United Players of Squash Headmasters from Taft the Monti-Cliffords
in this issue h The Jazz, Chamber and Dance ensembles with Antonin Dvoลรกk at Jan Palach Square in Prague on a 10-day European tour over March break. Rick Doyle
A tradition of leadership By Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow â€™84
When work and family coalesce By Joe Freeman
Squashing the Competition
With grace under pressure a diverse team makes history. By Kara Zarchin
2 From the Editor 3 Letters 3 Taft Trivia 4 Alumni Spotlight 11 Around the Pond 19 Sport 42 From the Archives: Bikes on a Plane 43 Tales of a Taftie: Mason W. Gross â€™29
from the EDITOR It’s fall, 1971, and the Vietnam War continues to rage. Topping the music charts are “Maggie May,” “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” and “American Pie”; John Lennon releases his album Imagine. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts opens in Washington, Disney World opens in Orlando and six Persian Gulf sheikdoms come together to found the United Arab Emirates. And 82 girls arrive at Taft as the school officially becomes coeducational. Among the earliest of the boys’ schools to go coed, Taft had experimented with the idea in the 1960s, inviting girls from St. Margaret’s in nearby Waterbury and Westover School in Middlebury to attend classes here, and allowing Taft boys to enroll in courses there, but the transportation logistics were untenable. And so, after more than six years of “discussion and consultation,” the school admitted girls to Taft in their own right. So, when the Class of 2011 graduates this month, they will be the 40th coeducational class to receive diplomas from Taft. Wow, you say, can it really have been four decades?!
Phoebe Vaughn Outerbridge ’84 will write about this milestone for our summer issue, but in the meantime, I hope you will consider joining us on Alumni Day in May (see schedule, inside back cover) for a special panel discussion on coeducation and what it has meant at Taft. I also encourage you to share your experiences with us. What has coeducation at Taft meant to you? Let’s hear your stories! —Julie Reiff
Taft on the Web
Find a friend’s address or look up back issues of the Bulletin at www.TaftAlumni.com Visit us on your phone with our mobile-friendly site www.TaftSchool.org/m What happened at this afternoon’s game? Visit www.TaftSports.com
Scan this QR code with your smart phone to visit Taft’s mobile site. x
Taft Trivia In what year were bolted desks removed from the old study hall (above the dining hall) before becoming Mark Potter’s art room? A set of Taft glasses will be sent to the winner, whose name will be drawn from all correct entries received. Send your guess to reiffj@TaftSchool.org. Congratulations to Curt Viebranz P’11,’12,’14, who correctly identified Walker Hall as the original Watertown Library.
2 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
Spring 2011 Volume 81, Number 3 Bulletin Staff Director of Development: Chris Latham Editor: Julie Reiff
Don’t forget you can shop online at www.TaftStore.com 800-995-8238 or 860-945-7736
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Alumni Notes: Linda Beyus Design: Good Design, LLC www.gooddesignusa.com Proofreader: Nina Maynard Mail letters to: Julie Reiff, Editor Taft Bulletin The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org Send alumni news to: Linda Beyus Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftBulletin@TaftSchool.org Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Summer–May 15 Fall–August 30 Winter–November 15 Spring–February 15 Send address corrections to: Sally Membrino Alumni Records The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftRhino@TaftSchool.org 1-860-945-7777 www.TaftAlumni.com The Taft Bulletin (ISSN 0148-0855) is published quarterly, in February, May, August and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100, and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents and friends of the school. All rights reserved.
Tale from Tokyo An update from Katheryn Gronauer ’09 when we went to press: I’m living in Tokyo and am alive.The earthquake experience was unbelievable. We feel mini earthquakes every now and then, so at first I didn’t think anything of the quake…until it got worse and worse. I was in a building with huge, beautiful chandeliers that suddenly looked like daggers as they swayed violently with the earth. As I ran outside with everyone else, I could see the walls cracking at the foundations. It took me six hours to walk home. When I finally arrived home, frozen to the bone, my apartment looked like it had been robbed—all of the cupboards and drawers were wide open with their contents scattered all over the floor. In my bedroom, the furniture was moved all over the place and again, everything on the floor. People here in Tokyo continued the next day as if nothing ever happened. The only thing we were inconvenienced by was that the train system
Love it? Hate it? Read it? Tell us! We’d love to hear what you think about the stories in this Bulletin. We may edit your letters for length, clarity and content, but please write! Julie Reiff, editor Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 or Reiff J@TaftSchool.org
On the Cover v The squash team B
had an amazing season and demonstrated how a diverse group can excel together. See story page 36. Lynn
United Players of Squash Headmasters from Taft the Monti-Cliffords
was running sporadically with no one knowing when the next one would show. I even went to work (which took me two hours. People were glued to TVs in shock at what was actually happening in northern Japan. It wasn’t until the third day after the quake that people started taking action—the supermarkets and convenience stores were swamped with people buying out bread, rice, bottled water, cup ramen, and natto ( Japanese fermented soybeans, which last a while), in case another quake might come. In the midst of all this, there are still businesses open and people walking to or riding their bikes hours to get to work. Talk about dedication. Four days after the quake, we were still feeling aftershocks. Yet, people in Tokyo are moving on. We experience rolling blackouts to conserve energy—each town takes turns without power. The system here in Japan is amazing—everyone is very orderly and efficient, they help each other and don’t hoard things. There is no chaos, and people are patient and helpful. —Katheryn Gronauer ’09
Travels in Tajikistan I just read the winter Taft Bulletin. It was beautifully done, and I want to comment on two things: First, regarding the article on Tajikistan by Andy Isaacson ’94, you may be interested to know that he was not the only Taftie there at the time. I was also there with 10 persons in some of the same villages but mostly higher in the mountains. Our group intended to go to 17,600 feet, but the snows had not melted in the passes at 15,000 and the animals carrying our equipment could not make it through. His pictures and commentary were very accurate from what we saw. It was a pleasant country in which to travel despite the increasingly difficult roads the farther east one went. My second comment is on your story of Barnaby Conrad ’40. When I attended Taft from 1943 to ’47, the highlight of each year was two or three letters from him concerning his many adventures and which were read at assemblies. What a great surprise and pleasure to see the picture of him and to know that he is still writing.
I have now completed 88 adventure trips throughout the world and have often thought of the inspiration derived from his letters written two-thirds of a century ago. —Bob Gries ’47
Walker Hall Trivia That building was the Watertown Library as far back as I can remember. At some point the Lutherans had it before Taft bought it. My grandparents lived across the street from the Methodist Church so the library was easy pickings for us. At one time the town jail was next to the fire station, on the other side of the Congregational Church from the library. Its doors were usually unlocked unless they had a prisoner. I would walk up that way when I started school in 1945 —Tom Hickcox ’57 The old Watertown Library was built with an initial gift by the Woodward family for library purposes. I was involved in its sale to the Lutheran Church. In order for the Library Association to sell the property free of the original restriction (library purposes), we had to take legal action in the Superior Court in Litchfield. The library was then able to build a new structure at its present location on Main Street. —John Cassidy ’41
Travel Writers First, I wanted to thank you so much for the beautiful spotlight you shone on A Moveable Feast in the winter issue. I really appreciate it. That was an interwoven issue for me. I know Barnaby Conrad ’40 and have taught in a writing conference he founded (and I know his writer son Barnaby ’70, a fellow Taftie/San Franciscan, well). I’d mentioned Julian Smith’s (Taft ’90) book in a round-up book review column I do for National Geographic Traveler, and I’ve published Andy Isaacson’s (Taft ’94) work and had lunch with him in Berkeley not too long ago. Small world indeed! —Don George ’71 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 3
By Julie Reiff
v Sarah Banister ’97 in front of Mount Everest with Pasang Tamang and Dhan Bahadur Tamang, both porters in the town of Lukla, where she taught off and on for three years and where the dZi Foundation now works. “Porters are some of the poorest and most exploited people in Nepal,” says Sarah.
Knowing Nepal Sarah Banister ’97 learned how to speak Nepali during a study abroad. “Living in a village as the only western helped my language skills enormously,” she says. “Being able to speak the language allows me to really immerse myself in the culture and get to know people. Nepalis love to hear that I took the time to learn their language. It is a true sign of respect to them.” Today she calls Utah home, but her ties with Nepal are deep. Bhutanese refugees began resettling in the United States about two years ago. There are now about 1,000 living in Salt Lake City with more arriving each month, she says. “Because I speak Nepali and have a real love for the Nepali people and culture, I also started working with the Bhutanese refugees in Salt Lake,” she says. “These refugees are ethnic Nepalis who were a large minority population in Bhutan. They kept their Nepali language and culture despite living in Bhutan for hundreds of years. About 20 years ago, 4 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
they were kicked out of Bhutan during the country’s ethnic cleansing—you never hear about it in the news, but it was horrible. And, the Bhutanese refugees have been living in refugee camps in Nepal since; it is one of the worst refugee situations in the world. “I teach a weekly English class to adult refugees,” says Banister, who is pursuing a master’s in elementary education. “I am also hired by the city school district to translate for Bhutanese refugees during school functions, parent/teacher conferences and other school-related meetings. I also go with Bhutanese families to doctor’s appointments and other places where they need help translating. I have put on a few small fundraising events, and help some find jobs. They have shown me the immense challenges that resettled refugees face daily.” But her work with Nepal is twofold. For the past nine years, she has continued to volunteer for the dZi Foundation in
Nepal. After studying there in the fall of 2001, she returned in 2004 to work with a foundation called Porters Progress, which was taken underneath the umbrella of dZi in 2007, at which time she joined their advisory board. “Porters are some of the poorest and most exploited people in Nepal. They generally carry loads of about 50 kilos (although some are known to carry up to 80). They get paid below minimum wage—usually about $5 a day—which does not pay for daily food and lodging. When they are not portering, they are subsistence famers. Their compassion and commitment is like nothing I have ever seen. They are a true inspiration to me every day!” “Now when I volunteer, I work in Kathmandu—the capital—and do grant writing and other desk jobs. I get to go into the field every so often, and I have led donor trips into our working areas as well. The dZi Foundation is an extremely effective, innovative and culturally sensitive organization. Their goal is to promote sustainable, locally driven programs that improve the quality of life through advancing education and health. All dZi Foundation programs are developed and implemented by the community members themselves. I feel very lucky to be involved.” For more information, visit www.dzifoundation.org.
n David Forster ’62 is the third generation to run the family business.
A Lineage in Linen Five years after arriving in New York City from Vienna, Austria, Charles and Margaret Forster opened Salon de Trousseaux, a luxury linen shop on West 57th Street. Later acquiring the name Léron from their principal resource in Paris, the store sold fine bed, bath and table linens and lingerie. The business grew and in 1931 relocated to Fifth Avenue, opposite the Plaza Hotel. “It’s tempting to think reverently of these early days,” says David Forster ’62, the third generation to run the family business, “and overlook the challenges my grandparents faced and overcame. My father once said to me that all our original customers went down with the Titanic.” Léron survived and for 60 years it remained on Fifth Avenue as a single store where David’s father carried on the legacy and turned the company into an institution. One innovation
was to send teams of saleswomen across the country to sell to wealthy individuals in the convenience and privacy of their homes. After the war, the company sought out new workrooms in Europe, creating livelier designs that brought color into the home. In addition to outfitting luxury homes, Léron has provided linens to the White House since the Kennedy administration and now Blair House, the president’s official state guesthouse across the street. David joined the Peace Corps after UNC, spending two years in Ethiopia. He says he resisted joining the business until 1975, “when I saw with adult eyes what a creative business it was and that its reputation for quality and craftsmanship was something to be proud of. Today, my son Graham—the fourth generation—follows in my footsteps, where my father started me and his
father started him: at the very bottom!” After 20 years on Madison Avenue, Léron moved to the D&D building on Third Avenue. Teams still travel the world calling on customers in their homes, but now, with a website, blogs, Facebook, bridal registries and other social media outlets they are finding new ways to reach new customers. “Customers tell us of the special pleasure that comes with creating linens uniquely their own,” says David, “like the customer who returns her Thanksgiving tablecloth every year so we can hand-embroider the names of those who sat at her holiday table.” Remaining too true to Léron’s founding fabric could be stifling, even lethal, says David. “Dedicating ourselves to those principles, but not necessarily those tastes, keeps us looking forward. When it comes to legacy, best to look back, but don’t stare.”
Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 5
Life in Two Washingtons
n Mayor John Fox Sullivan ’62 and wife Beverly and first dog Lilly in Washington’s Christmas parade. Ruthie Windsor Mann
Ninety minutes from the nation’s capital lies the quaint village of Washington, Virginia, population 183…less than when it became a legal town in 1795. Surveyed by a young George Washington in 1749, the town’s current claim to fame is the world-renowned Inn at Little Washington.
