The Ohio State University Alumni Association

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Letters to the editor

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We welcome your letters, which we ask be limited to 250 words or less. Please send them to Letters selected for publication typically address topics raised in Ohio State Alumni Magazine, although the editor reserves the right to make exceptions. All published letters appear online, and a selection appears in our print edition. We edit letters for space, clarity, accuracy and civility. When readers’ published views prompt others to write, the latter submissions are the last published on a particular topic. All letters represent the opinions of the letter writers, not those of the magazine team, alumni association or university.

I keep asking, ‘What will I do?’

I read the fall alumni magazine with interest, gratified to learn how our university — students, faculty, staff, alums and community members — is taking on the myriad challenges of racism in its various manifestations in our communities and country.

“The Only Way Is Through,” with its calls to “listen, learn and act,” reminds us that, as Professor Andréa Williams states, “Talking about race is not optional.” It was encouraging to also read that advancing diversity, equity and inclusion is a priority of President Kristina M. Johnson. I agree with her — “We need to push it.”

When I was a sophomore, my Philosophy 200 instructor invited us to an optional discussion on slavery. Despite having read about slavery and civil rights in high school and college, that was my first unvarnished exposure to the topic of race. Our instructor challenged us to reflect, share our views, listen to others and consider the complexities, harms and traumas of this core yet tragic aspect of our history.

I find myself still reading, researching, teaching and writing on racism and the law. (Robert T. Carter and I co-authored the book Confronting Racism: Integrating Mental Health Research into Legal Strategies and Reforms, published earlier this year.)

Today, I have greater appreciation of the need to explore and face our history — its struggles and its triumphs. Associate Editor Kristen Schmidt asks us, in her introduction to the stories dealing with systemic racism, “What will you do to create a more equitable and just present and future?” That is a question I continue to struggle with, and that I and many others join our Ohio State colleagues in listening, learning and acting on.

Tom Scheuermann ’76, ’79 MA
Salem, Oregon

Evolution welcome

I feel so proud of the efforts made at my university to improve diversity. It certainly was not so when I attended medical school and then completed a cardiology fellowship at Ohio State. This new era is, indeed, exciting!

David G. Marsh ’69 MD
La Jolla, California

Label unfounded

As a proud alumnus of both the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Medicine, I find the current distorted view of America presented by the fall alumni magazine contemptible.

Yes, racism exists. No, the United States of America is not a systemically racist country. Parts of the country once were, but we fought a war to resolve that and we amended our great Constitution to ensure it would not return.

Because there are some racists left does not mean that systemic racism exists. Except this: Because of the approach taken by those who think the USA is systemically racist, racism against some groups appears to be applauded and encouraged. White men, Christians, conservatives, Republicans and others are groups that can be discriminated against without fear of retaliation.

Brooks A. Mick ’63, ’66 MD
Yorktown, Virginia

Division at historic level

In response to your fall issue story on racism, without question our society is extremely polarized today. Several observers have commented that our nation was more polarized leading up to this presidential election than at any time since 1864. It has further been noted that our universities are a principal cause of today’s polarization. Subsequent to the student demonstrations of 1968, university faculties have moved steadily to the left, to the point where conservative professors are now a distinct minority.

The problem is that leftists and progressives are very intolerant of any views other than their own; students seek “safe” zones, conservative speakers are not tolerated and free expression of ideas is not permitted unless it conforms to leftist norms. Generations of students are being indoctrinated in this stuff. I have been looking for evidence as to whether I should continue to support my university if that is its direction. The content of your fall issue is not encouraging.

My biggest concern with the fall issue is the article that makes reference to “400 years of systemic racism.” It appears Ohio State has bought into the 1619 Project. What a ridiculous and sad view of America. We are so much more than that. We fought a Civil War to end slavery. In the 1950s and 1960s, we ended Jim Crow and segregation. In the subsequent 50 years, Black and other minority individuals have made dramatic and substantial progress and participate in all walks of life — from sports, business and entertainment to the presidency.

I will be looking for evidence that Ohio State is working to reduce the polarization in society and to promote the free expression of ideas and views.

Robert R. Strickland ’67
San Martin, California

We all can strive for progress

I’d like to commend Ohio State Alumni Magazine and my beloved alma mater, under the leadership of President Kristina M. Johnson, for taking the courageous steps to effect change from within. During my time at Ohio State (1999–2003), “Do Something Great” was a university saying, and it appears Ohio State continues down that path.

