Letters to the Editor, June 1999
Do Whatever It Takes
While I was an undergraduate not so long ago, I made the trek across
the Quad hundreds of times and never really appreciated how lucky the university
community is to have such a botanical marvel in its midst. Now I live 3,000
miles away, and as spring begins to unfold this year, I realize how fortunate
I am to have experienced "the Quad" for four years. In my job,
I travel to colleges and universities all over the east coast, and I have
yet to visit a campus that has anything more beautiful than our Japanese
cherry trees. Tom Griffin's article, "Blooms
in Doom," in the March 1999 issue alerts us that the Quad as we
know it may become extinct in the coming years. This would be a tragedy.
The university should do whatever it takes to preserve this special place
Mark Bunch, '98
Editor's Note: The Campus Landscape Advisory Committee recommends
that a nursery start growing replacement trees at once, so that they
are the same age and size. Over the next 12 years, as the existing trees
show signs of failure, they will be removed four to six at a time. Since
all replacement trees will be the same age, the uniformity of the Quad
planting will be preserved.
Cherries Older Than You Think
I enjoyed the cover story on the Quad cherry grove, one of the Seattle
landmarks that I miss most living in California. The trees are actually
a few years older than was suggested in the article, something I was able
to document during my thesis research on the Arboretum's early history.
The original planting, on the "canal reserve land" that once marked
the entrance to the Arboretum and today forms the route of S.R. 520, was
made by Works Progress Administration crews in the winter of 1935-36, prior
to the receipt of the Olmsted Brothers' master plan for the Arboretum. According
to Frederick W. Leissler, Jr., assistant director of the Arboretum at the
time, the planting caused quite a stir with the Seattle Garden Club, who
had funded the Olmsted plan and wanted to see it exclusively followed. These
Yoshino cherry trees, along with several incense-cedars in the same vicinity,
constituted the Arboretum's first official plantings, a distinction they
carried with them when relocated to the Quad in the mid-60's.
Scot Medbury, '87, '90
How to Save the Quad Cherries
I thought "Blooms in Doom" was a very fair, accurate and attractive
presentation. Certainly the trees in bloom form one of (maybe the principal)
hallmark of the University in the public eye. Invariably, at least once
a year, the University makes prime-time coverage on TV and the newspapers.
I suspect that there would be a Vietnam style revolt from the student body
(and everyone else) if the "Doom" of your article were allowed
to take place.
I am glad that you covered the thinking taking place on the campus on
how to best handle the inevitable loss of aging trees and their replacement.
This, of course, is a critical issue. I'm very sure that the committees
and individuals involved will find that the interplanting idea, that seems
to be favored, will prove to be next to impossible. I so well remember the
great difficulty that (UW Landscape Architect) Eric Hoyte had, that we all
shared, in finding a decent spacing for the present trees that avoided the
snare of piping, handholes, manholes and cross-walks in the Quad.
It could be argued, I think, that "uniformity" would be fully
as damaged by a wide variation in spacing and alignment as it would be by
a difference in age. To avoid the age difference as much as possible, cuttings
should be taken and rooted at a nursery started right away. If, as you say,
new trees will be needed in 10 or 20 years they would be of a good age for
transplanting in the Quad. If cuttings were taken from the present trees
and grown locally I think it would insure better uniformity in color, bloom
Great credit should be given to the contractor for the success, at all
odds, of the original transplanting operation in 1961. The fellow that won
the bid was new to us-a recent arrival from the Netherlands. He was a very
impressive individual but spoke very little English. By the time that all
the public works bidding procedure had been taken care of, the Highway Department
bulldozers that were digging the bridge approach were but a few feet from
the first trees. It was obvious that we'd have to abandon our very detailed
and correct specifications and wing it on a near panic basis as best we
The contractor kept saying "Let me do it. I can make 'em live-I'll
make 'em live." He put a gang of men in the Quad to dig the holes where
Eric had staked the locations and a gang of men at Montlake to dig out the
trees and prune the roots and crowns-all in freezing weather. You pretty
much know the rest. There was a lot of luck involved but I'm sure there
was a lot of Old World horticultural feel and skill involved as well. There
was certainly a lot of effort put into the work by someone who wanted to
prove his worth in his new land.
