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The essence of communication

A Message from the Executive Director of the Association of Emory Alumni

By Bob Carpenter

President Chace, in his presentations to alumni groups, often says that to truly understand Emory you must start forty miles southeast of the Atlanta campus at Oxford. It's always a good time to visit Emory's birthplace, but I had the good fortune to attend Oxford Day, the annual alumni celebration, on a beautiful spring Saturday this April. The Quadrangle could not have been prettier with its new lawn, buds, and blossoms. Old grads walked beside current Oxford students. Tables and chairs placed on the grass would soon welcome the reunion classes for lunch. The smell of barbecue brought perfection to the scene.

After a morning of socializing and reminiscing over Cokes and peanuts, the crowd made its way over to Allen Memorial Church for a brief program. (The church is named for an 1850s Emory graduate, Young J. Allen, who spent his life as a Methodist missionary to China. Could there be a more ebullient and optimistic name for one in that line of work?)

We slid into the pews and heard Oxford Dean Bill Murdy welcome us. The feeling of community was palpable. It seemed the essence of communication. The few spoke to inform. The many gathered to listen and learn. As the meeting went on, some in the audience rose to share their thoughts with the group and the speakers, completing the circle. This was representative of mass communication from the time of Emory's beginning. How, I wondered, have we improved upon this model?

Communication is central to our mission at the Association of Emory Alumni (AEA), but we often are guilty of making it too much of a one-way process. We print, we mail, we phone, we visit, we talk. Quite frankly, it is easier to be busy with this than to devise intelligent and representative means to gather your thoughts, suggestions, opinions, and advice for the current Emory. But we are trying to rectify this on several fronts:

J.B. Priestley, in reflecting on the rise of television in the 1950s, wrote that "the more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate." I hope we're not guilty of over-elaboration in our sincere--and ever expanding--efforts to talk to you. I would love to hear what you think. Please contact me at 404-727-6400, by e-mail at rcarpen@emory. edu, or by mail at the Association of Emory Alumni, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322.

Assembly XV

The Lessons of Competition

Taking its cue from Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Games, the Association of Emory Alumni's Assembly XV selected as its theme "The Lessons of Competition." Some two hundred alumni, staff, students, and faculty participated in the three-day event, which was chaired by Kathleen McCulloch '74G-'77PhD, a resource manager in the comptroller directorate at the Defense Information Systems Agency in Arlington, Virginia. Delegates had the opportunity to attend several panels, including "When Competition Becomes Conflict"; display their intellects in the Alumni Challenge Bowl quiz game; and participate in several working groups, one of which examined the question, "How do we use competition at Emory?" At the end of Assembly XV, delegates ate lunch at Chappell Park and watched the Emory Eagles baseball team take on Millsaps College. Unfortunately, the Eagles lost a close one, 3 to 2, but came back to drub Millsaps, 6 to 1, the following day.

"I want to suggest today that baseball, as our national pastime, has something to tell us about the American mind. More specifically, in its way of treating time and space and action, baseball `models' important tensions in mainstream American culture, conflicts between communitarian values and individualistic ones. Childhood and youth were spent playing ball; the chain of seasons and teams gone by is an idiom by which an actual life may be mapped by a sport. This is nostalgia as a memory of things past. But the nostalgia of baseball seems to have a powerful effect on even those who never played the sport as a kid. This sort of nostalgia is like a memory of times absent, a recollection of something that never was. In this way, baseball is indeed a `field of dreams'--an urbanite's `memory' of a rural time and place never actually experienced."

--Bradd Shore, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology, speaking at the panel, "Baseball: Religion in Motion"(Photo by Ann Borden)

"The first recorded competition for knowledge was in the Garden of Eden, over that infamous apple from the tree of knowledge. In that competition, Eve lost, Adam lost, even the snake lost. Everybody lost across the board. Yet ever since that time, human beings have persisted in applying competitive models in places they don't belong, like in teaching and research in the humanities. . . . Humanistic knowledge generally isn't directly practical or commodifiable. The humanities offer relatively few material rewards. For humanists in the university, cooperative models usually make much more sense than competitive ones. Competition can mean striving for excellence, trying to do one's best. It can also mean striving against another person, trying to best someone else. In some endeavors, these two activities can't be easily separated, but in the humanities they can be, and they should be. The purpose of the humanities is to shape the individual, to offer knowledge that can give a richer, more complex and satisfying life."
--Martine Brownley, professor of English and director of the Program in Women's Studies, speaking at the panel, "Competition on the Faculty Commons"

Determined to win

At the Alumni Weekend awards luncheon on September 28, all twelve reunion classes will be vying for the distinction of being the class that raises the largest reunion gift. Leslie L. Youngblood Jr. '41C-'42G, a Rhodes scholar, retired naval commander, and former petroleum industry executive, is determined his class will win. He has made a bequest to Emory that will create a scholarship fund in the College in memory of his parents, Leslie Lawson and Minnie Lee Hamilton Youngblood. His most recent gift of more than $15,000 not only goes toward the building of that fund but also is credited toward the Class of 1941's reunion gift drive. Youngblood encourages any classmate who wishes to contribute to the scholarship--or to the College in general--to do so before the August 31, 1996, deadline so the Class of 1941 will be victorious during Alumni Weekend.

