Letters to the Editor

Letters: July/August 2022

Readers write back about the women's hockey team, the trustee election, and more.

We welcome readers’ letters, which should be emailed to yam@yale.edu or mailed to Letters Editor, PO Box 1905, New Haven, CT 06509-1905. Due to the volume of correspondence, we are unable to respond to or publish all mail received. Letters accepted for publication are subject to editing. Priority is given to letters of fewer than 300 words.

Cheers for women's hockey

The site of the 2022 Women’s Frozen Four on the Penn State university campus is about five miles from my home. The venue was draped with banners for weeks. I had not followed women’s hockey and did not realize that Yale was a contender. However, when the team got in, I bought my ticket and attended the three games. I read your article (“Firepower,” May/June) with interest. It provided some after-the-fact background for the great game that I witnessed between the Yale and Ohio State women’s hockey teams.
George Downsbrough ’73
Bellefonte, PA

Your article was an excellent testimonial to the wide-ranging talent and competitive spirit at Yale. I offer a correction of the chronology. In 1973 and 1974, our varsity baseball coach, a Yale baseball and hockey star and Major League pitcher, Ken MacKenzie ’56E, would delight in relating how the women’s hockey team, for which he was also the coach, worked harder and had more heart than did we ballplayers. Go Blue!
John Healey ’74
New York, NY

The athletic department’s records indicate that women’s hockey began in 1975–76 as a club sport and was elevated to varsity status in 1977–78, but the 1975 Yale Banner has an account of a women’s team in 1974–75, coached by MacKenzie. Can any women’s hockey alums from that era tell us more?—Eds.

A welcome to Ukrainians

My grandparents emigrated from Ukraine more than 100 years ago, and I was moved by your “From the Editor” article about the experiences of Ukrainian students at Yale during the war (“Far From Family,” May/June). I’ve written letters to Yuliia Z. and Yevhenii M. to tell them that if they are ever in the San Francisco area (where we live), my wife and I would be happy to show them around.
Paul Jarocki ’61
Richmond, CA

The trustee election

The email with the list of the latest Yale Corporation Alumni Fellow candidates recently came (Milestones, page 19). A review of the biographical information indicates that these three well-qualified candidates, none of whom with which I am familiar, are all accomplished professionals who are outstanding in their fields, and all of whom appear, based on professional history, to be uniformly cut from the same lockstep left-wing cloth. A former head of an extremist environmental organization, a former college administrator and museum director leading the social justice transition, and a senior executive at Twitter?

The email and links tell alumni nothing about what guidance whichever eminently qualified candidate would bring to Yale, but judging the books by their covers (since the new election rules seem to prohibit actually revealing the platform any would promote), none of them would help steer Yale away from the leftist/woke cliff from which the university appears determined further to wreck its reputation.

The headline was “Your Yale, Your Voice, Your Vote.” Based on the evidence, it seems only one voice is allowed.
Lee Nelson ’80
Marietta, GA

Sorry, Wabaunsee!

I enjoyed reading Judith Ann Schiff’s “Old Yale” article (“Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition,” May/June). I did note one small error. The name of the town in Kansas where New Haven colonists settled was misspelled. The correct spelling is “Wabaunsee.” I spent almost two decades driving to rural communities throughout the state of Kansas, representing independent community banks. Each little town had a story of its own, just like Wabaunsee’s, that often was quite interesting.
H. Boone Porter III ’72
Center Sandwich, NH

A $40 million theft

Jamie Petrone, a former employee of the School of Medicine, admitted stealing from the university at least $40,500,000 in tech equipment and having it shipped to a company on Long Island, which in turn would remit funds to the bank account of Maziv Entertainment, of which she was a principal. The fraud had been going on for at least eight and possibly as much as ten years (Campus Clips, May/June).

The money was used to provide for a lavish lifestyle that included six expensive cars, three properties in Connecticut and one in Georgia, and expensive trips to Europe. An anonymous tip in 2021 led to investigation by the FBI.

Unfortunately, this goes on all the time, but usually the scams are quite sophisticated. This one, however, was just plain brazen, and it is hard to believe that someone did not notice equipment being moved off campus long before 2021.

For the record, I established Yale’s internal auditing department in 1966, and I am a bit chagrined that my former organization did not catch this fraud in its infancy.
Walter J. Strohmeyer Jr. ’50
Orient, NY

Garvin remembered

I am writing to honor the memory of Professor Alexander Garvin (Milestones, March/April). His Study of the City course, which I took in the mid-1970s, changed the way I looked at cities. He gave me a wonderful opportunity in the summer of 1975 to work in his New York City government office. I walked the streets of the Bronx mapping signs of apartment house abandonment, like unlocked front doors, and contemplated strategies for arresting that urban blight. Years later, I presented projects to the New York City Planning Commission and had positive exchanges with him during his years as a planning commissioner. I would always address him as “Professor,” with utmost respect. He was a leading figure in city planning, and I am grateful to have benefitted from his mentorship.
Dana Gumb ’77
Bayside, NY

A graduate's cause

It may be time to remember something. I graduated Yale College in the Class of 1968. Like today, it was the time of a contentious war, in that case, the Vietnam War.  

