Letters: Fall 2010

Notes from alumni.

Thank you, professors
Every time a fresh copy of Santa Clara Magazine shows up it’s a pure delight.

In the Summer 2010 issue, “The Historians” interview by Ron Hansen gave me pause to review the collection of faculty in the history department and my days in O’Connor Hall 25 years ago. These guys were giants, professors like Giacomini, O’Keefe, Skinner, Pierce, Gelber, Turley, McKevitt, Senkewicz, Chacon, Molony, Mocsy, Meyer…

Forgive me if I’ve left any instructor off this list—like that inimitable and thoughtful guy whose name escapes me—taught Western Civ freshman year—still in late ’60s battle gear, flowing hair, full beard, round, wire-rimmed glasses, jeans, tweed coat with elbow patches.

I know there will likely never be a better lineup of dedicated and talented historians, teachers, and people. And I want to believe they will be in the classroom forever.

Steve Bland ’86
Pasadena, Calif.

It was wonderful to see the tribute to historians Tim O’Keefe and George Giacomini in the Summer Santa Clara Magazine. Ron Hansen captured their accomplishments, enthusiasm, sense of service, dedication, and scholarship. Might I add examples of extraordinary kindness and sensitivity.

In May 1966, Stanley Thomas Bindoff, the chair of history at the University of London, gave a lecture at Santa Clara. He also agreed to conduct a small seminar; Professor Giacomini invited me to attend. What he saw in a frightened 17-year-old freshman English major, I’ll never know, but I jumped at the chance.

I was obviously out of place, as the other attendees were all senior history majors. But I soon lost myself in one of the most fascinating afternoons of my life. Professor Bindoff presented us with mimeographed copies of a document he had recently discovered: a list of names from the 16th century. We were to play detectives and see if we could figure out what it was; we could question Professor Bindoff, and he would tell us what we would find if we pursued a certain path of inquiry.

We eventually determined it was a list of several members of Queen Mary’s Fourth Parliament in 1555. But what was its purpose? Why was it drawn up in the first place? More questions, several dead ends. What was going on in Parliament? Who was this Sir Anthony Kyngston at the head of the list? The puzzle was coming together for me, so I hazarded a guess. A guess, yes, but I had an ally, a special advantage as the youngest and most forlorn of the afternoon scholars. Mrs. Bindoff, who attended the seminar, took a protective interest in me. As I started to explain my conclusions, she assisted me with almost imperceptible facial hints.

“The list,” I proposed, “has to be one of two things. Either it is a list that the Spanish ambassador to England drew up to see who in Parliament would vote against a ‘Supremisy’ or ‘Exile’ bill.” Mrs. Bindoff ’s eyes lowered in disapproval. “Or it is a list that Sir Anthony Kyngston drew up between Dec. 3rd and 5th in order to count who would support him if he called for a ‘Division of the House.’” Mrs. Bindoff ’s eyes smiled with approval. “I think it must be the latter,” I now confidently stated.

And so it was. Sir Anthony had drawn his sword and, with his friends, he stood at the door of the House of Commons on Dec. 6, demanding a division of the House. As a result, the “exiles” bill desired by the crown was rejected.

God, what fun!

Forty-four years later, it took me about seven minutes to locate the mimeographed list of names we were given at that seminar. I have been an amateur historian ever since that magical afternoon. Three weeks ago I participated in my first archaeological dig, trying to unearth the remnants of the burial vault that once contained the bodies of Revolutionary War heroes Generals Philip Schuyler and Abraham Ten Broeck, and first chaplain of the House of Representatives, William Linn.

Great teachers have subject mastery, enthusiasm, tolerance, and patience. And the best of the best exhibit a kindness and sensitivity that draw in and encourage timid minds just opening up to the wonders of the universe.

Thank you, Professor Bindoff. (He died in 1980.) God bless you, Mrs. Bindoff. And may the kindness of George Giacomini be held up as the gold standard that all SCU teachers should strive for.

Karl E. Felsen ’69
Guilderland, N.Y.

Finding our family in Haiti
Opening my mail the morning after returning from a medical mission to Haiti, I was pleased to see the two features about this impoverished nation in the summer issue of SCM. Law graduates Robinett and Zazueta have performed a service by bringing to light the work of Mario Joseph in pursuing justice in the Raboteau massacre. As with the work of war crimes tribunals, it is important that justice be pursued, even many years later, and that these stories remain in our collective memory. As Haitians recover from what many there simply call “the disaster,” it is also important that we avoid focusing on the physical devastation of the country. The story is not the crushed buildings and cars or even the dead, but the crushed lives of those that survived. Michael Larremore’s photo essay captured the human dignity of the Haitian people, their grace and resilience.

As to the cynicism of some “do-gooders,” I would admit—as a doctor myself—that much of the volunteer disaster response, including short-term medical missions, is of transient benefit to the recipients. Nonetheless, these trips serve as important expressions of solidarity, one of the core tenets of Catholic social teaching. When we bring soap and supplies, sensitive photography, or medical care to a place like Haiti, we are affirming that we are indeed one human family and that we are responsible for one another. Robinett and Zazueta stayed in a guesthouse named Matthew 25. That Gospel chapter sufficiently explains the motivation of many volunteers, the call to see everyone as our neighbor. The lives most changed from volunteering are our own.