John Fox Sullivan ’62 and his wife, Beverly, moved there five years ago, after 25 years in nearby Rappahannock. It wasn’t long before he joined the city council; he now serves as the town’s mayor. “It’s a very part-time job,” says Sullivan, who ran unopposed. “I still work at the National Journal two to
three days a week. After 35 years of watching politics and politicians, I have jumped into the real thing...elective politics on the most local level.” The National Journal is a weekly trade journal, operated by Atlantic Media Company, for Washington insiders and Beltway lobbyists. “Sullivan, apparently not satisfied with the amount of power he accumulated in Big Washington, has now won the mayoralty of Little Washington, Virginia,” wrote his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic. “He won by promising the besieged citizenry an immediate crackdown on rampant gang violence and truffle smuggling. The election itself had all the spontaneity and tension of a Pyongyang city council race; Sullivan ran unopposed and received 106 percent of the vote. But it’s entirely fair to say that the best man won.” For someone who followed national politics his entire life, Sullivan says it has been interesting to get involved in local issues, like water treatment. Currently serving a four-year term, he reports that so far there has been no effort to impeach him. No word yet on whether he’ll run for reelection.
Effective Reform in the Middle East
n Mike Lippitz ’80 with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
6 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
Mike Lippitz ’80 participated in a remarkable study tour with 45 trustees of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a DC-based think tank that focuses on US interests in the Middle East, from Turkey to Afghanistan. The November tour included meetings with heads of government in Egypt (before President Mubarak and his government left power), Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (P.A.). Lippitz was particularly impressed
by a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Current governments in the region, faced with mounting protests, could learn a lot from him about effective reform. “Fayyad has set in motion a dynamic in the P.A. where transparent and effective governance has inspired political change. The improved security situation is palpable, and poverty has been cut by one-third in the past three years.” Lippitz, a consultant with Clareo
Counting by Candlelight Fortunately for the citizens of Sibut, in the Central African Republic, U.S. embassy vehicles were able to provide light to the local Independent Electoral Commission as they counted votes of the presidential and legislative election held in the country on January 23. There is no electricity in C.A.R. outside the capital of Bangui, so the elections officials and representatives of the five national candidates and 11 candidates running for
Partners, researches and develops strategies, policies and management systems to enhance corporate competitiveness and government effectiveness. He was struck by how what Fayyad is attempting is similar to what he has seen with innovation in large companies. Where innovation is moribund, nobody believes in it and hence nobody tries anything, he explains. When an innovative group comes along and shows success, people come out of the
n The local electoral commission counts votes by candlelight for the recent
presidential election in the Central African Republic. Dave Wisner ’00
legislative seats counted votes by candlelight and a little help from the U.S. government. “As dusk settles, embassy vehicles are providing light for the vote count through the doors and windows of the schoolhouse.” Says David Wisner ’00, who is working for the U.S. embassy in the Central African Republic. “At this voting station, Central Africans were able to express their free choice for presidential and legislative elections. After prevailing
woodwork to pursue their ideas, believing they can become real. “As successes mount, people stop complaining about bureaucracy and start focusing on building businesses,” he says. “That’s why we usually recommend that companies build an innovation culture quietly and slowly, through demonstrated results, as opposed to making announcements that build expectations prematurely and lead to even greater disillusionment.” As Lippitz left the meeting, he shook
through thrice-delayed elections, it was revitalizing to spend today with people who genuinely had an interest in expressing themselves.” President François Bozizé, who took over in a 2003 coup and then won the 2005 election, won with 64 percent of the vote. Wisner completed his tour in C.A.R. and returned to Washington not long after the elections. Later this year he will begin a two-year stint in Sudan.
hands with PM Fayyad. “With tonguein-cheek, I offered him a job with Clareo. Fayyad smiled and said it could be an interesting endeavor once the P.A. has made peace with Israel and he can retire from politics. I pray that he’ll be in the job market soon.” Prior to his consulting career, Lippitz served as director for strategic technology planning in the Office of International and Commercial Programs, U.S. Department of Defense. Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 7
Covered at Last “You got the strangest phone call,” Putnam Smith’s wife told him one day. “Something about a rock band and are you the same Put Smith who produced Jay-Put records.” It turned out that Columbia Studios had auctioned off the contents of an old warehouse, including a few copies of a record called Catherine’s Horse. This guy had one and wanted to buy more. Smith, who made the record with classmate Jay Geary ’69 as part of an Independent Studies Project, didn’t have more and thought that was the end of it. Then Google arrived, and Catherine’s Horse cropped up on a list called 1001 Record Collectors Dream Book. “We all laughed ourselves silly,” says Smith. “We’re rock stars at last.” Catherine’s Horse had been playing at Taft dances and events held at nearby girls’ schools. They also had a fairly regular gig at Waterbury YMCA. Roger Goodspeed ’70, John Hyland ’69 and middler Jay Brown comprised the rest of the band. “We were fairly popular in the local community,” said Geary. “We were limited as to what we could do during school
year because we couldn’t accept offcampus jobs unless we got the school’s permission, which was sometimes hard to get. The school likely suspected we were having too much fun.” Goodspeed, their drummer, left Taft but kept playing with the band. Senior year, Smith and Geary proposed an Independent Study Project called “An investigation of blues as a cultural expression for the American Negro.” “Put and I came up with the idea for the LP,” said Geary, “and sold it like snake oil to the faculty committee in charge, even convincing the school to underwrite the recording costs.” The album was recorded at the Sound Ideas Studio in New York City by George Klabin ’64, later a notable producer in jazz circles. After Taft, Klabin went to Columbia University, where he worked as a DJ on their radio station. The Taft connection was useful in getting Klabin to do the recording. According to Geary, the studio was one of Columbia’s jazz recording venues and ran from 1969 to 1981. So the LP recording in March 1969 may have been one of the first sessions there.
“I think we were all a bit nervous,” says Geary, “but we got into the groove and knocked out the whole album in about seven hours.” “Klabin had for that time, a large mixing board, maybe 24 inputs,” recalls Goodspeed, “but I’m not sure how many tracks he was recording. Klabin did the mixdown. I played the drums in a booth with headphones, which made it hard to hear the rest of the band. As far as I know none of the band members had ever done a genuine studio recording before. We were all very excited and we all wanted to do more, but we were on a budget.” After the recording, there was no money left to pay a printer. So the record was released without a cover on Jay-Put Records—JPS 5001. Naturally copies were sold to friends and families; some got placed on a rack in a local record or bookstore or got sold personally when someone heard about the record and expressed interest. The end of Catherine’s Horse was unspectacular. After the school year, the band members went away to college and other places. For the next four or five years, Smith and Geary gigged around New England with college bands. Smith, Geary and Goodspeed all went on to become lawyers. The album was reissued on vinyl last year by a German company that specializes in old, short run LPs—complete with liner notes, photos and, yes, a cover. , The album that 1969 classmates Jay
Geary and Putnam Smith recorded as an Independent Studies Project at Taft is being reissued on vinyl and CD. Fellow band member Roger Goodspeed ’70 provided the photo for the cover.
In Print Cuba: A Photographic Encounter With Nature Eladio Fernández ’85 The idea for Cuba was to bring forth that country’s natural heritage and to make it accessible to the public through a collection of conservation photographs. These photographs are accompanied by a series of essays, in both English and Spanish, on its flora and fauna. “I was able to carry out my photographic work with no restrictions,” says Fernández, “with the support of BIOECO, a local institution that runs two museums and three botanical gardens in Santiago de Cuba.” A goodwill gift to its people from the book’s corporate sponsor, Implementos y Maquinarias C. por A, most were distributed among libraries, museums, teachers and government officials for educational purposes in that country. Fernández also recently published Ebano Verde, which highlights the natural riches of the only privately run protected area in the Dominican Republic.
Named for an endemic magnolia species located within the scientific preserve of the same name, the book is being sold to raise funds for Fundación Progressio’s trust fund. The book was sponsored by Asociación Popular de Ahorros y Prestamos. As a complement to Ebano Verde, he produced and edited a children’s story that takes place in the Ebano Verde Scientific Preserve: Chicuí, Corazón de Joya. The book, in Spanish, is adapted from a word by Cuban writer Edelys Figueredo Garcés with illustrations by Tania Marmolejo. A theatrical adaption will be presented in four schools near the preserve. A native of the Dominican Republic, Fernández is also the author of Hispaniola: A Photographic Journey through Island Biodiversity, published in 2007, and coauthor of Orchids of Dominican Republic and Haiti and The Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Samantha Stories Bill Furgueson ’90, Emma Furgueson Illustrated by Michelle Cady Samantha is a young little sailboat that likes to hang out with her friends, eat ice cream and help others. However, Samantha also has to go through some difficult times. What does she do when her dad tells her she is moving to a new place? Is she going to find any new friends in her new home? What is she going to do when a terrible storm blows in? Samantha tackles these situations while at the same time enjoying the occasional seaweed sandwich! “My daughter, Emma, 11, and I, wrote Samantha
Stories together,” says Bill Furgueson. “It has been a great accomplishment for us to see it go from many pieces of notebook paper to a finalized book. A special part of this process has been doing this step by step with my daughter. We included discussion questions in the back of each book so that parents can take a more active role in reading the books their kids are reading.” With illustrations by Michelle Cady, the book is geared to a 3rd- to 4th-grade reading level.
The Influence of Teachers: Reflections on Teaching and Leadership John Merrow ’59 How can schools and teachers change to keep up with the current educational landscape, a world in which young people must learn how to ask the right questions, not merely parrot back the “right” answers? In this urgent and insightful book, John Merrow draws on his experience as a reporter for PBS and NPR to examine this question and others—and offer possibilities and solutions for a new education system. Told through warm storytelling and compelling case studies, Merrow paints a vibrant and inspiring picture of why and how we must transform—not reform—our schools. “Nobody reports on the treasures and traumas of
public education better than John Merrow,” writes Jim Lehrer of PBS NewsHour. “He is, quite simply, the leading education journalist in America. Anybody who doubts that should read this book.” “What he describes,” agree Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, co-founders of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program), “is fundamental to changing the face of public education in this country.” Merrow is education correspondent for PBS NewsHour and president of Learning Matters, an independent production company based in New York City. Learn more at www.facebook.com/learningmatters.
Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 9
Ireland Unhinged: Encounters with a Wildly Changing Country David Monagan ’70 A recent economic miracle, Ireland has now suffered a catastrophic collapse, yet soulfulness and eccentricity still reign. In Ireland Unhinged, Connecticut-born David Monagan explores his adopted country through the eyes of a passionate transplant. At the core of this chronicle is the story of an American family abroad in formerly impoverished Ireland as the country is seized by a Klondike mentality in which an entire populace seems to throw off old restraints and hunger for new wealth. Then the bubble bursts, and brand-new but empty skyscrapers stand like tombstones in Cork’s once booming center. Monagan brings to life the fascinating story of the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger. Monagan moved to Ireland in 2000 and has written widely ever since about his adopted country for
leading publications there and throughout the U.S. Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, praised Monagan as the best nonfiction writer about Ireland today. The author re-earns that honor with the delightful memoir, Ireland Unhinged. His acclaimed previous work of travel literature, Jaywalking With the Irish, was published by Lonely Planet in 2004 and appears internationally under the National Geographic Traveller logo. His book Journey into the Heart reported on charismatic medical pioneers. Monagan has been a syndicated columnist for Lonely Planet and a frequent contributor for publications as diverse as Forbes Life and the Irish Examiner. The author, his wife, Jamie, and their three children live in Cork, Ireland.
Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself William C. Taylor ’77 Albert Einstein put it brilliantly: “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” Some unknown Texas genius put it simply: “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.” It’s hard to put it any better: These two bits of timeless wisdom capture the spirit of the times in which we work, compete and lead. We are living through the age of disruption. Today, the most successful organizations don’t just outcompete their rivals. They redefine the terms of competition by embracing one-of-a-kind ideas in a world filled with me-too thinking. That’s the defining spirit of Practically Radical, the
new book from award-winning entrepreneur and bestselling author William C. Taylor. As the co-founder and founding editor of Fast Company, Bill launched a magazine that shaped the global conversation about business leadership and personal success—and itself became a legendary entrepreneurial success, selling for $340 million just six years after it was launched. Publishers Weekly calls the book “an engaging and briskly written read” that will “captivate and benefit” leaders who are committed to making real change. In other words, it is a manifesto for change and a manual for achieving it—at a moment when change is the name of the game.
