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Bostonia: The Alumni Magazine of Boston University

Summer 2011 Table of Contents

Letters To The Editors

Bostonia welcomes readers’ reactions and encourages expressions of opinion,
pro and con. Submit your letter below.

Unequal Punishment

Caleb Daniloff’s article on plagiarism (“Unoriginal Sins,” Winter–Spring 2011) inexplicably omitted the most important case of plagiarism at BU in the last 20 years, involving not a student, but a college dean. In May of 1991, Joachim Maître, then dean of the College of Communication, delivered a convocation address containing whole paragraphs of virtually verbatim material lifted from a film review by Michael Medved and presented without attribution as Maître’s own ideas. Maître resigned as dean but was not expelled from the faculty. It is heartening to read in Daniloff’s article that President Brown is working on a unified plagiarism policy for all schools and colleges of the University. But if he wants that policy to be respected, he will have to demonstrate that it applies with the same rigor to a faculty member as it would to any student.

Andy Gaus (MET’93)Boston, Mass.

Building BU

As an avid reader of Bostonia, I continue to receive the hard copy for the occasional issue that stands out and straightaway gets put on the coffee table. The Winter–Spring 2011 issue currently is resting there.

I am writing in particular to commend the author of that issue’s cover story (“Did You Hear the One about the Engineer Who Rebuilt BU?”) At a time when the art of writing, coupled with journalism, goes begging for excellence, one need look no further than Art Jahnke’s fine piece on BU President Robert A. Brown.

All along the way, Mr. Jahnke answers every question this reader raises, and with such skill of writing as to sound the poetic gong of contemplation. Bravo! You make an old alumnus proud and, a poet himself, humble.

Lawrence Willson (STH’72, GRS’80)Birmingham, Ala.

As an alum and former member of the Board of Trustees, for 24 years, I am pleased that Boston University under the leadership of Robert A. Brown continues to build—not rebuild—on the legacy of the Silber years.

But I cannot understand why Bostonia denigrates and repeatedly denies the accomplishments of John Silber. For example, in the Winter-Spring issue, the claim is made (referring to alumni gifts), that “prior to Brown’s presidency, the University had only one gift of more than $10 million. Since he took office, six large gifts account for more than $60 million.”

Why has the Silber record been denied? As a member of the board, I was privileged to serve and chair many trustee committees, and I witnessed the activities of the board. During John Silber’s administration, the John Hancock Company gave $24.5 million ($4.5 million when Jack McElwee was CEO and $20 million for the Student Village when trustee David D’Alessandro was CEO). Silber raised more than $16 million from Albert and Jessie Danielsen and more than $20 million from Arthur Metcalf (SED’35, Hon.’74), plus $8 million for the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies from three donors, including one from trustee Alan Leventhal (Hon.’09), and we need not forget a gift of $10 million from Rafik Hariri (Hon.’86), whose son is now a trustee.

These gifts alone amount to more than $78.5 million. And during Silber’s years the endowment rose from $18.8 million to almost $1 billion, while the budget rose from $71 million per annum to in excess of $1 billion. Silber also balanced the budget and generated accumulated surplus in excess of $300 million. All of these developments were brought to the attention of the trustees while I was a member of the board. Is there some reason why Silber’s accomplishments are obscured? Has he not been supportive of President Brown? Isn’t it enough that he left the University in such an outstanding state that President Brown has been able to build it further?

President Brown in the Bostonia article admits that he found strong DNA when he arrived at the University and that he found talented and able administrators in place, including Joe Mercurio. Since President Brown does not try to tear down Silber, why does the official publication of his administration do so?

Richard R. Joaquim (CFA’59) Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Ed. Note—Bostonia acknowledges, and appreciates, John Silber’s many extraordinary accomplishments. The six gifts cited in the article refer to gifts from alumni only.

Brain Food

Thank you for sharing an often untold story about the importance of giving people who are homeless the opportunity to restore their dignity (“More Than Bread Alone,” Winter–Spring 2011). In my work at Lazarus House in Lawrence, Mass., we do this by providing a hand up, to help people in dire need help themselves. In addition to the personal stories, the statistics listed in the article also provide a sense of the challenges ahead in helping others break the cycle of poverty. Like Mr. Resnik, everyone can contribute in some way to helping others in dire need. Keep up the good work.

Ray Joyce (GSM’91)Longmeadow, Mass.

I am writing to thank you for the beautiful article in Bostonia. I read it several times and then emailed several friends. In some cases, I copied the pages and forwarded the article to them.

We all agree that it is a heartwarming story. I particularly liked the quote from a homeless person: “Imagine that, someone finally realized that the homeless can read, too.”

I have belonged to a book discussion group for over 20 years. We have read most of the books mentioned in your article. Also, several of us have stated the very same words Ned Carleton used: “I’ve been led to read books I never would have read otherwise.”

I graduated from BU’s College of Liberal Arts decades ago. Now, as a retired teacher and secretary, I am enjoying the challenge of writing for an online newsletter published by a group of seniors at the Milano Senior Center in Melrose, Mass. It is called the Melrose Mirror and has come out every month for 17 years.

It is becoming clear that my specialty is writing human-interest stories. Your article is a prime example of such a story, superbly crafted.

Dorothy S. O’Connor (CAS’50) Melrose, Mass.

Greek Connections

Let me do a little lecturing about the well-written story featuring the Golden Greek (“Icons Among Us: The Golden Greek,” Fall 2010). The reporter recited a heap of well-earned accomplishments of star quarterback Harry Agganis (SED’54). Just one omission, though. Amid all of his trophies and hurrahs, our gentleman hero was an active brother in the national fraternity of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a chapter on the BU campus.

Lo and behold, his fraternity house carried the address of 58 Manchester Road in Brookline, perhaps not far from your office location on Lenox Street. Can you find a few additional lines in the next edition of Bostonia to salute Harry as a proud fraternity brother who carried out his brotherly responsibilities along with many other school commitments?

J. A. O’Hara (SMG’51), 1951 SAE President Prospect Heights, Ill.

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