Fall 2011 Letters
Message from the President
Each day I have the great privilege of walking into my office in Old Main. You can't help but feel the weight of Knox's history as you pass through its beautiful doors and feel the smooth, cool floors under your feet. And what better time to learn about and celebrate that history than Knox's 175th anniversary year!
As part of my research on the history of the College, I read an extraordinary talk given by Carl Sandburg on June 15, 1937, at the rededication of Old Main, which had been restored for another anniversary -- Knox's Centennial. Our great Galesburg poet evoked the College's founders:
Those Knox pioneers of 1837 . . . How could they know they were a fated bridge generation? Who could tell them they were moving from a society of farmers and land culture into a machine age? . . .
In the sciences of chemistry and physics then were pioneers restless as any on the western prairies, beginning to perform the impossible things that until done they were told couldn't be done. . . . exploits today declared visionary and impossible.
And he saluted those who will perform such daring exploits:
What young people want and dream across the next hundred years will shape history more than any other motivation to be named. Youth now living and youth as yet unborn hold the deeds and the secrets of the folds to be unfolded in the shapes to come. None shall look at this hour and say we did not have hope and faith in them. . . .
Old Main as a living instrument today might be saying:
"One thing I know deep out of my time -- youth when lighted and alive and given a sporting chance is strong for struggle and not afraid of any toils or punishments or dangers or deaths."
"What shall be the course of society and civilization across the next hundred years?
"For the answers read if you can the strange and baffling eyes of youth."
Sandburg's tribute to Old Main and Knox is perhaps even more true in this era of stunning technological change than it was in 1937. I imagine that those who have gone before me at Knox would indeed have found this millennial generation of youth, the first to have the world literally at its fingertips through the Internet and the smart phone, to be "strange and baffling." But I believe that they would also read in the eyes of youth hope for "exploits today declared visionary and impossible."
It is an honor to serve as Knox College's 19th president as the College celebrates its long and storied history and welcomes its future -- a future I see every day in the eyes of the students who pass through Old Main's doors. And I know that there is no education that better prepares these students for visionary and seemingly impossible exploits than the liberal arts education that Knox has provided its students for the last 175 years and will continue to provide for generations to come.
Teresa L. Amott
Letter from the Editor
When we first threw out the idea of compiling the list of 175 things we love about Knox -- or 17.5 things, as it ultimately became known -- I thought it was going to be relatively easy to pull together. What better way to kick off Knox's 175th anniversary celebrations than with an issue of Knox Magazine dedicated to our favorite things about this prairie college? Ask alumni, faculty, staff, and students what they love about Knox, tally the results, and, bingo, you've got yourself a feature story. How hard can it be?
Right? . . . Right?
Well, I happily admit that I was wrong. I knew it would be a challenge to fit all 175 things into a single magazine issue and that it might be even harder to find the best photograph or illustration to accompany the list. But what I didn't expect was how difficult it was to compile the list itself.
When we first asked what people love most about Knox, I expected that we'd get one or two word answers -- Flunk Day, the Gizmo, Old Main's steps, the squirrels, Professor Such and Such. And we did. But we also received paragraphs of memories and reasons why Knox changes lives. And that's where the real challenge began. How do you take those amazing recollections and fit them into a simple list?
After hours spent reading, organizing, and deliberating, we bring you the 17.5 things we love most about Knox. It's a compilation of hundreds of responses, both long and short, and we think it's a pretty good list -- one that will inspire reminiscing and pride and laughter. But we also know that it represents only the tip of the iceberg.
What I quickly learned -- and probably should have known all along -- is that asking members of the Knox community to share with us one thing they love most about Knox is often impossible. The Knox experience can't be summed up in a single word or sentence. Flunk Day is fantastic, but it's not the day itself but rather the friends with whom we celebrate and the memories we make that matter most. Old Main is an inspiring building, but the classes and professors housed within its walls make it truly come to life.
This issue of Knox Magazine reminded me that our memories of this College are as varied as the Knox community itself. And that fact alone is worth celebrating.