Fred M. Mann
Editor's Note: Fred Mann was Unversity Architect during the late 1950s
and early 1960s and was a key player in moving the trees from the Arboretum
to the Quad in 1961.
The Logical Thing to Do
I was reading in your March issue of Columns about the dying cherry
trees, oddly enough as I had just planted one in my own yard. It seemed
to me that the logical thing to do would be to take cuttings of branch and
root, graft them together-or whatever it is that those arbor people do to
clone trees-and create a new replacement set of 30 some trees (maybe "store"
them at the Arboretum until needed?). The children would all be of the same
age, to be substituted as needed as the old parent trees die off. This would
solve the problem of replacement trees being of different ages, and preserve
the original genetics for posterity.
The clone replacements would be genetically identical to the parents
(you could even keep records of which clone came from which tree so that
the same tree, when it dies, would be replaced with its clone progeny, which
would be the same age and relative size as its siblings, just kept "fostered"
elsewhere until the parent dies). Extra clones could be made as spares in
case one fails and/or could be sold to help fund the project. Keep a record
of where the sold units go for a gene pool.
With all these creative "what-ifs" going through my mind, I
ran across an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch regarding a
similar problem with the same Yoshino type of cherry trees in Washington
D.C. And apparently that is exactly what they're doing as the DC trees are
dying off at the ripe old age of 87 plus (Circa 1912).
A Poem Inspired by "Blooms in Doom"
Skin Color and Brain Power
Why is it that Columns consistently fails to be inclusive when
it comes to counting Asian Americans as minorities? I think it is clear:
When the data does not support the facts, just ignore the data. I saw this
ignore-the-Asians phenomenon once again in your last issue (March 1999).
It seems the goal of your article "The
Road Ahead" was to lament the under representation of minorities
at UW as shown by a table in the article. It showed that blacks, Hispanics,
and Native Americans comprise 11 percent of the state's population but only
8 percent of the UW student body. The author must have felt a twinge of
guilt for leaving out the Asian Americans since their numbers were at least
mentioned in the text--albeit in a place they could be conveniently missed.
The text stated that while Asian Americans represent only 17 percent of
the state's population they represent 27 percent of the student body. If
we include Asian Americans as minorities, the table shows that minorities
compose 28 percent of the state's population while they compose 35 percent
of the students at UW. Of course, this would not support the goal of showing
how minorities cannot make it without affirmative action. With the Asian-American
data included should we conclude that UW is bigoted in its favoritism towards
Asian Americans? Of course not. This is the kind of twisted logic that follows
when we buy into the premise that at an institution of higher education
a person's skin color matters as much as their brain power.
Social science graduates from UW today may be able to get away with ignoring
inconvenient data. I hope engineering school graduates are not allowed to
follow their lead--the bridge would fall down!
Scott Wallick, '78
An Old Policy of Political Correctness
"The Road Ahead" reflects a distressing and sad reality about
the UW administration: Their conservative clinging to the decades-old racial
constructs of group victimization runs counter to the citizen-efforts to
move the University's admissions policy in line with the liberal themes
of individual equality of opportunity. And this is done with a seeming racial
bias that casually brushes aside the fact that 27 percent of UW students
are racial minorities (in contrast to 11 percent in the state's population),
doing so by conveniently dropping Asian Americans from the statistics. Are
Asian Americans somehow not qualified to be considered a racial minority?
If one needs an example of how this old policy of political correctness
hurts students, merely examine the article's quoted comment from student
Aaron McCray: "A lot of people are losing faith in the system to look
out for those of us who don't have everything." Such an attachment
to some paternalistic "system" will not promote maturity, only
an unnatural, prolonged, adolescent dependence.
Please, UW administrators, you will better fulfill your legitimate task
of leading a great university by stressing academic standards and accomplishments
than by devoting your energies to lamenting, as President McCormick does,
"I doubt we will ever look back at the passage of I-200 as a good thing,"
or by using various complicated strategies to subvert the intent of the
law initiated and overwhelmingly approved by the people of this state. The
authors of the 14trh Amendment (with its equal protection guarantees) would
be shocked to see such almost frantic efforts by a modern university's leaders
to continue politics which are aimed at promoting racial preferences (except
for Asian Americans!).