American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution Harlow Giles Unger ’49 On Thursday, December 16, 1773, an estimated seven dozen men, many dressed as Indians, dumped roughly £10,000 worth of tea in Boston Harbor. Whatever their motives at the time, they unleashed a social, political and economic firestorm that would culminate in the Declaration of Independence two-and-a-half years later. The Boston Tea Party provoked a reign of terror in Boston and other American cities as tea parties erupted up and down the Colonies. The turmoil stripped tens of thousands of their homes and property and nearly 100,000 left forever in what was history’s largest exodus of Americans from America. Nonetheless, John Adams called the Boston Tea Party nothing short of “magnificent,” saying that “it must have important consequences.” 10 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
Combining stellar scholarship with action-packed history, Harlow Giles Unger reveals the truth behind the legendary event and examines its lasting consequence—the spawning of a new, independent nation. “Considering the incident’s resonance for the current Tea Party movement,” writes Booklist, “Unger’s history allows timely comparison of the original and its contemporary namesake.” A former Distinguished Visiting Fellow in American History at Mount Vernon, Harlow Unger is a veteran journalist, broadcaster, educator and historian. He is the author of seventeen books, including five biographies of America’s Founding Fathers. He lives in New York.
For the latest news on campus events, please visit www.TaftSchool.org.
around the Pond
Peter Frew ’75
By Maggie Dietrich
Keeping Vigil Students, faculty and staff gathered around the pond for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, and to pray for U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and those who survived. “It is an important time for us to join with others nationwide to send a message of hope and peace across the land,” says school Chaplain Bob Ganung. “This vigil brought our community together to resolve our
commitment to be ministers of peace, love and justice in our nation and our world.” The vigil entailed prayers, moments of silence and readings that helped the group to reflect upon those who suffered and to rise up in unison and call on the better aspects of our nature. Sierra Mead ’11, originally from Phoenix, Arizona, organized the vigil to help connect the community to her home state.
“It was important for me, especially being so far away, to mark this tragedy in a public way,” says Mead. “Congresswoman Gifford is a family friend and former colleague of my dad’s [former Arizona state senator Slade Mead ’80], and I was so happy to see my peers and teachers coming together to honor Gabby, a truly inspirational person, and to offer our respect to the victims and their families.” Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 11
around the POND
h Melanie Safka performs as part of “Music in the Time of King.” Peter Frew ’75
MLK Day Energizes Campus The campus was buzzing with activity for the two-day Martin Luther King Day “Beyond Tolerance” celebrations. “This year’s MLK day signified the continued efforts of our community to become even better than we are now,” says organizer Neve Schadler ’11. “I am incredibly proud of the way both students and teachers alike were willing to step up and initiate conversations about unity and openness during the open mic exercise and the productive small group discussions.” Schadler, along with Thuy Tran ’12, and Peter Tweedley ’11, helped organize the program and served as fellows in the multicultural affairs office. New this year, the moving Choral Vespers service kicked off celebrations on Sunday, setting a spiritual and reflective tone, performed by candlelight at Woodward Chapel (formerly Christ Church). “Music in the Time of King” got the groove going with DJ and author Pete Fornatale, Woodstock musician Melanie
Safka and the Waterbury ensemble, Nzinga Daughters. The program continued Monday morning with a Prayer Breakfast, which included a surprise appearance from Congressman Chris Murphy. Andrea Joseph of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was the featured speaker. Joseph shed light on major challenges that the ADL is taking on and the important role citizens need to play to stamp out hate in the world. William Foster, a longtime trainer for the ADL’s A World of Difference Institute, led campuswide discussions,
challenging people to think about different ways to strengthen community and the issues that threaten its progress. The school again hosted “Young Heroes” at a program for local middle schoolers, encouraging them to be “dreamers.” “While it was a ton of work for so many people—students and faculty alike—to pull all the pieces together, it was so worth it,” says Tweedley. “The discussions we had and insights from the guests go a long way in our work to make our community a great place for all.”
A Hot Meal
n Volunteers Linh Tang ’14, Tom Mulroy ’11 and Sierra Mead ’11 serve a hot meal at the St. Vincent DePaul Shelter in Waterbury. Peter Frew ’75
Every Friday night, a group of student and faculty volunteers brings and serves food at the Waterbury St. Vincent
12 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
DePaul Homeless Shelter. This effort, which has been a part of Taft’s volunteer program for many years, provides critical help to those in need and spreads Taft’s service culture to a wide group of students and faculty. “What is great about this initiative is that it makes it easy for anyone to volunteer and is so meaningful,” says faculty member Baba Frew. “The program was already up and running 15 years ago when I took over as the Volunteer Council adviser, and it has been going strong ever since.” Once a week while school is in session, Taft’s dining hall services, run by Aramark, prepare and cook enough food for one hundred people to go to
the homeless shelter. The assigned volunteers, three students and a faculty driver, pick up the trays of food from the dining hall, typically four or five main dishes, and transport them to the shelter for distribution. The volunteers stay and serve the food to the homeless. “I usually volunteer at the homeless shelter at least a couple of times a year and it is always an eye-opener,” says Kash Griffith ’13. “It’s only a couple of hours out of my Friday night, and it helps people who desperately need a hot meal. The best part is seeing the smiles on their faces after handing them a plate of food. It really puts life at Taft in perspective and makes me appreciate everything we have.”
Eco-Dress Selecting a dress for Winter Formal is an important and sometimes stressful part of the process of preparing for this popular annual event at Taft. This year, girls had a new way to select a dress that was cost-effective, eco-friendly and raised money for a good cause. Taft seniors Annie Oppenheim and Abby Purcell came up with this creative and charitable new way to shop. “The enthusiasm and energy around campus about the exchange has been fantastic,” says Oppenheim. “It’s great to see that our efforts are helping causes that support girls and women in the local community. In
addition to the money that will go to Girls, Inc., dresses that donors do not want back will be donated to the women’s shelter in Waterbury.” Instead of purchasing expensive new dresses, girls (along with a few moms and faculty) donated or loaned a total of 219 dresses. On “shopping day,” students paid a small fee to select a dress. The afternoon was a fun event with music, food, full-length mirrors and racks of dresses to choose from. Cheering and applause echoed out of the Choral Room as girls modeled dresses. The event raised an impressive total of $2,100. Proceeds, after the cost of
n Seniors Abby Purcell and Annie
Oppenheim organized a dress exchange that raised money for a local charity. Andre Li ’11
dry-cleaning, were donated to Girls, Inc., of Waterbury (www.girlsincswct.org), a charity that empowers disadvantaged girls in the Waterbury area.
This Dance Is What You See
h Shani Chung ’13,
Meeting and perform with the Dance Ensemble at the annual dance concert. “This residency was fantastic and provided the unique experience for students to work and perform alongside professionals,” says Lyons. “It is not easy to get a professional dance company to work with students unless they are at a certain level, and it’s very exciting for me that Taft dancers have reached that level.”
Sarah Kaufman ’12, Alexandra Tweedley ’11 and Lucy Aziz ’11 Andre Li ’11
A professional dance company was in residence for two weeks in January, teaching master classes and rehearsing new choreography with the Taft Dance Ensemble. The company’s artistic director, Adele Myers, is a professor of dance at Connecticut College. Her choreography combines athleticism, humor and a personalized theatricality. The residency is a result of a yearlong project for Director of Dance Meredith Lyons. One of her key goals for the
dance program has been to “shape students’ ability and mind set toward dance as an academic pursuit rather than purely recreational.” In creating the new work, entitled “This Dance Is What You See,” Myers asked each dancer to select her own action, gesture and posture that was then integrated into the overall dance. The company (www.adelemyersanddancers.com) returned to campus in early March to showcase their new choreography at Morning
What’s this for? This Quick Response Code, or QR, can help you link easily to Taft content online. A QR code is really a fancy barcode. With the right app in your smartphone, you can scan the QR and it will take you directly to Taft’s mobile-friendly website.
Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 13
around the POND
Report from Model U.N.
Cooking Contest Champ When she’s not in the health center tending to students, Director of Health Services Lisa Keys is busy winning cooking contests. Keys has proven her skill at creating new recipes over the last 20 years through an impressive number of cooking awards. For her first contest, the Pillsbury Bakeoff, she was chosen as one of the top 100 finalists for her Glasnost Apple Pie, an original recipe that combines vodka and sour cream, a nod to breaking down barriers between the United States and Russia. She was flown to Phoenix, Arizona, for four days of cooking competition. “It was extravagant and opened my eyes to the whole new world of cooking contests that was fun and exciting,” says Keys. “In addition to the satisfaction of creating new recipes, this hobby has allowed me to travel all over the country, go to Paris for two weeks, win cash and other prizes, including a
kitchen makeover. Taft students often help out as my recipe testers, giving feedback on my latest creations.” Most recently, Keys was a national champion in the 2010 Beringer Wine Great Steak Challenge, winning the grand prize for her “Boston-Style Steak & Wine Wraps.”
Lisa’s Boston-Style Steak & Wine Wraps 1 cup Beringer’s Founders’ Estate Shiraz 1 cup beef broth ½ cup dried sweetened cranberries 2 tablespoons molasses 1½ pounds flank steak, about ¾-inch thick Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 18 cup-shaped leaves of Boston lettuce ½ cup sliced green onions ¼ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese Heat covered gas grill to high. In a medium skillet, bring wine, broth, cranberries and molasses to a boil. Boil sauce, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 22 minutes or until reduced and slightly syrupy; set aside. Meanwhile, season steak on both sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place steak on hot, lightly greased grill rack. Grill steak 2 to 3 minutes or until well browned. Turn, and grill other side for 2 to 3 minutes or until well browned. Reduce grill temperature to medium. Grill steak 7 to 9 minutes or until medium-rare (125 degrees). Transfer steak to a cutting surface; let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Thinly slice steak across the grain. Arrange lettuce cups on a large platter. Fill lettuce cups with steak. Top with cranberry-wine sauce, a sprinkle of green onions and cheese. Serves 6.
14 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
The debates at Harvard’s Model United Nations this year represented lifelike international politics. Different blocs were formed, with China allying with Russia, the U.K. with the U.S. and several developing nations clustering into smaller factions. It seemed each faction wanted to prioritize policies to benefit their own particular country, unwilling to compromise with other nations. Nevertheless, this was the United Nations, and the purpose of the conference was for students to discover ways to “preserve their country’s national policy while negotiating in the face of other, sometimes conflicting, international policies.” In negotiating an internet censorship resolution, Mali, the Philippines (Taft team’s country) and Macedonia banded together, eventually bringing in Mexico, the Solomon Island, Tanzania and up to 50 other countries. In a frenzied state, a resolution began to be drafted and finalized, each developing nation within this faction wanting its voice represented. I remember the situation feeling quite surreal as I found myself lobbying and making deals, whispering so that Russia could not hear, and shaking hands after an agreement with Germany following hours of negotiation finally brought us a major power. In those four days, we got a chance to see diplomacy in action, to experience the rush that comes from successful negotiations and to feel the pride that follows the passage of a resolution. We were students from around the world, bringing together conflicting opinions, political ideologies and moral viewpoints. But despite these differences, we came together as members of the international community, as delegates, and, most importantly, as teenagers who formed unforgettable friendships and memories. —Ina Kosova ’12
In the Gallery The Mark W. Potter ’48 Gallery featured Different By Design: The Architecture of Columbus, Indiana, in April, an exhibit organized by faculty member Will Orben ’92, a native Indianan who teaches a course on architecture. Irwin Miller ’27 left his family roots in the Midwest and traveled to Connecticut to enroll first at Taft School and then at Yale. With the world at his fingertips, Miller returned to his hometown of Columbus, Indiana, and began to steer this rural town of 20,000 people into the history books as he facilitated a concentration of modernist architecture there that rivals that of the major cities in the world. Now an established architectural hotspot, Columbus remains a small town of 40,000, but it boasts six National Historic Landmarks with the architecture of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Robert Venturi, Kevin Roche, I.M. Pei, Harry Weese and Richard Meier dotting the landscape. Miller’s philanthropy and vision guided Columbus into the future as the architecture of this town
inspired civic pride and cultivated an appreciation for excellence in design. The Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives developed this representation of the work in Columbus as an introduction to this most remarkable showplace of modernist architecture, which is Different by Design. Earlier in the term, the gallery hosted work by American realist Lisbeth Firmin. The exhibition, Painting the Streets: Urban Landscapes, explored the relationship between people and their environment. Reminiscent of earlier realists such as John Sloan and Edward Hopper, her work depicts modern life while exploring timeless themes of solitude and isolation. The term began with a traveling exhibition of work by Inge Mörath that presented 25 of her best-known photographs. Mörath worked as a still photographer on numerous motion picture sets, including The Unforgiven, starring Audrey Hepburn, Burt Lancaster and Audie Murphy, and The Misfits, featuring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and
n North Christian Church, Columbus,
Indiana, designed by architect Eero Saarinen.