I am so proud of “The Only Way Is Through” — specifically, the broad and varied perspectives of staff, faculty and alumni on tackling structural racism, white supremacy and racial biases at the university and within the greater Columbus community.

It isn’t lost on me that stories of this type may offend some readers, but therein lie the implications of difficult conversations. However, it’s imperative that we all understand that tough conversations about structural or systemic racism, white supremacy and racial biases are human rights issues above all else.

Andréa N. Williams described the discomfort some of her students express upon learning a literature course includes discussions about race. Hopefully, the realization that college is the training ground for education, evolution, humanistic growth and challenging our limitations permeates the student body, more staff, more faculty and more Ohio State alumni, friends and family.

We all have the opportunity to continually strive to be better than who we were yesterday, should we accept the challenge. And honestly, isn’t that what being a Buckeye is about, anyway?

Kristi-Warren Scott ’03
Washington, D.C.

Fond union at the Union

Wendell Ellenwood, in his signature red jacket, and alumnus Robert Theil, who worked for a time as night manager of the Ohio Union

Wendell Ellenwood, at left in his signature red jacket, and alumnus Robert Theil, who worked for a time as night manager of the Ohio Union

I was sad to read of the passing of former Ohio Union Director Wendell Ellenwood. In the late 1950s, my father, Robert Theil ’57, ’60 DDS worked for Mr. Ellenwood as a night manager at the Ohio Union and always spoke very highly of both his time there and his director.

In 2012, my father was inducted into the Sloopy’s Diner Sandwich Club, having the BLT sandwich (which, in this case, stands for Buckeye Leadership Tradition) named in his honor to commemorate his service at the union. Mr. Ellenwood attended the ceremony. They had not seen each other since 1960, but quickly re-established an old friendship.

My father passed in 2019, but it is safe to say his time at Ohio State was enhanced by his experience at the Ohio Union with Mr. Ellenwood.

Thomas Theil ’94 DDS
Huber Heights, Ohio

Busbies off to Ollie

I recruit for civil engineers, and back in the late 1990s or early 2000s, I was talking with an engineer from Georgia Tech. When he learned I graduated from Ohio State, he said he had an engineering professor who had been a drum major on campus. I replied that the drum major when I was at Ohio State was Ollie McGee. He said that was his professor, and he asked if being an Ohio State drum major was a big thing. I replied, “You asked about an Ohio State drum major from 20 years ago who I am able to name off the top of my head. It’s a big thing!” RIP Ollie McGee — gone too soon.

Anne Wilkinson ’81
Wilmington, Ohio

Intramural gems

The fall magazine story “My Championship Trophy” by Robert Hawk brought back many great memories about playing intramural football from 1969 to 1973. My last three years at Houck House, the engineering dorm — full of nerds and not many athletes — we took intramural football seriously. We practiced behind the Big Bear grocery store off Lane Avenue. We were organized, had our plays on index cards and wore uniforms with our cherished team name: Mothers. Thursday night games were a great stress relief from our academic schedule.

We caught many teams by surprise by running a shotgun, hurry-up offense. All three years we won seven or eight games and made it to the Final Four. My senior year was the best. We won the semifinal game against the track athletes of Bradley Hall at the artificial turf practice fields on Olentangy River Road. We won on the very last play of the game when everybody ran to the right except our tight end, who went left behind the line of scrimmage to be wide open for the winning touchdown pass.

The next week we played the championship game in Ohio Stadium under temporary lights. Even though we lost the title game, the friendships we made at Houck House have lasted all these years. We have dormitory reunions every five years. (How firm thy friendship, O-HI-O!)

Unlike Robert Hawk, who has his keepsake T-shirt, the cherished Mothers jersey I purchased 50 years ago on High Street was worn out and threadbare. Somehow it was thrown out during our last house move. The photo you see here is of a replica Kathy, my wife of 47 and a half years, purchased for me after the 20th reunion of Houck and Barrett houses. Kathy lived in Barrett House, next door to Houck. She is my keepsake.

Thank you for all the great stories and providing memories for alumni.