Megan Scott '96
Letters to the Editor
Knox, the Military Complex, and ROTC
I was outraged and appalled to read the letter from Henry Randolph '65 in the spring 2011 issue of Knox Magazine. The first sentence of the Knox College mission statement says:
"Knox College is a community of individuals from diverse backgrounds challenging each other to explore, understand, and improve ourselves, our society, and our world."
I am proud that the Knox trustees have added Lieutenant General David P. Fridovich '74 to the Board. Our military plays a vital role in protecting and securing those freedoms which we all enjoy as citizens of the United States of America. These include the Right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly, which I'm sure Mr. Randolph used to protest the Vietnam war.
Soldiers are not "professional killers of executive rank" and they do not consider themselves to be that. They are the defenders and protectors of our Constitution and our way of life. I welcome Lt. General Fridovich back to Knox and thank him for his service, dedication, and sacrifices.
-- Denis M. Bohm '61
"Dear Henry, dear Henry, how far hast thou come" ... in your poor thinking! How indeed could you be "flabbergasted" at the prospect that the Board of Trustees could be augmented by the selection of "a Special Ops General officer -- a professional killer of executive rank," as you say, to be among their numbers? Flabbergasted? You should better have said, thankful! I assume, dear Henry, you are referring to Lieutenant General David P. Fridovich '74, whose credentials include Deputy Commander, United States Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and who held, since 1976, a variety of operational and command assignments in South Korea, Haiti, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and, in recent years, directed a widely praised Special Forces counter-terrorism operation in the Philippines. David Fridovich earned a master's degree in 1976 at Tulane University. He also has studied at the U.S. Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and at the British Forces Royal College of Defense Studies in London, England.
So what, dear Henry, are you flabbergasted about? Do you not think that a highly decorated and capable Knox alum might not be a candidate for a position on the Board because he was an Army officer? Certainly not! Certainly, your liberal arts thinking would not be that narrow-minded, would it!
-- Kenneth Grimm '65
Got my copy [of the spring 2011 issue] today and noted the letter on page 2 from Henry Randolph -- my first reaction was, this must be a joke; my second reaction was, this must be a joke; my third reaction was, this must be a joke. If this is a real letter, I hope the author read George Eaton's article on ROTC. Having spent a 20-year career in the Air Force, I always felt that a liberal arts education provided the basis to think critically-sure did for me.
-- Colin Harding '63
Congratulations are in order to all the editorial staff for the spring issue. The magazine keeps getting better and more interesting with every issue-it's right up there among top college magazines and award-worthy. I'm not just saying that because you followed through on your promise last year to publish my letter criticizing the Trustees, for which I thank you and doff my peacenik cap in recognition of your editorial guts. I liked the way it's balanced by the positive article on the ROTC on campus (though I disagree with the author's premises and conclusions).
Reading your "faint praise" letter from the editor about the editorializing gauntlet each issue has to run, including across the college president's desk, made me chuckle, but, it too, is balanced by the gracious cover story tribute to the Taylors. This point-counterpoint makes for dynamic tension and an altogether readable magazine that respects its audience as adults instead of pandering to it as proto-alumni, whose development was arrested the moment they received their diplomas. Keep up the great work.
-- Henry Randolph '65
In the course of reading the most recent edition of the Knox Magazine, I had glanced at the picture of the ROTC cadets illustrating the article "ROTC, Knox, and the Liberal Arts" a number of times before I realized that both I and Keith Achepohl '56 were pictured, first left and third left respectively. In keeping with the featured quote by Mikiso Hane, "If we must have a military, shouldn't we want it to be led by people with a Knox education?" my wife, Denise, thinks we should be even more specific and want a military led by philosophers like me and artists like Keith. All conflicts could then be resolved by rhetoric and graffiti!
-- Alan B. Anderson '56
Proud to be a Knoxie
I'm writing to say thank you for a wonderful issue. Roger and Anne Taylor arrived after my own time at Knox, so I've not had the privilege to know them. Your thoughtful, affectionate tributes made me feel I know them -- and made me grateful that my beloved alma mater spent 10 years in their capable hands. I look forward to following Dr. Amott's tenure with great interest.
Thank you for helping us alumni stay connected. I was proud to be a Knoxie all over again as I read your magazine.
-- Becky Schlomann '99