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The Union Bookshelf

Posted on Jul 1, 1997

The Union Bookshelf regularly calls special attention to books written by alumni and other members of the Union community. If you're an author and would like to be featured, please send us a copy of the book or the jacket as well as your publisher's news release. Our address is Public Relations Office, Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. 12308-3169.

Frederick S. Frank '57 and Anthony Magistrale
Edgar Allen Poe's hauntingly chilling tales and poems popularized the Gothic. His works are taught in schools and colleges, both in America and Europe, and are of particular interest to those interested in the labyrinthine workings of the human mind.
The Poe Encyclopedia, a reference book with more than 1,900 alphabetically-arranged entries, provides complete and current coverage of Poe's life and work. All entries include bibliographical notes for explanation and suggested further reading. Frederick Frank is professor emeritus of English at Allegheny College and has published several articles and two previous books. Magistrale is professor of English at the University of Vermont. The publisher is Greenwood Publishing Group.

Peter Lefcourt '62
Picture this: a prominent Schenectady, N.Y., urologist dresses in his Prozac-addicted wife's size eight beige knit dress, handcuffs her to the stove, and then dies in the middle of a slightly less-than-normal sex act. Pinned and embarrassed, she gets out of the situation, which is followed by a police and courtroom drama replete with a cast of eccentric and colorful characters including a vindictive Rottweiler and a mute Mohawk Indian burglar.
Abbreviating Ernie (published by Villard, a division of Random House) is a satire on modern
love, tabloid journalism, and justice. Lefcourt, a writer and television producer, lives in the Hollywood Hills. This is his fourth novel.

David Butenhof '78
A practical textbook, Programming with POSIX Threads (Addison-Wesley) teaches a method of multitasking programming that allows faster, easier, and more responsive results. The book addresses debugging, the major problem with thread programming, and gives a look at future standardization; it also includes annotated examples illustrating real-world concepts as well as a Pthreads mini-reference. Butenhof, an engineer with Digital Equipment Corp., was the lead architect and developer of Digital's threading architecture and the designer of the Pthreads interfaces on Digital UNIX 4.0.

Don Dulchinos '78

Fitz Hugh Ludlow, of the Class of 1856, was the best-selling author of The Hasheesh Eater in the years before the Civil War. A short story writer, drama and music critic, and journalist, he mingled with the high society of New York and became a celebrated figure in Bohemian circles. He journeyed to the West Coast on the Overland Stage and his dispatches to the East were devoured by an eager public. After the Civil War, he became a leading expert in the treatment of opium addiction. In his book, Pioneer of Inner
Space: The Life of Fitz Hugh Ludlow (Autonomedia Press), Dulchinos illuminates this quintessential American adventurer and man of letters.

Evan 1. Schwartz '86
With new Web sites cropping up at the rate of one per minute, it is essential that
businesses from huge conglomerates to lone entrepreneurs-design and maintain their Web pages to provide maximum benefit. In his book,
Webonomics: Nine Essential Principles for Growing Your Business on the World Wide
, Schwartz gives nine laws and several sure-fire tips for success. His book demystifies the digital landscape and puts the strategies essential for success within easy reach of any company. The author, an award-winning journalist specializing in information technology, is a former staff editor for
Business Week and contributing editor for Wired magazine. His book is published by Broadway Books, Bantam Doubleday Dell.

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Alumni Album: The Dance Doctor

Posted on Jul 1, 1997

Lew Schon '82

When Lew Schon '82 took a dance class during his sophomore year, he had no idea that he would use
semi-pliés and relevés in his livelihood fifteen years later.

Although Schon loved his dance class, he didn't think about dance again until he began considering orthopedics while finishing his six-year medical program at Albany Medical College.

Today, as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the ankle and foot-specifically, the dancer's foot-he thinks
about dancing every day.

Schon says he came to his career after spending a day with an orthopedic surgeon. “I had the best time in my medical life,” he says. “It was so enjoyable to pop bones back into place and realign joints. It was so much more tangible than other fields of medicine. It was such a relief that you could find the problem and fix it.”

Browsing through an orthopedic textbook on the foot, he discovered a section on dance. “The foot has been viewed as an unglamorous and unloved body part,” he says. “I found it intriguing that someone would write a two-volume textbook on it.” He found the section on dance even more fascinating, and he was suddenly sure that he wanted to study orthopedic podiatry, specializing in treating dancers.

