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Letters to the editor

Want to respond to something you read in Miamian? Feel free to submit letters to Include your name, class year, home address, and phone number.

The letters that ran in the Winter 2012 print edition of Miamian are marked with double asterisks (**).

Editor's note

Pirates steal my heart

Miami's sweetly singing pirates

Swords and sabers drawn, pirates from the time of Queen Victoria's reign invaded Miami's Hall Auditorium last month. By boat, no less.

Fear not. No blood was spilled. These were gentle pirates, many of them freshmen, all of them music aficionados participating in Miami Opera's frolicking production of The Pirates of Penzance.

Amazingly enough, this is not the first pirate invasion I've observed. Indeed, I am the very model of a modern major ticket-holder. But this was the first time I've watched soft-hearted scoundrels and knocked-kneed cops duke it out while I sat next to a freshman new to Gilbert and Sullivan's satirical slapstick.

My armrest-sharing neighbor was laughing so much at her friends on stage that at one point I couldn't stop myself from whispering to her, "You'll really enjoy this next part." Forgive me for violating the Golden Rule of theater etiquette. If I don't quit whispering during performances, I might find myself being ushered to a seat beside a post during the next overture.

Actually, I did sit behind a post a few weeks later. That was the only option left after the crowd filled the pews to see the Chamber Singers and then the Choraliers in their annual presentation of Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. As the women's hauntingly beautiful and final alleluia faded into silence, they blew out their candles, leaving the church in darkness and the audience in awe.

At that moment, I realized I've missed out not attending these performances in the past. With 2011-2012 being the Year of the Arts at Miami, I'm rectifying that.

So far this semester, I've sampled theatre's A Glass Menagerie, a cappella singing with the Misfitz, two talks at the art museum, a little opera, and a lot of marching band, which shared a rousing rendition of its entire season with friends and family before heading to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan.

Unlike my evening with the Penzance pirates, when I sang along with the familiar old friends (Not out loud, I swear!), I suspect I don't always fully appreciate what is being staged before me. I was clueless during the a cappella rapping. (What'd they say?) Still, I hum on. Just like when we were in college, there's so much new to experience, both through student and faculty artists and with the top-notch soloists and ensembles that the Performing Arts Series brings in.

It's kind of like when my niece tried watermelon for the first time. As she rolled the fruit around inside her mouth, juice dribbling down her chin, she showed surprise, then uncertainty, and finally complete and utter delight. I'm willing to take a little taste and possibly experience uncertainty knowing that the finale could very well lead to utter delight.

Donna Boen '83

Donna Boen '83 MTSC '96, Editor

Letters to the editor

Wonderful tribute

**What a wonderful issue of Miamian! The tributes to Dr. Shriver ("To Dr. Shriver, with Love," Summer 2011 Miamian) were lovely to read, and it was great to honor teachers in the same issue, since he clearly loved teaching so much.

Sarah Pechan '02
Columbus, Ohio

**When I opened the mailbox and saw Miamian – "Uncle Phil's issue" – I gasped. Reading about it on Facebook last month made me wish for the days when I sat in rapt attention listening to Dr. Shriver's stories about Ohio's history.

Some of my favorite Miami moments include the Shrivers:

  • Their welcoming open house – that's the kind of place I wanted to have (all those bookshelves!).
  • Walking by his office (door open) when I was interviewing administrators for The Miami Student and seeing him poring over papers on his desk. Back then, I was afraid of my own shadow, and when the editor gave me a list to follow, I didn't ask to interview Dr. Shriver. What a mistake!
  • Having him lead the songs and cheers at the games.
  • Knowing their daughter Darcy was in my classes and wondering how she felt about the double meaning, in her case, of in loco parentis.

Thanks for the memories and the wonderful tribute to a fine man and the great woman at his side. This inspirational issue will be cherished.

Kay Loyd McCullough '75
Ocala, Fla.

**I recall President Shriver's presence when the curfew of Oxford was over. While walking by the president's residence to go Uptown, there was our president in his front yard. He was casually viewing the pedestrians, maybe the campus, or just looking up at the large trees. We glanced in acknowledgement at each other, and I realized that he was simply making himself available to anyone who might pass by.

