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Spring 2008 Letters

Read the President's Message, Letter from the Editor, and Letters to the Editor

Message from the President
Many months ago, Dean Breitborde handed me a book that he had picked up at an airport store on one of his travels for Knox: Deborrah Himsel, Leadership Sopranos Style: How to Become a More Effective Boss. A Sopranos fan, I thought it would be fun to read. It turned out to be more. The author offered fascinating critical insights into many of The Sopranos episodes; however, she also pointed out how Tony Soprano used several classic management techniques, albeit taking some to extremes not common in corporate America or higher education. Management gurus all preach about the importance of clear feedback to employees. Tony Soprano?s "sit-downs," often over pasta, evidenced a clarity in employee feedback not usually found in supervisor-employee relations.

Himsel's book on Tony Soprano's management style exemplified a point made by one of the authors in this issue of Knox Magazine, Professor Frank McAndrew. In discussing the pop culture theme, Professor McAndrew points out that we often think that things that are familiar to us -- such as television shows -- cannot be the legitimate subject of scholarly research; there is nothing for us to learn, we think. Himsel showed the error of that assumption in her systematic and thoughtful treatment of Tony Soprano's management, drawing parallels to accepted techniques for motivating employees.

Professor McAndrew, along with Professors Emily Anderson and Daniel Wack, show that familiar matters can be the subject of careful and revealing scholarship in their pieces on gossip, gangster movies, and Jane Austen. Their magazine articles contain striking insights on everyday issues familiar to all of us. For example, after reading Professor Anderson's article on Jane Austen, you'll see why Hollywood continues to remake film versions of Pride and Prejudice. And it?s not simply because folks love Mr. Darcy. I hope you enjoy this issue of Knox Magazine and that you learn as much as I did.

Roger Taylor '63

Letter from the Editor
Hello. My name is Megan Scott, and I'm a pop culture junkie.

I read celebrity news and fashion blogs, as well as people.com, everyday. I was one of the millions of Americans who thought the cable went out during the final episode of The Sopranos. I remember exactly where I was when the Brangelina pregnancy news broke. And the Oscars are my Superbowl -- I've even been known to throw one heck of a party.

My friends know this about me, but I'm often a bit embarrassed to admit to my coworkers or others that I'm a tiny bit obsessed with pop culture. But then I started hearing things around campus: psychology Professor Frank McAndrew is researching gossip; Daniel Wack in philosophy talks about The Sopranos in his dissertation; Assistant Professor of English Emily Anderson knows quite a bit about the movie Bridget Jones' Diary. It seemed that I wasn't the only one interested in pop culture. I had to get to the bottom of these rumors.

After talking with Dean Lawrence Breitborde and the faculty members themselves, I realized that there was more to this pop culture obsession than met the eye -- serious consideration was being given to topics like gossip, iconic television shows, and movies that revealed quite a bit about human nature. And that's where this issue of Knox Magazine comes into play. Even though I love pop culture, I even get sick of hearing celebrity gossip everywhere I go. But why? And is this necessarily a bad thing? What can we learn from watching The Sopranos or Bridget Jones? I hope the articles on the following pages answer a few of these questions.

And the next time you gather around the proverbial water cooler to discuss Britney Spears' latest publicity stunt, maybe you won?t feel too guilty. After all, as Frank McAndrew says in his article, it's only human nature.

Megan Scott '96

Letters to the Editor
Hall of Fame Candidates
Dear Editor,

I'm sure the question of which Knox basketball team was best will not be resolved, but perhaps there are some individual athletes in various winter sports who merit further examination.

I bring this subject up because the best basketball player at Knox, in my opinion and, I'm sure, in the opinion of many alumni, is Bill Graning '60, who is not currently in the Knox Athletic Hall of Fame, even though, by my count, there are 28 former basketball players in the Hall.

Bill Graning was a member of three conference championship or co-championship teams. He was also twice selected All-Midwest Conference first team -- in 1958-59 and in 1959-60.