Montgomery Clift, with a screenplay by Arthur Miller, Mörath’s future husband. For more, visit www.PotterGallery.org.
The Outdoor Adventure and Spotlight Recreation (OAR) club posed atop Bear Mountain, the highest peak in Connecticut, earlier this year. During the club’s inaugural trip over winter long weekend last year, students snowshoed up Cardigan Mountain in New Hampshire and slept in AMC’s high cabin, heated only by a woodstove. “On our hikes, we get out of our comfort zone and work together as a cohesive group,” says Jason Feinman ’11. “It feels great to help other kids who are younger or less experienced
hikers, building their confidence and sharing a sense of accomplishment when we all get to the summit.”
The group recently organized an afternoon on the school’s climbing wall and is making plans for spring.
around the POND
Music for a Great Space
Peter Frew ’75
Three choral masterwork concerts over the course of the spring celebrate Taft’s newest space, Woodward Chapel, and feature Taft’s Collegium Musicum. “We are putting this new beautiful space to good use right away,” says music director Bruce Fifer. “These concerts, with instruments, are meant to showcase Collegium’s talent as well as the amazing acoustics, organ, stained glass and calming ambience of Woodward Chapel.” The February concert, Resplendent Baroque, featured music by Handel and Vivaldi and Taft’s recently donated and restored Neupert two-manual harpsicord. Collegium is also in the midst of preparing for their annual trip to perform at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
Going Global In an increasingly globalized world, it seems the campus is also going global. Tibetan monks visited campus for five days in February, during which they designed a sand mandala painting. Also
during their stay, more than a dozen Chinese students, two teachers and several Tibetan monks met in the East Dining Room for a friendly two-hour political discussion. The sensitive conflict
between Tibet and China demands great understanding and communication from both sides. Although heated at times, the atmosphere was generally calm, respectful and most importantly, honest. The point of diversity is to allow contradictions so that people can learn from each other, no matter differences or mistakes. As an international student, I hope that all students and teachers can be more involved in activities by clubs such as the United Culture at Taft, or the rare but frank discussion between the Chinese students and the Tibetan monks. Everyone is an honorable representative of his or her own culture. Embrace it, and celebrate it. —Mai Nguyen ’12 v Tibetan Monks ceremonially return sand from the mandala they created to the earth via “flowing” water, which was hard to come by this witer. Grounds crew cut a hole in the pond for the occasion. Yee-Fun Yin
16 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
Importance of Being Earnest “I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.” Lady Bracknell’s comment is just one of the many witty and absurd opinions in Oscar Wilde’s highly entertaining play The Importance of Being Earnest, performed over Parents’ Weekend. “I’ve always wanted to do this play,” says director Helene Fifer. “This cast was amazing, learning many, many lines and pulling off the humor with complete restraint. This play is a comedy of manners, so it was important that the students master the accents, refine their diction and adopt a particular, restrained style of acting.” In the show, the protagonists take on fictional personas in order to escape the societal confines of Victorian England. There were quite a few interesting twists in this performance. The ever-comical Nick Auer ’11 plays the part of Lady Bracknell, complete with gloves, purse, wig and a dress. In addition, an impressive set design features a revolving stage
that moves the audience seamlessly from outdoor to indoor scenes. The gorgeous costumes show the long sleeves and high necklines of the late 19th century, helping to paint a picture of the formality and decorum of the times.
The talented cast also included Taft theater veterans Sara Guernsey ’11, Max Flath ’13, Jake Cohen ’11, Chris Browner ’12 and Caitlin Kennedy ’12 as well as newcomers Rebecca Karabus ’14, Tommy Robertshaw ’14 and Jordan Maia ’14.
n Caitlin Kennedy, Jake Cohen and Max Flath debate the importance of being “Ernest.” Andre Li ’11
Order in the Court
n Justice Flemming Norcott ’61 answers students’ questions in the faculty room after his talk. Yee-Fun Yin
Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Flemming Norcott ’61 came for a day as part of the Paley Lecture Series. Justice Norcott was nominated to the Superior Court in 1979 and was elevated to his current position as an associate justice of the state Supreme Court in 1992. “It’s an honor to host an alum who has reached such prominence in his career, whose life embodies our motto of service, and has so much to share,” said Headmaster Willy MacMullen. During Justice Norcott’s Morning Meeting talk, he reflected on his time at Taft 50 years ago, in particular the challenge of being one of the only African American students. Drawing inspiration from children’s
literature, Justice Norcott posed the same question the Wizard of Oz poses to Dorothy and her friends, “Who are you?” to emphasize how important it is for students to define themselves and use as a guide the lion’s search for courage, the scarecrow’s search for intelligence and the tin man’s search for compassion. Justice Norcott highlighted five lessons—put things in proper perspective, strive to change the world, make at least one solid friend, understand that life will be tough, and preach and practice love and tolerance. To hear Justice Norcott’s Morning Meeting talk, visit www.TaftSchool. org/students/meetings.aspx and scroll to March 1.
Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 17
around the POND
in brief Speaking in Tongues
Green Cup Challenge For the third year, Taft has participated in the Green Cup Challenge, a competition among 42 boarding and day schools to reduce electricity use in February. The challenge shined a spotlight on the importance of everyone on campus taking an active role in reducing electricity consumption. In the final tally, faculty leaders Jim Lehner and Carly Borken reported that while there was an overall increase of 2.18% in electricity usage from last February, two of the largest facilities on campus, the gym and Vogue/CPT complex, reduced usage by 2.32% and 9.03% respectively. “The challenge is about changing habits and encouraging a more environmentally sustainable approach to our daily life here at Taft,” says Borken. “The challenge is catching on and has grown from 22 to 42 schools participating in just two years.” Making Taft more environmentally sustainable is important throughout the year. Borken and Lehner lead TEAM, [Taft Environmental Awareness Movement] in a campuswide recycling program and an annual Earth Day celebration in April. 18 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
Despite all the snowstorms last winter, there were no snow days at Taft, although many athletic games were canceled or postponed. After one major snowfall in January, school monitors organized an impromptu Winter Carnival on the Jig Patio, featuring a snowman contest, marshmallow roasting in the fire pit and “traying” on the hill. It was a great way to stave off the winter blues for all on campus.
Big Easy The Hot Tamales, a Boston-based New Orleans jazz band, livened up Morning Meeting with their Dixieland sound. “In light of our summer reading book, Zeitoun, I invited them to come play for us,” explains Chaplain Bob Ganung. The band’s funky, upbeat sound draws on many sources—African polyrhythmic elements, the black spirituals, the work songs and western and central European models. In keeping with the day’s theme, Chef Jerry Reveron prepared New Orleans-style cuisine in the dining hall.
Band of Brothers Brothers Wells ’09 and Timothy Andres performed a concert of piano and violin for the Walker Hall Music Series. In between January snowstorms, the Wells brothers made it to campus to perform a varied program that included works by Dvorak, Ravel and Pärt. An accomplished violinist, Wells attended Taft and is currently a student at Yale. He is the principal second violin of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and was the winner of the junior division of Connecticut ASTA’s 2008 solo
At the end of the fall semester each year, A.P. French students put on a production of Chemins Dangereux in the Woodward Black Box Theater for their friends, teachers and fellow students. Now in its fifth year, the show is open to French speakers and nonspeakers alike (a handy program helps the latter group follow along). The play follows the machinations of a French businessman with some serious money problems. “It is such a special event for the students,” says French teacher WT Miller. “Performing gets them out of the classroom, and they can feel the importance of speaking a foreign language.”
Snow, Snow and More Snow!
Year of the Rabbit The school marked the start of the Lunar New Year holiday with a performance by an award-winning lion dance company from New York’s Chinatown. Chaplain Bob Ganung worked with several Asian students to plan the event. Students also decorated the school and put red envelopes in every student mailbox with chocolate gold coins and a written description of the zodiac sign that pertains to the year that they were born. In addition, a contingent of students worked in the kitchen preparing dumplings and other Asian favorites. The Lunar New Year dates from 2600 B.C., when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac. competition. In addition, he was concertmaster of the New Haven Youth Symphony Orchestra for four years, and was the winner of the orchestra’s 2007 concerto competition. His brother, Timothy Andres, is a composer and pianist who released a debut album, Shy and Mighty, in May 2010 that achieved immediate critical success.
For more on the winter season, please visit www.TaftSports.com.
winter SPORT wrap-up By steve Palmer
Wrestling 12–6 This year’s team formed one of the strongest in years. The season started well as both co-captains John Kukral ’11 and Kris Bae ’11 were crowned champions at the Canterbury Tournament at 152 and 189 pounds respectively. Thrilling victories over Hotchkiss (by 6 points) and Williston (by 3 points) on the same day served as the most memorable matches. A 7th-place finish at the Western New England Tournament was propelled by standout seniors; Ryan Tam (103) and Steve Holland (130) each placed 5th. Seamus McLaughlin (160) took 4th, while Kukral placed 3rd. Bae repeated in winning at 189, becoming a rare two–time league champion for Taft.
Boys’ Hockey 13–12 The 2010–11 varsity boys’ season was a wonderful journey that brought out the best of Taft hockey and all those that wore the varsity jersey this winter. After a challenging start, Taft put together a great run in the second half of the season, led by captain and Founders League All-Star Mike Moran ’11, assistant captains Peter Mistretta ’11 and blueliner Alec Root ’11. The Rhinos avenged early losses by defeating perennial hockey powers Avon Old Farms (3–2), Salisbury (3–1) and Choate Rosemary Hall (1–0). Other highlights include a 5–4 come-from-behind, overtime victory over the Nichols School for 3rd place at the Lawrenceville Christmas
n Two-time Olympic medalist A.J. Mleczko ’93 works with the girls’ varsity ice hockey team this winter. And, yes, she brought her medals with her for the girls to try on. Rob Madden ’03
Tournament. In winning six of the last eight games of the season, including two over Hotchkiss, head coach Dan Murphy gained his 100th win in seven seasons. Seniors Sean McGovern (11 goals, 12 assists) and Mike Moran (13g, 10a) led the team in scoring. Founders League All Star David Jarrett ’11 (4g, 17a) and Xavier Reed ’11 anchored the team’s defensive corps, along with goalie Jimmy Harrison ’12 (916 SV%).
Girls’ Hockey 5–12–6 The Rhinos started well, with early wins over strong teams from Berkshire (1–0) and Andover (4–0), but struggled to
produce goals throughout the season. Taft’s best games may have been two 1-goal losses, to New England champions Westminster (0–1), behind middler goalie Colleen Marcik’s 32 saves, and to League champ Choate (0–1) in OT on Parents’ Day. Co-captain Kate Moreau ’11 provided steady leadership at defense and all over the ice, while All-League forward and co-captain Jess Desorcie ’11 led the team in scoring. These two fouryear players will be sorely missed, but Taylor McGee ’12, at defense, and Katie McLaughlin ’13 at forward, had great seasons and will play important roles. Of course, All-League goaltender Marcik, who had a tremendous season, will keep Taft in any game as well. Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 19
n Senior Andy Cannon carefully places a drop shot in his match against Episcopal’s Brendan McClaughlin in the finals of the U.S. High School Championships. For more on their season, see page 36. Andre Li ’11
Boys’ Squash 18–1
New England Champions #2 at U.S. Nationals The team’s historic 18–1 season ended with the New England Championship (Taft’s 6th N.E. title) but included so many highlights along the way. Their 2nd-place finish at the U.S. National Team Championships was inspiring, with two of the longest matches on record—a quarterfinal 4–3 win over Haverford and a semifinal 4–3 win over Chestnut Hill. Taft swept through the regular-season Founders League matches—including 7–0 wins over Hotchkiss, Choate and Loomis—and put an end to Brunswick’s 11-year streak with an exhilarating 4–3 win at Brunswick. The team was captained by Andy Cannon ’11 (#3) and James Calello ’11 (#5), and both shaped the championship attitude at the center of this season. Elroy Leong ’11, playing #2, concluded an undefeated season with a New England Championship title. Andrew Cadienhead ’13, came back from a 0–2 deficit to take home a New 20 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
England Championship at #4 as well. Zeyad Elshorfy ’12, Taft’s #1 all year, and Yuga Koda ’13, #7, both finished second at New Englands, while Jake Albert ’11 finished 3rd at #6.