Regarding his stand to Gov. Rhodes and National Guard at Hueston Woods, I met with an alumnus who stated the National Guard was just a rumored scare tactic. Now I know better, perhaps; regardless, his stature continues to rise, as time goes by.

Larry McFeeters '71
Milford, Ohio

My husband, Scott Thomas, went to Miami in the early ’80s. (He's never sure if he graduated in ’85 or ’86.) He has told the anecdote many times about how, whenever "Uncle Phil" spotted him on campus, he greeted my husband with a cheery "Hi, Scott," as though they were old pals. It always amazed my husband that the president of the university not only remembered his name, but took a moment to say hello. Scott, a cynical theatre student, was highly impressed.

Jill M., wife of G. Scott Thomas ’86 (or maybe ’85)
Ravenna, Ohio

Another tip

**Terrific "tips" from the various teachers ("These Teachers Know How to Cut Through the School Daze," Summer 2011 Miamian). One of them, Sharon Draper MAT '73, did her teaching and writing at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, where she earned The National Teacher of the Year Award. We are most proud of the legacy she left behind at Walnut!

We're a little disappointed there is not one reference to Walnut in the article – especially given the amount of hard work a lot of Miami faculty, admissions, and Walnut folks are doing to build stronger relationships between Walnut and Miami. Incidentally, Walnut's principal, Jeff Brokamp, is Class of 1982!

Bill '58 and Pat Killoran Kern '59
Cincinnati, Ohio

A little horn-blowing

**Ohio State may have the "Best Damn Band in the Land," but they are No. 2 in Ohio!

Dick Huntley '59
Cincinnati, Ohio

Give 'Ides' credit

**After reading about the filming of segments of George Clooney's "The Ides of March" at Miami in the Spring 2011 Miamian, I rushed to see the movie. Despite Miami's on-staff PR people and oft-touted outside marketing consultants, in return for allowing Clooney to turn the campus into a mini circus over the course of filming, what did Miami get out of it? In the film, the school was identified as "Miami University of Ohio" (couldn't they even get the name right?) and though the credits were long enough to reference the crew catering service, there was no acknowledgement thanking Miami for its cooperation. So much for effective promotion. Job well done, guys.

John Miller '68
Los Gatos, Calif.

Claire Wagner, associate director for university communications, responds: I watched the movie in a theater full of Cincinnatians who'd contributed to the production. Imagine our collective gasp when the credits arrived at "Filmed on location in Michigan," without mention of Ohio or several contractually arranged credit listings. I spoke up immediately. Days later I received an apologetic call from an executive producer who promised our credits would be on the DVD and home-theater versions. What else did we get out of it? Many students and community members were paid extras who were able to observe Hollywood actors and producers in action; the Farmer School of Business sign shows twice, beautifully; the entire community enjoyed the experience; and Kristen Erwin '96, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Film Commission, who persuaded George Clooney to include Miami in this terrific movie, said the crew was impressed enough with the people here that other movie producers may be influenced to come.

Miss you, Mama Jazz

**Mama Jazz changed my life. My friends and I were saddened to hear about the passing of WMUB host Phyllis Campbell, fondly known as Mama Jazz. [Phyllis died Nov. 26.]

Mama Jazz and The Bishop Belles at WMUB in 1997: (front) Mama Jazz, Megan Siebenhar, and Michelle Feige; (back) Virginia Howell, Kate Barker, Stephanie Perles, Laura Beth David, Rebecca Wanzo, Lori Palmer, Emilee Thompson, and Erica Brandenburg.

In 1996 and 1997, we spent every Thursday night in Bishop Hall listening to her show. When we called in to the radio station, she dubbed us "The Bishop Belles." We visited her at the studio, and she put us on-air during a holiday show. Over jazz and tea, we forged lifelong friendships.

Fifteen years later the 10 of us are still a tightknit group, and although we are scattered across the country, we have reunions every other summer. We will always remember Mama Jazz, with her smoky voice and her giant heart, who was our muse.

Michelle Feige '99
Columbus, Ohio

Thank Mr. Cox

Editor’s note: Christine Emens-Boden Satory ’83 MFA ’85 asked to share this letter that she wrote to Joseph Cox III ’61, Miami professor emeritus of art.

