LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
One of the reasons I came to Columbia was Coach [Bill] Campbell ['62]. I was being recruited for basketball, and he happened to be at the party. He was charming, a real joy to talk to; even my parents were impressed. He told them he'd look after me, and when I arrived at the school, he helped and encouraged me every chance he could, even after I stopped playing basketball. He is the best example of what the University has to offer. He worked hard at taking care of all the students he came in contact with and always made time to find out what was going on with each of us. I'm proud to have known him and his wife, Roberta, during my time there.
Wendell A. Shaw ’80
Thank you for filling in the details of Bill Campbell ['62]'s meteoric rise to become one of the top American business leaders of the past quarter-century (May 2005). I was on the freshman football team in fall 1973. Coach Campbell took over the program in early 1974, and I attended a few off-season workouts with the new coaching staff and hosted the campus visits of several recruits. In summer 1974, I left the team to concentrate on school and the campus job that helped finance my education. Fast forward to the '77-'78 school year when I was in my fifth year of the
3-2 combined program. Coach Campbell and I crossed paths on campus and, without hesitation, he greeted me by name. Then, looking a bit puzzled, he asked if I had graduated the previous year - simply astonishing, considering that I had only been involved with his football program for a few months four years earlier.
After having been exposed to his enthusiasm and genuine interest in people, I certainly understand why others unquestioningly put their careers in his hands.
Gary Biller ’77
Two Lives Converge
Reading the May issue, I was struck by the contrast in the lives of Sidney Morgenbesser and Bill Campbell '62. Could you find two people more representative of the cultural divide at the heart of this university? One the pure intellectual, who dueled brilliantly with the best minds of his generation. The other an undersized, gifted athlete, by his own account a little out of place in the rarified atmosphere of the classroom, but triumphant on the field and in the corporate arenas where Morgenbesser probably would not deign to tread.
I chanced upon a passage in Saul Bellow's Adventures of Augie March that illuminates the Morgenbesser side of the split. Augie has begun to steal books to make money, but is seduced into reading them instead: "Well, now, who can really expect the daily facts to go, toil or prisons to go, oatmeal and laundry tickets and all the rest, and insist that all moments be raised to the greatest importance, demand that everyone breathe the pointy, star-furnished air at its highest difficulty, abolish all brick, vault-like rooms, all dreariness, and live like prophets or gods? Why, everybody knows this triumphant life can only be periodic. So there's a schism about it, some saying only this triumphant life is real and others that only the daily facts are. For me there was no debate, and I made speed into the former."
Morgenbesser lived like one of Augie's prophets. And Campbell, it appears, generates the wealth that builds the brick, vault-like rooms. You can't really have a university without both, but it's hard to see the point where they might converge. Perhaps that is the charm and destiny of Columbia, to live out these great divisions with passion and, I would hope, with mutual respect.
John Coppelman ’66
Your photo quiz (Interior Dilemma, May 2005) includes a reproduction of the painting in the main entrance to Butler Library. It was pleasant to have a look at the painting once known as "The Gold Standard Fighting Off the Greenbacks."
Henry W. Rosenberg ’73
More on MEALAC
I commend Dr. Jonathan Reich ['85] on his letter in the [May] issue of CCT. I echo many of his sentiments. I have received, at my request, the full and alleged unabridged copy of the Ad Hoc Committee report submitted in April. It may be "politically correct," but it hardly reaches the root of the problem. In addition, there is the inclusion in [the May] issue of a chair being endowed for Israeli and Jewish studies. Professor [Michael] Stanislawski states that this new chair is "not a political appointment, but an academic one." In truth, he undermines the intelligence of Columbia College alumni in making such a statement. The purpose of the new chair is appeasement, pure and simple, to the problems Columbia has created.
Robert Goldberg ’49
Your editorial on the Grievance Committee's report, like [Brian] Krisberg ['81]'s appeal for calmer waters, like the committee's report, was an utter whitewash. The outcome of the stacked committee's investigation, as The New York Times commented immediately after the report's release, was a foregone conclusion. It has nothing to do with "academic freedom" after all, and everything to do with the economics of alumni giving. Spare us your über-ethics. President Lee C. Bollinger may make the case for a "system of self-government," but we who ultimately pay his elevated salary are entitled to a significant role, too. His notion that outsiders have nothing to say smacks dangerously elitist.
David B. Goldberg ’78