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The University Magazine

Letters

Big bash was a big deal

In April of 1988, I was a freshman who thought it was my duty as a newbie to get out there and help out with the Second Annual Big Bash – even if it was still dark and cold outside (From the Archives, Spring 2008). My roommate probably thought I was nuts (although I don’t think we were speaking at that point!) and I was unable to recruit anyone else from our tight-knit Gleason 7 family to join me. I made my way across the Quarter Mile and diligently tied knot after knot into each of the big, colorful balloons that were passed my way. My fingers were in spasms the rest of the day! Assembly was still going strong as I made my way to my 8 a.m. class (freshmen bio, if memory serves).

What a nice surprise to see the finished product when I got out of my morning classes! I remember thinking what a big deal it was to have participated in the event. I have no recollection of the other events of the day, but perhaps the latex/helium-induced coma had set in by then! I always wondered why we didn’t have a Third Big Bash . . . Thanks for the memories!

Elisa Skop ’91 (biotechnology)
Hawthorne, N.Y.

The real man in the plaid shirt

The Spring 2008 RIT magazine is trying to identify who the two students are with Professor Hollis Todd (Letters, page 9). Richard Byer ’69 claims the plaid shirt student is he, but it is not! The two students are me and my roommate (center) Mike Foster ’68 (photography). The photo was taken in either December ’64 or January ’65. ProfesTodd had called both of us into a meeting to find out if we were actually keeping up with his workbook because we were not doing particularly well on his tests . . . go figure! We did pass his course!

Tom Holberton ’68 (photography)
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas

I imagine you’ve heard from former classmates that the two students with Dr. Hollis Todd are Tom Holberton (plaid shirt) and me (middle).

Mike Foster ’68 (photography)
Hernando, Fla.

Innovation + Creativity Festival = Global Competitiveness

Here’s a bit of good news to all the Rochesterians who are concerned about New York’s ability to compete in the global economy.

Take a deep breath and relax.

The 17,000-plus people who had the good fortune to take in the Imagine RIT: Innovation + Creativity Festival on May 3 will understand why I say this.

It was a day about science – but it was a day about much more. It was a day to see the ingenuity and creativity of thousands of students and faculty. What a remarkable festival! From demonstrations of how we can optimize freight transportation, to ways we can bring the joy of seeing online the collections of the world’s greatest libraries to visualization technologies that will enhance discovery, it was a remarkable assembly of people and projects.

In addition to the 300-plus demonstrations of technology proposing to better today’s world, there was something else to be seen. And that is the confidence and upbeat attitude of a whole new generation of students determined to leave their mark. And rather than being defeated by the challenges associated with the transition of our economy, they are welcoming the opportunity to make life better – one idea at a time.

When you spoke with students and faculty about their projects, you saw the same twinkle in their eyes that you see in RIT President Bill Destler’s. There is a reason why he is always smiling: He knows what is taking place on his campus. And now thousands more of us know a lot more about what is going on at RIT and at countless other campuses across this state and nation.

Not many college presidents would dare to put in all on the line, but Bill Destler welcomed the opportunity. When President Destler spoke last fall about his plans to have the largest on-campus innovation day in America, many of us said “Good luck!” Well, we now say “Thank you.” To President Destler and to all the students, faculty, staff and volunteers at RIT we say “Great Job!” We can’t wait until next year’s Imagine RIT Festival on May 2, 2009.

Edward Reinfurt
Executive Director
New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR)

University Magazine - Fall 2008 Image
Provost Stan McKenzie gave the keynote address to a crowd of more than 6,000 at convocation in May.

Stan's the man: Former student recalls a memorable teacher

RIT late ’60s, the new Henrietta campus still looked more like a hayfield with bricks than a campus. In the winter it had its own wind chill factors. If you made it across the field or up from the bottom of the parking lot, you still had wind tunnels to walk through to get to class by 8 a.m.

There stood Stanley in a small, dimly lit lecture hall in the round. It was warm. You could smoke. It was cozy. But I never saw anyone doze off. In upstate New York you could drink. You could smoke. You could vote. You could protest. You could bring your dog to class. You could play the lottery – the draft lottery. You could not wear a flag.

I was a Mark Twain fan. I was born in Hartford, Conn. My family had seen to it that we visited Mark Twain’s home. I had read a lot of Mark Twain in high school and on my own. So I knew Mark Twain. WRONG. Thank you, Stan McKenzie, for digging under the surface of the page, for exposing a complex man and family, a complex era. You asked us to examine. There is more than one way to look at a (any) relationship. Twain the risk-taker, the money taker, the money loser, the world traveler (Did he have an interpreter in foreign countries or speak to English audiences?). You left the dust of myth, but you asked us to examine the man, the language, the original meaning, the personal meaning. I recall after every class there were always students following you up the stairs, out into the snow, asking you more questions.

I read Fred Kaplan’s The Singular Mark Twain and thought of you often. I thought of writing you but put it off until I was reading the Spring 2008 issue of the RIT magazine and there you were. I know your return to the classroom will only inspire!

Thank you for inspiring me.

John Andrews ’72 (art and design)
www.johnandrewsart.com
Arundel, Maine

We welcome letters on subjects covered in the magazine and of broad interest to our readers, as long as they are respectful and not insulting to any individual or group. We publish as many as we can, subject to space limitations. We edit for space, clarity, and style. Write to The University Magazine, University News Services, Rochester Institute of Technology, 132 Lomb Memorial Drive – Bldg. 86, Rochester, NY 14623. E-mail can be sent to umagwww@rit.edu.