Dear Mr. Cox,

The sapling willow tree that I planted for you five years ago is now huge! I am amazed how fast it grew and how it withstands tornado winds. You have no idea how much your words and actions meant to me when I was your student in the art department. They have shaped my entire life.

Every day I try my best to “thank you.” I will never be able to do so. No matter how much I try. So let me tell you the ripple effects of your kindness and compassion that you gave to me when I was a lost, single mother who was trying to make a better life for my son, Robert.

For the past 27 years I have been teaching graphic design. I taught for four years at Louisiana State University and am starting my 23rd year at Ball State University. Because of you, I have not wavered from my purpose: Aim high and reach back.

You have helped to shape countless numbers of young, aspiring artists – regardless of race, color, or class – to reach their dreams of becoming successful in the visual arts.

In honor of you and your compassion toward me, I make sure that every young artist that is in my class has my guidance and active help – including freely giving them art supplies – like you gave me. And, I tell them, “Don’t thank me. Thank Mr. Cox. He is the one who deserves the thanks because I wouldn’t be here with you today if he hadn’t helped me. My son, who is now 30, would not have the life he has, including his wife and child, if Mr. Cox hadn’t helped me.”

Mr. Cox, your actions in life have mattered much more than you will ever know. I can never thank you enough, so instead, I try to pass on the gifts you gave me.

With loving gratefulness,

Christine Emens-Boden Satory ’83 MFA ’85
associate professor, department of art, Ball State University

P.S. I have named my willow tree "Mr. Cox" and every day I take time to "talk to it.” You are still helping me live life better and weather the storms.

Jack White’s steamy idea

Dekes in the mid-1950s remember professor John White Jr. as “Jack” – the same brother that arranged to obtain and fire up a steam tractor 200 yards up-grade from the main entrance to the football stadium. The hot water from our “steamroller OSU” display caused fans to have to step out-around the then stadium entrance curb. Or be in hot water!

Congratulations to Jack on receiving the Durbin Metal.

Douglas Denbow MA ’56 DKE ’58
Lexington, Ohio

P.S. He later appeared on the cover of a Miamian engineering the Smithsonian anniversary run of the John Bull.

P.P.S. Great summer issue!

Thinking inside the box

Editor’s note: This is Ralph Erchinger’s response to the Summer 2011 Miamian editor’s note, “Currently speaking,” about a recent survey of alumni that asked them to name the electronic items they brought to college as freshmen.

Well, as far as I know, I’ve not been surveyed: The one thing I couldn’t have done without during my four Miami years was my LAUNDRY BOX!

By parcel post it carried my “dirties” home to Mom in Calumet City, and returned “freshies” 10 days later. My first box – fiberboard – wore out; the second – aluminum – was battle-weary with many dents, but it survived to graduation, Air Force commissioning, and marriage! (Note: For guys, this was routine; remember, first class postage was 3 cents in those days – I think my box postage was less than a dollar!)

Ralph Erchinger ’53
Austin, Texas

Fine fine arts career

I just received my Miamian (e-mail) alumni newsletter and read with interest the terrific articles about four award-winning educators who graduated from MU (“These Teachers Know How to Cut Through the School Daze,” Summer 2011 Miamian). I, too, am an award-winning visual arts educator and a Miami University graduate (MA 1987, BS 1975), former graduate teaching assistant, and adjunct instructor.

Believe it or not, I am uncomfortable about extolling my virtues and bragging about my award-winning career, the profession about which I was so passionate and dedicated throughout my 26-year tenure, even to other Miami alumni. However, now that I’m retired, and in light of the recent announcement about the “Year of the Arts” at Miami, my family and friends have encouraged me to finally let Miami know how extremely proud I am of my degrees, as well as share with you the numerous international, national, regional, state, and local awards, honors, invitational presentations, and grants I received that indubitably reflect a most challenging and rewarding career teaching students K-college in two states and four school systems. I am convinced that my accomplishments were the direct result of the amazing education I earned from Miami’s School of Fine Arts.

I still feel uncomfortable “tooting my own horn” and hope you’ll view this message as my sincere wish to express my gratitude to Miami University for helping launch an exhilarating and successful career in the arts!