From bad to verse

Anna Swindle transformed her father's dissertation frustration into poetry

Of all the words in the English language, the two most terrifying to a magazine editor are--unsolicited poetry. So you can imagine our trepidation when we received a letter from Dorothy Swindle '81MLS sending us not just poems, but poems written by her nine-year-old daughter, Anna. It's difficult enough to reject an adult's verse, but it would take tremendous tact to turn down a tot.

Fortunately, we didn't have to.

After her father, Richard Swindle '95PhD, earned his doctorate in educational leadership last May, Anna presented him with a series of poems that deconstructed the experience as only a child could. The poems turned out to be not only very clever, but also keenly acute. What follows is Dorothy Swindle's letter explaining the origin of the verse and two of Anna's six poems.

Dear Emory Magazine,

Last spring when my husband, Richard Swindle, completed the requirements necessary to receive his Ph.D. at the May graduation, our entire family rejoiced. We had done our parts to give him the space needed to get the work done and, at the end of it all, we--especially our two daughters--were delighted to know it was over! We decided that our celebration would include gifts from each of us to Richard.

I am enclosing the poems that our nine year old, Anna, wrote as her gift to her father. We were amazed at the way she so accurately expressed many of the feelings that had been a part of the process of completing a Ph.D. She had been part of the whole process, since he began the program the year she was born!

I have no idea if you would be interested in these, but it occurred to me that other families going through similar journeys might enjoy them. We certainly have.


Dorothy Swindle '81MLS

Dissertation Blues

My, my, my
Look at the sky.
It's very blue
I'm blue, too.
I've got the dissertation blues
'Cause I've been in the basement much too long.
My friends have gotten older.
This apple I started on 5 months ago has gotten moldier.
I hope my family will remember me
When I come upstairs again.
Wait! What did I just do?
I typed in the last word.
I'm finally through!
I'm DONE with my dissertation . . .
On to graduation!

I'm Losing My Temper

I'm losing my temper!
You just can't remember
That I'm doing my dissertation
And I have to get it done before graduation.
You're poking, you're prodding,
You're pesky, you're rude.
Would you please let me work in peace?!
Oh good! There you go!
Go on upstairs.
She's gone, HOORAY!!!
I'm happy today!
But wait! Who to talk to?
Who to poke you and prod you?
Come back downstairs.
Sit down in a chair
And please, please, please keep me company!

Brotherhood of Broadcasters

Recently, Mike McDougald '52C joined his brothers, Donald '49B and Worth '47C, as members of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, which is housed in Athens. Currently a board member of the National Association of Broadcasters and a past president of the Association of Emory Alumni, Mike McDougald is owner, president, and chief executive officer of radio stations WRGA and WQTU in Rome. He has received numerous honors from the Georgia Association of Broadcasters, including the Broadcast Citizen of the Year award in 1975. Donald McDougald, who founded radio and cable television stations in Statesboro, was named Georgia's Broadcast Citizen of the Year in 1971 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988. A professor emeritus of journalism and mass communications at the University of Georgia and former director of the Peabody Awards for broadcasting, Worth McDougald was the longest-serving faculty member in the University System of Georgia when he retired in 1992. That same year, he was named Georgia's Broadcast Citizen of the Year and was inducted into the Hall of Fame.--A.O.A. (Photo by Ann Borden)


Growing like the Dickens

When Gordon Dickens '73Ox-'75C began tinkering with microcomputers as a hobby in the mid-1970s, workplace computer automation was an idea most common in Star Trek reruns. "About the only thing you could do with a microcomputer kit was make a panel of lights blink," says Dickens, who earned an undergraduate degree in physics before completing his master's in nuclear engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

A few years later, Dickens was riding the wave of personal computer technology that was sweeping through corporate America. The graphics software programs he wrote and sold by mail-order in his spare time were making him more money than his career in the nuclear power industry. So in 1981, he quit his job to found Dickens Data Systems, which went from $1 million in annual sales in 1986 to $51 million last year. Since its beginnings, the company, now with some one hundred employees, has expanded into manufacturing and servicing peripheral equipment and software for IBM multiuser operating systems.

"IBM is one of our largest customers as well as one of our largest vendors," says Dickens, a former member of Emory's Board of Visitors and a current member of Oxford's Board of Counselors. "All the top companies in America use IBM information systems to run their businesses--look at General Motors, Ford, Coca-Cola."

