Forum: March-April 2007

at the blackboard

What joy to read “Gray Matters” [November-December 2006] as I also work for the Kendal Corporation and am intimately involved in another long-term-care innovation—horticultural therapy. Similarly to John Diffey ’70, I found the Silent Vigil to be the defining moment in my commitment to social justice. I began my horticultural-therapy career at a home for people with mental retardation, where

I developed a cottage industry of growing and using everlasting flowers in order to employ forty of the residents.

Ten years ago, my friend Charlotte Bartlett (pictured in “Gray Matters”) approached me about helping with the design of the landscape at Barclay Friends, a facility unique to the Kendal Corporation, as it is for assisted-living and skilled-care residents located in a borough.

Responding to the Quaker principle of dignity for all residents, the Barclay Friends’ board of directors made a commitment to horticultural therapy to help provide a homelike environment and, most important, a productive lifestyle for the residents. The people who live at Barclay Friends continue to contribute to their community through flower arranging for public areas, plant propagation for gardens, and many garden chores. Education is also an essential element of our horticultural-therapy programming in order to help residents feel alive and vital.

The success of Barclay Friends’ program has been noted by other Kendal communities, and I have helped three of these communities get their horticultural therapy programs up and running. I am proud to be a part of the Kendal Corporation, a visionary leader with a humanitarian approach to long-term care.

Gwynne Ormsby ’68, West Chester, Pennsylvania


It is incomprehensible to me how the article “Gray Matters” fails to make even passing reference to one of the biggest and best educational programs for seniors in the country: Duke’s own Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (formerly named the Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement).

We live a block from the East Campus, in part so we can more easily attend OLLI classes. Indeed, the existence of this program was one of the chief reasons we moved to the Triangle for our retirement in the first place.

I urge you to do some more research about this wonderful (but apparently of low visibility in the Duke community) program. Maybe even do an article about it!

Andrew W. Bingham, Durham, North Carolina

Editor’s note: “Gray Matters” focused on residential retirement communities. For information about OLLI, see www. or read the magazine’s “Wise Beyond Their Years,” July-August 2005.

Thanks to Teachers

I wish to respond to the article by Jacob Dagger, “The Art of Enlightenment,” in the November-December issue of Duke Magazine, for I found it more than just an interesting composition about university teaching. When I read the article, I had just turned in my grades halfway through my forty-third year of teaching religious studies. Yet I found the comments downright inspiring. Discussion of Robert Korstad’s approach in his course on “The Insurgent South” cannot be [applied] immediately to my course on “Old Testament Literature,” with little possibility of capturing the original voices of Amos or Isaiah in their “historical speeches,” but I shall be using some recorded readings of biblical passages by modern actors hereafter, thanks to this issue of Duke Magazine.

Moreover, I was inspired by the example of professor I.B. Holley, who has been writing his lecture outlines on blackboards for sixty years. In the fall of l952, he and professor Harold Parker inspired me to become a history major, and the methodology and careful reading of texts have influenced my research and teaching ever since. Since I have to go another seventeen years to even match Dr. Holley’s pace, he has clearly outrun my endurance.

The entire issue is in sharp focus as to what an education at Duke is like in the twenty-first century, and it makes those of us who passed through those Gothic corridors some fifty years ago proud to have studied there. For example, the Full Frame photograph of a student logging onto her computer in front of Lilly Library could not have happened fifty years ago, nor could students then have turned in papers as e-mail attachments or on Blackboard discussion links, but the sense of excitement in the education of young minds, which is happening all over the world today, clearly comes across in this issue. Bravo!

Bill Huntley Jr. ’55, Ph.D. ’64, Redlands, California

The writer is a professor of religious studies at the University of Redlands.

I found the November-December 2006 issue of Duke Magazine most interesting. I was particularly impressed with Jacob Dagger’s article discussing excellence in teaching. The mention of professor emeritus I.B. Holley was especially pleasing, since I considered him the best teacher I experienced in Trinity College.

In his engineering-history classes of 1947, he graded our notes early in the course to [ensure] we were listening and heeding. His lectures were so constructed that one could detect each main point and all sub-points, and he expected you to note them in outline form only.

I spent much more time with engineering-school teachers such as professors Harold Byrd, Brewster Snow, and Aubrey Palmer, among others who made great impressions on me. I trust Duke will continue to put emphasis on excellent teaching.

William D. McRae B.S.C.E. ’52, Dallas, Texas


On Ideology

It was enjoyable to read in the September-October issue yet another article plumbing the curious phenomenon of conservative paranoia with respect to the left’s “intellectual corruption of the American university,” as David Horowitz has put it [“Leftward Leanings”]. Why in the world would it surprise anyone that liberalism is dominant in a population cohort of brighter-than-average individuals?

Richard Allen ’51, Gainesville, Florida


I just finished reading the letter to Forum by Lewis P. Klein Jr., ’51, in the November-December 2006 issue. Mr. Klein argues that the U.S. government’s World War II policy of imprisoning without trial Japanese Americans was intended to facilitate a government policy of propagandizing hatred of Japan and to protect Japanese Americans from physical danger, made clear and present by the vandalism of cherry trees and the invective of Bob Hope. Mr. Klein’s comments fail both the factual record and logic.

