COULD THIS BE WHY?
Looking back at Wesleyan sports over half a century ago, among the NEICAA champions I remember were broad jumpers Ernie Dunn ’59, Jim Thomas ’61, and Dick Huddleston ’60, miler Steve Paranya ’61, wrestlers Charlie Smith ’60 and Al Williams ’61, and golfer Jeff Folley ’60. Some athletes competed at high levels in three sports that they also captained: Cliff Hordlow ’58 and Dick Cadigan ’59 come to mind. That’s not to mention a baker’s dozen of Little Three Championships in cross-country, wrestling, golf, track, baseball, and basketball over my four years.
On the national level, Al Roberts ’60 entered Wesleyan as the former U.S. 15-and-under tennis champion and returned to Wesleyan in the fall of 1957 as the U.S. 18-and-under champion. Al had only one loss in regular season competition during four years at Wesleyan. (Has any Wesleyan tennis player surpassed that record without even one loss in four years?) Members of the 1960 track team won two gold medals in the small college division of the Penn Relays.
Yet It was not until January of 2016 that Wesleyan finally acknowledged that the 1958-59 team was, in fact, the first NCAA team in Wesleyan’s history, a more formidable accomplishment than the 2014-15 and 2016-17 teams (with all due respect) because in 1959 there was no Division I-A nor Division II, only a total of 64 teams nationally.
I don’t recall that any of these accomplishments were ever feted during a Homecoming football game halftime, as were similar accomplishments in recent years. So why is this? Aha! THIS IS (PROBABLY) WHY: Successful athletic teams—especially football teams—encourage strong alumni support, expressed in charitable gifts. Wesleyan had no need for a capital campaign —until the 1970s, when it began to draw down the principal of its endowment and begin increases in enrollment to meet operating expenses. During Vic Butterfield’s presidency some of us had heard that periodically he would travel to New York, meet with a doyen of the Surdna Foundation (“Andrus” spelled backwards) and return to Middletown with a $1 million check. In 1959, Wesleyan, with an undergraduate enrollment of scarcely 900 students, was reportedly the wealthiest college per student in the U.S., and it only got wealthier in 1965. when it sold My Weekly Reader to Xerox for $56 million in Xerox stock.
So…should fans of Wesleyan sports applaud the capital campaign? (Many of us gave to it.) Has financial need indirectly improved the quality of Wesleyan sports teams? Once upon a time, small-but-wealthy wasn’t so bad for sports. Let’s hope that the current athletic successes long outlive THIS IS WHY.
—E. David Hohl ’60, New York, N.Y.
REFLECTIONS OF AN “UNDISTINGUISHED” ALUMNUS
“I was looking at your Wesleyan magazine in the waiting area. I get the Princeton alumni magazine. Wesleyan alumni do so much more interesting things!”
A newly minted PhD in bioengineering from NYU, he was referring to the profile of Joshua Boger ’73 [Issue 2, 2016], his idol. “Have you read The Billion Dollar Molecule? The man is a genius!
“Princeton has CEOs, doctors, lawyers, managing directors—a lot of managing directors,” he added. “But your graduates do different things. Much more interesting!”
The client who directly preceded him in my accounting office was a fellow Wesleyan alumnus, looking to create a “B Corp,” a company that will benefit society as well as shareholders. It took about 15 minutes before our Wesleyan connection, the influence of our alma mater, became part of the conversation: He was an African American Studies major. I was a Science in Society major. He is in real estate. I am in finance. Neither one of us is using our degree towards our vocations, yet our education infuses just about everything we do.
I thought of Michael Roth’s book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters. The education we received has an intrinsic value. We each endeavor to improve the world around us. As folksinger Charlie King, wrote, way back then: “Our life is more than our work, and our work is more than our job.”
My education at Wesleyan was unique. Where else I could take a writing course with Annie Dillard, learn musicianship and performance skills from Bill Crofut, become exposed to the Frankfurt School, and also to the concept of social ecology? I wrote poetry, was a DJ at WESU, studied anthropology and economics, and struggled against nuclear power and apartheid. I joked with my Princeton client that perhaps I should write an article, “Reflections of an Undistinguished Alumnus” for Wesleyan.
“You’re not undistinguished!” he protested.
That’s certainly not for me to say. My studies, over 35 years ago, have nothing, on the surface, to do with my profession. But they have everything to do with who I am.
Still another Wesleyan client of mine recalled his 1967 freshman orientation: “President Butterfield got up and told us, ‘If, years from now, you look back at your time here as the four best years of your life, we will have failed you.’ And sat down.”
What distinguishes us, perhaps, is the difference that we make in the world. Or that we strive to make a difference in the world. That’s what we do. That’s what makes our work interesting, instead of simply successful.
These two clients, back to back, compelled me to reminisce. And while my college days were certainly not the four best years of my life, I discover, that the older I get, the more I value the education I received.
—David I. Block ’81, Brooklyn, N.Y.
REMEMBERING DICK WINSLOW
I first became aware of Dick Winslow in the late 1940s, with the totally serendipitous arrival—from my point of view—of this curious musical concoction called “Gilbert and Sullivan.” I was 10 or 11 years old. There was a new one each summer, totally joyous productions in the Antrim (N.H.) Town Hall.
Behind these fabulous summer fantasies was this young, unassuming, twinkly-eyed man and his wife, Dick and Betty Winslow, who spent summers at the farm up the road.
The couple had toured with a Gilbert & Sullivan troupe under the leadership of Joe Daltry, from the music department of Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut. Dick was a 1940 alumnus of Wesleyan, served in the Navy during WWII and then, with a master’s from Julliard, joined the Wesleyan faculty.
He already knew my parents and through indeterminate collisions of destiny, he got to know me as well, later suggesting that I might be interested in applying to Wesleyan.
As chair of the Music Department, Dick taught a two-semester music survey course. I took it as a freshman since I wanted to major in music, but most who elected this class were seniors who needed to fulfill their humanities requirements.
We were expected to listen to the assigned music on our own—in listening rooms, often in the evening with 10 or 15 guys crowded into a room with a turntable and a vinyl recording. We had to cooperate and compromise to prepare for the dreaded quizzes, which required an intimate knowledge of the style and content of the piece being taught. Many of my classmates soon discovered that the expectations were beyond their ear-training capacities.
Years later, I was mystified to discover that other music survey courses, even in conservatories, do not cover the material in the depth that Dick Winslow insisted on at Wesleyan.
Dick was the choral director at Wesleyan for many years including the years I was there (1955–59), invariably creating new music on a weekly basis for the Chapel Choir. Dick was also instrumental in getting avant-garde composer John Cage recognition; mainly by convincing the Wesleyan Press to publish Cage’s book, Silence.
If I had to summarize my take-away from working with Dick, I would emphasize his practical creativity and his openness to new ideas and trends, qualities that I have tried to duplicate in my own life and work as a church musician.
Dick Winslow and I remained friends for the rest of his life, even though I hadn’t seen him for several years before his passing. I would send him some music or prose that I had written for his birthday, and he would write me a personal thank you each time; even this past March (2017), urging me to come and visit with him the next time I am in Antrim.
—Edwin Roberts ’59, Lancaster, Pa.