Union College News Archives

News story archive

Navigation Menu

Bicentennial Puzzler

Posted on Mar 1, 1995

Question 6:

Who was the Union alumnus who won the Distinguished Service Cross in World War 1
for extraordinary heroism in action, became a federal judge and then a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and served as Secretary of War under Presidents Roosevelt and Truman?

Robert Porter Patterson

The Answer:
The name we were after was Robert. Porter Patterson, of the Class of 1912.

Born in Glens Falls, N.Y., he followed an older brother and two older cousins to Union, where he compiled an admirable record both in and out of the classroom. He won honors in history and government and in Latin and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He served on the editorial boards of Concordiensis and The Garnet, helped launch The Idol, described as a quarterly of “scintillating sarcasm;” was elected to the Philomathean Society and chosen for the Debate Team; managed the basketball team; and was elected vice president of the senior class.

After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School and serving in France during World War I, he devoted himself to the practice of law. In 1930, he was named to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt named him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and a seat on the Supreme Court seemed to be in the future.

But in 1940, when Henry L. Stimson was named secretary of war, he insisted that Patterson be named his chief aide. Patterson began as assistant secretary of war, became undersecretary when the position was created in late 1940, and succeeded Stimson in September, 1945.

After the war, Patterson resumed his law practice while continuing to work for such causes as the Citizen's Committee to Support the Marshall Plan, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Citizen's Council on Civil Rights, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He was mentioned as possible ambassador to Great Britain, as a candidate for mayor of New York, and as a United States senator from New York.

On January 22, 1952, Patterson was killed in a plane crash as he returned home from visiting a client. He was not quite sixty-one. Four years before his death, the New York Herald Tribune had said:

“Mr. Patterson has been in war and peace a example of the public-spirited citizen. He has combined the work of a jurist with that of a soldier, and in both he has shown courage, high intelligence, and a devotion to democratic principles.”

Patterson is honored at the College by the Robert Porter Patterson Chair of Government, held by Joseph B. Board, Jr.

Although the spirit of our question sought Robert Porter Patterson, several of you pointed out that the puzzler was technically incorrect-that Patterson was undersecretary of war under President Roosevelt and secretary of war under President
Harry Truman.

We're happy to acknowledge all the winners, many of whom shared comments about Patterson:

Bernard Krause '39
, explaining how a staunch Republican like Patterson came to work for Franklin Roosevelt, said that in 1940 Roosevelt wanted a coalition government for what he saw as our inevitable entrance into the war. He was able to get Henry Stimson, a former Republican secretary of state, to be his secretary of war. Stimson, in turn, insisted on Patterson as his assistant secretary. Krause says that Patterson is credited with designing the unification that later became the Department of Defense.

Herbert H. Adams '44
, who says he wrote to Patterson in April, 1945, to “express my displeasure at my lot as an infantryman, having expected more from the
A.S.T.P. in which I enlisted.” To Adams's “great surprise and pleasure,” Patterson replied promptly, writing that “we still had to defeat Japan and he expected me and everyone in the services to do their duty.”

Paul Yergin '44
said that the day Patterson was appointed assistant secretary of war, he was at Fort Drum in northern New York taking part in basic training for the National Guard. “The officer sent to tell him the news found him at the mess hall peeling potatoes. Asking if this was indeed Private Patterson, he was told yes, then saluted and asked if the new assistant secretary would be so kind as to accompany him to headquarters. One of the biggest instant promotions ever in the military!”

Buddy Ottaviano '47
sent along a newspaper photograph of a helmeted Patterson inside a tank. The caption said, “Judge Robert P. Patterson,
newly named assistant secretary of war, gets some first-hand information about the operation of a tank-the 10-ton size-in the special course of military training for business men at Plattsburgh.”

Richard A.B. Mitchell '50
says that after the United States entered the war, Patterson was a leading spokesman for the military before Congress and toured both the Pacific and Mediterranean theaters of war. After the war, “he was given the choice of being appointed to
the U.S. Supreme Court or as Secretary of War by President Truman who, at his request, chose the secretary as where he was `most needed.' ”

Bill Allen '59 notes that Patterson loaned his name to the Amold Air Society Chapter when the College had Air Force ROTC.

