LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Editor's note: A memorial in honor
of Professor Jim Shenton ‘49 will be held
on campus on Thursday, October 2. Please log onto
or call (212) 870-2288 for further information.
CCT has received many letters and e-mails in
the wake of Shenton's death and is pleased to present
some of them beginning on page. 20 as part of our
coverage of his passing. This also includes an obituary,
a remembrance by DeWitt Clinton Professor of History
Eric Foner ’63 and a reprint of a 1996 CCT
cover story about Shenton. Alumni, faculty and students
are invited to share their memories of this remarkable
Columbian by writing to CCT at 475 Riverside
Dr., Ste 917, New York, NY 10115-0998 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take Teachers Not Subjects
I was delighted to read your article
about Kathy Eden (July), a masterful, caring teacher
whose gentle, Socratic prodding I remember fondly.
I had Eden for Lit Hum during the fall of 1992,
and how I got into her class is a story in itself.
Because one of my mentors, the late Wallace Gray,
told me to “take teachers, not subjects”
as an undergraduate, I wound up taking Lit Hum and
CC off-sequence. In other words, during the fall
of my freshman year, I took the first semester of
CC, but then, during the spring, I switched into
the second semester of Lit Hum, where Gray
was my teacher.
When I returned to Columbia for my sophomore year,
I went to see Gray, who had arranged for me to be
in his section, this time for the first
semester of Lit Hum, which I had yet to take. We
were to read the Greeks, and Gray was such a splendid
teacher that I did not mind learning the material
out of order. However, two weeks into the semester,
Gray was rushed to the hospital. The students in
his class were told he would no longer be teaching
Lit Hum that year, and that we would to be farmed
out to other sections. I approached Kathy Eden,
explained the situation, and asked for permission
to join her class. It was thus my good fortune to
be able to take the first semester of Lit Him with
a teacher whose mastery of the material and love
of teaching matched Gray’s.
Eden was a treasure. She had the ability to bring
out the voice of every student in the room, drawing
on Columbia’s diversity. When we read the
Greeks, for example, she often let an Orthodox Jew
in our class begin by giving his opinion of the
texts, before prodding someone else to offer a different
interpretation. Back and forth, we went like this
for an entire semester, poring over literature that
obviously was dear to Eden’s heart. The students
in the class constantly were learning from one another,
which is not to say that we were not also utterly
in awe of our professor. Effortlessly, Eden often
would turn to the blackboard to write something
in Latin or Greek, explaining the derivations of
the words that we came across in our texts. Her
course was one of the most exciting I took in my
four years at the College.
Many years later, when Gray, my mentor and friend,
and I met for dinner, he recalled that fateful semester.
“I desperately wanted to call you from the
hospital to say that they should put you into Kathy
Eden’s section,” he said in his raspy
voice. “But you managed to find her by yourself.
How did you figure out where to go?” “It
was simple,” I confessed. “I went to
the Lit Hum office and asked them to look through
their records to find the last time you had taught
Lit Hum for only one semester. When they figured
out when that was, I asked them to tell me who had
replaced you. And when they said, ‘Kathy Eden,’
I knew exactly where to go.”
Gray smiled. When he told his students to “Take
teachers, not subjects,” Kathy Eden certainly
was one of the great teachers he had in mind.
Eugene D. Mazo ’95
Newark, N.J., and Stanford, Calif.
The Columbia Forum article in July, “Listen
To Learn,” by Eugene Goodheart ’53,
contained an error in the penultimate paragraph.
The last few sentences, which discuss a quote from
the poet William Butler Yeats, should have read:
“In The Second Coming, he wrote: ‘The
best lack all conviction while the worst/Are full
of passionate intensity.’ ”