James G. Newbill, '53, '60
Colleges Are Not Social Institutions
I have just read the article in the March 1999 Columns concerning
the passage of I-200. I am appalled at the negative reaction of the University
authorities. In my day, all who applied had an equal chance of being admitted
to the University, and the University was only interested in providing them
with a good education. I agree with Scott Smith, who sponsored the initiative,
that "Our colleges are not social institutions, they are academic institutions."
Wallace P. Alm, '48
Salt Lake City
Paving the Road Ahead
In " The Road Ahead" the author presents a very negative picture
of future enrollment because of the approval of initiative 200. I believe
that most voters supported I-200 because they felt that diversity has its
place but not at the expense of others. Diverse groups can enjoy their common
bonds through their ethnic, cultural, religious and fraternal groups but
not by expecting special recognition and privileges in public institutions
and public employment.
Immigrants during the first 200 years of our country were motivated by
the desire to be assimilated into the American culture rather than being
separate and special. Most of their descendants have supported that philosophy
to this day.
The main purpose of the University and all institutions of higher learning
is to provide the opportunities for effective training and education. The
main goal of every student should be to prepare themselves to qualify for
these opportunities by motivation and personal responsibility. Such a combination
will "pave the road ahead."
John Johanson, '51
Ignoring I-200 Will Prompt I-201
The froth over the passage of I-200 in the last issues of Columns
raises several issues in my mind. There has been several articles lately
concerning the loss of quality faculty. Certainly, the UW needs to recruit
and retain the finest minds. The UW is the flagship research university
for the State of Washington; we need to support a quality faculty to do
world class research and instruction. On the other hand, diversity does
not support quality.
May I suggest several reasons why diversity should not be a paramount
UW policy? When we admit students who are not academically qualified, the
academic quality of the University decreases in the classroom and in research.
As a retired professor, I remember with some angst, students in a graduate
class (not UW) whose GMAT scores ranged from 300-700. Those students in
the former group were unable to grasp qualitative and abstract concepts
quickly, if at all. They blamed the course and the professor for their failure.
Their self-esteem dropped. One accused the professor of being a racist in
the course evaluation. The professor was able to link the student with this
specific evaluation because of the grammatical and spelling errors.
There is a myth that diversity assists economically disadvantaged students.
In my mind, I would invoke an image of a poor child from Yessler Terrace
having the opportunity to attend a great university. However, studies at
Cal-Berkeley indicate that medium family income for affirmative action students
is $70,000. Also, the same studies indicate that many of these students
flunk out, thus wasting taxpayer dollars and costing these students pain
and time. Many also matriculate to softer (easier) majors where careers
are more difficult to attain in the competitive world.
The state of Washington spends $15,000+ /student. The taxpayers have
indicated with I-200 that quality intellects should not be discriminated
against simply because they are Asian or Caucasian. I believe that taxpayers
will support quality through increased revenues. However W.W. Washburn,
the director of admissions, says "Beyond GPA and test scores we will
look at students' educational disadvantages, socioeconomic status, cultural
diversity, etc." He doesn't get it. This attitude will bring I-201.
We already have students seeking legal remedies (law school) because lesser-qualified
students were admitted in their place. What is Washburn going to do, circumvent
the new law? Would he be personally liable for intentionally breaking the
I understand the racism of the past. In the sixties, I was registering
black voters in Lee County, Georgia. We had to move from our home because
of threats by the KKK. I support scholarships. We (family) are considering
funding several scholarships for bright students who might make society
a better place. I support outreach programs. If there are students we can
assist to qualify for admission we should explore those avenues. I also
support quality education. Why don't the diversity advocates complain about
the plethora of Asian Ph.D.s in mathematics or the dearth of other minorities
in that field?
We want a world class faculty. MIT has a world-class student body where
SAT scores are in the 98-99 percentile. We should also want a world-class
student body to go with a world-class faculty. It doesn't make sense to
me to want both a quality faculty and intellectually disadvantaged students
on the same campus.