It is easy to leave a place like Haiti, but it is more difficult to leave behind the experience and the change that occurs in one’s heart. Ms. Robinett indicated in the article that she will be returning to Haiti. I expect that there is a return trip in my future as well.

Michael Grady ’72
Silverton, Ore.

Forward, march!
Congratulations once again on your splendid summer magazine. I am not an alum, but as a journalist I recognize your magazine as one of the best in the nation.

Particularly outstanding was the powerful essay by Martha Stortz on Santiago de Compostela. I learned more about the journey in five pages than I did in the book I read. I also enjoyed the interview with professors O’Keefe and Giacomini; that was my era as a student. As newlyweds, my wife and I relished the friendship and counseling of the late great English teacher Father Shipsey. Keep up the fine traditions.

John Russell,
Past president of the Association of Catholic Journalists
Belmont, Calif.

Double Jeopardy!
Kudos to James Hill for his successful stint on the Jeopardy! College Championship. But did you know that James’ fellow contestant, Ryan Stoffers— pictured in the “Who is James Hill III?” article photograph wearing the UCLA sweatshirt—is no less than the son of 1983 Santa Clara Law School grad Kurt Stoffers?

Danny Herns J.D. ’83
San Jose, Calif.

I enjoyed the “Who is James Hill III?” article in Mission Matters. I, too, had the recent pleasure of meeting this poised young man and his very nice and very supportive family at the College Championships on Jeopardy! Why was I there? Well, the young man on the left of James Hill, in the UCLA sweatshirt, is my son, and I am a Bronco. My husband is also a Bronco, law school class of 1983. I am proud to say our son came in second place in the tournament and won $50,000. Must be those Bronco brains he inherited!

Robin Stoffers ’80
Saratoga, Calif.

Steve Nash is, in fact, not God
I understand that hyperbole is involved in Brian Doyle’s letter in the Summer 2010 SCM regarding Steve Nash’s excellent performance as a basketball player. However, here we are with an alumni magazine of a Jesuit university. One does not compare a basketball player to God. I know this may be oldfashioned. But, the letter, even though it may be tongue-in-cheek, is offensive. In years past, it would be considered blasphemy. Have we come so far negatively that it is acceptable to publish in a Jesuit university magazine that a sports figure is equivalent to God? Is there not a better way to acknowledge that Steve Nash is a great basketball player?

Patric Kelly J.D. ’76
Campbell, Calif.

Nurturing what you value
I read with interest the letter by Michael P. Diepenbrock in the Summer 2010 issue of SCM, noting that he has made no alumni gifts for several years because he doesn’t like the direction that SCU has taken since he graduated in 1966. I feel his pain. I became increasingly unhappy with my own alma mater (Gonzaga University) over the years. Mr. Diepenbrock has every right to vote with his feet, but I have a suggestion for him and for others who share his dissatisfaction.

Mr. Diepenbrock finds his alma mater too liberal; I found mine too conservative. A director of giving asked what was important to me, and if there were any programs, clubs, departments, or centers on campus that were supportive of my values. I now direct all of my giving to Gonzaga’s Gay and Lesbian Student Resource Center. I feel good about giving back to the institution that gave me so much. I also like to think that, in my own small way, I am battling in a meaningful and constructive manner some of Gonzaga’s recent trends towards intolerance.

I encourage all disaffected SCU alums to think deeply about giving to their alma mater in ways that will allow them to actively support the values they deem important to the making of a truly great university.

Nancy C. Unger,
Associate Professor of History, SCU

Our summer word cloud: some of the stuff that appeared in the last issue of SCM
I just opened my magazine and the first thing that caught my eye was a letter about SCU’s “liberal bias.” Such letters are an embarrassment and, frankly, a deterrent to my desire to read further. (I already put the magazine down.)

I appreciate your attempt to show all sides of an issue. In fact, as a result of my Jesuit education, I expect it. However, giving print space to woefully uninformed persons whose own position is so clearly extreme looks like pandering to me.

If we’re going to have a discussion, at least let it be an intelligent one. Anyone who can believe, given all the evidence, that “man-caused global warming science is being disproved” is not the caliber of person that can participate in that.

Kathleen McGill ’84
Seattle, Wash.


Highlighting a proud son of SCU
The Spring 2010 issue of SCM includes review of the new book Alleviating Poverty through Profitable Partnerships: Globalization, Markets and Economic Well-Being, which was coauthored by Dennis Moberg of Santa Clara. Another coauthor is Scott Kelley ’93. Scott was a Bannan Scholar as well as a three-sport athlete at SCU: football, rugby, and volleyball. He is the son of Thomas Kelley ’58 and Kaye Kelley, and he is currently a scholar, author, and sometimes an athlete.

Scott serves as assistant vice president for Vincentian scholarship in the Office of Mission and Values at DePaul University. He received a doctorate in theological ethics from Loyola University Chicago and his master’s degree from University of San Francisco. Prior to graduate work, he taught theology at Brophy Prep in Phoenix, Ariz.; English in Tokyo, Japan; and he was a volunteer in Pohnpei, Micronesia, with Jesuit Volunteers.

He lives in Chicago with his wife, Julie, and beautiful daughter, Ava.

Thank you for the opportunity to highlight a proud son of Santa Clara.

Tom Kelley ’90
Lake Oswego, Ore.

CORRECTION : The article “Apply yourself ” (Summer 2010 SCM) incorrectly identified the Bill Hannon Foundation as the William Hannon Foundation. We regret the error.

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