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Mailbag

Winter 2007

Missing Work
I have read with pleasure your Autumn 2007 issue. I thank you for highlighting the talents of the USC Roski School of Fine Arts with articles on the work of Dean Ruth Weisberg (“What’s New,” p. 25) and Professor Robbert Flick (“The Roads Most Traveled,” p. 40). I was also thrilled to see Karen Chu featured on the magazine’s cover.

I was the faculty advisor on Karen Chu’s Macomber Travel Grant project, “barrels of sea.” It was tremendously gratifying to work with Karen, and watch the great evolution in her work stemming from this opportunity of travel. I was very disappointed not to see, included in print, an example of Karen’s artwork. I wish you had at the very least included the link to her website, www.barrelsofsea.com, so your readers would have the chance to view the remarkable talents of Karen Chu.

Karen Koblitz
USC Roski School of Fine Arts
CAMPUS

Courage and Candor
Editor’s Note: We received an outpouring of mail in response to Melinda Vaughn’s story on law professor Elyn Saks’ lifelong struggle with schizophrenia that appeared in our last issue. A sampling of the correspondence is below; however, many of the letters were addressed directly to Professor Saks asking for more detailed information on her treatment. While we did not print those letters here, Professor Saks did reply personally to everyone who wrote her for advice.

A friend gave me her copy of the Autumn 2007 issue of the USC Trojan Family Magazine to read the article about Elyn Saks (“Law and Disorder,” p. 48).

The timing could not have been more appropriate since my schizophrenic son was giving a speech on his schizophrenia in a speech class at LA City College that week. This son received a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity sentence for a crime committed in July 1992 (the year he was due to receive a degree in computer science from UC Santa Cruz) and has been “warehoused” in the judicial system these past 15 years. I raised my eyebrows a bit when he told me of his intent to cover this topic, and he replied, “Mom, I’m not ashamed.”

Then I read Professor Saks’ words, “I wanted to write this book to give hope to people who suffer from schizophrenia and to give understanding to those who don’t.” You see what I meant about good timing.

My son is still not free, but he has been accepted at Cal State to start the fall semester and hopes to complete his degree. He is prohibited from leaving Los Angeles County and is trying to make some arrangement with Santa Cruz to allow some exception due to his circumstances. By the way, he has been placed on many medications over the years, but has been doing very well with his current regimen. Of course, he is well aware of the need to take the meds for the rest of his life. As he so poignantly said to me during one of my very painful visits when he was in County Jail at the beginning of this nightmare, “Imagine, Mom, what a difference a little white pill makes.”

His dream is to complete his degree, and when the time seems right, to apply for a Writ of Restoration to Sanity in court. Unfortunately, the judge in our case is extremely rigid, so we’ll have to deal with that.

Your article was so uplifting and gave such hope to both me and my son. I thank writer Melinda Vaughn and Elyn Saks from the bottom of my heart.

Joan Schiff
PASADENA, CA

I just read the article on Elyn Saks in the USC Trojan Family Magazine. Wow, that is an incredibly moving piece! The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is an international organization based in Los Angeles that has been fighting the legal battles against the use of restraints in psychiatric hospitals and against involuntary commitment for medical treatment. It was formed in 1969 and has won cases all over the world against such abuses. I highly recommend it to you. The CCHR website is: http://cchr.org.

I attended graduate school at USC back in the 1980s. Your magazine is terrific!

Larry Holmes MBT ’86
LONG BEACH, CA

I found the story “Law and Disorder” to be one of the most compelling articles I have read anywhere. I am deeply moved by the courage and insight Professor Saks offers. I direct a leadership program we have offered for the California Institute of Mental Health for the past four years, and found the article offered me considerable insight into the struggle and courage that Elyn Saks and others bring to life.

I am deeply appreciative of Melinda Vaughn’s thoughtful writing and of Professor Saks’ willingness to share her story.

Rich Callahan
Associate Dean and Director, State Capital and Leadership Program, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development
CAMPUS

Thank you for that wonderful article about Elyn Saks. I was so impressed and grateful to hear about her, as I have a brother who has struggled with this same mental disorder since he was a teenager. He is married and has raised a very musically talented son. However, two years ago he started having a very serious setback but now seems to be coming out of it slowly, so I was very encouraged after reading about Elyn and what she has accomplished. Thank you so much!

My daughter Christine and her husband, Joseph Rich, attended USC. I always look forward to reading the magazine as there is always information about people who are making a much-needed difference in the world.