Dr. Thomas Johnson, '56
Coach Jim Lambright
Weak Excuses for Firing
I am a UW grad (Class of '71), a Tyee member, a season ticket holder,
and lifetime alumni member. I most strongly protest the firing of Coach
Jim Lambright. The only one that should be looking for a new job is Barbara
Hedges. I have read her interview with the press and her excuses are very
weak and have absolutely no substance. She has never been true to the University
of Washington athletics. She never supported Don James and now she fired
a guy who has lived purple and gold for 30 years. Lambo's a great coach.
He has had to live through the sanctions that were unfairly imposed on the
football program from the Don James era. The sanctions that were imposed
on the football program were completely unfair, especially when compared
with other national programs and the sanctions imposed on them (Florida
State) for much more serious infractions. She never stood up for the program
and let Don James take all the shots. Her timing of the firing is suspect
as this will kill recruiting for the next several years. I question her
loyalty to Washington athletics. The only search that should be underway
at this time is for a new athletic director.
Steven B. Westover, '71
Coach's Pay Incongruous with University Goals
So let me get this straight: at a time when crucial academic faculty
talent is told the University of Washington cannot pay them competitive
salaries, the University is going to make their new
football coach one of the highest paid coaches in the U.S. This seems
incongruous with the goals of the University, but I guess I must be mistaken
in thinking that teaching and research is the primary mission. This could
be a brilliant move to send those pesky professors a clear message regarding
the priorities; yet another explanation is that this is a cry for help from
Athletic Director Barbara Hedges and President McCormick. Perhaps they are
saying that each needs to spend some quality time out of a job.
Should this travesty truly play out as reported, UW alumni such as myself
will think twice about their contributions. The situation is akin to a mother
squandering her money on wild partying, then asking for contributions to
feed her emaciated child.
Eric R. Raman, '95
Smaller Appetites Wanted
I just read the latest Columns regarding Lambright
and Neuhiesel. It was a fair article about the two of them. I'm a Husky
alumnus-Tyee and it appears to me that Jim Lambright should have been given
an opportunity to show what can be done after the NCAA restrictions were
over. At least he should have been given the opportunity to retire and allow
for the time to obtain another position. Why would we in our right minds
hire a coach who had weathered his own violations at Colorado to come in
here and immediately violate the rules? He may have a Clintonese type of
charm but that shouldn't charm our athletic director into bringing him on
board with a $1 million, seven-year contract. He can't read and she can't
read the dollar signs.
Jim is an outstanding individual. He stood by us when Don James left
us and Jim took over and brought us six great years. He doesn't deserve
this treatment. I, for one, feel we ought to start with the AD, fire her,
and rid ourselves of the $1 milllion coach. We should be able to attract
someone with a smaller appetite and a better background.
Edward M. Lane, '54
"Don't Raid Washington": A Fable
A note of explanation is required about the recent dismissal of the University
of Washington's head football coach and his replacement by the young, academically
well-credentialed coach from the University of Colorado. Presently there
is a considerable amount of misunderstanding and erroneous speculation about
why these changes occurred. Since most football fans were not privy to the
many machinations that brought about these changes, a full account is offered
First, these actions had nothing to do with football per se.
Some time ago, University of Washington President Richard McCormick and
others in the administration were becoming increasingly alarmed about the
"raids" on young, promising University faculty by competing ("peer")
academic institutions. These events were recently detailed in the December
1998 issue of the alumni magazine, Columns, in an article entitled,
"The Brain Drain." Several examples
were laid out showing how our youngest, brightest "rising faculty stars"
were being grabbed by hostile academic institutions who were waving dollar
bills at them. And, our faculty members were defecting in ever greater numbers.
The University of Washington was being seriously wounded.
In response to these disturbing defections, President McCormick called
a meeting to address this problem. Present were the Regents of the University
of Washington and several department chairs whose programs had been seriously
harmed by "raids." At this meeting, President McCormick happened
to have inquired about the details of one of the most recent defections,
that of the Music Department's Professor Joan Catoni Conlon. She had been
"coach" of the UW's choral program for the past 19 years. Her
case had also been publicized in the Columns article. In passing,
it was noted that she had been taken by the University of Colorado (Buffaloes);
they had waved a 30% pay hike at her and, apparently, it was enough.
The suggestion was made at that time that perhaps those institutions
who raid the University of Washington should be "sent a message";
a "shot across the bow," concerning their hostile actions. Since
the University of Colorado had just been mentioned in the Conlon case, a
discussion of a retaliatory "raid" on that institution evolved.