Bob Bishop '43
remembers a Patterson visit to Union in December, 1942. Bishop, there to cover Patterson's speech as a college reporter for the Schenectady Union-Star, says Patterson spent most of the dinner hour talking with Washington on a telephone specially installed for him at the head table in Hale House.

Correct answers came from:

Frederick C. Fox, Jr. '26, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Glen Dalton '29, Prospect Harbor, Maine
Ellis Trombley '34, Schenectady
Tom Palmatier '36, Salem, N.Y.
William Ladue '38, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Bernard Krause '39, Oxnard, Calif.
Sam Hammerstrom '40, Camp Verde, Ariz.
Larry Pellettier '40, Ellicott City, Md.
Robert Ericson '41, Norwich, Vt.
John Boll '42, Middleton, Wis.
Robert Bishop '43, Scotch Plains, N.J.
Theodore Vinick '43, Schenectady
Herbert H. Adams '44, Las Cruces, N.M.
Edward Hennelly '44, Aiken, S.C.
Paul Yergin '44, Tucson, Ariz.
David Mandeville '45, Elmira, N.Y.
Joseph M. Hinchey '47, Stonington, Conn.
Orazio Ottaviano '47, Schenectady
C. Philip Boyce '50, Temple City, Calif.
Richard A.B. Mitchell '50, Monticello, N.Y.
Joseph Handler '52, Pittsfield, Mass.
David Weichert '52, Cranford, N.J.
William Holzapfel '53, Elizabeth, N.J.
David Balderston '55, New York City
Frederick Frank '57, Meadville, Pa.
William Allen '59, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Thomas F. Johnson '62, Annandale, Va.
Bill Spelman '75, New York City
Mike Jackson '91, Trophy Club, Texas
Bobbie Hlat, Athletic Department, Union
Arthur Richmond III (parent), Annapolis, Md.

George Robinson (parent), Middlebury,

Question 7:

This nineteenth-century ..educator was a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Union before becoming the president of Brown University. Two of his textbooks, Moral Science and Elements of Political Economy, were so important in Japanese higher education in the latter half of the nineteenth century that Keio University has a university holiday in his honor.

Send your answer to Puzzle, Public Relations Office, Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. 12308.

Read More

Kate White ’72 – Breaking rules and transforming magazines

Posted on Mar 1, 1995

Kate White '72

Breaking the rules has always paid off for Kate White '72.

Back in the first grade in Glens Falls, N.Y., White just couldn't bring herself to write down the story her teacher was dictating in front of the class. So she wrote her own story about her grandfather instead-and the teacher loved it.

Nearly twenty years later, as a junior writer at Glamour magazine trying to beak into feature writing, White decided she didn't want to write the same short, how-to stories that all the young writers were expected to produce. She wanted to write personal essays about her life as a single, twenty-something living in a tenement building, searching for love and trying to establish a career in the toughest city in the world.

So she wrote one, turned it in to the editors, and waited for a response. They loved it, they told her, and they wanted White to write more of them.

And now that she's been named editor-in-chief of Redbook, one of the nation's most successful women's magazine, White is not about to change her style. In fact, she's copyrighting it. This May, Warner Books will publish Why Good Girls Don't Get Ahead, But Gutsy Girls Do, by Kate White.

“When they're growing up, women are encouraged to be good girls,” says White. “We're told to follow the rules, be patient, and smile modestly when we accomplish something. That might work in school, but it doesn't work in
the real world, where the people who make it often make their own rules, ask for what they want, and toot their own horn.”

White argues that the so-called “good girls” might make good managers but they don't become the leaders of companies. Those leaders, she says, are often rule-breakers. “Where a good girl might just follow her boss's instructions, a gutsy girl might try something more imaginative. As Senator Barbara Milkuski says, `It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission.' If you ask permission, chances are you are going to get denied.”

White's strategy has carried her from the Orville Street News, a newspaper she founded and published for her block as a child, to the top of the magazine publishing world. She held the top editorial post at Child, a parenting magazine, Working Woman, and McCall's before moving to Redbook, and she has left her mark everywhere she has been.

