Letters to the Editor

A Terrific Read


Dean Josef Sorett’s Convocation address to the incoming Class of 2027 (“Message from the Dean,” Fall 2023) were the inspiring words that need to be heard by our children long before they arrive at the college of their choice. I’ll be sharing them with my grandson (age 9, a voracious reader, Class of 2039?) and granddaughter (age 6, Class of 2042?).

A few pages later, there was a piece (“Around the Quads, Core Column,” “The Core’s Great Community”) about Sabancı University in Turkey and its commitment to the values of the Core Curriculum. I’m an architect, and my former firm designed the original Sabancı campus. I was later involved in the planning and construction of its recent Nanotechnology Research and Application Center, the leading research entity of its type in the country. It is so gratifying to see Columbia partnering with Sabancı and continuing its founders’ vision.

And then there was the article celebrating the American Library Association’s current president, Emily Drabinsky ’97 (“The Battle Over Books”). I’ve had the special privilege of helping to plan and design more than 7 million square feet of library space around the world, working with the people most dedicated to intellectual freedom: our librarians. We must thank them for their ongoing courage in the face of such pressure to ban and censor.

All in all, a terrific read for these times — and that was just up to page 27!

Stephen Johnson ’72
New York City

Geology Rocks

I feasted on Anne-Ryan Sirju JRN’09’s Fall 2023 article “Geology Rocks!” about Professor Steven L. Goldstein ’76, GSAS’86’s romps through NYC geology. It reminded me of our class field trips 50 years ago with Professor John Sanders. Professor Sanders and field assistant Jody led us to Fort Tryon Park, where that magnificent Manhattan schist is abundantly, eternally evident, with gleaming chunks of purple garnet embedded within. Sanders’ eyes were ablaze recounting for us the apocalyptic, crushing metamorphic forces and upheavals that created these geological landscapes. Tectonic plate dynamics were just a theory then, but Professor Sanders enthusiastically supported the theory.

In the intervening years I have marveled at tectonic plate interfaces and landscapes the world over, consulting the textbook The Earth Through Time before traveling. But for fascinating geology features, you don’t have to go to Iceland, the Azores, Guam, Hawaii, the East African Rift Valley, Alaska, Central America, Ireland, Nunavut, Mongolia, Greenland, Antarctica, Italy, Nepal, Brazil, Yellowstone, Yosemite or Camel’s Hump in Vermont — how about those outcroppings of schist (some with glacial striations) right here in New York?

Thank you, Professor Goldstein and author Sirju, for the wonderful article, and heartfelt thanks to Professor Sanders (of blessed memory) for the learning, teaching and a lifetime of interest and memories!

Gary Lehman ’76
Essex Junction, Vt.

A Saturday Surprise

The article in the Fall 2023 issue about the historic 1947 Columbia-Army football game (“Roar, Lion, Roar,” “At 100, Recalling One for the History Books”) brought back a very pleasant memory.

That fall, when I was 15, my dad told me that he had tickets for the Columbia-Army game. He knew that I regularly listened to Saturday afternoon college games on radio (no TV then). However, it still came as a surprise, since we had not gone to any games previously.

It was a chilly, overcast day at Baker Field. I have never forgotten Bill Swiacki BUS’48’s two breathtaking catches and the despondent look of the Army player who missed the crucial post-touchdown kick. Even then, the game felt historic.

Two years later, I enrolled as a freshman at Columbia.

At a Dean’s Day luncheon a number of years ago, I asked whether there was any site on campus honoring Swiacki. The answer was ambiguous. I hope there is.

Martin R. Liebowitz ’52
East Setauket, N.Y.