Schon went on to study with the people who had written the textbook that spurred his interest. Today, “the dance doctor,” as he is sometimes called, practices orthopedics at The Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, treating patients while training orthopedic surgeons to become foot and ankle specialists. He does research, has published more than forty articles in journals and textbooks, and twice has received the annual National Foot and Ankle Research Award.

He has served as a consultant to the Maryland Ballet, the Annapolis Ballet, the Alvin Ailey Troupe, and the Washington Ballet as well as to several college and high school groups. He evaluates dancers so that he can identify conditions that might lead to foot problems, relying on a screening program he has developed that uses plies,
relevés, and other dance movements to evaluate muscoskeletal imbalances and alignments.

“The idea behind the screening is not to weed out dancers but to identify problems that might predispose the dancer's injury,” he says. If he can identify those areas, he can work with physical therapists, instructors, and directors to find better ways to compensate for the problem. “The recognition is the first part of it, but the corrective intention is the greatest challenge,” he says.

Schon also is working to increase awareness about the many components of dance medicine. He arranges the annual Dance Medicine Symposium at Goucher College, gathering specialists in several areas to talk about dance, and welcomes a Goucher College premed/dance student into his office as an intern for a dance science concentration major.

Schon has treated more than 800 dancers, including profesional dancers, from ballet dancers to cloggers to belly dancers to ethnic dancers. He has seen about half of them perform but admits that he is almost always watching their lower extremities.

Schon and his wife, Erika, have five sons, ages nine, seven, five, and three-year-old twins.

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Alumni Album: Changing lives from the inside

Posted on Jul 1, 1997

Catherine Johnson '82

Catherine Johnson '82 punches in the security code that releases the series of doors as if it is second nature and, like any teacher, banters with some of her students in the hallway.

But when she asks about their sentences, she's not talking about grammar; instead, she's asking about the status of their legal cases.

Johnson is the educational coordinator for Schenectady County Jail Program. When she began at the jail eight years ago, she taught English to speakers of other languages; now, she coordinates the program, writing grants and managing projects. In the time that she has been there, the program's budget has increased from $15,000 to $335,000.

The education program is squeezed into a few classrooms and one small workroom, which the six full-time and eight part-time staff members share. Last year, they provided classes in GED and literacy, English for speakers of other languages, personal health issues, life management, and vocational training in electronics repair to 185 youth and 355 adults-about twenty percent of the jail population. They also prepared students for release by providing career assessment, case management, and training in job readiness and decision making.

They only teach inmates who want to be taught. There is a waiting list for programs, and students who are uncooperative quickly lose the privilege of education.

Johnson's belief in the importance and power of education is obvious-and relates to her own experience. The recipient of a Union scholarship, she says that her family could never have afforded to send her here, and she is grateful for the education she received.

Statistics show that the educational programs at the jail really work. The rate of recidivism (number of inmates who return to jail after being released) among students in the program is half that of the New York State average. “I think the most important reason I work here is that education can empower people to change their lives. For some, being in jail is enough to motivate them to change, and we're giving them the opportunity to do that,” she says.

She is quick to point out that the program is also cost-effective. The cost of the education of one inmate is $600 while it costs about $30,000 to incarcerate someone for a year.

“But the individual success stories are as important to me as the statistics,” Johnson says. “I've seen amazing changes in people,” she says, pointing to one mother of four who, after her arrest, spent about eight months in jail taking advantage of the education programs. She now has an apartment of her own, has completed a drug rehabilitation program, and is working part time. Now that she is clean and sober, she is getting her children out of foster care and planning to
attend college.

Social justice has always been important to Johnson, who graduated from Union prepared to join the Peace Corps. A French major, Johnson loved her three terms abroad at Union-in Israel, France, and
Spain and looked forward to working in French-speaking Africa. Just before she left, however, she was notified that she would be wait-listed until the braces on her teeth were removed, and suddenly her dream was shattered.

“I had wanted to be in the Peace Corps since I was twelve years old, and I didn't have any vision of my life beyond that,” she says. Waiting to have her braces removed and
enter the Peace Corps, Johnson volunteered at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Albany. She soon moved into an administrative position and was founding president of the Hunger Action Network of New York State. Missing personal interaction, she then decided to go back to college to study teaching English to speakers of other languages.

While in school, Johnson began volunteering at the Washington Irving Educational Center, a division of the Schenectady city school system that provides adult education.
She joined the permanent staff and from there went to the educational program at the jail.

Unsure at first how she would like working at the jail, she now says that if she had the chance to go back in time and join the Peace Corps, she'd still choose the braces and the path that led her to the Schenectady
County Jail. “I've realized that there are serious challenges in our own community,” she says. “I feel that, in some small way, by helping to reduce crime and educate people who may need it most, I am passing on the gift that Union gave me.”

