that the sides of the squares will be parallel to the squares of the rectangle.
  • Let C1 and C2 be circles whose centers are 10 units apart and whose radii are 1 and 3. Find, with proof, the locus of all points M for which there exist points X on C1 and Y on C2 such that M is the midpoint of the line segment XY.
  • Suppose that each of twenty students has made the choice of anywhere from zero to six courses from a total of six courses offered. Prove, or disprove: There are five students and two courses such that all five have chosen both courses or all five have chosen neither.


ddressing the American public's negative perception of journalistic ethics, Pulitzer Prize-winner Bob Woodward invited an audience at the Sanford Institute of Public Policy in April to join him as senior editors of The Washington Post--hypothetically, of course.

     As this year's James D. Ewing Lecturer on Ethics and Journalism, the assistant managing editor of the Post and author--renowned for his exposŽ of the Watergate scandal--presented an ethical quandary that faced him and his colleagues during the Reagan adminstration. The role-playing exercise was intended to illustrate "the procedural and ethical dilemma in gathering and presenting news." Having learned that the head of an unnamed federal agency admitted privately to habitual cheating in a local golf tournament, Woodward related, editors faced a decision.

     The background of the official, an appointee responsible for the handling of billions of dollars of government funds, was surreptitiously investigated and found to be spotless, except for this "isolated compulsion" to win the annual golf tourney. Agreeing to undergo two years of psychiatric treatment while maintaining the position, the official threatened to resign outright if Woodward and his colleagues printed the exclusive, reasoning that the incident would embarrass not only his family but the president as well.

     Opening the situation to discussion, Woodward led the audience in a decision-making process by question-and-answer and popular vote. Weighing the issue of public relevance versus personal privacy, the audience--like the Post management years before--decided not to publish the piece. "Did we do our job?" asked Woodward. "I say we did not. We made a serious mistake.... We should have bit the bullet and found a way to run the story."

     Arguing that the official's compulsion to cheat at golf may have been "the tip of the iceberg"--an ethical lapse that could precipitate a later descent into immoral leanings--Woodward followed with the hypothetical case that the appointee continued his ascent through the Washington bureaucracy to the presidency. At that point, he argued, he and his colleagues would have endangered an entire nation. "Who are we working for?" he asked of all journalists. "Are we working for him, for the reader, or for ourselves? The individual intelligence of the reader and the collective readership has been underestimated."

     Treatment of the news often brings reader discomfort. "The profession has become a prisoner of Watergate in that respect, quite honestly," Woodward said. "When you are writing about power, and government in particular, you have an obligation to pull at these little fragments. They might lead to something bigger, and you never know." With unquestioned regard for personal privacy in all matters, the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration would have sounded nothing more than a whisper, he said.

     At the same time, Woodward decried the deceptive maneuverings of undercover "gotcha" journalism as unnecessary. Arguing that the role of the reporter is to present information in a straightforward way, he said "there are alternative ways to get that information." He likened the Watergate scandal to the Manhattan Project of journalism--a bomb created to go off. "No one wants to pooh-pooh a story now...because no one wants to be on the wrong side. In this culture of distrust, there is never clarity on things like Iran-Contra or Whitewater. There is no mechanism for evaluating the ambiguity."

     As author of The Choice, one of his eight best-selling books and a focused dissection of the 1996 presidential campaigns, Woodward also had plenty to say about the two-termer Clinton's success as a politician. Woodward stated that Clinton's return to the White House was anchored in a new-found crispness and organization behind his campaign--an image of stability as compared to the "chaos" in the Dole camp. Senator Dole, at age seventy-three, Woodward argued, needed to find a reason for the American public to vote out the incumbent, but he never did. He likened Clinton to a "magician," riveting public and television audiences with intensely cordial eye contact while presiding over a term during which he was relatively untested by major domestic or foreign political crises.


  • H. Clint Davidson Jr., vice president for human resources at the University of Pennsylvania, is the new associate vice president for human resources. He succeeds Toby Kahr, who retires in June after thirteen years in the senior position. Davidson has more than twenty-five years of experience as a university administrative officer at leading research universities, including Vanderbilt, where he earned his M.B.A., and at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his bachelor's in business administration. He has also taught at Penn's Wharton School of Business and will teach part-time at Duke's Fuqua School of Business.

  • Kenneth A. Wissoker, senior editor at Duke University Press, has been named editor-in-chief. He replaces Peter Guzzardi, who left for a senior editor's job at Harmony Books, a division of the Crown Publishing Group. Wissoker has been responsible for acquisitions and launching several Duke Press series.

  • Charles E. Putman, senior vice president for research administration and policy, was elected to the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Board of Directors, a consortium of eighty-eight doctoral-granting colleges and universities, including Duke. Its programs increase member university involvement with corporate work initiatives, facilitate interactions between senior industrial scientists and faculty and students at member institutions, and present awards to junior faculty members. ORAU also serves the government, academe, and the private sector in areas of science and technology.

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