New approach is old hat, “Big Greek” not from Turkey, and more.

Penn Gazette Sep|Oct cover

Sounds Familiar

I was more than a bit surprised by the article “(Re)Introduction to US History” [Sep|Oct 2021]. I used basically the same approach to teaching a high school American history course in the 1960s at Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Manhattan. A supplemental text used was the two-volume Great Issues in American History,edited by Columbia University professor Richard Hofstadter and first published in the late 1950s.  That work’s whole purpose was to get the students to think about the issues involved.

Ya’akov (aka Jerrold) Aronson Ed’61, Rehovot, Israel

The Only Constant Is Change

Two pearls of wisdom may apply to this thoughtful article: (1) “Every generation thinks it discovered sex”; and (2) the Russian proverb that “you can never predict history.” To (1) I may add “ … and apparently everything else.”

“(Re)Introduction to US History” does present a worthy next step in the evolution of the philosophy of teaching history. But after 75 years of observing the means and methods of teaching, I would suggest substituting “Re+Re+Re+Re” or perhaps “Re 4.0” in the article title.

With Penn graduate degrees and careers in both engineering and anthropology (archaeology), I have come to realize that another “Re” is always on deck, building on the ones coming before. I did my geotechnical studies pre-plate tectonics (circa 1969) in the earth forces era; talk about “Re”! The only constant is change.

William Stead CE’69 GCE’70 G’81, Chambersburg, PA

Dorizas Born in Asia Minor

Thank you sharing the story about Michail “Mike” Dorizas [“Old Penn,” Sep|Oct 2021]! However, you certainly didn’t honor “The ‘Big Greek,’” a professor of geography, by saying he was “born in 1890 in Turkey” and a “native of Turkey,” a country which didn’t even exist when he was born. Greeks from Asia Minor (what you can call modern-day Turkey) were annihilated under the Ottoman Empire with the burning of Smyrna in 1922 and the systematic expulsion and genocide of millions of Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians, which started in 1914. Greeks born before 1923 would never say, “I was born in Turkey,” and in fact if referring to my own ancestors born there, I always say they were born in Asia Minor, as other Hellenes would say also. The Big Greek was fortunate that he got out and to the US and Penn before the atrocities perpetuated against the Christian minorities in Asia Minor.

Clio Alexiades Nicolakis W’88, Woodbridge, CT

A Remarkable Man

I took “Mike” Dorizas’s Geography 3 class as a sophomore and, as I recall, it was offered in the Wharton School. As an American of Greek ancestry, I was a Greek speaker having been reared in a Greek immigrant family and having attended “Greek School,” which was offered by our local church three times a week after public school, for 11 years. So I was going to have some fun with “Big Mike” and when it was quiz time, I wrote my answers in Greek. I got my paper back with two grades. One was an “A” for the correct information. The other was an “F” for poor Greek grammar. After the class, I asked what my mistakes were.

Big Mike offered to tutor me in Greek, or asked me, in the future, to refrain from answering in Greek. He said it was too painful! So much for practicing my Greek on Dr. Dorizas. What a great class it was!

I was a senior when I attended a memorial service on campus for Dr. Dorizas when he passed away in 1957. I might add that the service was well attended by many members of President Eisenhower’s State and Defense Departments because Dr. Dorizas was involved with those departments during World War II. A remarkable man!

Theodore J. Scotes C’58, McKinney, TX

Finding a Way

I got a kick out of the letter entitled “Just Go Out and Do It” by Sandra Kotin [“Letters,” Sep|Oct 2021].

Like her, I graduated in 1962 with a degree in chemistry (although mine was only a bachelor’s degree). Like her, I became a patent attorney. And like her, I originally wanted to be an archaeologist but was told that I should not consider such a career unless I would have an independent income, which was not going to happen. But I was able to satisfy this need by becoming a member of the University Museum volunteers (aka the Mummy Dusters), where I spent many delightful evenings.

Joel Ackerman C’62, Jerusalem

Honor Katalin Kariko

Penn should rename one of its science buildings in honor of Dr. Katalin Kariko, who pioneered the mRNA research behind the COVID vaccine, despite decades of gender-related lack of support and recognition [“The Vaccine Trenches,” May|Jun 2021]. She dealt with crap equipment, lack of funding, and men who would not give her respect. How much sooner would we have had the vaccine if she had been given proper support? How different would the world have been if we had had a vaccine from Day One of the pandemic?It would highlight Penn’s involvement in this groundbreaking scientist’s research to publicly acknowledge her on campus by naming one of the buildings after her, and inspire other young women to follow in her footsteps. At least give her a freakin’ plaque in front of the med school. Anyone agree with me?

Linda P. Falcao C’82 W’82 L’85, Durham, NC


So now it is clear. In 2016, the American people elected Donald J. Trump W’68 president of the United States of America. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. The very first Penn graduate to obtain that honor. Cause for celebration? Absolutely not! He was denigrated, disclaimed, slandered, and hated. Why? We asked! Over four years he did many worthwhile and positive things for our country, surely, a son of which to be proud! Still not a word of praise. Why? We asked again and again. We should have realized. … The price of an ambassadorship [“Gazetteer,” Sep|Oct 2021]! For shame!

Georgeann Whitehill Hitzel Nu’56, Glen Gardner, NJ

The President’s Office plays no role in choosing content for the Gazette.—Ed.

Should Have Consulted Webster

As usual, I greatly enjoyed the Sep|Oct 2021 issue, especially the articles about Kevin Stefanski [“The Cleveland Comeback”] and Kevin Warren [“Alumni Profiles”], both of whom have ties to my hometown Minnesota Vikings team. I also enjoyed the “Threading Lightly” piece on Allbirds [“Alumni Profiles”].

But I was surprised to see a reference to Dartmouth University. Where exactly is this institution located? I thought the whole Dartmouth College/Dartmouth University issue was settled by Daniel Webster before the Supreme Court way back in 1819. “It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet, there are those who love it!”

Darrick Hills WG’88 (Dartmouth ’83), Minneapolis

Share Button

    Leave a Reply