When she arrived at Child, White found a magazine geared toward young people who could afford to spend their weekends in the Hamptons and send their kids to summer camp. White set out to make the magazine more democratic, focusing on the baby boomers who weren't yet making more than $100,000 a year but who needed help raising their children nevertheless. White decided to publish articles that dealt with the most basic of parenting questions-Why do parents let their guard down when hiring full-time, child care help? How can you best deal with your child's temper tantrums and your own sleep deprivation?

Moving to Working Woman in the mid-1980s, White found a magazine that offered excellent career and management strategies but, in her opinion, was too proper and uptight. “The magazine was kind of like the navy blue suits working women wore in the '70s, with the white shirt and floppy tie around the neck,” White recalls. “I tried to loosen it up. I wanted to put Working Woman in a bold, red jacket instead of that safe blue suit.”

The transformation didn't go unnoticed, and soon White had moved to McCall's, a general interest women's
magazine with readers ranging in age from twenty to sixty. Under White, McCall's ran articles that helped women make smart decisions about their health, their families, and their lives.

At Redbook, she is happy to report that her days of transforming magazines have temporarily ceased. White says Redbook underwent a transformation four years ago and is now a sexy, compelling magazine geared toward married women with young kids. She loves the focus and doesn't want to change it.

“Our reader has lots of concerns her kids, her husband, her work-and most of the time she puts herself low on the priority list,” White says. `Redbook wants to be her magazine. We don't want to be a how-to guide; rather our goal is to be a delicious read and provide information on the issues that women face today.

“I think the readers really feel empowered by this kind of information,” White says.

For her part, White has never had trouble feeling empowered. When she transferred to Union from a small, Catholic, women's college in 1970, the first year women were admitted to the College, White remembers feeling, “Anything's possible.” Two years later, when she was named one of Glamour magazine's “Top Ten College Women” in the country, winning a trip to Europe and a spot in the cover of the magazine, she'd proven her instincts had been right

“I've had the luxury of working at certain magazines when they fit me and the period of my life I was experiencing,” says White, who now juggles her career with raising her two children, Haylay, 5, and Hunter, 7, and squeezing in time with her husband, news anchor Brad Holbrook.

“I was at Glamour when I first graduated,” she says, “Mademoiselle as a more sophisticated single woman in New York, Child just after I had my first baby, and Working Woman when I thought my career was really starting to take shape. I may now be a bit old for Redbook,” White adds with a laugh, “but certainly not in spirit.”

Read More

A. Lee Fritschler ’59 – Still in the classroom

Posted on Mar 1, 1995

A. Lee Fritschler '59

In a sense, A. Lee Fritschler '59 has never left the classroom. And as president of Dickinson College, it doesn't look as though he'll leave it anytime soon.

Even though his presidential responsibilities can seem endless, Fritschler still finds the time to teach a senior seminar in political science-a job he says is perhaps his most enjoyable task as president.

“It's great to be working with the students and really be involved in their educational programs,” he says.

Fritschler tries to divide his time between the external and internal business of running the 2,000-student college. Since he arrived in 1987, he has helped increase the college's endowment by 150 percent-from $30 million to $85 million. He currently oversees a three-year capital campaign that has raised more than $31 million in only a year and a half.

“Some of it is just economic growth,” says Fritschler of the impressive progress in the college's endowment. “But some of it is good management.”

Management skills have assumed great importance for the presidents of
the nation's small, liberal arts colleges. Not only do they have to lay out academic agendas, they must also make sure the school is running at optimum efficiency.

“These colleges are like small towns,” Fritschler says. “You've got 600 employees, 100 buildings, and 2,000 students who have to eat three meals a day. Being the president is really a lot like being a city manager.”

Fritschler first worked in academia in the 1970s, when he was dean of the College of Public and International Affairs at American University. There he developed several innovative programs for undergraduate students in the liberal arts, including expansion of the Washington semester programs.

After writing a book on the politics of regulation and the Federal Trade Commission's
cigarette-labelling controversy, he was appointed chairman of the U.S. Postal Rate Commission by President Jimmy Carter. The post was an ideal opportunity to observe government from the inside.