Another former Knox basketball player perhaps worthy of consideration is John Liston '58, who came to Knox after attending the University of Iowa. He attended Knoxville High School, from which he won an athletic scholarship to Iowa, where he came off the bench as the team's sixth man. After transferring to Knox in 1956, he had one year of eligibility left, and, in 1957-58, he helped Knox win its first conference championship. At the end of the season, he was named a first team All Midwest Conference selection.

Also, consideration might be given to the man who coached Graning and Liston: Frank Adams headed the 1957-58 co-champions (12-4 in conference), the 1958- 59 champions (15-1 in conference), and 1959-60 co-champions (13-5 in conference).

Turning to wrestling, at present the Athletic Hall of Fame houses only one former wrestler, Cleve Bridgeman '68. This despite the fact that Knox has had a wrestling program since 1953, when Art Fish became Knox's first head coach.

Many Knox wrestlers have won conference championships, and some have wrestled in the NCAA Division III nationals. One wrestler I'd like to mention is James Melville '67, who won three Midwest Conference championships, all at different weights.

I do hope some of these names and others will come up when your sports information director completes his compilation of Knox athletics records.  -- Al Partin, Knox Physical Education, 1954-83

Editor's Note: Bill Graning '60 and John Liston '58 were inducted into the Knox-Lombard Athletic Hall of Fame on October 19, 2007, as part of the 1959 men's basketball team. Two wrestlers were also inducted at the same time -- J. Charles Janes '55 and James Brown '86. Knox welcomes nominations for the Athletic Hall of Fame. To nominate an individual or team, visit www.knox.edu/nominate or contact Carol Brown '99, director of alumni programs, at cbrown@knox.edu.


Kudos
This was an excellent issue, and I would have loved to have been there to hear Clinton and to honor Douglas Wilson. I went to the local library to get one of his books immediately.  -- Mildred Weinberg Smith '48

To the staff of the Knox Magazine,
I would like to send a big thank you for the incredibly interesting and informative pieces on Old Main in this season's Knox Magazine. I'm ashamed that I lived in the shadow of such an historical monument for four years and neglected to stop and take the time to appreciate what it means and what it's been through. Thank you for opening my eyes to the many, many values of Old Main.  -- Chelsea Lynn '06

Knox Magazine staff,
Many thanks for a great issue. I read this one cover to cover on my daily commute to and from work here in Dallas. I especially loved the several articles on Old Main, which made me think that a regular story on an existing or extinct Knox building would be interesting for me to read. Others might like it, too. For example, East and West Bricks and the old Observatory. I never saw these buildings, but I have heard about them.

Keep up the good work, and please remind all alumni, "If your business travels take you anywhere near Galesburg (e.g. St. Louis or Chicago), a trip to campus to give a talk on what you do could be worthwhile for the students and for you."  -- Veritas, Steven Phillips '71


Lockout Memories
I'm pleased to see the article on Old Main in the latest Knox alumni magazine and to note that Sigma Nu was well represented in the 1963 "lockout."

Up by the building, I can make out images of Russ Stratton '65, Mike Cantor '65, Tom Butts '65, and ... is that Jim Lumpp '65? Hard to tell because there is a hand up with a finger extending the ol' dextrous digit that partially obscures his face.

What I?m really pleased about is that we were not protesting something deep and significant like the war or poverty or salaries for janitors, but a football victory. Also that we could be distracted from our protest by free coffee from the Gizmo. Good times, great oldies.  -- Joe Thompson '65


More Thoughts on Bill Clinton
Dear Editor,
Congratulations to Larry Horist and Don Padgitt for writing the letters I should have written concerning the choices being made for graduation speakers. As someone who supports the College as a member of the Old Main Society, I have hoped against hope that the left-leaning, politically correct tendencies of the vast majority of college faculties and administrations had not afflicted Knox. Based on the selections of Bill Clinton and Stephen Colbert, it appears my hopes have been in vain.