Eleanor Kendrick
MURRIETA, CA

The inspiring, meaningful experience of Professor Elyn Saks was most impressive. I wish I would have had it to share with the patients I had at Camarillo State Hospital. I was a psychiatric social worker for 46 years in Southern California until I retired in 1985 and taught until 1992.

The majority of my experience has been with non-dangerous mentally disordered patients. The last part of my career included being in charge of the clinical services for 245 forensic patients in our Los Angeles County program. I then did training throughout the state for another six years. This forensic experience demonstrated to me how, without special training, many professionals are not prepared to work with people who are dangerous. I think this was the problem for much of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

I look forward to reading Elyn Saks’ book.

Donald T. Lee ’43, MSW ’48
SAN MARCOS, CA

Dear Elyn Saks: How courageous you are. Thank you so much for your so personal disclosure. I have worked with individuals who have a mental illness. I am now in the process of getting more involved with the Mental Health Services Act as the County of Los Angeles extends employment to individuals who have been identified as having a mental disorder. Your experience was a welcomed reminder for me. Although I believe in the program, it is so helpful to know that a disorder, even one as severe as schizophrenia, can’t keep someone disabled all of the time. Thank you for sharing your experience with so many mental health professionals that “know everything.” Thank you, Ms. Vaughn, for such a well-written article.

Mona Sparks,
Patient’s Rights Supervisor,
County of Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES, CA

Historic Retorts
Thank you for the fine review of USC’s origins, including the seminal role played by leaders within the Methodist Episcopal Church in Southern California (Summer 2007, “Birth of a University,” p. 28).

During my student years, 1942-45, Dr. von KleinSmid, of course, was the president/ chancellor. After I became student body president, I recall being invited into his office for an informal visit and, subsequently, being invited to help him host a campus visit by the then-bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, James Baker, whom I believe was still included on USC’s Board of Trustees.

It was many years later, upon preparing a history of our First United Methodist Church in Tucson, Ariz. (founded 1879), that I discovered that Dr. von KleinSmid was an active member of First Church while serving as president of the University of Arizona (1914-21), having come here from faculties at two other Methodist institutions of higher learning, DePaul (originally Indiana Asbury College) and Northwestern universities. It was from Tucson that he moved to USC as president.

Lee (Leland H.) Scott ’45
TUCSON, AZ

It was interesting to read about the university’s relationship with the Methodist community by Annette Moore (Autumn 2007, “Mailbag,” p. 9). I’m especially intrigued about USC history because many family members have graduated from USC, one a Methodist minister.

Here they are: Byron Lamson MA ’28,  Methodist minister and brother of my father and my uncle; Evelyn Lamson Honn ’28, MA ’62, sister of my father and my aunt; Forrest Lamson ’34 (my father); Helen O’Brien Lamson ’34 (my mother); and me.

Is there help available to research my family’s involvement at USC? My mother, Helen O’Brien Lamson, was thought to be on the USC women’s tennis team as was her sister, Nancy O’Brien Kellner. My father, Forrest Lamson, was also athletic and known for L.A.-based radio broadcasts concerning education, station unknown. Thank you for any assistance that can be provided regarding our multigenerational USC family.

Ralph J. Lamson MA ’85, PhD ’89
SAN RAFAEL, CA

You may contact Claude Zachary, university archivist, at (213) 740-2587 or via email at czachary@usc.edu.

I read with great interest USC historian Annette Moore’s response to alumnus Stewart Chesler’s questions in your latest issue (“Mailbag,” p. 9) about the Methodist connections to USC’s early history, in which Ms. Moore states, “…the university from its beginning welcomed students from all religious and ethnic backgrounds.”

I wonder how Ms. Moore would explain how it is that my father, BSEE class of 1950, when he first applied to USC after returning from World War II, when he wrote “Rosh Hashonah” as the answer to the following question on his application: “Which holidays other than the usual ones do you celebrate?” was denied entrance into the university. FYI: He applied the next year, left that question blank, and was accepted. Could it be that there’s a little bit of revisionist history happening here to cast the university in, shall we say to be kind, a “different light”?

Please feel free to print this e-mail in the magazine, as well as any response from Ms. Moore.

Marc Yablonka MPW ’90
BURBANK, CA

USC historian Annette Moore responds: Although the limited records available to us make it difficult to identify former students and faculty of the Jewish faith, we can be fairly certain that USC did welcome Jewish students early on. Esther Hellman (wife of founding donor Isaias Hellman) attended the university in 1890-91, there were at least two Jewish students on campus in 1895-96, and in 1918, Alpha Phi Sigma and Zeta Beta Tau became the first Jewish fraternities to establish chapters at USC. However, even though USC – unlike some of the major private East Coast universities – never formally instituted enrollment quotas, there was a time when Jewish students felt isolated at the university.