Girls’ Squash 12–6
Founders League Champions
With a regular season record of 11–3 to win the Founders League Championship for the third year in a row, Taft had a great run until losing two top players. Led by co-captains Ellie O’Neill ’11 and Rachel Barnes ’11, the team cruised through the league undefeated. With the talents of returners Sachika Balvani ’12, Jenny Janeck ’11, Katherine Carroll ’12 and Skye Hubbard ’11, Taft shot out to a 7–1 record before losing Carroll to injury. Still, the Rhinos finished 8th at the National Team Championships. Key wins on the season included 7–0 scores over Exeter and Andover and a 5–2 win over Convent of the Sacred Heart, to avenge a loss at the Nationals. Bad luck struck
again right after the Nationals, when #1 player and two-time defending New England Champion Balvani was lost for the rest of the season with a back injury, and then Carroll, back on her feet, had to forfeit the New England Tournament with a broken hand. The unlucky end to the season resulted in a 7th-place finish in New England for this talented team.
Skiing The unusual winter and heavy snow made for an uneven season, with several early contests canceled before the Berkshire League and New England championships. In the BSL Giant Slalom, Taft placed 5th out of 10 league teams, defeating Kingswood, Trinity– Pawling, Salisbury, Porter’s and Walkers, but just falling short of Loomis. The Rhinos were led by Jason Feinman ’11 in 17th place and Andrew Trevenen’s ’13 in 24th. At the NEPSAC Class B Championships, the Taft boys finished 8th out of 14, and the girls 11th. Captain
Jessie Johnson ’11 and Liz Veillette ’13 both finished in the top 40 in the Slalom and GS, while Trevenen finished 18th in the Slalom and Feinman 23rd in the GS. Captain Peter Tweedley ’11 and Kramer Petersen ’13 also skied well and finished in the top 30 of the 62-skier field.
Girls’ Basketball 20–3
Founders League Champions
This team enjoyed one of its most successful seasons ever, finishing the regular season at 20–2 and going undefeated in Founders League play to win it outright for the first time since 2005. Road victories over Loomis (59–47) and Porter’s (45–38), and a 20-point home win over powerful Kent, were central to the league championship. With two wins over rival Hotchkiss, Taft has now won 44 straight games over the Bearcats, dating to 1989. Captain Claire Wilson ’11 and assistant captain Kate Karraker ’11 provided the leadership for this hard-working team. Karraker averaged a team-leading 14 points per game, and she leaves Taft as one of the program’s leading scorers with 723 points in just three years. In addition, she is the career leader in 3-pointers, with 117. Wilson, an all-purpose forward, defender and All-League selection, had her best game at home against former league champ Kent,
n Varsity captain Claire Wilson ’11 handles the ball during Taft’s victory over Founders League rival Kent. Peter Frew ’75
where she poured in five 3-pointers and 19 points. Morgan Manz ’13, also an AllLeague player, was a force at both ends of the floor, averaging 11 ppg and 9 rebounds per game. Starters Maggie O’Neil ’13 and Katie Harpin ’13 were instrumental to the team’s success, as were Lexi Dwyer ’12 and Grace Kalnins ’11, who added some needed speed and tenacity.
2010–11 ATHLETIC AWARD WINNERS The Patsy Odden Hockey Award---------------------------------- Kate E. Moreau ’11 The John L. Wynne Wrestling Award---------------------------------------Kris Bae ’11 The Harry F. Hitch Wrestling Award------------------------- Stephen J. Holland ’11 John B. Kukral ’11 The Boys’ Squash Award---------------------------------------Andrew M. Cannon ’11 The 1986 Girls’ Squash Award---------------------------------- Eleanor F. O’Neill ’11 The Girls’ Ski Racing Award--------------------------------------Jessie M. Johnson ’11 The Boys’ Ski Racing Award--------------------------------------Jason D. Feinman ’11 The Coach’s Hockey Award--------------------------------------Sean P. McGovern ’11 Xavier Louis Reed ’11 Angier Hockey Trophy-------------------------------------------- Michael R. Moran ’11 James Paynter Logan Memorial Basketball Trophy------Christopher J. Moss ’11 1978 Girls’ Varsity Basketball Cup--------------------------- Katrina A. Karraker ’11 Claire M. Wilson ’11
Boys’ Basketball 10–14 Taft was led by captain and All-League player C.J. Moss ’11 (15 ppg, 7 assists), whose fast play at point-guard up and down the court set the tone for the season. Rebounding from early losses, the team pulled together down the stretch, going 5–3 in the month of February. That run started with a 55–45 win over Deerfield and included two wins over Avon. In perhaps their best game, Taft defeated a powerful Kent team (63–58) behind senior Sam Willson’s 16 points. All-Founders League player Ishmael Kalilou ’11 led the team in scoring (15 ppg) and rebounds (7.5 rbg) and was a force inside all season. Also All-Founders League, forward Kevin Trotman ’12 (11 ppg) provided speed from the outside and inside, while Jereme Good ’11 and Willson played pivotal roles under the basket and defensively. Taft’s final onepoint win over Westminster (55–54) was a fitting end to the season, as team leader Moss hit a fade away 3-pointer in the closing seconds. Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 21
22 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
a tradition of leadership By Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow ’84
hen Horace Taft moved his school to Watertown in 1893, he had five teachers. One of them, Frederick Winsor, moved on to found Middlesex School in 1901. Taking a play right out of Taft’s book, Winsor wanted his school “to be non-denominational, where students from different religious backgrounds could learn together.” Some years later Halleck Lefferts, Class of 1914, was named headmaster at Pomfret School in Connecticut, which he led from 1930 to 1942, touching base with Horace Taft often. And that tradition of training leaders has continued under every Taft headmaster since, with nearly three dozen Taft faculty and graduates founding or leading schools of their own. Andrews Black ’39 returned to teach at Taft under Headmaster Paul Cruikshank, where he met fellow faculty member Tom Chaffee. The two moved west to found Denver Country Day School, which Black headed for nearly 20 years and was considered of the most effective independent school
Ser vants and
Bill Morris ’69 taught at Taft from 1976 to 2003 and left to head the Friends Academy in Glen Cove, New York, a Quaker school that also supports the concept of servant leadership stressed by Horace Taft, and in the school’s motto—non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret, or “not to be served but to serve.” “As a faculty member at Taft, whatever I did was part of that service component,” Morris says. “Lance made me feel the work I did outside of school was part of living the motto of the school. (As head of a school) your leadership is not about your leadership. You are serving a community of students and parents and faculty and staff and if you do that well, you are recognized as a leader because of that service. … I think Horace Taft understood that.” The reasons Brian Johnson ’82, head of the Alexander Dawson School in Colorado, became a head of school are similar.
“As a faculty member at Taft, whatever I did was par t of that ser vice component. Lance made me feel the work I did outside of school was par t of living the motto of the school.”
heads in the country. He often credited Cruikshank with providing him enormous help and support over the years. Robert B. Woolsey also helped spread the influence of independent schools beyond New England. A beloved classics teacher at Taft, Woolsey left to head the Cassady School in Oklahoma from 1963 to 1980. And the numbers accelerated during Lance Odden’s nearly 30-year tenure. Odden himself was hired by Paul Cruikshank and held a number of posts under John Esty before becoming head in 1972. During his tenure, Odden was able to mentor faculty members and students who found their leadership skills while at a Taft and went on to run their own schools, taking the lessons and school ethos far and wide.
“I’ve always been a sucker for school mottos,” Johnson says. “‘Non ut sibi’ speaks to anyone who is interested in leadership. The idea of serving the teachers and the parents well is something that’s been on my mind as a leader. Taft instilled in us a desire to serve. We had the opportunity to see what great schools can do.” The Young and the
It is remarkable how young many of them were when they arrived at Taft and were put into positions of great responsibility as teachers, dormitory heads, athletic coaches and class deans. Gray Mattern was only 26 when he became headmaster of
At left, Horace Taft smiles down on his successors: Paul Cruikshank, Lance Odden and John Esty. Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 23
Wilbraham Academy in 1955, earning him the moniker “the Boy Headmaster.” That’s something that still amazes many who’ve gone on to head their own schools. “There was some kind of petri dish that was cultivated by Lance Odden to release a lot of these deans out into the world,” says Jim Mooney ’74, a former French teacher who went on to head Vermont Academy for 16 years. He is now the associate director of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Commission on Independent Schools. “It might be the structure of the school that had so many deans and put a lot of people in the room to talk about the big
an equal. People like that, who without ego led and mentored, make a strong faculty and breed leaders. “I had no teaching experience. I was in HDT with Erik Drake, and I was in admissions with Ferdie Wandelt ’66, who was my first mentor,” Davis says. “I was paired with experienced people who could be mentors, yet at the same time people were allowed to find their way without too much handholding, and that’s a tricky balance. The risk is that people would really screw up. Lance’s style was to (give people) independence and autonomy and room to grow. One reason I grew so much was he let me be. He wanted to know if there were
“Lance’s style was to (give people) independence and autonomy and room to grow.”
picture and to talk about kids,” Mooney says. “I was 24 years old and a dean. I was (one of the) youngest in the room and what struck me was that everyone got along so well. Everyone in that room belonged, and Lance made that easy.” Mooney was also a school monitor while a student at Taft, but says he didn’t think he would be a school leader as an adult. “I believe … for a number of years I was in an experience in a school where everything was hitting on all cylinders,” he added. “That has left an impression on me about what’s possible in schools. You keep wanting to get that (feeling of) if Lance can do it, I can do it. He chose the people and he had the savvy to put them in the right place.” Mark Davis, who was on Taft’s faculty from 1982 to 1999, is now head of St. Luke’s in New Canaan, Connecticut. Davis says strong faculty members such as Linda Saarnijoki, Penny Townsend and Robin Osborn taught him lessons about the keys to great schools. “We were all lucky,” he says. “The key to a great school is a great faculty. You want strong, wise, caring people. Strong personalities were not just tolerated, they were encouraged. (Osborn) took me on and treated me with unbelievable courtesy. She treated me as 24 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
crises, but Lance’s style was to give people responsibility and let them do their jobs. That to me was a really important lesson. That’s one reason why a number of us went on to become heads. We’re able to do that because we’d had that kind of responsibility. It was a vote of confidence.” King
Indeed, Lance Odden’s “kingmaker” abilities, as one former faculty member described it, weren’t the only reasons so many faculty and students have grown into leaders. The influence of other faculty members on these future heads of school is cited by many as key to their professional development. “I think the best leaders and mentors were really good listeners,” says Fran Bisselle, who now heads the Maple Street School in Vermont. “I had a lot of faculty mentors (who are now heads of school) like Mike Maher, Mark Davis, Emily Jones and Penny Townsend. Those four people were my mentors, beyond Lance who I think was very much more than a mentor while I was there.” Townsend, now head of the Pennington School in New
Jersey, was another of those young faculty members during the 1980s who thrived under Odden’s leadership. “Taft was a pretty amazing place to be around the table with Lance. We weren’t trained in leadership, we were just surrounded by great leaders. Lance really believed in giving young faculty members a lot of responsibilities early on,” Townsend says. “We always felt we had the support of the boss. He wasn’t a micromanager: he got the right people on the bus in the right seats. He could ferret out (your) skills. Lance was a phenomenal mentor. It was watching someone who was masterful. You just knew the school was always striving to be better.” Chan Hardwick, headmaster of Blair Academy in New
Jersey, also appreciated the increasing levels of responsibility he was given while at Taft. “We were given remarkable autonomy and support. Running a dorm was critical,” Hardwick says. “You (learned) a lot of conflict resolution and dealing with parents who are concerned about the kids. I was also dean of the lowermid and senior classes—I saw both ends of the spectrum. We had to work hard.” That experience, along with running the Taft Summer School, gave him the edge when he was in the running for the Blair position. Being thrown into the demands of boarding school life helped shape Mike Maher’s career. Now head of the Berkshire
Headmasters Lance Odden, Willy MacMullen ’78 and John Esty, represent nearly a half century of leadership at Taft (1963 to present).
Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 25
Heads of School From Taft
Although this list is impressive, we know it is not exhaustive. If you know of a Taft alum or former teacher who went on to head a school, please let us know so we can update our records.