The footnote to the two letters in the Fall 2007 Knox Magazine says that graduating seniors "nominate" speakers. Who makes the final decision from the list of nominees? I have a feeling from the amount of media bragging by the College publicity machine about snagging hard to get speakers that someone in the administration made the final choice. If so, the logical choices for the next two years might be Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. That way you get notoriety and some semblance of balance. Another great option might be Dennis Miller, who used to be a liberal and is now a "pragmatist." I would love to hear him deliver his great line on college faculties, "the last bastion of aging hippies."

By the way, I graduated in 1961, and I don?t remember anyone asking me whom I favored as a graduation speaker.  -- Ralph N. Morrison '61

Editor's note: Students do not have "free reign" when it comes to Commencement speakers; a discussion of the seniors' choices does happen on campus. Once students present their list of speakers, the list is filtered through the president and then through the Board of Trustees. In effect, the Board ultimately approves the nominees because they award an honorary degree to the speaker.

Dear Editor,
Since when did Knox Magazine become a political forum for bigoted right wingers? I can't blame letter writers Horist and Padgitt -- they got their "Limbaughish" messages published! (Hey, maybe he authored them!) I blame you, the editor, for allowing this kind of political propaganda to permeate an alumni magazine.

We all know these letters weren't meant to chastise the College for opting to invite one of the most important and sought after personages of the modern day to be its Commencement speaker; they were meant to continue more than eight years of hateful Clinton bashing.

Let these letters go to newspaper op ed pages and keep Knox Magazine what it has been and should be -- an informative vehicle for the alums. AND KNOX HAS NOT "HIT THE SKIDS" despite the opinion of letter writer Padgitt.  -- Robert Moyer '52

Dear Editor,
Allowing the graduating senior class to select its own Commencement speaker is as it should be. Some recent choices, however, give pause as to the maturity and sagacity of Knox graduates. In a way, it's an impossible task. No one wants a windy collection of clich?s about the future, nor is an empty and frivolous 40 minutes of shtick appropriate.

Alas, some recent choices are cringe-worthy, to say the least. We?ve had a limousine -- liberal TV actor of no particular accomplishment (Ed Asner), a late-night TV comic whose only claim to achievement is as, well, a late-night TV comic (Stephen Colbert), and now the most disgraced, impeached, and indicted man ever to hold the office of President of the United States. It makes a person wonder if some of the graduates want to grow up to be people like these.

I confess I do not recall the name of our Commencement speaker, but I believe it was someone with either a Knox degree or liberal arts one who had navigated some of the rocks and shoals of life and made something of himself and offered some insight and advice on how we might do the same. Whoever it was, I'm pretty sure I never saw him on late-night TV or named as an indicted felon.

Please ad me to the list of those appalled by the appearance of Bill Clinton as Knox's 2007 Commencement speaker. It would be interesting to see how many letters you receive both in disgust of his appearance and in praise of it.  -- Mike Morrison '63

Dear Editor,
How elegant for me to open your beautiful celebration of Old Main's 150th anniversary magazine after having just attended my daughter's graduation ceremonies at Knox College and read two uncouth, out-dated, irresponsibly sad statements on the Commencement speaker. How offensive to the families and grandparents who supported the young people and how offensive to the man who took his time and energy and honored your request to participate in this graduation!

I find you undeserving of presidential blessings as President Clinton's message was clearly well past the criticisms mentioned, having already chosen to repent and receive the forgiveness given by Americans who treasure the U.S. presidency.

I feel an apology is needed, for [Clinton's] present direction is commensurate with Knox College's requirement for [honorary degrees], having accepted the challenge to be forward thinking ... open to change in a timely fashion.

To cultivate, nurture, and train leaders with values of wisdom, devotion, and achievement is vital. Thank you, Knox College, for having the strength, resilience, and endurance to be that for us. -- Sandra Miller, parent