Scott Henry did a nice job profiling Merle Black (“The Importance of Being Merle,” autumn 2012), one of Emory’s most valuable assets. I was lucky enough to take Professor Black’s Southern Politics class in the fall of 1992, when Clinton was elected president. His insight into the race was remarkable, and, in the days before the Internet and numerous 24/7 “news” channels, it was uncanny how many times he would correctly predict a certain result or strategy decision. His excitement about the race rubbed off on all of us in the class, and I remain a political junkie to this day.

Philip Byrum 95C, Chattanooga, Tennessee

I was up to my eyes in the election and Merle Black allowed me to step back and look at a bigger picture. He cleared both parties’ agendas from my mind. He pointed out the history and brought our current state of politics into perspective.

Steven Kiner, Director of Emergency Psychiatric Services, Emory Healthcare, Carrollton, Georgia

In the excellent autumn issue of Emory Magazine, I read with dismay the sidebar on page seven about deceptive public reporting by former admission staff members. But I was enormously cheered by the remarks of the new dean of admission for Emory College in the facing article (“What We Care About,” autumn 2012). Although I chaired the search committee that brought the previous dean of admission to Emory, I must confess that, given the atmosphere in which the business of college recruiting was then being carried on, I am not greatly surprised by the revelation that Emory, among other institutions, resorted to deceptive practices in the relentless pandemic pursuit of prestige. It is extraordinarily encouraging to know that Dr. Latting wants to “create a culture shift” away from the worship of SAT scores and high-school averages, in order to focus on identifying and attracting to Emory College those students who are inherently right for the college, and for whom the college is a very good fit. This approach requires courage, and intelligence, and a lot of hard work. It can only be put in place by an institution that knows itself, is happy with its fundamental values and its achievements, and is thoughtfully confident about its contributions to society and its future. I believe that Emory is one of the rare universities that fit this description. I wish Dr. Latting well as he implements this enlightened new policy.

Garland Richmond, Professor Emeritus of German Studies, Bellingham, Washington

A comment on “Lessons Unsought” (message from the president, autumn 2012). First, my thanks to you, President Wagner, for your letters, their insight, and your continued leadership. As I strive to grow as a principled leader, I’ve come to the conclusion that how we, as humans, deal with failure is far more important than how we deal with success. Self-awareness of this kind has become the most important factor in my decisions about hiring, promoting, and exiting leaders in the organization I have the pleasure to work with. The unfortunate fact is that the leaders of the day are forced to pay for the poor decisions of the leaders of the past. I appreciate your direct and candid lessons, as well as action for the future to repair that which has been fractured.

Dan Gallagher 07 EMBA, Charleston, South Carolina

I want to thank you for your article on Bill Shapiro (“Soul of a Teacher,” Oxford Outlook, autumn 2012). He is one of the greatest attributes Oxford has to offer. Anyone who knows him is blessed to be able to not only have a piece of history of Oxford College but to be in the presence of a truly sincere gentleman. I wish I could rewind the clock to my student days; I would take every political science class he taught. Professor Shapiro teaches beyond academics; he teaches life lessons. Thank you for an article well done and well titled. He is awesome!

Jennifer Williams, Academic Services, Oxford College, Conyers, Georgia

The story about the research scientist Cassandra Quave 00C (“Medicine Woman,” autumn 2012) brought me to tears as I read what she endured as a child, then a pumping fist in the air after reading about her triumph over all of this. Wow! What a wonderful story of survival, determination, giving back, a brilliant mind, and human frailties. Oh yes, I was happy to see that she found love. I wish her the best with her research.

Gwendolyn Samples 09P, Houston, Texas

I greatly enjoyed reading the article about Natasha Trethewey. I was born a week before her. I don’t think of myself as “biracial,” but my parents are of two vastly different backgrounds. My mother is French and my father is Indian. So I am delighted by people like her, President Obama, Norah Jones, etc.

Narayan Sengupta 88C, Atlanta

Thanks for the super treatment of the new US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. Trethewey impressed me with her poetry, which I relate to my childhood growing up in the South. Go Emory!

John Fisher 77OX 79C, Sydney, Australia

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