Forum: March-April 2005

March 31, 2005

Linking

I commend Duke Magazine for its outstanding article on Duke's expanding collaborations in Tanzania [January-February 2005].This effort involves many dedicated persons from different disciplines and is eminently related to the core missions of the university. I wish to highlight the opportunity for your readers to support one important organization mentioned within the article, the Amani Children's Home. For information on its activities or to support the Amani Children's Home, visit the website, www.amanikids.org.

John A. Bartlett, M.D.
Duke Medical Center


Developing Leaders

As a recent graduate, I am writing to encourage Duke to continue to support the growth of leadership-development courses and programs, as discussed in the November-December article, "Aiming to Lead." Many of the programs mentioned in the article, including Leadership in the Arts in New York, Student Opportunities in Leadership, and the Hart Fellowship, serve less than twenty students a year, a mere fraction of the Duke student population. The number of students in each leadership course is also limited to provide the attention needed to cultivate personal growth and get away from the "exactly factor." I was enthusiastic to participate in many parts of the leadership training and discussion covered in the article, but I was often rejected from programs or restricted from classes due to size or availability.

That said, I would also like to highlight the student groups on campus that provide some of the greatest leadership experience. In areas that Duke is lacking--the arts, outdoor education, pre-orientation programs--students have picked up the slack and create, fund, and run programs as a service to Duke and Durham. Classroom discussion is great, but the application is where Duke's great leaders are made. A cappella groups, Hoof 'n' Horn (among many student theater companies), The Chronicle, Project WILD, and Project BUILD are just a few of the "extracurriculars" that are vital to making many Duke educations complete.

It would be wonderful if students' learning inside and outside the classroom were not so separate. Incorporate students' passions, and you will be amazed.

Jessica Fuller '04
New York, New York


Headlining

Another Chronicle memory, omitted from your (good) article ["Chronicling a Century," November-December 2004] is huge, bold headlines during those Watergate-challenged times: "Nixon Kidnapped!" when the painting was first filched, and then "Nixon Locked Up!" when the re-discovered portrait was vaulted for safekeeping. That's when many of us learned that students can participate and contribute politically, journalism can have impact, and, usually, truth will out.

Henry "Hank" Jones '76
Austin, Texas


Representing All Views

The November-December issue contains a thought-provoking letter from Ray Gordon [Forum, "Diversity of Opinion"]. No matter what viewpoint one takes on Mideast politics, I am quite certain that Duke alumni do not want their institution to be celebrated by the vicious, paranoid type of thinking that Mr. Gordon so proudly displays. In the interest of promoting free speech at all costs, the Ray Gordons of the world now have an institution that represents their views. And you couldn't see this coming!

David Cohen '82
Paradise Valley, Arizona


Defining Alumni

I was surprised and disappointed to see that you had accepted an ad in the November-December magazine from NBA League Pass touting Luol Deng and Mike Dunleavy as alumni of Duke. I like both of those guys plenty, and wish them well, but they are not alumni in the better and more normal usage of that word.

Since Duke Magazine is focused on the academic work and accomplishments of its graduates, I would think you could insist that your advertisers actually focus on alumni. Certainly, there are enough in the NBA to create an ad campaign. Grant Hill springs to mind immediately as one whose completion of an undergraduate degree does honor to the institution.

Keep up the good work on this fine magazine.

Peter Juran J.D. '86, A.M. '86
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

I note with interest a large advertisement in the latest issue of Duke Magazine for NBA programming. The ad pictures Luol Deng, Mike Dunleavy, and Shane Battier and identifies them as Duke "alumni." As the holder of two Duke degrees, I had always thought that the term "alumni" was reserved for persons who graduate from an educational institution. Sadly, at least according to my Merriam-Webster's dictionary, it appears I am behind the times.

I am sure that Deng did not acquire a degree during his one year on campus, and I believe that Dunleavy did not leave with a degree either. Battier, on the other hand, is a wonderful example of that increasingly rare breed--a star basketball player who plays and studies for four years, and leaves with degree in hand. I think I will stick with my old-fashioned definition and hope that it comes back into vogue.

Dale E. Hollar '76, J.D. '79
Raleigh, North Carolina

An advertisement for "NBA League Pass" that appears on page two labels both Luol Deng and Mike Dunleavy as alumni. I find the advertisement offensive. While Deng and Dunleavy, because they matriculated at Duke, may technically be alumni, I know Deng has not graduated, and I do not think Dunleavy has graduated yet.

In a moment of desperate need, I took a few courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Neither UNC-CH nor I consider myself an alumnus or a "Tar Heel." Permitting third parties to identify nongraduates as "alumni" disrespects the honor of holding a Duke degree.

I hope in the future you will more closely review advertising copy and be sensitive to the implications of language.

Joseph H. Johnson '70, M.A.T. '72, Ed.D. '78
Wilkesboro, North Carolina

The bylaws of the Duke Alumni Association, Article III, "Membership," state: "Qualifications. Members of this association are all persons who have completed at least two semesters of work toward a degree from Duke University...."


Non-enthusiast

In general, I have enjoyed the magazine produced by the university. However, I am utterly appalled by the alumni mini-profile about Dora Fang ["4x4 Enthusiast," September-October 2004].

Please tell me what point you were trying to convey in her profile. Is it the galling waste of fuel used by her joy rides through the parks (as the world struggles over the rising cost of natural resources), or perhaps was it the lack of respect for the natural environment as her 4x4 crunches over the terrain? Is there something of merit to be noted by these "adventures"? Has Ms. Fang done something to advance humanity or society to make this world a better place?

I am really trying to understand the point of the article, and perhaps I have missed the point as I sit here totally dumbfounded. Duke must have hundreds, if not thousands of alumni who are doing (or have done) something worthy of note, and certainly this article must be one of the most lacking in merit. Help me understand....

Ron Miao M.B.A. '91
Richmond, Surrey, England


Making Choices

To be a follower of Christ, i.e., a Christian, has always required that one make choices. Duke's choice to provide for the gay-lesbian agenda rather than take a stand for the basic principles of the Christian faith saddens me also [Joseph B. Harris Ph.D. '59 and Ross O. Bridewell '49, Forum, September-October 2004].

Performing homosexual marriages in the Duke Chapel should not be allowed. In an attempt to be all things to all students, a great injustice has been done. Are not high academic standards compatible with high moral standards as well? Christ Himself came preaching and teaching love for all mankind. Yet, even He was not afraid to confront the issues of the day: legalism, hypocrisy, prejudice, and materialism. Tolerance is not the virtue many would have us believe.

However, I can't be too sad about the changes at Duke. At least one thing hasn't changed: Duke basketball. Thanks for staying, Coach K!

Jean Hoppe Hurston '66
Virginia Beach, Virginia


Questioning Significance

In her comments "On the Record" about "How art history can help interpret the film The Passion of the Christ" [July-August 2004], art-history professor Annabel Wharton ponders how Evangelical Christians can embrace a film that "promotes" certain Roman Catholic practices. Hopefully, the viewers are considering something of more importance. This movie begs a question of eternal significance: Why did Jesus submit himself to this kind of death, and what am I going to do about it?

John Cargile '77
San Angelo, Texas