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Responses received to our call in the March/April Gazette for readers to tell about the faculty member who most stimulated them during their years at Penn.

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Hit and misses, pyramids and plagiarism.

 

GOOD NEWS FIRST

Congratulations on one of the best Gazettes ever. The piece on Ernie Beck C’53 was superb [“Alumni Voices,” May/June]. I was inspired by Bob Bigelow C’75 [“Bob Bigelow’s Full-Court Press”]. Every article was tops.

Harry B. Bernhard W’54
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

 

GRADE CLARIFICATION

The item under “Penn vs. NCAA” [“A Century of Sports,” May/June] should be clarified. The NCAA 1.6 grade point average (GPA) was an eligibility for entering freshman; they had to predict to a 1.6 to be eligible once they enrolled. It had nothing to do with GPA while in school.

Second, Penn sent a telegram to the NCAA that stated, “Although we are in agreement, we are not in compliance.” We were declared ineligible for not being in compliance, not academically ineligible.

Third, we did have one player on that team who had not predicted to a 1.6 GPA. Thus, we would have been ineligible, no matter what, unless we had lied. This, Athletic Director Jerry Ford was not about to do.

Actually, Harvard never agreed but they were not ruled ineligible for NCAA championships. I believe Yale did the same thing, but several of the Ivy schools went along with the NCAA because they had actually been misled that some type of compromise had been reached. The NCAA soon dropped that rule, as most schools felt they had no right to tell institutions who they could admit.

Ed Fabricius C’55
Sports Information Director, 1961-1977
Cherry Hill, N.J.

 

THE NUMBERS THAT MATTER

3-5-1! Even though 49 years have passed since the 1953 football season it still seems to be newsworthy. The Gazette has recently referenced it twice and letters have been published in response.

The year 1953 was George Munger’s last as coach and his first losing season over 16 years, but that year does not tell the entire Munger story. It was a year of turmoil for Penn football because of a tough national schedule; the formalization of the Ivy league; the ban on spring practice; the rules change from two-platoon to one-platoon football; the cutback in recruiting; the resignation of Munger, Rae Crowther, Paul Riblett W’32, and the rest of his staff; the departure of Harold Stassen Hon’48 and Franny Murray C’37; the agreement of Munger and staff to stay on for 1953; and so on. (Despite all this some have said that the 1953 team was one of Munger’s best—a debate for another time.)

Mungers’s overall record was 82-42-10. (The record was also winning during the Stassen “Victory with Honor” years.) These are the important numbers and the real measure of his contribution to Penn football. So let’s not continue to dwell on 3-5-1, but instead on 82-42-10.

Richard Rosenbleeth W’54 L’57 (Mungerman)
Philadelphia

 

FENCING FORGOTTEN

Unfortunately, I was not surprised when I read your article “The Century In Sports” in the May/June issue. I did feel a bit better when, near the end of your article, you placed a small box that said “But What About?” that goes on to ask “Think we missed something?” You missed, except for the caption of a picture and the sport’s name in a list of names, the most successful team at Penn for the last century—and it was done not in 100 years but in 50! The sport is fencing!

Some of the items that coulda … shoulda … been mentioned are as follows.

1. In 1953 the men’s fencing team won the NCAA Championships held at Penn that year with a record-breaking 91 bouts won. It was, I was told at the time, the first NCAA title that Penn had ever won in any sport.

2. Penn teams duplicated this championship in 1969 and 1981! I therefore do argue with your statement that “inarguably the greatest achievement by a Penn team in the last 25 years was the basketball team’s magical ride to the NCAA Final Four in 1979.” I wish to take no credit away from the basketball team, but come on, by 1986 the fencing team had won three NCAA men’s team titles and one NCAA women’s team title.

3. While accomplishing these team titles, the Penn fencers won 14 individual NCAA titles—and probably more since I do not have complete records at my disposal.

4. Penn has won 10 IFA (Eastern Championships) in three-weapon competition in 1967, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1990.