Frederick Winsor/Faculty: 1893–95 Halleck Lefferts 1914 Andrews Black ’39/Faculty: 1946–49 Jerry LaGrange/Faculty: 1942–53 Gray Mattern/Faculty: 1946–48 Edgar L. Sanford Jr./Faculty: 1954–59
Founder, Middlesex School MA Pomfret School CT Co-founder, Denver Country Day School CO Rye Country Day NY Wilbraham School MA Charles Wright Academy WA Thacher School CA Casady School OK University School OH Hamden Hall CT Cate School CA King School CT Greens Farms Academy CT Taft School St. Margaret’s-McTernan School CT Polytechnic School CA Crane Country Day School CA Elgin Academy IL Sacramento Country Day CA Blair Academy NJ Fryeburg Academy ME Miss Hall’s School MA Vermont Academy VT Ake Panya THAILAND Ake Panya THAILAND Canterbury School NC Founder, Greensboro School of Creativity NC Maple St. School VT Taft School Poland High School ME Casco Bay High School ME St. Luke’s School CT Friends Academy NY East Boston High School MA Greenwich Academy CT Maru a Pula School, BOTSWANA Berkshire School MA Lake Tahoe School NV Alexander Dawson School CO Pennington School NJ St. Catherine’s School VA Putney School VT Winchendon School MA Woodhall School CT
(1901–37) (1930–42) (1953–72) (1953–75) (1955–71) (1959–69) (1969–75) (1963–80) (1963–88) (1964–69) (1964–74) 1970–72 1972–98 (1972–2001) (1972–77) (1976–80) (1979–89) (1989–94) (1998–2003) (1989–present) (1992–present) (1984–92) (1993–2009) (1996–99) (1999–2000) (1999–2005) (2005–present) (2000–present) (2001–present) (2002–05) (2005–present) (2002–present) (2003–present) (2003–present) (2004–present) (2004–present) (2004–present) (2006–10) (2006–present) (2006–present) (2007–11) (2007–present) (2008–present) (2008–present)
Bob Woolsey/Faculty: 1952–63 Rowland McKinley/Faculty: 1954–59 Charles Shepard/Faculty: 1951–53 Fred Clark/Faculty: 1954–63 Jim Coyle ’52 Lance Odden/Faculty: 1961–2001 Clayton “Chip” Spencer ’56/ Faculty: 1964–70, 1994–present John Bergen/Faculty: 1955–76 Selden Edwards/Faculty: 1968–74 Chan Hardwick/Faculty: 1977–89 Dan Lee ’67/Faculty: 1977–84 Jim Mooney ’74/Faculty: 1978–83 Gordon Jones/Faculty: 1987–96 Tom Woelper/Faculty: 1989–98 Chip Bristol ’78 Fran Bisselle/Faculty: 1992–2000 Willy MacMullen ’78/Faculty: 1983–present Derek Pierce ’84 Mark Davis/Faculty: 1982–99 Bill Morris ’69/Faculty: 1976–2003 Mike Rubin ’74 Molly Hoagland King/Faculty: 1980–81 Andy Taylor ’72 Mike Maher/Faculty: 1984–2004 Steve McKibben/Faculty: 1989–2000 Brian Johnson ’82 Penny Townsend/Faculty: 1983–2006 Laura (Erickson) Fuller/Faculty: 1994–2004 Emily Jones/Faculty: 1987–96 John Kerney ’78 Matt Woodhall ’93 26 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
This list does not include university presidents, although there are a few among Taft alumni (see page 41).
School in Massachusetts. Maher says, “The great gift of Taft for me, apart from the lifelong friendships, was the unusual mentoring opportunities. There was a real intentional approach on Lance Odden’s part to developing young faculty by exposing them to different areas they’d need to be leaders.” Ver y Model of a
Now head of Fryeburg Academy in Maine, Dan Lee ’67, who first left the faculty to head Miss Hall’s School, says his experience as a student under Headmaster John Esty made him want to be a head of a school. “I saw what a wonderful community a boarding school could be. And John Esty and his faculty really did stress the importance of the school motto. It fell on fertile ground with me. Whatever I did, it had to be of direct service to others and that’s what led me to education,” Lee says. “When I find myself with (a dilemma) I try to think, what would Lance do? He really was for me the model of an incredibly successful and competent guy who still had the instinct of an educator and a heart as big as the outdoors.” Care
Odden says he sought faculty members who were passionate about serving young people. “If you look at the people who went on to be heads of schools, almost all wound up … getting pretty substantial experience (at Taft), most often as class deans. They fulfilled my hope that they would be really great natural leaders of young people and care deeply about them,” he says. While Odden says he trusted his judgment about the faculty members he hired, he also felt the pull of Horace Taft’s philosophy about the school.
“One of the things he was very good at was not being overly judgmental and critical over little things. When students do something wrong, they feel enormously guilty. The act of understanding and caring about them is very powerful. If you’re going to have that kind of environment where you take kids who aren’t (always successful), you have to be yourself filled with unconditional love for the young people. If you look at the members of the Taft community who have gone on to head schools, they’re filled with that. You never accept the notion that you are either competitive or compassionate.” Beyond
Odden is pleased to see the number of people who have gone on to head other schools and who have embraced the school’s methods. “It feels wonderful because it’s a reflection of the values that have existed at Taft for a long time. We as a school were always devoted to educating the whole student. That’s an idea that’s come into some currency of late. It’s not something thought of 20 or 30 years ago, that every experience as a whole contributes to (students’) intellectual and social growth. I think that the notion of educating the whole person is so essential to the philosophy of Taft.” Taft’s influence does not extend solely to independent schools. Mike Rubin ’74 heads East Boston High School (a Professional Partnership School with the Harvard Graduate School of Education), and Derek Pierce ’84 is principal of Casco Bay High School in Maine, an expeditionary learning school with Outward Bound. Although Casco Bay isn’t a typical public school, it’s one where Pierce tries to inject a little of Taft’s philosophy. “My school is very much about (educating) the whole kid, trying to have meaningful experiences outside the classroom too,” he says. “To transform who they are, I’m trying to steal that from boarding school.” Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 27
cutting doors to thresholds
A Head of
It’s little surprise then that when Taft sought a new headmaster in 2001, the school would find a successful candidate among its own. Willy MacMullen ’78 returned to teach at Taft in 1983 and had filled many of the major leaderships posts—class dean, academic dean, dean of faculty. “I knew without knowing it that I was prepared for leadership by the teachers and mentors I knew as both a student and a faculty member,” MacMullen says. “There were people “…if a school rests on the ethos it does, it is going to gr aduate men and women who ser ve. It’s only a question of time before many of them end up in positions of leadership.”
I admired as a student—like all great teachers they gave me a little bit of themselves that I carried with me. As a 17-year-old, I learned lessons about passion and commitment from them. When I became a teacher, Lance was a very powerful mentor. Much of what I learned about leading I learned from him. “ MacMullen says no one should be surprised at Taft’s influence on other schools. “I don’t think it’s coincidence,” MacMullen says. “It’s an inevitable result of the school’s mission. The school is defined and rests on the notion of serving, and is propped up by extraordinary teachers. At the end of the day, we shouldn’t be surprised because if a school rests on the ethos it does, it is going to graduate men and women who serve. It’s only a question of time before many of them end up in positions of leadership.” j Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow ’84 is a writer living in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 28 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
few years ago the school decided to replace the aging front doors by the Harley Roberts Room. Installing new doors presented a challenge, though, as the stone sill below had also been worn down by years of use; the contractor wanted to replace it. “There was just too much history there—all those footsteps of new students arriving at Taft. We couldn’t erase that,” says Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78. So the doors were cut to fit instead. For MacMullen, the first alumnus to lead the school and only Taft’s fifth headmaster, that decision has been like many others he has made in his first decade at the helm: trying to cut the new to fit what’s gone before—that “perpetual negotiation between the past and the future; between tradition and innovation—that’s what I hope I can do,” he says. MacMullen is the first to admit he inherited a great school with a superb physical plant. “Lance Odden was an extraordinary leader,” he says. “But there were still things we could do with the campus.” “After 30 years of hearing about plans to renovate the kitchen and dining areas, it’s been great to see it finally happen,” adds Classics Chair Dick Cobb. “Just spectacular!” And MacMullen held fast to the notion that breaking bread together needed to be something we did at the heart of the school—and he took advantage of the opportunity to expand main hall and better connect the central buildings with the western side of the campus. “It was about a single moment where in one bold sweep, in a combination of new and old construction, we could address countless campus needs,” says MacMullen. At the dedication of the new Moorhead Wing last year, Board Chairman Rod Moorhead ’62 saluted MacMullen’s achievements to date. “As many of you know, Willy’s first day as Taft’s fifth headmaster was September 11, 2001,” said Moorhead ’62. “But Willy got through that event and did much, much more. A school cannot operate as successfully as Taft does without a strong faculty. From the beginning of his appointment, Willy worked long and hard to maintain that tradition.”
The first decade of Headmaster William R. MacMullen ’78
“I have trouble imagining a more difficult start than the one Willy faced on the opening day of classes,” says Cobb. “His calm and rational response to the demands of that situation was most reassuring to both the students and the faculty.” The purchase of Walker Hall in 2002 came about on the heels of 9/11, and the school was well served by having a quiet sanctuary and a multifaith reflection hall. “I think it allowed us to bring questions of religion and the quest for meaning even more to the forefront of the school—where they should be,” says MacMullen. Admissions outreach in new areas has led to our first students from Afghanistan, Haiti, Egypt and elsewhere—and brought entirely new perspectives to discussions of faith and of current events on campus. The creation of the Global Studies and Scholarship department also brings pertinent world issues like human rights, world religions and social justice into the classroom. “Willy has very good instincts and truly embraces the ethical tradition of the good citizen, the global citizen,” says English Chair Jennifer Zaccara. “He really knows kids and pushes them to envision how they will participate in the broader community. He wants us—faculty and students—to do the grass-roots work so change is organic rather than tacked on or imposed from above. There is a deliberateness there, a methodical thoughtful process. He wants to look at pluralism across the community, across the curriculum.” “We are a more global school today,” says MacMullen. “And we are preparing literate global citizens. I mean global in terms of the diversity of the students and faculty, in terms of travel, in terms of outreach. But most of all I think in terms of the way we are trying to think. We deeply believe that we have something important to offer the world. Why shouldn’t we be that idealistic?” Zaccara has been part of two NEASC accreditation committees with MacMullen—at Groton and Westminster. “He is good at listening and synthesizing. As a team, we worked so efficiently and in such a caring way. Because of his approach schools allowed us to observe some very sensitive conversations at the highest level.” “I’m always amazed at Willy’s ability to analyze quickly nearly any problem and propose viable, potential solutions right away,”
says Academic Dean Jon Willson ’82. “And, based on what I’ve heard about heads at comparable schools, Willy has remained determined to be the most hands-on head he can be in terms of knowing the students and never losing sight of the fact that, in the end, the students really matter to what he does.” One of the first tasks MacMullen set for the faculty was to develop a Portrait of the Graduate. “It was a very worthwhile exercise,” says Cobb. “Putting down on paper what we’d like our students to accomplish before they leave Taft gave us some (formerly mostly unspoken) goals to strive for.” Another priority has been a sense of fiscal responsibility while at the same time increasing the school’s commitment to financial aid. “I had strong feelings when I started that we—to the extent it was fiscally responsible—had to increase our commitment to financial aid in order to make Taft available to more students and to increase the socioeconomic diversity on the campus,” MacMullen says. “We recently went through one of the worst economic downturns, and the school was positioned by virtue of its history of fiscal prudence not only to survive but also to emerge stronger. This is a school that’s run efficiently and has a fantastic Board of Trustees that has helped ensure Taft remains one of the nation’s premier schools. “Great things have happened at this school on my watch that I would never dare take credit for,” MacMullen is quick to say. “Still I am proud of what we have done. In the end, it is always about the education of the whole student.” At the dedication of the Moorhead Wing, he remarked. “It’s hopeful work we are in here at Taft. For we school people, the arc of our dreaming should bend to the unreachable in all we craft, be it brick or flesh, and yield one day that which we hope will serve our world and endure forever.” “I have often heard Willy refer to a good trustee candidate as someone with Taft in his or her blood,” says Moorhead. “Well, Willy has plenty of Taft in his blood, seemingly boundless energy and now, the wisdom and judgment that come with time.” —Julie Reiff
Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 29
“Their relaxed nature within their own home and their ability to remain unperturbed shows that while they are teachers, they are parents and a family, too. I would be lost without them.”
t’s 7:45 on a Thursday evening in McIntosh House. The small lobby teems with girls, signing out for study hall or coming in after a busy hour socializing. To the left, French doors open into the apartment of Laura Monti ’89 and Jeremy Clifford. The din of passing girls is equally met by their daughter Ellie’s laughter, son Matthew’s percussive experimentation on a set of toy cymbals and oldest son Robert’s entertainment of Raisin, the family dachshund. Despite the cacophony, Laura and Jeremy watch over it unfazed. As 7:45 becomes 8:00, the noise subsides. Girls head to their rooms to get started on a long night of homework, monitors station themselves in the hallway to maintain order and bedtime comes for Ellie and Matthew. Laura and Jeremy consult briefly at their doorway and divide responsibilities. “Are you the Matt guy or the duty guy tonight?” Laura asks her husband. While the execution is not seamless—Matthew fusses over going to bed and Ellie negotiates for one more story— their division of labors is remarkably efficient. They approach their competing, and sometimes conflicting, responsibilities as a unit, crafting an interdependent relationship that allows for them to manage their roles as parents and their position in loco parentis. Only a small desk marks the spot where their home ends and their dormitory begins. While Jeremy patrols the dorm, the offspring resign themselves to their nocturnal fates, though Matthew, whose proud announcement that he is two-and-a-half is only matched by his father’s proud statement that his boy already knows his fractions, is not going gently. Laura, confident that he will settle down after a few more minutes, sits in the doorway as some of the monitors wander in from an emotionally charged meeting. Lillie-Belle, a four-year resident of Mac House, takes a seat and immediately voices the feelings and frustrations of a senior girl in the middle of a snowy winter. Like Lucy from Charles Shultz’s Peanuts, Laura listens carefully, dispensing the occasional piece of advice but acting primarily as a sounding board— but without the expectation of a nickel. “Their relaxed nature within their own home and their ability to remain unperturbed shows that while they are teachers, they are parents and a family, too,” Lillie-Belle tells me later. “I would be lost without them.” I wander upstairs to check on Jeremy and find him inspecting rooms to see that beds are made, closets are neat and computers are being used for an academic purpose. He is laid back and non-confrontational, and the girls with whom he speaks are quick to share moments of their lives with him.