“One begins to see that government has a hard time solving problems,” Fritschler says. “I think that what the last elections showed was a massive public discouragement with the government's attempts. Working there you can see the problems you might not notice as quickly on the outside.”

Instead of immediately returning to academia when Ronald Reagan arrived in Washington in 1981, Fritschler moved to the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based research organization. There he directed the Center for Public Policy Education, leading
research projects on civil service and regulatory reform, international education, and business-government relations.

A longtime critic of government regulation, Fritschler notes that the cost of educating a student is less at a private college than it is at a public institution-just another example of the private sector's ability to deliver both higher quality and more efficiency than the government.

Today, Fritschler feels both sympathy for and frustration with those left to carry out the federal government's business.

But when Dickinson called to offer Fritschler the chance to lead one of America's oldest and most respected colleges, the opportunity was too sweet to pass up.

Fritschler has worked to maintain the kind of broad-based education that can come under criticism from those who believe students need specific skills. Dickinson, for example, has one of the strongest foreign language programs in the country, with approximately half of its students studying overseas during their college years and twenty percent majoring in languages.

Fritschler knows that this kind of success must spread to other, similar, small colleges. As a result, he founded the Annapolis Group, an association of sixty presidents of liberal arts colleges who discuss how they can raise their visibility, share their strengths, and improve their weaknesses. (The Annapolis Group includes Union's Roger Hull.)

“I live on campus and I get to participate and observe so many of the programs the students are involved in, from football to Spanish,” he says. “I just hope to make Dickinson even more visible and help the institution continue to prosper.

Read More

Robert Laudise ’52 – Developing a corporate environment ethic

Posted on Mar 1, 1995

Robert Laudise '52

Robert Laudise '52 has been experimenting with the chemistry of materials for more than half a century. The only difference between his work now and the experiments he conducted as a 12-yearold in Amsterdam, N.Y., is that now he works to contribute to the betterment of society-instead of trying to blow it up.

“They weren't particularly dangerous explosives,” Laudise says today of the stink bombs he made and sold to his friends back in junior high school. Fortunately for Laudise, no one ever discovered that he was the mind behind the bombs.

“I had a very loyal group of friends,” Laudise says today from his office at AT&T's Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ., where he is the adjunct chemical director and a laboratory consultant. “I may have been naive, but I guess in a way I was trying to be a good manager even back then.”

For more than thirty years, Laudise has managed a group of research scientists at Bell. The theme of his work has always been to learn how to prepare materials used in modern electronics.

In the 1960s, he did pioneering research on converting single crystals of quartz into larger crystals that could be used in telephone circuits and later in watches. The research also led to the development of a factory producing synthetic quartz. Later, he studied the robust sapphire that was used in the first Telstar communications satellites
and for covering solar energy cells, as well as helping to prepare ruby and garnet materials for use with some of the early lasers.

“In the early sixties, crystal growth was a black art,” Laudise says. “We were really doing a lot of our research by the seat of our pants, trying to rationalize just how the crystals grow.”

Later, in a book called The Growth of Crystals, Laudise outlined methods for crystal growth ranging from pressures as high as 25,000 pounds per square
inch to temperatures as hot as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The book, he says, “tried to make some order out of chaos.”

As technology advanced, Laudise and the research groups he managed worked to develop the materials that would be used for the first fiber optical communication, in which thousands of signals are simultaneously transmitted over highly-transparent glass fibers that can be as thin as a strand of hair.

“I've been lucky to work for an organization that has a five to twenty-year outlook on its research,” Laudise says. “Some of the things we first worked on when I came here are just being put into use now. For me, science has always been driven by how it can be applied and used.”

Laudise gives credit to Union specifically, Professor of Chemistry Charles Hurd-for the broad-based education that let him succeed in the lab and as the manager of a team of people working towards one common goal. Hurd hired Laudise as a student to help him with research to find new uses for cement, and he encouraged Laudise to pursue the science of materials in graduate school.

