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Letters to the Editor

June 2004

Fat Chance

Blind Arguments

I read with great interest David Fagenburg's letter ["Dire Pontifications," March 2004] critiquing I—200's opponents. I would argue, however, that because his argument rests on the unsupportable tenets of color blindness (and gender and class blindness), he misses the point. Rather, I contend that the University may have managed a slight rise in minority enrollment because UW students and administrators committed resources and funds to do so. (Student organizations like MOSAIC and the Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program come to mind.) It must also be noted that the low percentage of African Americans and American Indians at UW—and, indeed, at many institutions of higher education across the United States—still leaves much to be desired. For UW students like myself, I-200's passage did not erase the need to support diversity efforts. It hardened our resolve.

Tamiko F. Nimura, '00
Seattle, WA

Track Records

Around 1978, while a member of the University of Washington track team nursing my injured hamstring in the varsity training room, I was stunned to read in Sports Illustrated that the drug I had just ingested was considered to be dangerous for race horses.

Way back in the 1970s, prescription drugs such as Butazolidin and Tolectin were lined up in bowls in the training room, along with more benign substances such as sodium chloride and aspirin, like a salad bar. Codeine was readily available. Cortisone injections were routine.

This information can be verified in reports from investigations conducted by the UW and by the state licensing authority conducted in 1984-85. With the new scandal, it is clear that investigations and reports are for naught ["Former Team Physician Faces Drug Inquest," Dec. 2003].

Over decades, a very large number of UW students were given powerful, sometimes addictive drugs. For what purpose? To beat Oregon State in track or football or softball?

Big-time college athletics has deformed our beloved UW. What a shabby enterprise it is, controlled by and for cynical coaches, administrators, doctors, sports journalists and boosters in an open scheme that disregards the welfare of young adults. The UW betrays the true goals of a university. [Former UW Athletic Director Mike] Lude failed. [Former AD Barbara] Hedges failed. A series of presidents failed. Can the next batch of administrators break durable UW traditions?

As a third-generation alum whose parents met in organic chemistry lab in Bagley Hall, I remain loyal to the UW. As the parent of an academically and athletically promising child, I remain skeptical.

Professor Loren Williams, '81
Dept. of Chemistry
Georgia Tech
Atlanta, GA

Classic Mistakes

I was delighted to see the article on recent Rhodes Scholarship recipient Allyssa Lamb in the latest issue of Columns ["One for the Books," March 2004]. As Allyssa's biblical Hebrew and hieroglyphic Egyptian teacher, and as her senior essay adviser, I applaud your effort to tell her amazing story in your magazine. Allyssa has never been short of extraordinary in all of her courses. Her efforts attest to an uncommon intellectual breadth and represent achievements in ancient Near Eastern studies, comparative religion, and the humanities generally.

Despite the otherwise fine quality of your article, however, I do think it important to correct an unfortunate error. My departmental affiliation was cited incorrectly as international studies, but I am in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization. I clarify this because courses in Egyptology (Allyssa's chosen field) and ancient Near Eastern studies generally are taught in my department and not in classics, as it might be otherwise perceived by a casual reader.

Professor Scott Noegel
UW Dept. of Near Eastern Languages & Civilization

A Lack of Scholarship?

I am exceedingly proud to see that UW has had so many Rhodes Scholars. What I dislike is the fact that it referred to W.J. Clinton as a Rhodes Scholar. To claim that is as if to say that a jackass is a thoroughbred racehorse. Clinton's stay there, according to David Maraniss's biography of him, First In His Class was characterized as a lack of scholarship, which resulted in a lack of a sheepskin for WJC at the end of his second year, in which he bothered to do little else but hang out and read the current popular literature, politic, smoke pot, and not bother to visit the Dons at all&mdsash;to say nothing of dodging the draft.

Lindon G. (Bud) Hughen, '50
Yarrow Point

Positives and Negatives

I am the alumnus of three major universities and receive all three alumni magazines. Kudos to Columns for being the only one of the three that actually writes about controversies and negative events on campus. I met the editor of one of the other magazines and asked why there were never any critical stories. She told me that the university's policy for their alumni magazine was to show the university only in a positive light. Thank you Columns for giving us a portrait of the University of Washington&mdsash;warts and all.