Much has been done in subsequent years to rectify this situation. When Norman Topping became president of USC in 1958, he developed a close relationship with Nelson Glueck and Alfred Gottschalk of Hebrew Union College, and ultimately helped convince them to relocate HUC’s Los Angeles branch to a site near the University Park campus. Since the facility opened in 1971, the two institutions have introduced a wide variety of cooperative academic ventures, including joint degree programs.

Today, President Steven B. Sample has taken USC’s commitment to diversity even farther. The university’s dean of religious life is Rabbi Susan Laemmle, Stanley Gold is serving as the first Jewish chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, and the university houses two prominent research centers focused on the Jewish experience: the USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life and the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education.

Policy Pow-Wow
While reading Dr. Sample’s piece under the President’s Page (Autumn 2007, p. 5), I was struck by something he wrote: “In the years ahead USC will build on this model to provide more local and international learning opportunities for our students.” To that end, let me humbly recommend the following to the students, teachers, alumni and followers of the university:

Similar to what Fred Friendly did in the 1980s and ’90s on “The Constitution, a Delicate Balance,” I strongly urge USC to host a roundtable discussion of scholars and writers dealing with America’s foreign policy concerns. The scholars would include Tom Barnett (author of The Pentagon’s New Map and Blueprint for Action and quite possibly the next George Kennan); professor Bernard Lewis, a leading authority on the Middle East; Frederick Kagan (author of Finding the Target); Fouad Ajami, also a Mideast authority; Alvin Toffler, futurist and author; Robert Spencer (author and authority on Islam); and professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard University.

After all, the public is starving for real news and insight, real history and real policy recommendations, and the above gentlemen would add a lot to the discussion of the future of American foreign policy. USC’s Von KleinSmid Center would be the ideal location for such a prestigious event.

Michael Bussio ’72
SCOTTS VALLEY, CA

Opera Opprobrium
My husband and I attended the April production of Miss Lonelyhearts at USC (Autumn 2007, “Arts & Culture,” p. 26).

Appalled, disgusted, shocked and terrorized by the unnecessarily graphic and downright pornographic gestures, gesticulations, language and Christian-bashing plot, we were forced to leave after the first unfathomable act. We could only assume the director (Ken Cazan) had forgotten that this was supposed to be a student production for educational purposes, edifying and building the careers and skills of the finest young singers that come to USC. 

I did not see any “NC-17” posted warnings upon entering the theater, on the tickets, on the cover of the program, or posted on the doors, as there should have been. Audiences must be warned in advance – we have a right to know whether to expect graphic violence, graphic sexual scenes, objectionable language and adult situations before entering the theater. That is the law for movie theaters, rented DVDs and CDs for purchase today – why are Ken Cazan’s opera productions exempt from such guidelines? Were any children under 17 admitted to any performances of this opera? If so, he should be charged with endangering the welfare of a child with what he shamelessly instructed college students to do on that stage. 

Opera fans go to the opera to have a higher artistic experience than we can find in the movie theater or on television. We go to be uplifted, to be moved, to be taught, to laugh, to cry, but we do not go to watch the beautiful art form we so cherish be treated with irreverence, disdain, mockery, smut and hatefulness.  

While my letter only “officially” represents the opinions of two audience members who attended that performance, there were many more people who left the theater (in disgust) at intermission, not to return for the second act. Arts audiences need to stand up and be heard when they witness something that is an endangerment to students, audiences, university opera programs and the operatic art form in general. Many opera patrons oppose the downward-spiraling moral trend spearheaded by Cazan and other university opera directors. I urge those patrons to voice their opinions and protest a little louder when they are offended by the “entertainment” they see and hear on college stages. Perhaps then administrators and directors will begin to listen.

Tricia Oney DMA ’07 and David Gibides
VALENCIA, CA

USC Thornton School of Music Dean Robert Cutietta responds: The Thornton School is one of the finest music schools in the country. As such, it is critical that we provide students in the opera program experiences that are not available at other institutions of higher education.

Therefore, when the occasion presented itself for us to collaborate with the Juilliard School and the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati on a world premiere of an opera, it would have been irresponsible of me to deny our students this unique opportunity. As artists they had to conquer demanding contemporary music while creating characters for which they had no former role models. Professional opera singers will be confronted with this dual challenge, but very few schools of music are in a position to provide such an opportunity. 

