Your Turn

Readers write, react, and respond. (July/August 2023)

Headline News
Thanks for the nice piece about Dr. Sian Beilock’s past successes and family [May/June]. With the headline saying she is ready, I thought you would give us a sense of what she is ready to do. Coming into Dartmouth without any experience of the College is both an opportunity and a challenge. What does she see as the opportunities and where does she think she can make a difference? The College faces a lot of issues. It would have been a lot more interesting to learn how she feels about those.

DAN ROMER ’69
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

 

I’m stunned at your cover headline, “I’m Ready.” Were we to doubt that after an exhaustive search for the best possible candidate and her massively impressive career, that she was ready? I smell some retro gender fear. It’s Dartmouth that needs to check its readiness. 

KATE LAUD ’80, Tu’85
Shelburne, Vermont

 

DAM breezes right by the contradiction of Beilock cherishing her nuclear family (staying in California for college to be near her ailing father, whom she still “misses everyday”) but personally excluding marriage—the public announcement and commitment that many sociologists celebrate as the cornerstone of civilization—in her own life. Academics such as Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams mourn the loss of traditional marriage as a primary reason for the regression of inner-city society. A distinctly personal but also highly academic topic has surfaced in your puff piece. The question almost emerges if Beilock is “ready” to challenge this societal cornerstone.

TIMOTHY MICHALAK ’77
Cumberland, Maine 

 

As usual, the latest issue of DAM is wonderful, in all the usual ways, including the lead piece on Sian Beilock. She seems marvelously accomplished, and Abigail Jones ’03 does a fine job of humanizing her. Yet why was she hired? Why did she take the job? What does she see as Dartmouth’s needs? What are her plans, aspirations, fears (yes, fears, from the author of Choke) about meeting them? In five, 10, 20 years, how will she measure success? DAM has published a fine article, and now, how about an equally fine sequel?

ART LaFRANCE ’60
Portland, Oregon 

 

Proud Reader
In addition to Beilock’s other successes, I was impressed by her research in cognitive studies. I expect more contributions while she is at Dartmouth to this field. I appreciate her providing me with an entry for my gratitude journal today. I was also drawn to “Wrestling with a Dragon” [May/June]. Many of us have seen or felt the ravages of this medical illness, chemical dependency.

I am proud to have attended the same College as such a wise, influential, and humble-sounding individual: “Long before he cofounded Alcoholics Anonymous, Robert Smith, class of 1902, fought demons of his own making.” I’m not sure how I feel about “of his own making,” given that genetic predisposition and other environmental factors often contribute. Beilock, with her expertise in dealing with pressures, certainly has a lot to offer on this, mental health, and many other important issues.

CAROL GIEG ’79
Benicia, California 

 

The Aviator
Regarding “We Are Your Only Hope” [May/June], I am a Dartmouth economics professor and although I did not have the pleasure of having Nathaniel Johansson ’18 in class, I am proud to say that I am a student of his. He gave me a few flying lessons, and I saw firsthand his deep knowledge of flying, his vast experience despite his youth, and his coolness under pressure that served him so well on his misadventure over the Pacific.

DOUGLAS IRWIN
Hanover

 

Nope!
I usually find one story in DAM worth reading, but in the May/June issue all three features are very good. All different and each inspiring and well written, plus a great cover illustration. This almost makes up for the dog issue, which had to have been an April Fool’s prank, right?

RICHARD W. WINKLER ’74
San Diego

 

Teed Off
Regarding the $3.8-million gift to Dartmouth from golf lover Robert Keeler ’36 [DAM online], which has turned into a dispute between the College and his estate: The time has come for someone in the administration to step up and tell the lawyers, “I don’t want to hear any more about the legal viability of the College’s stance. This College needs the continuing loyalty of its alums and has plenty of financial resources without relying on an arcane and technical legal argument to grab this loyal alum’s $3.8 million.”

If there is more behind the College’s position than some arcane and technical legal principle—such as some compelling facts that are at odds with what I have read in three news stories—the time has come to spell out publicly just what those facts are.

As things now stand, the College’s position smells really bad and is going to have an adverse effect on future alumni giving the more exposure it gets.

MICHAEL JEFFREY MORRIS ’75
Shorewood, Wisconsin

 

One to Remember
Professor Hannah Croasdale [“Long Time Coming,” March/April] was the only woman to teach me a course at Dartmouth. What a fabulous person she was! Positive, knowledgeable, helpful, pleasant, and thoughtful. There were only five of us in her micro-technique class. At the end of the course, she invited us to her home for dinner, a first and only happening for any of us. Another first was the tasty salad she served of fern fiddleheads and watercress she harvested in the woodland. Another indelible image was of her in a too-large fireman’s helmet, long heavy raincoat, and big rubber boots pulling the nozzle end of the firehose across our fraternity lawn as the Hanover Volunteer Fire Department responded to a mattress fire in the second story of our house. She could do it all. 

BYRON OLSON ’61
Missoula, Montana

 

Animal Instincts
I loved the issue with the dog on the cover [“A Breed Apart,” March/April]. It reminded me of an old story: When you die and find yourself about to enter heaven, you are confronted with a log spanning a very deep ditch surrounding heaven. The log is held by two dogs you knew in your life. If you were nice to those dogs in life, they will hold the log firmly and you will pass safely into heaven. If you were not nice, they will shake the log and you will not pass over into heaven. 

So, be nice to all dogs. You never know which ones will be holding the log.

SCOTT BABCOCK ’63
Norwell, Massachusetts

Portfolio

Alumni Books
New titles from Dartmouth writers (November/December 2023)
Fresh Takes
Blogger Ray Padgett ’09 covers the covers.
The Secret Life of the Brain

Michael Gazzaniga ’61 divulges the inner workings of the human mind. 

Gail Koziara Boudreaux ’82
A CEO on the state of the nation’s healthcare

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