Saul D. Feldman, '72
San Francisco

Adding to the Acres

I have just finished reading Jon Marmor's article "Green Acres" in the March 2004 edition. It was informative, most interesting and well-written. There are a few items that need correcting. ... The Montlake Cut did indeed lower Lake Washington and the Sammamish River substantially, but had lesser effect on Lake Sammamish. The title of the article, "Green Acres," is well chosen. The property immediately north of the Richard Truly farm was once a golf course named "Greenacres." For your information, I was born in Bothell in 1916 attended the UW and was graduated in 1939. My wife, Eleanor Bird Green, also Class of 1939, was the former AWS president. You have a great magazine. Keep up the good work.

Ronald S. Green, '39
Woodinville

A Teacher's Impact

Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, your experience at the University of Washington is most affected by your mentors. While working on my doctorate at UW, I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the best mentors I could imagine--Dr. Jonathan Mayer, a medical geographer and a model mentor. Over the course of three degrees at three universities, I have developed a keen awareness of what makes a good mentoring professor, and without any doubts, Jonathan is an exceptional and valuable mentor.

Over the past five years I have expressed my frustration with my own work and abilities, just like any other student, and during all of this, Jonathan has demonstrated incredible demeanor, careful listening, and powerful insights. My impression is that Jonathan reflects thoughtfully on my ideas, and when I have made my points, he asks me just the right question for helping me reflect on the problem with greater confidence. Through this process, I not only recognize that he cares about my intellectual development, but he is committed to my growth as a person. Where other professors try to resolve their students' problems for them, Jonathan is committed to helping each student develop greater potential by supporting their individual achievement. The most accurate description I can offer of Jonathan's mentoring is that he is wise about individual needs, and committed to students' success.Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, your experience at the University of Washington is most affected by your mentors. While working on my doctorate at UW, I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the best mentors I could imagine--Dr. Jonathan Mayer, a medical geographer and a model mentor. Over the course of three degrees at three universities, I have developed a keen awareness of what makes a good mentoring professor, and without any doubts, Jonathan is an exceptional and valuable mentor.

Over the past five years I have expressed my frustration with my own work and abilities, just like any other student, and during all of this, Jonathan has demonstrated incredible demeanor, careful listening, and powerful insights. My impression is that Jonathan reflects thoughtfully on my ideas, and when I have made my points, he asks me just the right question for helping me reflect on the problem with greater confidence. Through this process, I not only recognize that he cares about my intellectual development, but he is committed to my growth as a person. Where other professors try to resolve their students' problems for them, Jonathan is committed to helping each student develop greater potential by supporting their individual achievement. The most accurate description I can offer of Jonathan's mentoring is that he is wise about individual needs, and committed to students' success.

Jonathan demonstrates a unique quality that I have come to deeply appreciate. Whereas many professors have a tendency to train students to follow in their footsteps, and students are willing to do so if it eases the course of their work, Jonathan has the special skills and dedication to ensure that each student creates their own confident niche in academia. This requires a careful and thoughtful balance between guidance, encouragement, and self-restraint. On many occasions, I simply wanted Jonathan to give me a quick answer, but he is the type of mentor who guides the conversation so I can discover my own answers, and feel confident about seeking even more challenging questions.

Jonathan makes sure that there are always opportunities for his students to pursue, including research, teaching, and other professional activities. He keeps great relationships with other departments and organizations, so that he is able to create exceptional contacts for his students. Through his mentoring, I was able to secure excellent research positions with the Departments of Family Medicine and Health Services, and an instructor position in a subject of my interest. His mentoring extends well beyond his office, as Jonathan has made a point to promote other students and myself when we attend professional meetings. Even during conversation with colleagues from other universities, Jonathan makes sure that his students are comfortable building professional relationships. I am convinced that Jonathan puts student mentoring before any of his personal goals.

