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Evans’ unfinished work, a wrong rhymed, more on architecture.

    Samuel Hughes’ article on Dr. Thomas W. Evans, “Crowns and Confidences,” in the November/December 1999 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette was a treasure to behold, both stylistically and visually.
    My compliments to the author and to Hervé Blondon for the cover illustration which captured both in design and tone “the darkest hours” of Empress Eugénie as well as the knightly protective stance of Dr. Evans. Who better to turn to in a time of peril than one’s own dentist?
    The helter-skelter dispersion of Evans’ striking collection from its sanctuary in the School of Dental Medicine was deplorable; a part of the rich heritage of our school was gone.
    It is propitious that remnants of Evans’ treasures will be displayed in the Schattner Center when it opens in 2001. It is a beginning in reclaiming that which was lost. “By such means,” Hughes correctly observed, “we can identify the man.”
    When Evans spoke of “gold, only gold,” he was advocating its use as the ultimate in dental restorative materials. In a double entendre, gold also describes the man. His renown spread far beyond the continent of Europe and extended to the East where he was recognized by Turkey’s Sultan Abdul Medjid, Russia’s Czar Alexander II and the Emperor of Japan.
    Evans struggled to gain respect and honor for his profession, as Hughes pointed out. Each succeeding generation of dentists must renew the task, even today. This became abundantly evident at the end of the article, in the “small catch” that emerged when rights to a film on Evans were being discussed with producers—that the Evans character “could not be a dentist.” Dr. Evans’ work remains unfinished. 

H. Martin Deranian
Worcester, Mass. 


    Several readers wrote pointing out an “egregious” error (and, to be fair to writer Phil Leggiere C’79, one introduced during the editing process) in our story “From Zip to X,” in the Nov/Dec 1999 issue. Only one did so in verse, however—Ed.

Most (But Not All) Things are Fine
With Penn’s Gazette of Nov/Dec ’99!

Did Phil Leggiere lapse from due care,
Or was this just a heck of a computer spell-check—
When, on page 43, line 5, we see
Elon Musk had his “sites,” instead of “sights,”
“Squarely set” on amassing his millions?
And should we be aghast that this error got past
The Gazette’s fine editor, John Prendergast?

Bill Arnold
Lancaster, Pa.

Your November/December issue featured the startling juxtaposition of stories on La Casa Latina [“Gazetteer”], the Association of Latino Alumni [“Calendar”] and preparations for the 2000 Census under Gilbert Casellas, past president of the Hispanic National Bar Association [“Alumni Profiles”]. I say startling because, in California, public discourse is so bigoted that even a Nuremberg Nazi would blush; but befitting a dictatorship, no one dares object to the racism.
    Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party, proclaimed that a voter-approved initiative to enforce laws against illegal aliens—not just any foreigners, now, but illegal aliens—was “the last gasp of white America in California,” and then later exulted over how he could make such a racist statement with total impunity. One can almost hear Adolf Hitler hailing annexation as “the last gasp of non-Aryan Sudetenland.” Ricky Sierra of the Chicano National Guard vowed that Mexicans are “taking back what is ours” and Augustin Cebada of the Brown Berets de Aztlan exhorted his followers with “Raza si, Migra no!” (“The Race yes, Border Patrol no!”) Well, exactly how much further is it from “The Race” to “The Master Race?” Are not their brown berets and brown shirts the same color as those of the storm troopers?
    Finally, did I mention annexation? Already in progress. The Mexican Consul-General in Los Angeles stated matter-of-factly that Mexico is reconquering California: “We are practicing la Reconquista in California.”
    These ominous words and images appear in a shocking documentary called “Immigration: Threatening the Bonds of Our Union.”
    As for the Association of Latino Alumni at Penn, they may well repudiate the “One Continent, One Culture” vision of Aztlan enforced by the Mexican nationalists in California’s public schools. But they’d better not. The only species more endangered than the “white America” threatened by Art Torres are Hispanic Americans loyal to the United States.

Michael J. Blair
Woodland Hills, Calif.

After reading the letters in the Nov/Dec issue about the architectural articles in the Sept/Oct issue, I had to go back and reread them (having not yet discarded the earlier volume). I was disappointed that neither Dr. Brownlee nor Dr. Thomas commented on Hamilton Walk, the huge medical-school complex and the biology buildings to the west. Of course, my days on campus were 50 years ago, when Woodland Avenue and Locust Street were still there, complete with traffic and trolleys. As a botanist, studying, researching and TA-ing in McFarland Hall, that was the campus area that I knew best.
    Even then, and still, I found the red brick Victorian-era buildings unbearably ugly, just as, later, in Washington, D.C., I found the Smithsonian Building similarly ugly, with all the useless, nonfunctional towers, turrets, oddly placed corridors, etc. I cannot understand the architect’s liking for such monstrosities, whether in red brick or green serpentine.

H. David Hammond
Flagstaff, Ariz.

It was with great interest that I read the article “Treasures & Travesties” in the Sept/Oct issue of the Gazette. I had only little chance during the past decades to revisit the campus, the last time 12 years ago. Unfortunately my age (77) will probably not permit me to participate in my 50th Reunion next year and see the marvelous changes on the campus that have taken place. Therefore, I would like to make a suggestion which, I believe, will be welcomed by other Penn graduates who cannot revisit the campus for some reason or other.
    The proposal is to publish in the Gazette a map showing the status of the Penn campus after World War II and the same map with the present status including buildings under construction or in the planning stage.

Dr. Klaus Kartzke
Wiesbaden, Germany

We didn’t (and don’t) have space in the magazine to reproduce a detailed campus map. However, readers with Internet access can view an interactive map, including links to images and information on buildings new and old, by clicking on the “campus maps” link on Penn’s home page (—Ed. 