5. Penn fencers won 12 team titles in epee at the IFAs and 11 titles in saber as well as five team titles in foil.

6. This does not even take into account the myriad of individual IFA titles won by Penn fencers in the last 50 years.

7. Since 1974 over 30 Penn fencers have represented the United States in international competitions, including several Olympiads.

8. To round out these accomplishments, between 1950 and 1995, 77 men and 17 women were voted to the All-American Collegiate Fencing team. I am sure this list would be longer if I had the results of the competitions for the last seven years.

9. These results were accomplished with the life-long commitment of two coaches. One is the legendary Lajos Csiszar, who coached from 1948 to 1974. In 1974 Penn alumnus and Olympian David Micahnik C’59 took over the coaching duties and continued to see to it that the men’s and women’s fencing teams maintained their place in the nation’s fencing elite.

I could go on, but to what purpose? I think I have answered your question, “Think we’ve missed something?” I think you might agree that you probably missed the most successful team in any sport at Penn over the last century. Certainly the team and its coaches rated more than the two mentions of “fencing” in this article.

I am confident the Gazette will realize the, I am sure, unintended slight to the hundreds of student athletes who represented Penn over the last century and take the appropriate action that may be required.

Robert K. Parmacek W’53
Highland Park, Ill.

 

SOCCER SHORTCHANGED

You missed the soccer successes altogether. During Charlie Scott’s reign as the head soccer coach, Penn produced several All-Americans and shared the first Ivy League soccer championship with Harvard in 1955. That year we had a 10-1 season and were clearly one of the best college teams in the country.

James J. O’Neill W’57
Dallas

 

A PROUD PENN GRAD—
FROM THE SIXTH GRADE

Your nostalgia/history/sports issues have been very interesting. But you have not mentioned the Illman-Carter School, which hosted the demonstration program for the Graduate School of Education. I was most fortunate to attend Illman from 1946 to 1952 (and can, with great pride, call myself a Penn graduate as a result, though my diploma mentions sixth grade.)

Classes were very small, and taught by professors and graduate students. I don’t remember work; all I remember is fun, except long division with decimals, which was another story. The entire University was our school. When we had a unit on chemistry, we went to Harrison Lab. The human body, we went to the Medical School. We spent lots of time at the University Museum, actually touching mummies and learning about Aztecs, Toltecs, and everything else. I still remember the University Museum show on Ur of the Chaldees. We spent huge amounts of time at the old Library. When we learned to swim, it was at Hutchinson Gym. The Penn wrestling team taught us elementary holds. Not only did I learn whatever children are supposed to learn, I learned a love of learning, which I have never lost.

As an aside, my dad had a laboratory in Harrison Lab, and, on football Saturdays, he would move a desk against the south windows, put a chair on the desk, and I watched the Penn football team play nationally ranked opponents. This was just before Penn built the West stands, which are of course now gone.

Michael B. Luskin
Devon, Pa.

 

NO CRAVING FOR THE KING

It seems to me obscene to lump Elvis Presley with such notables as Martin Luther King Jr., Mao Zedong, and Margaret Thatcher—as Dr. Judith Rodin CW’66 did in her column headlined, “Satisfy Your Intellectual Cravings” [“From College Hall,” May/June]. Whose “intellectual cravings” could the likes of Elvis Presley satisfy, and would that be of any consequence?

Leon W. Zelby, EE’56 Gr’61
Norman, Okla.

MORE OVERSIGHT DUTIES FOR
HAWASS AT PENN AND IN EGYPT

I was delighted to read Kyle Cassidy’s highly informative and well-illustrated article on Zahi Hawass [“Zahi Hawass and the Secrets of the Pyramids,” May/June]. As the Williams Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, I am proud to point out to Gazette readers that since the article was written, Dr. Hawass G’83 Gr’87 has joined the Museum’s distinguished board of overseers, so that he now has a direct connection again with the University. Moreover, he recently was appointed secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the top archaeological position in Egypt.

Jeremy A. Sabloff C’64
Philadelphia

 

AGAINST WHAT FOREIGN POLICY?