Laudise says the personal growth he achieved in his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, and by living with students who had many varied interests has been just as important to his success. “That kind of learning really comes through osmosis at Union, and I don't think I would have received it at a technical school where the focus is more narrow,” he says.

Laudise went on to earn his doctorate in inorganic chemistry at M.I.T. From there he went to AT&T, where Stanley Morgan, a famous scientist of his day and fellow Union alumnus, was one of his bosses.

During the past decade, Laudise's interests in the environment has given him a new challenge-trying to make scientific research and production more environmentally-benign by using what he calls “green materials and green processes.” His environmental work began when he saw that the regulatory burden that the government placed on corporations would eventually bankrupt high-tech businesses if they didn't change their methods.

“There had to be a better way to have sustainable development and competitiveness without butchering the environment or having strangulation by regulation,” he explains.

By attempting to design non-polluting materials, Laudise is trying to keep AT&T ahead of the regulatory wave. “We don't want to always be responding and cleaning up,” he says. “The great challenge of the twenty-first century is going to be to develop a corporate environmental ethic. We have to realize our ethical responsibilities and sustain the development of the economic pie. We can't continue to tell the third world to stay in poverty while we live comfortably. The pie has to grow.”

Laudise's work has landed him on several federal government and university advisory committees. He is also the president of the Federation of Materials Society, through which he helps develop a policy for combining public and private materials research. In addition, he happens to be one of a small group of scientists who is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

To make sure that his scientific pursuits continue to be applicable to everyday life, Laudise and his wife, Joyce, a biologist and naturalist, recently wrote a paper published in an environmental science journal on the ecology and acidity of the lake near their summer home in the Poconos.

Things certainly have changed since the age of stink bombs.

Read More

With help from GE, Union begins a teacher training center

Posted on Mar 1, 1995

Patrick Allen and Linda Cool celebrate a gift from the GE Fund

A training center for Schenectady teachers of mathematics, science, and technology will be established at the College, thanks to a $191,000, two-year grant from the General Electric Fund.

The Union College Teaching and Learning Center is designed to provide new skills to teachers in the fifth through ninth grades.

Here's how it will work:

A committee of teachers, school administrators, Union College personnel, and business and community representatives will select twenty teachers to participate in training and leadership programs over two summers. The teachers will be trained in the most current knowledge in their disciplines and in the use of technology in the classroom. These teachers will be expected to share what they've learned with their colleagues.

The center also will provide in-service programs for as many as fifty teachers in four half-day seminars during the school year.

Patrick Allen, director of the College's Educational Studies program, said that Schenectady teachers have been frustrated by district budget reductions that have left little money available for professional development.

“These teachers are really creative and very receptive to new ideas,” he said. “They're very capable and enthusiastic about this project and improving the schools. Professional development at the College will motivate them to develop innovative and meaningful learning environments for their students.”

The center was developed by representatives from the College, the General Electric Company, and the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce along with a team of teachers and administrators from the Schenectady City Schools.

President Roger Hull said, “Schenectady is our home and it is also the home of some of our best and brightest students. We believe strongly in this program because to ignore the problems that plague nearly every city school district would be to imperil the future of higher education as well.”

He praised GE, noting that its College Bound and other programs have already provided far-reaching opportunities to improve student performance. “We think that the center, with the GE Fund's generous support, can go even further by energizing math, science, and technology teachers in the critically-important grades of five through nine.”

The student population served by Schenectady schools has changed dramatically during the past fifteen years. Standardized test scores have declined, as has the district enrollment. As in many city school systems, the numbers of students with behavioral or cognitive difficulties have risen.

To judge how well the program is working, the College will poll teachers and could review their students' test scores, attendance rates, and discipline referrals, Allen said. Although more difficult to measure, teacher enthusiasm also is important.

Including this grant, Union received about $1.4 million in commitments from GE employees and retirees and the GE Fund in the past year. That includes:

  • $750,000 to redesign the College's engineering curriculum; 
  • $232,000 from the Fund to match contributions by alumni who are GE employees or retirees; 
  • $260,000 to support the Term in Industry program, through which Union students gain work experience; 
  • $10,000 from the GE Fund to help support the College's hosting of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research this spring.
Read More