I did not sit on a folding wood chair in the Old Campus. I stood at the gate next to the post office in my cap and gown and collected donations for Quaker War Relief.

At the end of the morning my collection can had $130 in donations from the attendees.
Bradford McCormick ’68
Mount Kisco, NY

Teaching gospel music

I just read your editor’s column about the Reverend Doctor Braxton Shelley (“Professor of Gospel,” March/April). It was a delightful piece. One thing puzzled me, though, which was the following passage:

“What did surprise me recently, however, was learning that the Divinity School—which hired its first professor of theology in 1822—didn’t have a tenured professor of Black gospel music until 2021. Two hundred and one years is a long time to wait. But the Rev. Dr. Braxton Shelley, who arrived at Yale in July, was both diplomatic and straightforward when I asked his opinion of the delay: ‘It’s just the case that all institutions of Yale’s vintage have a lot of work to do in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Gospel music is extraordinarily under-researched and underrepresented’ in universities.”

The implication from Rev. Dr. Shelley is that racism is to blame. Now, I don’t doubt that racism was pervasive in many quarters of Yale. But I would be surprised if Yale had had a white professor of Black gospel music, or a white professor of White gospel music (if there is such a thing) or of church music generally. In other words, might it be that the issue is primarily that “music of the masses” did not capture the interests of stereotypically snobby professors at Ivy League schools?

The way to test this is to ask, Did Yale have a professor of swing? Of big band? Of jazz? Of bluegrass? Of folk music? If so, when were those hires made? The faculty page of Yale’s music department did not yield any immediate answers. But I would at least ask such questions before indulging in insinuations of racism.

Racism is evil and all too common. But that does not mean it explains everything.
Walter Weber ’84JD
Alexandria, VA

Vulgar word is "a new low"

I read the introduction to the cover article for the March/April issue (“From Film to Paper”) until I came to a vulgar word that I associate with lowlife. I read no further in that article and, as I read other articles, could not get the thought that unnecessary smut apparently is to be expected from now on in my alumni magazine. I hope not.

To me, this presents a new low, very low, for the magazine and, by association, for Yale. I cannot tell you how disgusted I am. My pride in receiving degrees from Yale and in the magazine has been destroyed.
George A. Anderson ’55E, ’65MEng
Old Lyme, CT

More on Yale and slavery

As Willie Jennings suggests (“The Ongoing Afterlife of Slavery,” January/February), racism and discrimination are still deeply embedded in the structure of society. We still witness severe limits on the economic, social, political, educational, and social opportunities of Black people, resulting in unjust enrichment of white people, impoverishment of the poor, and unfair allocation of resources.

The exclusion of large segments of the population from exploring their full potential deprives the nation of output. According to a Citigroup study, the US has lost $16 trillion over the last two decades as a result of racial discrimination. Imagine a family farm: one son is deprived access to technology, fertilizers, tractors, health care, food, nourishment, housing, and clothing. Clearly and obviously, that would have a deleterious effect on the family’s income and welfare.

A greater emphasis on the human rights of Black people and better education of American history will help to address the problem. But what would be more effective is for white America to express outrage against the treatment of Blacks (now and in the past), in addition to having an honest debate on race, in which whites disabuse themselves of the stigma imposed on Black skin color.

White America must be central to eliminating racism. It is their creation, and they must take responsibility to establish racial equality. Black people by themselves cannot eliminate the problem. Policies that would begin to compensate for periods during and after slavery can help improve Black lives in the afterlife of slavery.
Gerald Scott ’77MA
Boca Raton, FL

I write in response to two letters in the May/June issue. Like David Tarr, I applaud the interdisciplinary research to “investigate” the role Yale played in slavery. Then a few moments later I found myself frustrated with Donald H. Werner’s letter, which criticized the writers on Yale and slavery for “viewing our nation’s variegated history through a single, dark lens.”

I am currently working my way through the 1619 Project and marveling at its contemporary framing of American history. As an octogenarian, I have spent my entire academic career observing the gradual change in the telling and retelling of the stories we as Americans call “history.”

Only in the last few years have I begun teaching about “white privilege” to my mostly white students, then tackling the concept of “structural racism.” For young white college students, these seem to be surprisingly difficult to grasp. It most certainly helps if I have occasional Black or brown students sitting in the same classroom, willing to take the plunge and dive directly into the subject with patience and articulate “cluing them in” as to exactly what it means to be Black or brown in our overwhelmingly white state.  

As I continue to unpack my own personal and family role, both in structural racism and the benefits of white privilege, I realize we Americans are only just beginning on the long and bumpy road ahead. A big thank you to Yale for placing some of its valuable resources into this project.
Victor P. Ehly ’67BD, ’71STM
Worcester, VT   


There’s nothing an editor regrets more than having to correct a correction, but because of a misunderstanding on our part, we erred in writing in a correction in our May/June issue that the character played by David Duchovny ’89Grd on Twin Peaks is a cross-dresser. The character is in fact transgender.

In the original article on Duchovny (“From Film to Paper,” March/April), we mistakenly referred to New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority as the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The credit for our May/June cover photo of the women’s hockey team was incorrect. The photo was taken by Rob Rasmussen.

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