The U.S. government has disavowed the reasoning proffered by Mr. Klein and acknowledged the error of the policy. In 1988, both houses of Congress passed, and President Reagan signed, Public Law 100-383, which provided in part [that], “The Congress recognizes that ... a grave injustice was done to both citizens and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry by the evacuation, relocation, and internment of civilians during World War II. [T]hese actions were carried out without adequate security reasons and without any acts of espionage or sabotage documented by the [investigating] Commission, and were motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.... For these fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights of these individuals of Japanese ancestry, the Congress apologizes on behalf of the Nation.”

If Mr. Klein’s reasoning were extended, the U.S. government would be justified in imprisoning Muslims to facilitate the pursuit of President Bush’s “crusade” against Islam, and in imprisoning African Americans to protect them from the impending physical danger made evident by race-based violence, burnings of African-American churches, and the existence of groups in the United States that advocate violence against African Americans.

Should China ever invade the United States, rather than being imprisoned without trial, I would prefer to take the risk of living in my home. Any honest person over the age of zero will confirm what I’ve stated here.

David Chen ’90, San Francisco, California


Klein’s letter about the conflation of Guantánamo residents and Japanese Americans in Relocation Centers (to use the legalistic term) is passing strange.

First, Roosevelt did not need to sign the execrable executive order for propaganda purposes. The animus toward Japan and the Japanese could not have been more thorough. Some of it became generalized toward Japanese Americans whether native-born—i.e. citizens—or aliens, and there were indeed instances of mindless prejudice. Was it as severe as prejudice toward blacks in the South before the civil-rights era?

Probably not. Incidentally, there was never any sabotage, and a small number of Japanese deemed security risks were picked up early and either deported or imprisoned.

Second, despite the press campaign against Japanese Americans, there were few overt acts against them, perhaps equal to the number of expressions of personal sympathy. Certainly the camps were not established to provide protective custody. Nor were they designed for family life. I saw them.

The reader should consider some details: Hawaii had a Japanese-American population of about six digits. None was taken into protective custody, and the Hawaiian economy and war effort would have suffered without them.

Many Japanese Americans enlisted while in the camps and formed the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a highly decorated unit. An analogous unit was established by Hawaiian volunteers. In the Pacific, Japanese Americans served in intelligence and as interpreters and translators.

It is now generally accepted that the evacuation was unjustified, that it impaired the war effort, and that it harmed loyal Americans.

Leonard Broom Ph.D. ’37, Santa Barbara, California

More Lacrosse Lessons

To the brave journalists at Duke Magazine: Why has there been not one single letter even faintly critical of the most politically correct university president of an important American university in the history of the U.S. printed in your magazine?

At least 90 percent of the Duke alumni I have conversed with recently about the reunion this spring or about business matters on a daily basis have been incensed at the conduct of the president booting those kids out of the school and the Duke community until the case was resolved favorably. Now, in allowing them to come back if they so choose at such a late and seemingly “safe” date, he has brought even greater shame to our exalted institution of higher learning.

What this great university needs is something that many of the better colleges and universities do: to find a leader and a president who has gone to Duke and is already a member of the greater Duke community—not some politician who has climbed the ranks of educational sinecurity [sic] by being politically correct and playing the … game to get a plum assignment. Are there not any qualified candidates who have gone to Duke and been a part of our great school who are qualified and interested in the job?

Frankly, I find that hard to believe. I am afraid that Brodhead’s conduct in this entire affair will damage the school, its reputation, and its ability to raise money for the endowment more than anything that has been previously charged or implied by any members of Durham’s exotic dancer industry or its friends and partners in the county district attorney’s office.

Seriously folks, is there not a single member of the Duke Magazine staff, the administration, or faculty that is critical of President Brodhead’s conduct concerning this matter? Because hundreds of alums I talk to feel strongly about all these events and are disgusted by the official Duke reactions or lack thereof. Is there not a single man or woman of strong conscience or opinions left at my dear old alma mater?

George St. George Biddle Duke ’82, Edgar, Montana


As an alumnus of Duke who cares about the future of the university, I am writing this letter to protest the mishandling by the administration of the accusations by a single woman against three students of the Duke community. One opportunity after another to take the high ground and be supportive of these students according to the Constitutional principle of presumed innocence until guilt is proven was lost.

Instead of showing impartiality, the administration caved in to the worst instincts of both the local community and the media by firing the lacrosse coach, by canceling the lacrosse season, and, finally, by suspending the three accused students. The president of Duke is the one who has to take responsibility for his administration’s incompetent response to this whole ugly affair. I am sure that I was hardly alone among Duke alumni in my amazement at his pathetic performance on 60 Minutes when being interviewed by the late Ed Bradley, who seemed to be more objective regarding the controversy than the man who is supposedly the leader of the Duke community.

Now the president has invited the [two] humiliated students to return to Duke. What incredible arrogance!... What he should do now is to accept his role in giving encouragement to a corrupt district attorney, which added greatly to the misery that the three innocent students and their families have endured.

I believe that President Brodhead should make a public apology to the students and their families and offer to pay the legal costs that they have had to absorb alone. Finally, for the good of the university and Duke’s reputation as a community of caring individuals, President Brodhead should do the right thing and resign.

John F. Reiger ’65, Chillicothe, Ohio

Share your comments

Have an account?

Sign in to comment

No Account?

Email the editor