In the May/June issue, you quote Dr. Hawass: “Sometimes we need to tell the press in Egypt, that when someone is writing something against America, they need to emphasize that it doesn’t mean that we are against the Americans, but against the American foreign policy.”

Would that mean that Dr. Hawass (and everyone else he refers to as we) is against our foreign policy of giving Egypt more than $2 billion in annual foreign aid?

Ronald H. Weintraub W’55
Tucson, Ariz.

 

PROUD ALUMNUS AND EGYPTIAN

Flipping through the pages of the Gazette, as I normally do upon receipt, I immediately recognized the face of Dr. Zahi Hawass. As an Egyptian and a resident of Cairo, I was delighted to see a profile of Dr. Zahi, who is quite well-known and highly regarded here in Egypt, featured in my alumni magazine. And when I read the article and learned that Dr. Zahi is a Penn grad of Egyptian origin like myself, I was quite proud—initially of course—of my alma mater. But more significantly, I found myself filled with pride for my Egyptian heritage—its richness, longevity, and passion.

Cheers to Dr. Zahi for embodying the peaceful, loyal, and intellectual character of the Egyptian people. And kudos to the Gazette for finally profiling an Egyptian in a manner not normally seen in today’s media. Such profiles go a long in way in promoting “love between countries” … and peoples.

Nevien Aped C’96
Cairo

PLAGIARISM CLEARCUT

The write-up of “Probing Plagiarism” reveals a disturbing difference [“Gazetteer,” May/June]:

On the one hand, History Professor Thomas Childers reported student anger “from undergraduates across the country” at Stephen Ambrose’s plagiarism of his work. It was, in the e-mailed views of students, an obvious violation of “strict honor codes” found at all universities. Dr. Childers said “students have a right to be outraged.”

On the other hand, his departmental colleague Dr. Jonathan Steinberg asserted that “plagiarism is a complex issue,” citing “slips of memory and data retrieval” as being creators of a “fine line between carelessness and plagiarism.” Dr. Steinberg said, “There’s a problem with what one actually remembers.”

When dealing with the written, edited, and published word, there is no line between carelessness and plagiarism. Dr. Steinberg’s view is confused, wobbly, and wrong. The students’ reaction is clearcut, certain, and accurate. It is comforting to know that the instincts of undergraduates are sound—Dr. Steinberg seems to be so lost in the forest that he cannot see the trees.

George W. Nordham L’52
Winter Springs, Fla.

 

YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST (MAYBE)

Is plagiarism a heinous crime? Should those who by inadvertence or intent copy and publish the words and ideas of others without accreditation be consigned to the literary gulag? I think not.

The plagiaree should be flattered that the plagiarist thought so highly of the plagiaree’s words to copy them verbatim. The cowardly writer might slip the noose by paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is only plagiarizing on the cheap. So let’s give the plagiarists their due.

Donald Prevette C’50
Pittsford, N.Y.

 

STILL PINING FOR THE PUZZLE

I’ve been getting your magazine for many, many years now and have always enjoyed it. But one of the major reasons I enjoyed the magazine was the acrostic. I was very unsettled when you went over to alternating with crossword puzzles, but was much relieved to have you come back to all acrostics.

Now you seem to have dropped the puzzles altogether, and I am writing to register my complaint. And this immediately after I had sent in a check to support the magazine, so I can’t even hold that back as a sign of my deep disapproval and disappointment at having the acrostic gone. Is there any chance of its coming back? I certainly hope so.

Robert Freidus W’62
London

 

LOCATION QUESTION

The description of Ray Petit’s WWII From My Vantage Point in the May/June issue [“Briefly Noted”] says that, “he returned from breakfast near the Cassino (Italy) beachhead.” Impossible! Monte Cassino was inland, it never had a beachhead, all fighting had to be frontal. I was there in day-after-day front-line hand-to-hand combat on frigid, muddy mountains. It took the Allied forces from November 1943, to May 18, 1944, before the enemy was driven back toward Rome and Cassino freed. Perhaps Mr. Petit was thinking of the Anzio beachhead, which occurred while the battle for Monte Cassino was still raging.

Robert W. Wood W’48
Concord, N.H.


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