We signed onto the project before the piece was composed (as is always the case with commissions and premieres) but we were aware of the story line. Ms. Oney seems to have missed the point that Professor Cazan did not write the story. Instead, it is the accurate portrayal of the classic 1933 book by Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts, by one of today’s major living composers, Lowell Liebermann. Prior to this production, the book has been made into a Broadway play and two movies. It is read and studied in college-level English classes at USC and many other universities across the country.

Last, Ms Oney is mistaken when she states that no warnings about adult content were present. We took extreme measures to assure that audience members were clear that the performance contained adult subject matter and was not appropriate for children. This included a letter from me to all of our regular opera audience members specifically to make this clear.

The mission of an academic institution is to provide top educational experiences for its students. The mission of an outstanding educational institution such as the USC Thornton School is to provide an unparalleled array of professional experiences that are not available at other schools. I think we succeeded very well in fulfilling this mission.

Too Short a Note
It was with keen interest that I read your listing of my name in Class Notes (Autumn 2007, p. 55). What was noticed immediately was the lack of humanizing you gave to other graduates. In just a few more lines you could have noted the facts I gave you, information that would have identified me as a Trojan: I hold three degrees from the university; I was for several years an adjunct professor in the School of Education; I am a past president of the Education Alumni Association; I was an assistant superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District.

Oh, yes. Even in three lines you did not get it right. I earned an Ed.D., not a Ph.D.

Jack McClellan ’42, MS ’51 EdD ’56
ALHAMBRA, CA

With slightly red faces, we apologize to Dr. McClellan for the omissions, and are glad to have the opportunity here to share his information with our readers.

Puzzlers
Re: The Last Word (“Name That Country,” Summer 2007): O.K., so I made one mistake. Sorry. However, you made one also. In your answers, you list answer No. 10 as “Macau.” Macao is the Portuguese colony in Asia you seem to refer to in your question. That’s with an “o.” Macau is the name of a city in Brazil, on the coast or near it and north of the city of Natal.

The correct answer to No. 10 should be Macao, not Macau. I hope you didn’t select your winners based upon the answer as you list it in the Autumn 2007 USC Trojan Family Magazine.

Joann Porter Toll BA ’48, JD ’58
GLENDALE, CA

“Last Word” editor Diane Krieger sent the following response to reader Joann Porter Toll: Your letter sparked a round of reference-checking here. Macau and Macao both are correct spellings for the Portuguese colony in Asia. Encyclopedia Britannica lists the preferred spelling as Macau. You are absolutely right about the Brazilian city named Macau. For the “Last Word” contest, we took either spelling.

Ms. Porter Toll wrote back: “Good to know there’s a live human being down there at USC. Almost every quiz I work up a storm and submit answers and never hear from anyone. I check my answer, and this time I missed one-half of one question, so I’m a bit put out, which is why I grumbled about Macao/Macau as sometimes I fear I may have missed by a letter. You are pretty picky, you know. I went with the National Geographic atlas. Encyclopedia Britannica sometimes spells things the British way and that could be a letter off or so.

“But, anyway, thanks for your response and it’s really good to know you’re right on the job. Perhaps I’ll try to do the colors in this current issue (Autumn 2007, p. 64). I know five without working, which is a start. Wish me luck!”

 

Thank you for Last Word. It’s delightful to visit and revisit the numerous topics suggested by your fascinating questions.

Marilyn Hershey Rudzik ’55
MARIPOSA, CA

Short and Sweet
Thank you for the wonderful content in your magazine. That’s why I contribute to the Alumni Fund every year.

Bob McCarthy MPA ’82
FAIRFAX, VA

Trojan Memory
Jury duty, in some cases, can be a valuable post-graduate education. This is in addition to performing an important civic duty.

Frank graduated with a master’s degree from a major university. He had just recently been employed in a career position when he received his notice for jury duty. When he arrived, he joined many other people who had also received their summons. They represented various levels of society and culture. Frank was able to use his social skills in communicating with them. Also, this increased his sociological knowledge.

Later, Frank was called to serve on a case. During jury selection, Frank used his communication skills in answering the questions of the lawyers and the judge. The case provided Frank an opportunity to use his listening and analytical skills as he heard the testimony. He took notes and was able to use his writing skills.

At the end of the case, Frank and the other jurors had the opportunity to use their interpersonal relations and decision-making skills in reaching a verdict. He also had the opportunity to review his notes that he took during the course of the trial.