Jim “Mac” McCleary ’73
Stow, Ohio

A view on specs

Laura Newpoff’s article “The Eyes Have It” in the fall issue was the reason that my Buckeye alumni sister recently called me from her CPA office. She wanted to know my opinion regarding the benefits of using blue-blocking lenses while working on her digital devices. I explained that I have been prescribing them for my patients and I wear them, too. I combine an anti-reflective, blue-blocking coating with an anti-fatigue prescription in the lenses. My patients love them and recommend them to their friends and family.

I have enjoyed taking care of the vision and eye health of my family, friends and community for 26 years after graduating from The Ohio State University College of Optometry in 1994. I have a private practice in west central Ohio and feel I have the best job ever!

Karen Fortman ’94 OD
Sidney, Ohio

Farewell, with thanks

After this issue of Ohio State Alumni Magazine, a name will be missing from our staff list, that of Associate Editor Kristen Schmidt.

Head-and-shoulders illustration of a person with short brown and white hair and a nose ring, wearing a dark gray moto jacket and a light gray scarf

Kristen Schmidt

Michael Hoeweler

Our small, tight-knit team is grateful for Kristen’s hard work and keen editorial judgment in her three years with the magazine, which she joined just as we introduced a new, quarterly format in fall 2017.

An imaginative editor and writer, Kristen has brought captivating stories, valuable insights and more than a little whimsy to the pages of your magazine these past few years. She also has led our online presence since she arrived and served as producer for the pilot of a new podcast, One Degree Greater, introduced this fall.

Like many of us, Kristen has been doing some meaningful self-reflection in 2020, and she’s decided this is her time to embark on a new path as a freelance editorial consultant. That may lead to future collaborations that enhance your alumni magazine. We hope so. Our very best wishes are with her.

Mary Alice Casey

Welcome, President Johnson

Readers of Ohio State Alumni Magazine online shared these comments on the fall issue story introducing President Kristina M. Johnson.

Head-and-shoulder portrait of a smiling woman in a red jacket seated in a maroon and cream armchair

Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson

Logan Wallace

Kristina Johnson sounds very promising as an outstanding educator-in-chief. I look forward with extreme optimism that The Ohio State University will be greater than when she first arrived.

George A. Carlisle ’55
Harleysville, Pennsylvania

Welcome to Buckeye Nation, Dr. Johnson! This article was effective in letting us know a little more about you; your enthusiasm is contagious. It’s great to see the university through new eyes. As an alumna, I look forward to your innovations and nurturing spirit.

Joan Gaudion McKinney ’81
Westerville, Ohio

My impression is that President Drake was a link between Ohio State past and future. It seems that our new president firmly ushers us into the new era.

Nathan Young ’20 PhD

I am really impressed by this story of our new president. I look forward to hearing more about her work at the institution that was such an important part of my academic life.

Arline Mutti Sarley ’72
Norristown, Pennsylvania

Loved hearing about an amazing leader who shares brilliant ideas with the world in such a genuine, respectful and loving manner! So proud she is our president.

Tia McCutcheon Athens ’69
Hartwell, Georgia

For most people, 2020 would not have been the time you would like to become Ohio State president. Not so for Dr. Johnson. This extremely accomplished but caring and personable woman loves a challenge. Her first months on the job have proven the search team made the right choice. Welcome aboard, Dr. Johnson. We hope you are with us for years to come.

Thomas Hall ’76 MD
Newark, Ohio

Timely, inspired selection. Glad I was sitting down as I read this piece or I may have fallen over. Great job, Buckeyes! I’m so proud to be a parent of a Buckeye.

David Scharff
Oakland, California

The article about Dr. Johnson was wonderful. Really revealed what made her such a fantastic choice to lead our beloved university going forward.

Phil Hatlem ’86 MA
Wesley Chapel, Florida

I am in awe. What an interesting, driven person who has already done so much in her life. And then to be selected to lead our great university in such a challenging time.

Steve South ’68, ’70 MBA
Versailles, Kentucky

This story showed that our new president has accomplished, and overcome, much in her life. Her focus on solving problems and interest in teamwork demonstrate, at least in my mind, the attributes of the right person to lead our diverse university.

Gary Solamon ’81 MBA, ’83 MAcc
Chevy Chase, Maryland

Welcome to Buckeye Nation, Dr. Johnson and Veronica! You have quickly and clearly articulated both the opportunities an institution with the breadth of Ohio State can provide while also challenging us to equitably include everyone in our shared mission. It’s an exciting time to be a Buckeye!

Doug Aschenbach ’81
Fort Lauderdale, Florida