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Our New President

(Presidential Precedent, December) was an inspirational article about our wonderful new president. As a two-time UW graduate and retiree, I wrote to the search committee (I never did anything like this before!) to give Ana Mari my full support as the only candidate I wanted to be president. I even thought of not making any more donations to the UW if they didn’t choose her. We are so fortunate to have her!

Linda Gould, ’66, ’70
Columns Online

Dr. Cauce appears to be highly qualified for the position she now holds and she seems to have made some positive changes already. I am looking forward to hearing about further advances in education and reductions in the cost of education at UW. More online degrees and offerings would be welcome—especially graduate programs.

Brian S. Garra, ’76
Columns Online

I have confidence that many share my concern over what has become a mere career way station known as the president’s position at our beloved University. When I was an undergraduate in the 1960s and a law school student in the ’70s, most students were imbued with the belief that we matriculated at a preeminent institution; serving as president would be a life-fulfilling honor. Certainly the likes of Charles Odegaard and William Gerberding would suggest as much. Despite the exhaustive vetting that led to the selection of Michael K. Young, he left after a short tenure to the “greener” pastures of, not Harvard or Yale, but Texas A&M. And before him, nearly every president since Gerberding has made his stay noticeably brief. How is this? Perhaps we should approach someone like Bill Gates Sr., a mainstay of virtue and devotion to the University of a thousand years, for an answer. Something is clearly amiss in our search or criteria for selecting a president.

Robert E. Repp, ’68, ’73
Marylhurst, Ore.

Welcome President Cauce! I agree that the UW “nurtures wonder” and that it is “literally life-saving” and “world- changing” (Turning Wonder into Discovery, December). This is a time in the history of mankind like no other. We have cut poverty in half, we can see the possibility of controlling the three pandemics of mankind (AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria) for the first time, and we can end the millions of preventable deaths of mothers and children in our world. The UW has a hand in this, through research and new science, but also by teaching students to use their voices in a democracy. My late brother, Bob Dickerson, was an excellent example. He graduated in 1971 and later from the UW law school. Before he died last May, he convinced Rep. Dave Reichert to introduce legislation to end preventable deaths, called the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. This bipartisan legislation is currently in committee. Our voices can help it pass when we follow up with our legislators, asking them to do what it takes to pass it. So welcome, Dr. Cauce, and let us indeed continue to nurture world-changing, life-saving wonder!

Willie Dickerson, ’73, ’94

Benadryl and the Brain

The article on Shelly Gray (Faculty Profile, June) regarding use of Benadryl, an anti-cholinergic drug, as a causative agent of dementia only exposes a part of the mystery. Researchers found that persistent long-term use correlated with developing dementia. Now the research can really begin. Studies need to be done on the underlying causes for which Benadryl was being used. Whatever was causing these people to be taking Benadryl may be the real reason they were developing dementia. Any source causing inflammation in the body can cause it in the brain, leading to possible dementia.

Virgene Link, ’80

Trans, Not Trivial

I was delighted to read your article on the resources available to help UW students who are struggling with transgender issues (True to Self, September). I was disappointed to read Frank Caballero’s comment that the article didn’t merit the attention it was given in light of what he called the trivial percentage of the population dealing with the issue. First, given the enormous difficulties faced by these individuals, to represent the magnitude of the problem as a percentage is extremely problematic. Second, the individuals struggling with these issues include family members, friends and partners. The six pages spent on the topic were quite justified.

Gregory R. Pierce, ’85, ’87, ’90
Clinton, N.Y.

Sad Sea Change

I have lived around the Puget Sound for more than 60 years, so I have witnessed the tragic changes mentioned in (The Dream Lab, December). When I was young, I caught fish any time I went fishing. Fish were a staple of our food supply. Now, catching a fish is no longer a sure thing. Worse yet is the total loss of flounder, sole, perch and many other fish I used to catch on a regular basis. I think we should clean up Puget Sound as best we can, even if the state goes bankrupt.

James Helm
Columns Online

The Full Salmon Story

Hannah Gilman’s article (Swim Record, December) made no mention of earlier work by the UW’s Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) that provided the foundation for Ray Hilborn’s work. The FRI was founded about 1947 through a unique agreement between the Alaska Packers Association (basically the salmon canning industry, headed by Nick Bez) and the University of Washington. Salmon fishermen and canneries were so deeply concerned about declining salmon runs that they established a per-case tax on canned salmon to fund basic research on salmon. Professor W.F. Thompson, a world-famous fisheries expert, was selected to oversee this research, which was remarkably successful in predicting salmon escapement. If you want to know more about this history, read the 2009 memoir of Dr. Robert L. “Bud” Burgner titled 60 Years: My Career with the Fisheries Research Institute at the University of Washington. Bud writes well and mentions people like Ole Mathisen, ’50, and others whose careers in fishery studies began with the FRI. I had the very good fortune as a young UW student to work for the FRI in Alaska at such memorable places as the Kvichak River, Lake Iliamna, Igiugig, the Chignik weir, Herman Creek and the False Pass cannery in the Aleutians. This was before Alaskan statehood (1959), and these jobs were the best experience any young person could ever hope for.

Lafe H. Myers, ’56, ’60, ’69
Bainbridge Island

Both Sides of the Steak

I am a retired cardiac surgeon, raised in Bremerton and educated at UW. I practiced at Saint Louis University and Washington University (the other Washington) and have always been interested in the Northwest, the UW, farming, food, people and what they do. I loved (She Wants to Serve the World’s Best Steak, December) for obvious reasons. Keep up the good writing and reporting germane to my background and love of food!

Richard Barner, ’54, ’57
Columns Online

I am disappointed that the UW is cheering a habit that is destroying the environment, causing billions of animals to suffer every year and is a contributor to a litany of human health issues (including stroke, which ironically is the topic of the following article). If you must publish a piece like this, I would hope that you would include some mention of the realities of this industry. Even if you don’t care about taking the life of a sentient being, I ask that you consider these stats: animal agriculture is responsible for 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and already covers 45 percent of the Earth’s available land; and it takes 660 gallons of water to produce one hamburger. This is not sustainable. And it is still taking the life of a sentient being, no matter how nicely you package it. I would expect a university of the caliber of the University of Washington to make more of an effort to present a more informed view on topics of such real and urgent importance.

Laura Henderson, ’90, ’07
Columns Online

Inspired, Entertained, Enraged? Wonderful. Write us: or at: Columns Magazine, Campus Box 359508, Seattle, WA 98195-9508. Thanks for stirring the pot.