As both an undergraduate and graduate student at MU, I was blessed to study (and work) under the helm and guidance of OUTSTANDING instructors, especially the late Dr. John Michael, Dr. Jerry Morris, Dr. Ralph Raunft, Professor Emeritus James Killy, and Dr. Clive Getty. As a teacher, in virtually all the school systems in which I was employed, my superintendents, art directors, administrators, and colleagues were highly supportive and appreciative of my professional and creative endeavors. They embraced me with compassion, and my K-12 students (with few exceptions) displayed interest, increased confidence in their creative abilities, and an emerging competency in their critical-thinking, problem-solving skills. With special pride, I must admit that over the years, several students felt inspired enough to follow in my footsteps and become visual art educators too! What a testament to the tremendous education I received at Miami University.

This is my first fall as a “retiree,” and I already miss teaching art to all my wonderfully diverse high-school students. It saddens me that I will not be able to witness the long-term impact of my teaching on their artistic development. However, I am confident in the knowledge that I have empowered my students with a wealth of new experiences and that I am responsible for developing artistic skills and igniting creative inspiration among literally thousands and thousands of visual arts “apprentices.”

Though I have retired from teaching, I will continue to be the proverbial “Nation’s Cheerleader for the Arts,” a moniker given to me as the headline of a press release from Georgia’s Department of Education in 1993 when I received the National Art Education Association’s coveted award of Southeast Regional Elementary Art Educator of the Year. With retirement, I am pursuing my passion for painting watercolor botanicals, constructing large-scale, assemblage sculptures, and producing 3-D surrealistic photomontages.

Finally, but not in the least, I remain indebted to the School of Fine Arts for providing me with the very, very best visual arts education.

Donna Smith Cummins ’75 MA ’87
Decatur, Ga.

Retired AP-certified visual arts instructor
1993 NAEA National Art Educator of the Year (SE Region, Elementary Division)
1991 GAEA Georgia Elementary Art Educator of the Year
1994 High Museum of Art – Art Teacher of the Year
1996 Brookview ES Teacher of the Year (Fulton County Schools)

Miami in poetry

My husband and I are a Miami Merger. In April 2010 we took our two young boys to visit Miami. We walked around the campus and showed them all of the buildings that were important to us. We also ate at many of our favorite restaurants: Skippers, Bagel & Deli, and Bruno’s. While we were there, we stayed at Hueston Woods in a cabin.

We had a short but great visit – one the boys hasn’t forgotten. My younger son, David, wrote this [see below] about Miami after our trip, and I just had to share it. It makes me smile, laugh, and sometimes cry when I read it. I am glad he loves Miami so much! My husband and I would both be proud if either one of our boys chose to attend Miami.

Charlie and Meghan Fisher Brandes ’94
Bridgewater, Mass.

Miami is fun
Miami is cool
Miami’s the place you might go to school
Miami is the place you learn your job
Miami is the place you will find the best college
Miami is wonderful
Miami is nice
Miami is the place you will learn your hardest math
Miami is the place you will learn to write big words
There you can learn you best cursive writing
There you can take band with the fanciest of instruments
Like a grand piano or saxophone
And an oboe and a clarinet
And maybe even a nice, fancy, big, gynormous cello
Maybe and probably the tissue paper and comb.

Send letters to:

Donna Boen, Miamian editor
102 Glos Center
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio 45056-2480;;
or fax to 513-529-1950.

Include your name, class year, home address, and phone number. Letters are edited for space and clarity.

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The print edition of the Fall Miamian is mailed to all alumni. The three remaining issues each year go to alumni who have indicated interest in receiving Miamian in print. Everyone is welcome to read every issue online at If you are not receiving the Winter, Spring, and Summer print editions and would like to, please let us know by emailing us at or calling 513-529-7592. We also welcome your suggestions on how Miamian can better serve you – both in print and online.

For more information

Contact Donna Boen '83 MTSC '96, editor of Miamian, at or 513-529-7592.


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Miamian, Miami University's alumni magazine, highlights alumni, student, faculty, and staff involvement with the University, updating readers on campus news and events, arts, sports, and alumni news. Miami's primary communication link with alumni and close friends of the University, the magazine sets out to inform and entertain while generating a sense of knowledge and involvement with Miami University. Miamian is published three times a year.