By Joe Freeman
The Monti-Cliffords when work and family coalesce
Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 31
“What are you working on?” he asks with more than idle curiosity. The conversations are short but meaningful, and the girls quickly realize Jeremy’s investment in their academic success. The warmth of the dormitory is palpable, and I soon find the same spirit in their classrooms. One early Saturday morning, I trudge up to the second floor of the Lady Ivy Kwok Wu Mathematics and Science Center to watch Jeremy teach Statistics. Seniors fill the large classroom awaiting a promised quiz. Jeremy walks in with the bell, turns on the smart-board projector and leads the class through a few problems first. Because they are studying probability, Jeremy presents some relevant word problems, calculating favorable odds for Ohio State’s chances of winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament and tutoring students on betting strategy in blackjack. His examples rivet the class. Three doors down the hall, Laura takes a semicircle of Advanced Placement Biology students through the digestive system. YouTube clips show the path that food takes down the esophagus and into the stomach. Another clip shows the chemical reactions of digestion in the small intestine and then the projector switches to Harry Smith’s colonoscopy on the CBS Morning News. Laura intersperses these clips with a discussion of significant terms, “Why does your mouth cover your food in boogers?” she suddenly asks her students. One cautiously offers: “to make the food go down?” Laura then launches into a sophisticated discussion of mucus, bile and acid as she charts the physical and chemical processes of digestion, explaining why a person can survive without a gall bladder but not without a pancreas. The class ends with a review, modeled off the game show $10,000 Pyramid. The bell rings and her students head to lunch more aware of what will happen to the food they are about to ingest. At Taft, we often herald the fact that “it is cool to be smart,” and Laura and Jeremy embody this aphorism. They frequently describe themselves as “huge nerds,” and their students quickly realize that they employ this term as a point of pride. On the basketball court, Jeremy has brought his laptop to run real-time statistics for his players; Laura’s passion for running not only motivates her team to run marathons in the off-season, but also inspires her own vegetarianism. In addition to teaching and coaching, moving to a boarding school allowed Laura and Jeremy to bring their family life into the equation. 32 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
“…we often herald the fact that ‘it is cool to be smart,’ and Laura and Jeremy embody this aphorism. They frequently describe themselves as ‘huge nerds,’ and their students quickly realize that they employ this term as a point of pride.”
Bows to Biology The daughter of two teachers, Laura was born in nearby Waterbury. Not sufficiently challenged in the public school system, she seized the opportunity to come to Taft, but the transition was not easy. As a day student, she often found herself having to negotiate a very different culture from the one she was accustomed to—wearing a bow in her hair and her collar turned up on her first day before an older girl took her aside. But Laura quickly found a place for herself in the classroom, winning the Reardon prize for the best history paper and the Reiff biology prize at graduation. She fondly recalls the enormous impact of her teachers, citing Steve Schieffelin, Linda Saarnijoki and John Piacenza as pivotal role models in her intellectual life (in fact, she admits to almost pursuing an undergraduate degree in English owing to Linda’s inspirational teaching). Yet it was in David Hostage’s biology lab that Laura began to envision her future as a researcher. “It was the clever way that David delivered the material that made it so engaging for me.” When she entered Yale, she had already decided upon her major. Yale was also where she would meet her future husband. Jeremy was born in Queens and raised on Staten Island. Entering high school, he spent three hours a day taking two trains and the Staten Island Ferry to attend Regis High School on the Upper East Side. An all-boys Jesuit school, Regis offered rigorous intellectual engagement and stressed an obligation to serve God by improving one’s community. Both made a lasting impression on Jeremy. At the end of his senior year, he served as a teaching assistant at De La Salle Middle School, working closely with bright, motivated students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Jeremy’s role model was a teacher named John Connelly, who taught history, economics and, when necessary, math. In his senior year, Jeremy took an independent tutorial with Connelly to prepare for the new A.P. Economics exam. When he entered Yale, Jeremy knew he would be an econ major. While at Yale, Jeremy continued to cultivate his interest in working with children, volunteering his time with the Ulysses S. Grant Foundation, a six-week summer program that works Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 33
with bright, motivated middle school students from the New Haven area. Yale undergraduates teach classes in the program, and many volunteers and participants have gone to successful careers in educational leadership. Jeremy taught in the program for four years, serving as its director between his sophomore and junior years at Yale. While there, he worked with Dr. Edie MacMullen P’78, who, as director of Yale’s teacher training program, helped train undergraduates in classroom strategies.
The Path to Taft Laura and Jeremy found themselves in the Davenport College of Old Campus, and their roommates formed a relationship early that first year at New Haven. Tagging along to dinners and parties, Laura and Jeremy’s friendship soon blossomed and slowly transformed into a relationship, and by graduation they became a couple. After Yale, Laura worked as a researcher in the College of Medicine while Jeremy moved to New York to be a management consultant. Despite the challenges of distance, they remained committed, alternating weekends. When Laura enrolled in a master’s program at the University of Maine, Jeremy managed to get assigned to Boston-area clients. While Jeremy earned an MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Laura relocated to Boston to work as a lab assistant at New England Medical Center. They married in 1997 and moved to Arlington, Virginia, so Laura could pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland while Jeremy took a job managing credit portfolios at Capital One. After five years, Jeremy began to explore teaching certification programs, finding a suitable match in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Laura, in the midst of her dissertation, realized that she could not complete her research in a sound fashion, and she was uncomfortable publishing a research project that she did not truly believe in. When they relocated to Chicopee in 2002, both Laura and Jeremy decided to start second lives as teachers. With Robert arriving in 2001, being near family became more appealing. In the midst of tending to a young family, Laura began teaching biology at local community colleges while Jeremy taught middle school. On a whim one day, Laura happened to stumble across Taft’s website and noticed a job posting for a biology teacher. One phone call put her back in touch with her mentor, David Hostage. The school also had an opening in the Math Department. So in the fall of 2006, Laura and Jeremy moved to Watertown with their two young children. Though Laura and Jeremy teach different subjects and coach different sports, they operate as a unit—even sharing an office cubicle one year. 34 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
“Laura is always moving, always thinking about how to make her lessons better. Jeremy looks at things analytically and from a big-picture perspective. He is so laid back and never flustered. Neither could do what they do so well without the other.”
“always there… two faculty members you can go to anytime to talk about life, or math, or basketball, or biology.”
Joe Freeman is a member of the English Department. He came to Taft in 2003.
Robert Falcetti Abby Purcell ’11 Andre Li ’11
“Laura is always moving, always thinking about how to make her lessons better,” says fellow science teacher Shannon Lenz Guidotti. “Jeremy looks at things analytically and from a bigpicture perspective. He is so laid back and never flustered. Neither could do what they do so well without the other.” In fact, many here refer to them as the Monti-Cliffords. Middler Kelley Gaston describes them as “always there…two faculty members you can go to anytime to talk about life, or math, or basketball, or biology.” I dropped by Mac House again a few days later, and as I turned the corner, the French doors were wide open to the corridor. Laura sat perched behind the small desk as Jeremy emerged from the living room. The chaos of my first visit had dissipated entirely, replaced by the silence of diligent study and sleeping children. As we talked in their living room, a group of biology students wandered in for extra help. Laura moved to the kitchen with them while Jeremy and I continued to chat. A few minutes later, some boys came over for math help, and Laura returned. The apartment filled with the joy of learning, the peace that comes after a long day at Taft and the voices of children and adults engaging in powerful educational partnership. Looking through their front hall and out of the French doors, I failed to see a boundary. j Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 35
Squas h Top-seeded Zeyad Elshorfy â€™12 spread the gospel of humility, and the players took that to heart, says Coach Miller. With Elshorfy as their model, the boys became increasingly aware of how they represented themselves and the school on and off of the court. Andre Li â€™11
rsity squash team, If you ask the boys’llvayo u that they will te won. it was a miracle that they Taft might have been the number-two seed in the tournament, but they were playing Chestnut Hill Academy, the reigning number-two team in the country and, in terms of technical ability, the all-boys’ school from Pennsylvania was by far the stronger squad. In no uncertain terms, Taft was outmatched on the court as they competed against Chestnut Hill in the semifinal round at the U.S. High School Squash Team Championship (Nationals) in New Haven in February. At the start of the season, four months prior to the team’s match against Chestnut Hill, the team set four specific team goals: first, to beat Brunswick School; second, they wanted to get to the semifinals of the nationals; third, to win New Englands; and fourth, to have an undefeated season. Their goals were lofty. Though Taft placed fifth at nationals in the 2009–10 season, Taft only returned four players from the previous season’s roster.
Led by Head Coach W.T. Miller and captains Andy Cannon ’11 and James Calello ’11, the boys established a team ethos of diligence, perseverance and respect. The collective drive to achieve a level of unprecedented success immediately bonded the team. Every decision—from practice plans to wind sprints to dinner locations—was made as a team. Maintaining a team-centered attitude was easy for the squad. Coach Miller described the team as being on “the same page.” Zeyad Elshorfy ’12 compared the team to being like “one hand,” where the sum is greater than the individual parts. However you describe it, the team’s chemistry became its greatest asset. The players are quick to use the words “diverse” and “global” to characterize the team’s dynamic. With players from China, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, the Bronx and Brooklyn Heights, NY, and Greenwich
hing With grace under pressure, a diverse team makes history
By Kara Zarchin
n Celebrating at Nationals: from left, Coach W.T. Miller, Zeyad Elshorfy ’12, Elroy
Leong ’11, Jake Albert ’11, co-captains James Calello ’11 and Andy Cannon ’11, Andre Li ’11, Yuga Koda ’12 and Andrew Cadienhead ’13. Jonathan Albert ’79
and Middlebury, CT, the boys are geographically, culturally, religiously, and socioeconomically diverse. Off the court the boys’ interests and experiences vary from photography to jazz band, soccer to baseball, day student to boarder, four-year senior to postgraduate. Instead of becoming points of separation, the differences among the boys created powerful synergies that brought the team closer together. For as hard as the boys worked this winter, they laughed equally as hard, so hard in fact that their abs would ache. Road trips to away matches became anticipated expeditions, offering the team the chance to share jokes, to head-bob to music and to retell nostalgic stories of past teammates. “I think it’s really special that a group of guys, diverse in so many ways, could come together as a true team and push themselves mentally and physically,” says senior Jake Albert. The team sought to share
culture and to forge friendships that will last long after the season’s end and the seniors graduate. Top-seeded Elshorfy, in particular, “spread the gospel of humility, and the boys took that to heart,” says Coach Miller. With Elshorfy as their model, the players became increasingly aware of how they represented themselves and the school on and off of the court. Elshorfy even invited teammates Albert, who is Jewish, and Cannon, who is Christian, to join him in his dorm for the Muslim ritual of cleansing and prayers before the team’s first match against Brunswick. The team’s grace in victory and eventually in defeat earned Taft the praise of even its competitors, including Brunswick coach Jim Stevens, who said the Taft match was one of his most memorable for the quality of the squash and the great sportsmanship of the Taft team.