Since intercollegiate football is the most visible program at the University
of Colorado, as it is at most major academic institutions, it was decided
at the meeting to examine the viability of targeting the University of Colorado
Buffaloes head football coach in a retaliatory "faculty raid."
It was speculated that if such a "counter raid" could be spectacular
enough, it would not only produce "the greatest pain" on the offending
institution, but also bring about national attention to the problem of "academic
raids" on vulnerable universities like the University of Washington.
It was also recognized at that time that the University of Washington
could not provide the funding for this particular type of "counter
raid" due to the nature of the target; the funding for such an action
against the Buffaloes' athletic department would have to come from outside
the academic arena. After the meeting, several wealthy Husky boosters and
the University of Washington athletic department were approached about raising
the funds for a raid, as well as being asked to consider the possibility
of having a new football coach. It should be emphasized that these ideas
were only considered "trial balloons" at that time and no concrete
plans had been formulated.
However, the proposals were surprisingly well-received--some boosters,
as it turned out, were unhappy with the fall '98 Husky football fortunes
and felt a coaching change was needed anyway. The boosters were also upset
by the recent run of UW faculty defections, and they were particularly upset
by those faculty who went to schools with more highly rated football programs
(e.g., Professor Richard Gonzalez, psychology department, who went to the
University of Michigan Wolverines. (It is not known how many UW faculty
defections were due to the declining Husky football fortunes.)
With the cooperation of the boosters, and eventually, the UW Athletic
Department's Director Barbara Hedges (who at first was very reluctant to
consider a coaching change--Lambright had done an admirable job), all the
pieces were in place for the retaliatory "faculty raid" on the
University of Colorado for having taken Professor Conlon, the University
of Washington's long time choral director.
It is hoped that this chronology will finally clarify the events surrounding
the recent hiring of football coach Rick Neuheisel and his staff from the
University of Colorado and place them in a wider context: it was not Washington
who struck the first blow! The raid by the Buffaloes was also on the academic
heart of the University of Washington-its faculty. The UW counter raid was
on the football program. The students of the University of Colorado will
have to decide which was the more lethal raid in the context of the public
mission of universities in our society.
It should be mentioned that coaches Tormey and Pinkel, from Idaho and
Ohio universities, respectively, could not be seriously considered for the
head coaching position at this time, in spite of being excellent candidates,
because they were not affiliated with institutions that had raided the University
of Washington faculty.
Admittedly, a high price was paid to "send a message" to the
University of Colorado Buffaloes and to all those institutions who might
(understandably) be coveting UW faculty. However, most of us feel that the
effort was worth it; ergo: "Don't Raid Washington."
PS: Few of the events described in this letter actually took place. :-)
Sacred Cows Munching Grass
It's too bad that the article on the UW's brain drain didn't run in the
same issue as the announcement of the hiring of the million-dollar football
coach. It's clear that the UW has no committment to educational excellence.
It would obviously prefer to be known as a football powerhouse, rather than
an intellectual powerhouse.
While it was very sad when Jim Lambright was fired, why was there no
similar outcry when MacArthur Fellows Caroline Bynum and Richard White left
for more lucrative positions elsewhere? Just what are the University of
Washington's priorities? If, in fact, the UW is committed to academic excellence,
how come there has been no mention of graduation rates under Neuheisel at
his previous schools? Does he produce scholar-athletes, or winning teams?
These do not have to be mutually exclusive.
One more thing: I find it interesting that Athletic Director Hedges assures
us that Neuheisel's salary will be paid out of "athletic revenues."
Notice that she didn't say "football revenues." The NCAA has documented
that most Division I football programs consistently operate in the red,
and are financed by revenues brought in from other sports, i.e., basketball,
which accounts for 80-90 percent of all athletic revenues. While Title IX
frequently gets the blame for over-extending athletic budgets, it is frequently
the sacred cow of football that's munching all the grass.
Lorraine Berry, '87, '93
Editor's Note: Ms. Berry is in error if she believes the UW football
program operates in the red. To the contrary, the UW football program is
the source for more than 80 percent of the athletic department operating
revenue. Without football, state taxpayers would have to subsidize other
UW sports, including those women sports established under Title IX. For
more on womens' sports at the UW, see "Fair
Play," from our September 1996 issue.
