Langguth Loyalists

Thank you for your feature on one of USC’s gems, Jack Langguth. I was lucky enough to take his interpretive writing class in the early 1980s and his lessons remain with me today. I can still hear him say to me, “What college really gives you is a bibliography.” My bibliography is much more useful to me because of Jack. He is a fine author and a great teacher and USC remains lucky to have him.

Gary Karr ’84
Falls Church, VA

It was September 1978, when I barged into journalism professor Joe Saltzman’s office and demanded that he place me in a worthwhile writing class. Joe didn’t know me and didn’t like my attitude, but he was cornered and wanted to eat lunch so he blurted out, “Take Jack Langguth’s class. He’s the best we’ve got.”
More than two decades later, I realize that Joe’s advice was literal and not restricted to USC. Jack is the best we’ve got, period. Although I haven’t lived in California for 16 years, he is one of my dearest, most respected friends. On a recent visit I introduced him to my new bride, who fell in love with him before our main course. (Jack treated, as always, and ordered lobster thermidor for us and turkey à la king for himself.)
My wife came running into the kitchen with the mail today, pointing to the cover of your magazine. “It’s Jack! It’s Jack!” she said breathlessly, like her best friend had just won the Nobel Peace Prize. And she wasn’t excited because she’d enjoyed the lobster thermidor. She had met the man only once and knew what Joe Saltzman knew in 1978: he’s the best we’ve got.

Don Rutberg MFA ’80
Philadelphia, PA

What a wonderful article about Jack Langguth in your Spring 2001 issue! As a journalism/English major, I had the pleasure of taking a class from Mr. Langguth in 1979-80. He was soft-spoken, kind and humble for a man who had already seen and done it all. I must confess I actually had a crush on Mr. Langguth, he of the benevolent yet brilliant mind. How gratifying to know he still passes his knowledge of life onto other generations.
I was inspired by Mr. Langguth (among other professors) to work on the Daily Trojan and became editor in my senior year. Although I have not pursued a career in journalism and, probably like many of my fellow alums, ended up doing something I never thought I would, I have managed to utilize the good writing skills and open-minded approaches taught to me by professors such as Jack Langguth in my life’s work.

Robin L. Ohama ’80
Highland, CA

Today I received USC Trojan Family Magazine in the mail. I quickly scanned the cover, then moved on to the bills. As I was opening the first bill envelope, I paused for thought and immediately picked the magazine up again. “Ah, yes,” I smiled back at Jack Langguth on the cover of the Spring 2001 issue, “Our Man in Vietnam.”
It is absolutely perfect that this article appears in the issue wherein President Sample quotes from the mission statement: “The central mission of the University of Southern California is the development of human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit.” Jack Langguth embodies this promise.
I graduated from USC in 1994. My major was journalism, and I had the pleasure of being in Mr. Langguth’s “Interpretive Writing” class in my senior year. This class embodied one of the missions of the journalism school: “to foster well-rounded, well-educated, more-than-just-a-journalist people.” In his class I was allowed to return to the full breadth of why I chose journalism as my major, I loved to write. I experienced the beauty of writing through my own creativity, and passion again. It was a brilliant class.
Jack did not subscribe to any antics that belittled or broke his students down. He taught me by cultivating my natural strengths and inspiring me to tap into my creativity. Everyone was treated as if they were the next best-selling author or journalist. When your writing excited him, he let you know. When your writing touched him, he wasn’t too arrogant to shed a tear. All of us had strengths that he acknowledged and praised. All of us had weak areas that he constructively criticized. And if any of us needed help, his follow-up was unswerving.
He made me feel important in a school full of the most talented and intelligent people. And he did this not because I landed a great internship or job or wrote an award-winning article. He did this through his genuine love for writing and teaching and his authentic thoughtfulness. Even after I graduated, he returned my phone calls and replied to my letters.
I will never forget Jack Langguth. I respected him for his honesty and his consistency in character. He will remain one of the best experiences I had while attending USC. He is the type of teacher I pray my children will experience. When Jack Langguth decides to stop teaching in three years, there will be a great loss to the School of Journalism and the university, because he truly embodies the university’s mission.

Audrey Lassiter ’94
La Puente, CA

Siberian Adventure

My husband and I especially enjoyed “Siberia, Back to the Past” in the Spring 2001 issue of USC Trojan Family Magazine [p. 34]. What an interesting experience those students had and what an experience we had reading it.
The four older ladies pictured on page 37 are so colorful in their flowered outfits! We can learn something from them – in that we must all have some good outdoor exercise and that some hard work as hauling water may make these women live to a ripe old age.
Please thank the students and the funders who made this lovely trip possible.

Mrs. David W. McMullen
(David, MSEE ’78)
Montgomery, TX

Team leader Marcus Levitt tells us that a CD called Songs of the Semejskie from Ukir, recorded by the USC team in Siberia, has just been published by the Moscow Heritage Institute. The cost is $15; available from Marcus C. Levitt, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, USC, Los Angeles, CA 90089-4353, (213) 740-2736.

As Bright As All That?

The piece on the freshman class in the Spring 2001 issue of USC Trojan Family Magazine contained the astounding statistic that the class’ mean GPA was 3.89. For 2,924 students!
I question this. It just seems too hard to believe. If true, how do you account for this? Either the upper ceiling for GPAs is higher than 4.0, or grade inflation is outrageous in high schools. If this mean GPA is accurate, then how many were valedictorians of their classes? 500 or 600?