tion, ing points of separa Instead of becomth g the boys created on ther. e differences am br t the team closer toge gh ou at th s ie rg ne powerful sy 38 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
The school’s response to the boys’ success was overwhelming. At home matches, students arrived well before match time to get a much-coveted seat. With crowds of 60 to 80 people, even standing room was hard to come by. “There seemed to be a buzz” about the team around campus noted Coach Miller. “It’s exotic and different watching players like Zeyad and Elroy [Leong ’11]. They exude quality as you watch them play.” The team’s fan base is large and loyal. Students and faculty alike trekked to Greenwich to watch Taft beat Brunswick, to New Haven to support Taft at the Nationals, and to Salisbury to cheer on Taft at the New England tournament. “The real fascination with the boys’ squash program lies in the fact that they compete at a much higher level than any other Taft sport,” says fan Philippe Simard ’11. “In no other sport can you say, ‘they’ll easily be top five in the country.’ Most programs strive to be top five among private schools in New England.” English Department Chair Jennifer Zaccara, who along with Simard was part of the team’s traveling fan base, described the boys as “poised and honest,” explaining that she “was very moved by this team all along the way.” While the team’s skill made for exciting squash to watch, the boys’ skill alone does not explain the team’s tremendous success. The boys conditioned rigorously all season in order to outlast their opponents, and their fortitude paid off in key moments, especially in their first match-up with Brunswick School. The car ride to Greenwich in late January was uncharacteristically quiet. The team was nervous. With an 8–0 record, the team had only dropped one individual match the entire season. Brunswick, however, was coming into the match with an eleven-year winning streak. The atmosphere “was nerve-racking,” remembers Cannon. “We all knew what was on the line,” as one of the team’s major goals was to beat Brunswick, to topple the powerhouse. At one point during the match, Calello dove headfirst into a sidewall to retrieve a ball, and his determination was matched by the other boys’ grit. Taft wanted the win and was willing to fight an arduous battle to get it. Elshorfy and Leong won easily at the #1 and #2 spots, respectively. Andrew Cadienhead ’13 and Cannon were “heroic,” according to Coach Miller, both prevailing in five games. Taft’s 4–3 victory against Brunswick was sensational and boosted the team’s confidence as they prepared
for their next team goal: to finish well at Nationals. Although Elshorfy didn’t talk much with his teammates about the revolution going on in his country, the protest broke out at the height of the season. He was worried at times about the safety of his family, but he knew they were not directly involved in the conflict. “Zeyad actually used what was going on in Egypt as motivation,” observes Coach Miller. “He really wanted Mubarak to be out of power; it was a very exciting time for him. On the other hand, he was out of touch with his family for days at a time and this was very difficult. I think he used the team as extended family.” Taft’s semifinal match against Chestnut Hill at the U.S. High School Squash Team Championship was an epic four-hour-twenty-minute battle. Taft was the hungrier team, according to Coach Miller. “They were willing to spill blood and to go the extra yard.” Taft’s hunger, its insatiable drive to win, helped Albert, Cannon and Leong win their matches in five games and with a win from Elshorfy at #1, Taft rose to new heights, 4–3, and qualified for the finals for the first time in the school’s history. Taft pushed Episcopal in the finals, extending matches to four games and winning at #1 and #2 before ultimately falling 5–2. “What makes that moment [of placing second] so
Taft wanted th e win a fight an ardunoduwas willing to s battle to get it. special isn’t the great accomplishment of being a national finalist,” explained Calello, “but the people and the family I was able to share that experience with.” His teammates felt the same. From the moment the boys established their goals, they have been a unit, working together, laughing together and helping each other through injury and turmoil. The team credits much of its success in performing well under pressure to Coach Miller. “He brings an exorbitant amount of energy to practices and matches,” says Albert. The team acknowledge how his inspirational speeches—with one speech, or lesson, each day the week before Brunswick and nationals—prepared the team mentally for its major matches, calming the boys’ nerves and uncertainties. Coach Miller, on the other hand, was quick to credit captains Calello and Cannon for empowering the team to commit to Taft squash and to take ownership for the team’s performance.
Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 39
. iors… lence and globalism n e s g be a Taftie o in t t a s u l n d e a c a e r x m g e it of five d a legacdyies the best of what in The teaml ’s h e b e v a wil le that embo Nine days after Nationals, the team faced Brunswick again, losing 3–4, but it was enough to know they had already ended the Bruins’ streak. The team entered the New England tournament a week later with a record of 17–1, surpassing their expectations for the season. Despite the rosy outlook, the team loss to Brunswick and Elshorfy’s first loss—to Westminster, added some uncertainty. And Coach Miller knows you always have to worry about upsets—losing a match in the first or second round is a tournament killer. “There are a bunch of really good teams at New Englands that we don’t play at all during the regular season,” adds Miller, “and the unknown is always scary!” But the team came through with all seven players making it to the semifinals, essentially clinching the title on the very first day. They finished with 107 points; the second place team had only 86. It was
, Zeyad Elshorfy always gives thanks after a match.
The team was so elated with the Brunswick victory that they all joined him. Jonathan Albert ’79
40 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
an unprecedented margin of victory. Elroy Leong and Andrew Cadienhead came home New England champions. Elshorfy and Yuga Koda ’12 both placed second, Albert and Cannon finished third and Calello finished fourth. The team’s second-place finish at team nationals coupled with its victory at New Englands made the 2010–11 team the most successful in Taft’s history. The team’s five graduating seniors, many of whom will play on the collegiate squash circuit, including Leong at Trinity and Cannon at Bates, will leave behind a legacy of excellence and globalism that embodies the best of what it means to be a Taftie. j Kara Zarchin teaches English and coaches girls’ JV squash at Taft.
from the Archives
—continued from page 88
Sam Blyth, our tour director. Sam didn’t blink and went out and bought a Chinese bike. That’s the bike.” Ted Heavenrich shares more from his journal of the trip: When we bused out to Sun Yat Sen University, we were formally greeted with tea and somewhat spontaneously paired up with English major students. The questions flew in both directions—we were interested in the particulars of their daily lives and they were excited over the opportunity to practice their English… The first day dawned gray and damp, but we headed off through the crowded city streets at 8:30 sharp to the cheers of the other hotel guests… We created a commotion wherever we went, with our 37 strange and colorful bicycles, our garish day-glo orange vests and red and white Bell helmets (amid the dark neutral hues of the helmetless, Chinese traffic). There was much nee-haoing (greeting), waving and smiling as well as the sounds of multiple horns and bike bells. The Chinese drive with one hand always on the horn. Traffic lanes and right of way do not have much meaning to them. While still in the city, we got caught in a cloudburst and had to stop. We happened
to be in front of an electrical engineering firm. The employees invited us in, opened a garage for our bikes, and had us up for tea…They are the most gracious hosts! Forty-five minutes later we were off to Eoshan and out on to the highway. Though the road was wet and often grimy and despite the occasional showers, it was a euphoric time for most. The Taft students behaved as true ambassadors of friendship, and we were busy waving, smiling and photographing. By the time we got to Eoshan (19 miles) most of us were mentally exhausted by the combination of psychic energy output and concentrating on the traffic—a constant wariness is necessary! Upon their return from China, students shared some of their stories in the Taft Papyrus: “It was the experience of a lifetime,” wrote Liza Grant ’82. “We ran into the military a lot, which really didn’t bother the group but scared the translators to death. We had a great conversation with a man who taught himself English by listening to a four-hour radio program. He listened every day for two years. Now he’s studying international politics at a university.”
“China is remarkable place,” added Linn McDowell Feidelson ’82. “Despite the fact that everyone is equal, due to the classless society, everyone appeared poorer than normal standards. This made no difference, however, because I found the people to be proud and happy. “One thing that amazed me was the absence of crime. China has the largest population (in the world) but, because of the lack of materialism, people don’t yearn for the possessions of others. I hope the sudden U.S. interest in China does not mar this fascinating country and its society.” Alex Corcoran ’83 and David Selig ’83: “Because of our extravagant housing and a few… sumptuous meals, we often felt removed from the activity going on around us. In contrast, we also got to ride bicycles…this experience gave us a true taste of the China we had wanted to see. Unlike other tourists who toured in buses, we could smell the smells and hear the sounds that the Chinese experience daily.” Once the trip was over, Blyth gave his Chinese wheels to Taft. And that is what a bike is doing in the Archives. —Alison Gilchrist, The Leslie D. Manning Archives
View more photos online at www.TaftSchool.org/news/gallery2.aspx?storyname=china1981 or scan this with a smartphone:
Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011 41
from the ARCHIVES Bikes on a Plane For years, a bicycle, suspended from the ceiling, has hovered above the hundreds of gray document boxes, record books and other memorabilia that crowd the vault of the Leslie Manning Archives in the basement of the library. It’s big and heavy, with a funny loud bell and a sturdy rack over the back wheel. Everyone asks: What’s a bike doing in the Archives? Just 30 years later, it’s a vivid artifact of an exotic place and another time that now seem a world away. In the spring of 1981, 34 Taft students, four adults (Taft faculty Jim Mooney ’74 and Ted Heavenrich, Dave Willmer, and Sam Blyth, from Blyth & Co.) traveled to the newly opened People’s Republic of China (PRC) for a two-week bike trip. There they would meet several guides from the PRC and Hong Kong who would accompany them on the tour. “We needed bicycles for each kid and leader to ship with us from JFK to Hong Kong,” recalls Mooney, a former French teacher. “We took each bike apart and boxed it. I drove the Ryder van full of bikes out on the runway at JFK, up to our 747 at its gate, and loaded them into the hold. Everything was fine. When we unloaded the bikes in Hong Kong, there was a problem–one bike was missing. The one belonging to
Bicycle photos by Yee-Fun Yin; Trip
42 Taft Bulletin SPRING 2011
photos courtesy of Ted Heavenrich
tales of a TAFTIE
By Bill Glovin
Mason W. Gross, Class of 1929 University President and “Answer Man”
PHOTO: Mason Gross ’29 sworn in as 16th president of Rutgers University in 1959. Will Ganfort/ Leslie D. Manning Archives
Few Rutgers students realize that the university’s Mason Gross School of the Arts is named for a former university president. They would also be surprised to learn that during Gross’s rise through the 1950s to become president, he was known to millions of new television viewers as “answer man” on two popular television quiz shows, Think Fast and Two for the Money. During his presidency from 1959 to 1971, Rutgers was transformed. Enrollment rose from 18,000 to 30,000, the budget grew from $18 million to $68 million and an enormous construction program took place. Gross led the university in its adjustment to its new role as the State University of New Jersey and, in the late 1960s, kept the campuses in Newark, New Brunswick and Camden from imploding. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1911, Gross entered Taft in 1925. At the time, most of his schoolmates were from Republican families, but the Grosses were Democrats (as was classmate Wagner, who went on to become mayor of NYC), and Mason had spirited debates with them. While his father, grandfather and brother attended Yale, he bucked family tradition and opted to spend his undergraduate years at Cambridge, U.K., where he studied the classics and was a member of the rowing team. After moving back to the U.S. and receiving his doctorate at Harvard in 1938, he became a philosophy instructor at Columbia University. In New York he met and married Julia Kernan, a Vassar graduate, and eventually they had four children. With war looming, he enlisted in the Army Intelligence Corps in 1942 and was later assigned to a bomber group in Brindisi, Italy, where he became acting chief intelligence officer. In 1945, he returned to the States with a Bronze Star and the rank of captain. He moved to Rutgers in 1946 to become assistant professor of philosophy and assistant to the dean of
Rutgers College in New Brunswick. In each of his 25 years there, he taught at least one class in philosophy; he also wrote every one of the more than 300 speeches he gave as university president. Despite leading Rutgers at a time when it was bursting at the seams, he is more remembered as a champion for free speech and for leading the university through the turbulence of the late 1960s, when the Vietnam War, political assassinations, gender and racial discrimination often led to violence on college campuses throughout the country. In 1965, when respected history professor Eugene Genovese announced at a teach-in that he would welcome the impending victory of North Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh, Gross refused to dismiss Genovese under intense state and federal political pressure. His stand led to the Meiklejohn Award in 1966 by the Association of University Professors (AAU), given for the defense of academic freedom. His legacy was such that in his last years at Rutgers, he was greeted by a standing ovation from students, faculty and New Jerseyites whenever he spoke at a gathering. Perhaps his most impressive ovation came from a group of angry student protestors who surrounded and occupied his office in the central administration building on May 4, 1970. Recalling the incident at a 1991 ceremony to unveil his class’s gift (the Mason Gross Memorial on Voorhees Mall), Owen Ullmann, deputy managing editor of USA Today at the time, said: “Mason told us we were his guests and to make ourselves at home; that this was our university as well as his, and asked us not to break anything. As he walked away, we applauded, and we respected his wishes.” j —Bill Glovin Bill Glovin is senior editor at Rutgers Magazine. Taft Bulletin Spring 2011 43
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Published on Feb 2, 2017