I believe mentoring is much more than the efforts that go into one-on-one meetings. Jonathan is very dependable when it comes to reading his students' writings, attending their talks, and writing them letters of recommendation. When I have given Jonathan draft papers, I have been amazed at how comprehensive and thoughtful he is with his comments. Not only does he get papers back quickly, he makes sure that you are able to understand and build on his suggestions and observations. I could not imagine better coaching for developing my writing and analytic skills. When I was writing my dissertation I was working through several complex theoretical questions while trying to match an appropriate empirical model to the project. I could not have completed the work without the dedication and support of Jonathan, as he was able to ask thoughtful questions for stimulating my ideas, while assuring that I kept my focus and plans for completion. Because of Jonathan's mentoring during this project, I am confident that I can make an exceptional contribution to science and policy in my field.

While a doctoral student, I have had the opportunity to work with many graduate and undergraduate students who were working with Jonathan. I was very impressed by how he managed to meet the needs of a diverse group of students. Many students struggle with academics, and I am reminded of one example where the student was far behind his schedule to complete his undergraduate work. Jonathan demonstrated incredible skill in mentoring this student so he was able to overcome his frustrations and stay on course. I too worked with this student and he often told me how much he appreciated Jonathan's support. Other students indicated to me stories of their interactions with Jonathan, and in each case, he seemed to be very conscientious of their particular needs. Some of these students still remind me of how Jonathan inspired them.

Geography is a field of diversity, and Jonathan exemplifies this in his own work and in his ability to mentor students through their course of intellectual discovery. I have been deeply impressed at how Jonathan can address students' interests even if it means they may eventually head off on projects with other professors. Jonathan never requires his students to dedicate themselves to him; rather, he dedicates himself to their goals. One of the most valuable benefits of working with Jonathan is that students develop exceptional capacity for self-direction throughout their careers. I have seen many students graduate and then discover they have merely imitated their mentor; however, with Jonathan, I know that he has helped me create a whole world of opportunity, which I would not have without him mentoring me to be an independent and creative thinker.

When it comes to long-term mentoring, as in graduate school, one of the real challenges for mentors is to respond effectively to crises in students' lives. Jonathan is exceptional in this respect. I know of several students who have had personal tragedies in their lives, and Jonathan demonstrated faithful and respectful support for them. In my own life, I experienced a few serious struggles in graduate school, and Jonathan was one of the few people I know who I could trust to share my experiences. He not only knows how to comfort, but he is able to encourage in such a way that gives hope.

Jonathan is dedicated to the success of each student, whether they are his, or others. Not only have I been blessed by his mentoring, many other students have too. His mentoring does not end with his academic counseling, it is extended by his scholarly work, his personal dedication, and his commitment to being an exceptional example. I strongly recommend that all students, especially those in medicine and health sciences, seek out opportunities to work with Dr. Jonathan Mayer.

David Paschane, '03
Baltimore

Corrections

We got a few facts wrong in our June 2004 article "Green Acres" about the restoration of the wetlands on the campus of UW Bothell. Carlton L. Ericksen, mayor elect of Bothell in 1969-73 and a member of the UWB site committee for the location of the UW Branch Campus in Bothell writes "First, North Creek does not empty into Lake Sammamish but into the Sammamish River, which flows into Lake Washington. Second, the flume was constructed in 1893 by Gerhard Ericksen, who leased the property from the property owners adjoining North Creek. He operated a general store on Bothell's Main Street in 1885 until 1893, when the money panic prior to and during the Spanish-American War caused him to close the store. At that time he constructed the flume from the point where North Creek enters the Sammamish River north to what is now called Mill Creek. In 1903, he sold the flume to the Co-Operative Shingle Company of Bothell. He used the money he received to pay his indebtedness and reopened the general store which I own at this time and lease as a furniture store in Bothell."

Also, in the March 2004 article about UW Rhodes Scholars since 1960, we reported the wrong school district for Elizabeth Angell, '02. She is from Bainbridge Island, not Mercer Island.

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