As you can see, this was a rich and rewarding experience for Frank. He took pride in performing a civic duty. He had a chance to revisit the skills that he learned in graduate school. Thus, jury duty can be an opportunity for post-graduate education.

In this case, I was “Frank.” The graduate school was the USC School of Business, now Marshall. USC helped me perform and appreciate a civic duty.

Ronald Berg BS ’57, MBA ’59
LOS ANGELES, CA

Notice Board
The Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Class of 1957 isn’t your ordinary alumni class. Inspired after the early death of one of their classmates, this successful and cohesive group established a memorial endowment to create scholarships for all future medical students. Under the leadership of the Class of ’57 committee, the class has raised over $100,000.

The committee, composed of eight of the members of the Class of ’57, meets quarterly on the Health Sciences campus at the Edmondson Faculty Center to find more ways to “give back.” The committee includes Drs. Laird Facey, James Chung, Robert Francis, Eli Ginsburg, Brian Ginsburg, Dan Hillman, Timothy LeFevere,  Jack Lindheimer and Ed Woerz. Once a year, they try to have a field trip or a tour. Recently, they had a VIP tour of the construction of the new Los Angeles County Hospital.

This year, the Class of ’57 will commemorate its half-century mark. Each member of the class received a Fifty Year Fellows medallion at a luncheon held on the main campus at Town and Gown last May. Afterwards, they headed to Malibu to celebrate privately with their spouses at the home of Dan Hillman, where a tropical dinner greeted the friendly group.

This fall, the group continued to honor its 50 years by hosting a gala weekend reunion at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in September.

Members of this special class not only know how to have fun, they also care deeply about medical education, having created clerkships and scholarships as well as providing continual and active support for a pledge program. The Class of ’57 reaps benefits as a cohesive group, and also gives to many worthy medical students. Their days in medical school touched their lives in a special way and they in turn want to share the USC Trojan Family feeling with others.

Nani Bush
Director of Events
Keck School of Medicine of USC
CAMPUS

Nov. 12 marks the 15th anniversary of the USC Lambda Gay + Lesbian Alumni Association, and a number of events are planned for this fall and early spring to commemorate the milestone.

Lambda’s new advisory board launched this fall with a membership including former board members, founders of Lambda and notable USC alums. A new five-year strategic plan was adopted and a campaign to increase membership and scholarship funds was begun.

In October, Lambda worked with USC’s Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender Resource Center to put on several social and educational events during National Coming-Out Week, including a candlelight vigil on Oct. 3 to commemorate the soldiers in conflicts abroad.

On Nov. 3, USC Lambda will continue its Homecoming tradition with a tailgate in Argue Plaza next to the Widney Alumni House. Special guests are to include past scholarship recipients. Every spring, the group holds a Lavender Graduation ceremony and awards scholarships in education, cinematic arts, business administration, lesbian health studies and outstanding achievement. Last spring’s scholarships totaled $35,200.

A campus fun run is being planned for early spring to help raise funds for the scholarship endowment.

Lambda began with 65 members in 1992 as part of the USC Office of Student Affairs. It became an official alumni association in 2003, and now has about 200 active members. It is one of the few such organizations in the country, and is part of the reason USC was named one of the top 20 LGBT friendly schools in the country in The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, published in 2006. Lamda’s website, which gives more history and information, is http://alumni.usc.edu/lambda.

John Paul Karliak, ’03
USC Lambda Alumni Association
CAMPUS

We need your assistance in preserving the heritage of our university. The USC University Archives exist to collect, preserve and make available records having permanent value in documenting the history and growth of the university; its administrative offices, academic departments and USC-related organizations, as well as the activities of faculty, staff and students. Books (including faculty publications), manuscripts, USC periodicals and newspapers, posters, photographic images, disc and tape recordings and other archival items are available for research under supervised conditions.

Gifts of papers, pictures, letters, programs, student publications, any item contributing to documentation of the history of USC, will be greatly appreciated and carefully preserved.

Please contact me at (213) 740-2587 or czachary@usc.edu, or visit us at www.usc.edu/arc/libraries/uscarchives.

Claude Zachary
USC University Archivist
CAMPUS

For the Record
In the Autumn 2007 issue, the mixed-media drawing, “The Scroll” that was the centerpiece of the exhibit by USC Roski School of Fine Arts Dean Ruth Weisberg at the Skirball Cultural Center was described as being 9 feet long, rather than its magnificent length of 94 feet (“What’s New,” p. 25).