Stanley A. Nasraway, MD ’83
Medfield, MA

Laurel Baker Tew, associate dean of admission, replies: “It’s really true. A glance at the high school transcripts of our enrolling class shows that most incoming USC students earn mostly A’s and A minuses in their high school courses, from ninth grade through the first semester of 12th grade. For a number of years now, we’ve worked hard to get the message out that students should get the best grades possible in the most demanding course schedule possible, including Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and honors curricula. Getting an accurate number of valedictorians is a challenge, because valedictory selections are made by the high schools long after we have made our offers of admission. A large portion of our incoming freshman class, though, hails from the top 10 percent of their graduating high school class.”

A Little Respect, Please

The letters appearing in the Spring 2001 issue under the heading “USC, Then and Now” [Mailbag, p. 7] have inspired me to comment.
I agree that we are the product of a great university and recognize the importance of telling the world about that. Perhaps there is a better way to do it, without making USC seem a lesser place during the years some of us attended without benefit of today’s great facilities and strong endowments. Make no mistake – I enjoy reading about USC and its progress. I have always taken pride in having attended there and believe that, year after year, it has always done a fine job.

Glenn Lundell ’47, MBA ’63
Green Valley, AZ

Read It All

I read with interest your article and pullout section (“Preparing the Leaders of Tomorrow,” Winter 2000, p. 37) advising prospective students about preparing for USC and other selective universities. I write from more than 30 years teaching English in California community colleges. One recommendation missing from your list is that high school students need to read widely on their own time – both fiction and non-fiction, the classics and modern works. Even in top private schools, overworked teachers cannot assign as much reading as students need to build good comprehension and vocabulary skills. No SAT or ACT preparation program can do what an independent and comprehensive reading program can. Such a program, if started in the early grades and continued through high school, will yield benefits far beyond the short-term rewards obtained from expensive crash courses.

Deanne Koziol Spears ’64, MA ’65
El Granada, CA

Trojan Memories

In reading of the death of Frank A. Salazar, ’50 [Winter 2000, p. 77], I am remembering an unusual event. The year was 1955 and Bovard Field was crowded with bands rehearsing for High School Band Day and the half-time show for the USC-Notre Dame game. Tommy Walker was barking directions to the resplendently uniformed musicians when shouts of alarm came from the field. A three-deck observation tower loaded with band directors and on-lookers was teetering dangerously and crashed to the ground, miraculously missing band members below. Several tower observers were injured, although none seriously. Frank Salazar was one of the casualties of the tower accident. Frank later returned to Oxnard to continue as an outstanding band director and eventually to become founder and conductor of the Ventura County Symphony.
In spite of the accident, my Venice High musicians carried away a pleasant memory of that day.We did a great half-time show and USC’s team went on to defeat Notre Dame by a resounding score.

Wallace Umber, MEd ’61
Los Angeles, CA

I read with interest the many alumni news notes of the “old” years of the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and the occasional ’30s. I have a daughter who graduated from the USC [Rossier] School of Education in 1965 and a son-in-law who graduated from the USC [Marshall] School of Business in 1964 and from the USC School of Law in 1967. I also have a granddaughter at USC.
Fight on!

Arthur P. Sugarman ’26
Mission Viejo, CA

Regarding your obituary on Jack Egan ’58 in the Spring 2001 issue, it neglected to mention that Jack, 6 foot, 4 inches and 225 pounds at the time, was a discus thrower of some note, lettering in 1956, ’57 and ’58. He was overshadowed in that event by Olympian teammate Rink Babka.
The 1958 Trojan Track & Field Media Guide said: “Rink Babka ranks as the second-best discus jockey in ’SC history on the basis of his 185' 1" throw last year. With the added help of Jack Egan (174' 8"), the Trojans should go 1-2 in all dual meet competition this year, with a chance for a like finish in the nationals. Egan has shown improvement in spring workouts and could push Babka for the blue ribbon throughout the season.”
Push him he did. Jack finished third in the NCAA discus rankings in 1958 (182' 9 1/2" to Babka’s 188' 4 1/2"). The 1958 team was 5-0 in dual meets and won the NCAA championship. The USC Sports Information Office says Egan finished fourth in the 1958 NCAA meet. Behind the cold statistics, Jack was a personable, funny guy in a terrific era for USC track and field.

Joseph Jares ’59
Los Angeles, CA

Notice Board

USC’s Center for Excellence in Teaching is most interested in hearing from all graduates who have chosen a teaching career at institutions of higher learning and who have received awards for excellence in teaching. We are eager to remain in touch and to explore ways in which stimulating collaborations could be formed. Information about our many current initiatives and awards for teaching is available on our Web site ( We can be reached via email at <>.

Danielle Mihram
Center for Excellence in Teaching

After six years, Men’s Crew is back and we are in the process of organizing a program with the goal of eventually becoming a major power to compete with all the top universities in the United States.
Our old alumni address list consists of 802 members since 1950. This list needs to be updated, and we need to confirm past oarsmen’s addresses. Please contact us at Friends of USC Men’s Rowing, attention Don Lamont, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2500; by email at <>; or fax at (213) 740-9739.

Jack Schumacher ’54
Los Angeles, CA

We would love to get in contact with Troy Camp alumni. Please visit our Web site ( and register with our Alumni Section, or email us at <>.

Mary Ann Yaghdjian
Director of Alumni Relations,
Troy Camp

In our Spring 2001 issue, we mistakenly wrote that the late Florence Richert Adams ’33, MA ’35 lived in Cambridge, Idaho. She was actually a resident of Los Angeles. And in noting the passing of John (Jack) F. Egan ’58 (Spring 2001, p. 69), we listed one of his survivors as daughter Mintee ’82. Her correct full name is Sharon Egan Mintie.


Previous Last Word Answers
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Mailbag, c/o USC Trojan Family Magazine, University of Southern California,
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2538, fax: (213) 821-1100

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