Letters: Fall 2021

Readers discuss what we missed about filmmaking alumni, palm trees, and our own inherent biases. Plus, SCM wins awards.


You forgot to mention in the obituary that Capt. John Kerwin “Jack” Nunneley ’48 had a résumé that included technical adviser for the Kelsey Grammer movie Down Periscope. I bet with that sense of humor, Jack must have been a heck of a guy.

This letter sent us searching. Indeed, Nunneley worked on the film. The cast included Grammer, Patton Oswalt, Rip Torn, and Bruce Dern. This achievement is on top of his successful career in the U.S. Navy. Nunneley died in 2014; we love that his memory lives on.

Santaclara Cover Fall21 V5


While I appreciate the efforts of your dedicated staff, I found the format of the latest Santa Clara Magazine to be awful. The layout was confusing, content disjointed, pictures hard to relate to text, artwork fingernail-on-blackboard grating. What’s going on with the picture on page 24 [“Kaleidoscope of Humor,” SCM Spring 2021], for instance? The caption refers to Professor Danielle Morgan, the photo is of a gentleman who appears to be giving a lecture in a biology classroom, and the article is on humor. This was typical of the cacophonous jumble that awaited me with each turn of the page.

I have very much looked forward to the arrival of the Santa Clara Magazine for the past 50 years, and hope you will reconsider the new direction you have taken.

Tim Buckley ’70

Thank you for reading and recognizing our work. We’re sorry the most recent issue didn’t meet your standards. You mention a photograph from a comedy sketch that Morgan discusses in the interview and her book. It’s a funny short that makes viewers think about culture and power. The caption should have made that clearer. Do give the bit a watch. It’s known as ”“Substitute Teacher” sketch from Key and Peele. We‘ve linked to it in the online version of the article, at magazine.scu.edu.


Thank you for another wonderful issue of Santa Clara Magazine Spring 2021 issue. As for the Last Page—The Trees. I do believe you missed one of the facts about the swaying palms: They are not TREES. They are large GRASSES. This makes them even more interesting!

–Eric J Thompson, Friend of the Thorvald J. Thompson Endowment

You are correct, and we love it. The palm grasses set the scene for SCU. We will never look at them the same way.


Hours ago, a jury convicted Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd—a man whose horrific death was one of many recent casualties which continue to reveal the cancerous white supremacy that this nation was founded on and which rots us through and though. As I sit eating dinner tonight, I just read the story on page 41 of the Spring 2021 issue of the magazine about the Black soccer player Julie Johnston Ertz ’14 kneeling for the national anthem to stand bravely against police brutality towards the Black community. We are in the midst of (I hope) a sea change, long overdue, for the Black people in America saddled too long with brutal injustice.

Then, I read the story on page 40 [“Survival Story,” SCM Spring 2021] about William Edward White, who you wrote was “the son of a servant and a plantation owner from Milner, Georgia.” Some research turned up pretty quickly that he was born from a white plantation owner named Andrew Jackson White, and an enslaved woman named Hannah that White impregnated—likely through rape that was very commonplace when enslaved people were seen as subhuman property and owners as having rights to take what they wished. Simply sowing more human “property” to profit from.

Please correct your editorial mistake. She was emphatically not a servant, which makes it sound like this was her career choice and calling. She was an enslaved human and likely forced to bear a child or children from the man who thought he owned her, her body, and her fertility.

Words matter.

–Heather Powell Browne ’01

We are incredibly upset this phrasing appeared in our pages. It is inexcusable. After examining our processes, we are changing the way we do, and who does, the magazine’s writing, editing, and fact checking. We are examining our own inherent biases and resolve to do better. Read the full correction here.


While hope lives in the idea that we, as all humans humans, can learn to be better, we also want to share our successes. Both 2020 issues—one focused on the stories of wine and SCU, the other on the notion of sacrifice—earned awards from the San Francisco Press Club. We represented SCU in the magazine category, competing against The Atlantic, Business Week, Climate magazine, and USF’s alumni publication. We’re thrilled that student worker Lucy Nino ’22 earned first place in Entertainment Writing for a piece on producer Barry O’Brien ’79. Brava, Lucy! SCU writer Tracy Seipel took third place in Environmental Reporting, covering climate change and the wine industry. Director of Storytelling Matt Morgan earned third for Feature Writing for reporting on the history of student activists pushing SCU to better serve non-White students. Ron Hansen M.A. ’95 took third place in Profiles, with the story of Michael Mondavi ’66. And, finally, SCM earned second and third place for “Series or Continuing Coverage” for wine and exploring race, respectively. This recognition includes all of the designers, artists, writers, student creators, and, yes, editors who bring each issue to you. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, and each other.

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