A Slap in the Face
I enjoyed reading the December issue of Columns as a way of revisited
my alma mater, and the excellent article, "The
Brain Drain" by Tom Griffin. Shortly after that, I read in the
newspapers that the University is spending one million dollars buying out
Coach Jim Lambright's old contract and has consummated a new contract with
the new coach for a million dollars a year for seven years, or $7 million
Doesn't that sound a little ironic or hypocritical to you? With this
action, we deprive the students of needed funds or scholarships, send a
clear message to the current faculty that they are of little value, that
the alumni financial contributions are not used for the right purpose, and
more migration of the brain drain will continue. All of these groups simply
received a slap in the face.
Athletic Director Barbara Hedges' inane comments, "Well, that was
November, this is December" and "It all comes out of the athletic
fund" completely miss the point. I am an avid sports fan myself and
like to see the Huskies win, but let's keep it in perspective. Football
at the UW is an activity, not a religion or its sole purpose. Hedges obviously
feels that academic learning is beginning to get in the way of Husky football
and athletics. She is certainly a lightweight person in a heavyweight job.
To go to the Legislature and ask the taxpayers to fork over more money
for the UW programs looks incongruous at this point. Most disappointing
to me was President McCormick's giving tacit approval to all of this. With
alumni contributions down to such a low percentage point, this action will
make them go even lower.
It's time McCormick, Hedges and "the powers that be" are reminded
that there are other things in life than Husky football and athletics. Two
of these are faculty excellence and education. Yes, education, remember?
Eugene N. Soper, '52
Editor's Note: Lambright's settlement was $276,000. Money to pay coaches'
salaries comes from athletic department revenue, not state taxpayer funds.
No student was deprived of a scholarship and no alumni contributions were
diverted. The University has a strict policy that contributions can only
be spent according to the donor's wishes.
It was deeply disappointing to see that the March issue of Columns gave
more space to the fact that the football team's helmets are being changed
from purple to gold than to Science Watch's ranking of the effectiveness
of scientific research at the top 100 federally funded universities ["Milestones," March
1999]. While the latter story did mention that the UW was ranked eighth
overall (following Harvard, Stanford, CalTech, Yale, Michigan, MIT and Cal-Berkeley),
it omitted the impressive fact that in mathematics, the UW was ranked first,
ahead of Harvard, Stanford, CalTech, Princeton, et al. It also failed to
mention the other five disciplines in which the UW ranked in the top 10:
ecology/environment, clinical medicine, geosciences (ranked third), pharmacology
(ranked second) and psychology/psychiatry.
Do you really think that football is that much more important
Professor Robert R. Phelps, '58
UW Department of Mathematics
The Price of Sports
Among the U-Dub football artifacts are old posters still hanging on some
dusty beer joint walls, showing Don James and several beefy blockheads all
dressed in proper gangster "drag," tooting James as the "Dawgfather."
The current Lambright/Neuheisel flap continues the crappola: Neuheisel's
already accused of illegalities and Lambright's said to be about to litigate.
So, what was in my undergraduate time called "The University of a Thousand
Beers" seems about to become "Sue U."
Theodore Roethke said, "Teaching goes on, in spite of the administrators,"
and, I add, in spit of the ludicrous, big bucks sports bozos and boosters.
But at what cost?
Gordon Anderson, "54, '58
Gold Helmet Won't Win Games
Being at the end of the UW football food chain in Southern California,
I was stunned by the firing of Coach Lambright--and I have the feeling this
may not be over. Reviewing the Husky 1999 schedule, there is the possibility
they will lose their first four games due to "revenge" on Coach
Rick by BYU, Air Force, Colorado and Oregon for one reason or another. They
may win over Oregon State, but the next six games may be subjected to the
same conditions as the first four. The resultant end for the Huskies is
I doubt if Barbara Hedges looked at this possibility--the gold helmet
won't win games and I doubt Coach Neuheisel can overcome this climacteric
move by Hedges. If this picture happens, Hedges should receive her walking
Don Campbell, '51
Seal Beach, Calif.