In 1991, the Atlanta Business Chronicle recognized Dickens Data as the fastest-growing Southeastern high-technology company in the previous five years, and Inc. magazine named Dickens its entrepreneur of the year in the "explosive-growth" category. Last year, the Atlanta Business Chronicle included Dickens Data in a list of the fifty fastest-growing companies in the Atlanta area over the past five years.--A.O.A. (Photo by Kay Hinton)


Good Thai-dings

Shortly after losing his job as an advertising copywriter in Boston in 1990, Tom Pierpont '80C went seeking comfort food and commiseration with a friend at his favorite Thai restaurant. Over a plate of Pad Thai, a dish flavored with peanut sauce, Admiral Pierpont's Company was born. According to Pierpont, "My friend said, `Well, why don't you invent a [bottled] peanut sauce?' And I said, `Huh--there's an idea.' "

Six years and many experimental recipes later, Pierpont's company now nets some $100,000 annually from the sale of two sauces, Admiral Pierpont's Royal Thai Peanut Sauce and Admiral Pierpont's Key Lime Sauce. Pierpont, who got his start in the food business as a cook at P.J. Haley's restaurant and pub while attending Emory, also has a line of Mexican condiments in the works.

Pierpont recommends spooning his creamy, slightly spicy peanut sauce onto rice, noodles, even French fries, and using the key lime sauce as a baste or marinade for lamb, seafood, and poultry. "It's not necessarily [as popular as] Heinz tomato catsup yet," he says. "But the sauces seem to have won a certain following." Sold nationwide in specialty food markets such as Happy Herman's in Atlanta, the sauces retail for around four dollars for an eight-ounce jar.

Sports Hall of Fame Class of '96

During the upcoming Alumni Weekend, the Emory Sports Hall of Fame will induct its Class of 1996. The ten new inductees include Ralph Byers '67C, a two-time winner of the Bridges Award for best all-around athlete, who captained both the track and soccer teams; Robert E. Chappell Jr. '56Ox-'58C-'68MBA, who was the number one player on the Oxford tennis team and whose generosity made possible the University's new state-of-the art baseball facility, Chappell Park; cross country All-American Richard Anthony Lewis '86C, who still holds Emory records at 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters, and 5,000 meters; three-time track and field All-American and NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner Katherine Marshall Moore '91C; 1991 NCAA Division III national men's golf champion and two-time All-American Lee Cannon Palms '91C; and world-class biathlete S. James Ruddock II '79C, who captained both the cross country and swimming teams and who was ranked seventeenth as a senior at the Modern Pentathlon National Championships. Four other alumni will be inducted posthumously: Morris Siegel '37C, who was on the Emory boxing and basketball teams and who went on to be a well-known sports writer and three-time winner of the Washington, D.C., Newspaper Guild's sports writing award; Alexander Edward Dewar '08C, who was All-Emory in track and football, captain of the track team, and president of the Emory College Athletic Association; William Carlos Smith '08C, who was All-Emory in baseball, football, and track and captain of the baseball and football teams; and star halfback Marvin L. Thrower 1896C, an outstanding track athlete who also played third base for Emory. Reservations are required for the Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet, which will be held September 26. For more information, call 404-727-6479.

Click here to read a Spring 1996 Emory Magazine article on the history of the Sports Hall of Fame.


Play Ms. T for me

When Toni Furman-Eichelberger went in search of educational videos depicting positive African-American role models for her two-year-old son, Lewis, she found very little on the market. "I realized this was probably having a strong effect on the minority child's self-esteem," says Furman-Eichelberger, a 1991 Allied Health alumna who is currently a doctoral student in educational leadership at Clark Atlanta University. "So I said, Well, I'm going to do something about this."

With the help of her husband, Herbert Eichelberger, who earned his Ph.D. degree in Emory's Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts in 1990 and now teaches film at Clark Atlanta, she founded Ms. T Productions in 1991. Since then her company has released two "Educational Playtime" videos. The thirty-minute, live-action programs feature children of color interacting with well-known Atlanta performing artists, including actress Carol Mitchell-Leon, storyteller Akbar Imhotep, and the Pan People steel drum band. Through stories, music, dance, and puppetry, the videos convey lessons in reading and counting for children two to eight years old.

"The difference between my products and others is that mine project the black child as the majority," says Furman-Eichelberger, who also publishes Nia, a newsletter for children. "They show the black experience in a positive, loving, uplifting light. The black child can say, Look at the kids and performers in this video. I can achieve anything, too." (Photo by Annemarie Poyo)

Common bonds

Emory Magazine recently received a letter from James C. Yeargin '63D detailing the common bonds he shares with another Emory graduate, James R. Fowler '57Ox-'64M. In addition to their first names and their Emory connection, both are rear admirals in the U.S. Naval Reserve, both are the highest-ranking officer in their respective corps, and both work together in their Navy jobs in Washington, D.C. When asked about the coincidences, Yeargin said the two chalk it up to the " `E' factor--a great Emory background." In their civilian life, Fowler is a hand surgeon in Salt Lake City, and Yeargin is a general dentist in Daytona Beach. The above photograph (with Fowler on the right) was taken when the two rear admirals were in Korea last year.--J.D.T.

For more profiles of Emory alumni, read In Brief.

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