In the many years I’ve read the Gazette, I don’t think I’ve ever come across anything quite as revelatory as Yochi Dreazen’s, “The Man Behind Superblock” [“Notes From the Undergrad,” Sept/Oct 1999]. To discover that a dean of the School of Fine Arts was the person responsible for those cold and ugly blocks of gray concrete that dominate the Penn landscape is stunning. When I first arrived on campus in the fall of 1970, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could have wanted to build those towering slabs. After spending a year on the 18th floor of High Rise East, I was even more bewildered.
    Mr. Perkins is understandably defensive about his role in this architectural fiasco. It is very convenient to explain current disaffection with the buildings by the notion that “people’s attitudes about architecture change every generation” and “the only thing you can be sure of is that the next generation won’t like whatever it is that you did.” In fact, people’s attitudes about architecture don’t change every generation (only architects’ attitudes change). People have always wanted warm and inviting residences. If you build graceful structures, in proportion to their surroundings—structures that relate to and enhance the campus life around them—the generations that follow will like what you did. 

Bob Young
Los Angeles

    I thoroughly enjoyed your Sept/Oct articles on Penn’s campus redevelopment initiative. Funnily enough, I co-wrote an article (including factual help from both George Thomas and David Brownlee) back in 1990 highlighting the short-sightedness of Penn’s Development Council for the special edition of The Daily Pennsylvanian marking the 250th anniversary of the University. The paper was released during Commencement, which we hoped would raise awareness among alumni who were visiting the campus (“bland” Walnut Street, Superblock, lack of social campus infrastructure, etc.). Great that someone was able to take on responsibility and help correct such mistakes while expanding upon what is working!

Sukemasa Kabayama

    Architecture and planning can be said to be first about solving problems, but that suggests there are right answers to be found, if only we look hard enough. Good design starts with a search that is open-ended. Lou Kahn wrote that “Form comes from wonder.” Do we wonder enough?
    Was it really necessary to make a university so large that huge sections of a community were removed to make room for buildings the institution itself could hardly afford? There are plenty of good colleges and even universities that are smaller than Penn.
    The University is said to have fled “the urban squalor of Center City.” If we see only the physical squalor and don’t wonder about its causes we will encourage more of the same wherever we go. There is terrible irony in the articles in the Gazette documenting the struggle for respect in poor neighborhoods, on the one hand, and the utter lack of respect for neighbors in the University planning process, on the other.
    Have we learned anything? Perhaps human progress comes only painfully, slowly, two steps forward and one step back. Recent initiatives by the University to work with the surrounding community are encouraging. They are also essential to making a great university, rather than a collection of individuals thinking only of themselves.

Jeffrey T. Berg
Cambridge, Mass.

Ben Franklin was right (as usual), and his wisdom is timeless:
    I read with great interest and hope the research article “Plant’s Taste for Heavy Metals is in the Genes” [“Gazetteer,” Sept/Oct 1999]. The University is obviously on the cutting edge of significant research, in a very important area, with quality scientists. Penn, however, felt it necessary to apply for a joint patent with UC-San Diego in connection with the research.
    I also noted President Rodin’s column, “Civic Engagement in Higher Education” [“From College Hall”], and her quote from Benjamin Franklin that “the great aim and end of all learning is service to society.”
    Might I suggest that President Rodin and the trustees of the University truly serve society and withdraw the patent application or, when the patent is granted, allow everyone in the scientific and commercial arenas access to this very important discovery, so that they can all put their resources behind it to advance technology and benefit society, rather than licensing the technology to a very limited number who can advance it, just to increase the University’s already significant endowment.
    What a wonderful example that would set for other universities and make everyone associated with Penn proud. Setting that kind of example for Penn’s students is what education is all about and is what I think Benjamin Franklin meant.

Jeff Rosenblum
St. Louis, Mo.

The death of Michael Tobin C’94 was the tragedy of an individual. In response, the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse has created a bureaucratic solution that will not and cannot address the problem [“Gazetteer,” Nov/Dec 1999May/June 1999; “From College Hall,” July/August 1999] Penn’s mission is to provide an academic education, and not to “socialize” its student body through seminars and CD-ROMs. If the WGAA and the University believe in enforcing responsibility, they should begin with the individual.
    You don’t need to re-socialize the Penn campus, press freshmen into seminars and manipulate the behavior of campus eateries to prevent alcohol abuse. In fact, being able to bowl, see a movie or have a hot dog at 2 a.m. is a ridiculous and shallow solution to the death of a former student. I hope the administration will re-think these issues, let the wisdom of their experience prevail and take a more prudent course of action.

Chris Bremble
Los Angeles

Thanks for the great article, “Duly Noted,” by Stephanie Williams [“Alumni Voices,” Sept/Oct 1999]. It struck a chord within me, for I too have periodic cases of note-envy. Over the years, I have read that many of my fellow Wharton classmates have gotten their MBA and are already on to their third I-bank, whereas I chose to return to my rural home state and work for entrepreneurial companies. Yet there is comfort—and also pride—in remembering that what makes you happiest in life isn’t always going to be that Note-worthy for an alumni magazine. So it is with a bit of smugness perhaps that I say, “Screw corporate culture. I’m a snowboarder in Vermont.”

Tim George
South Burlington, Vt.

    Being a member of the Class of 1949, College for Women, I gleefully made plans to and did attend our Reunion last May. It was a time to enjoy such happy memories and renew old and valued friendships.
    However, to my great disappointment, the July/August issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette featuring Alumni Weekend ignored our Class. We, celebrating 50—count ’em, 50—years since our graduation, were left out. How sad! This after raising $1,901,031 for Penn.
    In spite of that, Hail to the Red and the Blue.

Marie Pollock Neuhauser
Cabin John, Md.

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