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Alumni Album: No such word as can’t

Posted on Jul 1, 1997

Peter Torpey '74

“Never say you can't; always say you'll try.”

When Peter Torpey '74 heard his son's kindergarten teacher say those words, it struck a chord with him.

Torpey, born with congenital glaucoma, is blind, but that doesn't stop him from trying anything (except driving a car, he says with a laugh).

“If there is something I want to do, I figure out some way to do it,” he says. “There's more than one way to skin a
cat. There is always some tool to help you do what you want to do.”

Torpey majored in physics because he loved its mathematical components. At the time, he still had some limited sight, which allowed him to pursue his studies without visual aids. “Most of the time I read my textbooks by holding them about four inches from my head,” he says. He welcomed the fact that the campus had a fence surrounding it, and he says that he had little trouble navigating from building to building.

A week after he graduated (as a Phi Beta Kappa), he underwent an operation that left him nearly completely blind. Intent on taking advantage of a fellowship offer at the University of Virginia, he entered the Industrial Home for the Blind on Long Island. “I learned how to do things as a blind person that summer,” he says.

He learned Braille mathematics and how to get around with a cane before his parents dropped him off at the University of Virginia, showing him the physics lab, cafeteria, and his dorm room. At first, Torpey relied on friends to read textbooks for him on tape, but then he began using a closed circuit reading machine.

He received his Ph.D. in engineering physics and today is a Principal Scientist at Xerox, working on the design and study of ink-jet printers.

Being visually impaired actually works to his advantage in his job, he says. “Because I'm blind, I'm forced to engage other people, and you find that some people like one attribute of the print and not others,” he explains. In his own research, he uses a speech output device and Braille displays attached to his computers as well as a Xerox Personal Reader, a machine that scans a document and reads it back to him using synthesized speech.

Torpey had intended to get a little experience in industry and then become a professor, but loves his job and has decided to stay where he is. Occasionally, he gives lectures to college students, included students at Union a few years back.

Torpey runs four to five miles each day with a number of running partners and rides a tandem bike with his wife, Nancy, to work whenever the weather is good. A recent purchase is a recumbent
tandem bike, which he loves. Now his two children, ages nine and eleven, ride the old tandem and the family goes “tandem tandem.”

A frequent hiker in the Adirondacks, Torpey says that a good walking stick and a shoulder to lean on makes hiking feasible for him. “I guess when you don't have your eyes you subconsciously compensate with your other senses,” he says.

Compensating with his other senses for many years, Torpey says that he has great fun in his work and life and still loves trying new things, trying never to say the word “can't.”

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Adding another dimension to art

Posted on Jul 1, 1997

When Charlotte Eyerman was preparing for her job in the Department of Visual Arts, she looked into arts opportunities for her students near Union and discovered the Hyde Collection.

The I Hyde Collection is a small art museum in Glens Falls, N.Y., an hour north
of Schenectady. Founded by Charlotte Pruyn Hyde in 1952, the museum comprises the Hyde's home (an Italian Renaissance-styled villa) and their private collection, which includes works by Botticelli, da Vinci, Rubens, Degas, Renoir, Rembrandt, Cezanne, van Gogh, Picasso, Eakins, Homer, and Whistler, among many others.

Eyerman, the John D. MacArthur assistant professor of visual arts, has helped establish a relationship with the Hyde that has let five Union students intern in the museum and experience art first-hand. The students spend one or two days a week at the Hyde working with Randall Suffolk, curator; Tamara Zaroff, education coordinator; or Robin Blakney-Carlson, collections manager. Each keeps a journal and writes a paper analyzing the experience at the end of the internship.

Eyerman says that because art history is the study of a visual tradition that spans
a great many centuries,
the best way to learn about artists and art is to directly be in a museum.

“In art history we study slides and, though we can learn a lot about history
and culture and context and artists' lives, you really only
learn how to see when you encounter an object and engage that object in person,” she says. “In my discipline, the art object is the primary source. It has the same kind of empirical weight or importance as does working in a lab for a scientist.”

The Hyde interns are serious art students, Eyerman says, and want to make
the most of their education outside the classroom.

“While we feel that we do a good job of furnishing them with history, context, a critical vocabulary, and ways to understand and interpret works of art, looking at a slide pales in comparison to encountering something directly,” she says. “We really emphasize expanding your mind, expanding your
horizon literally and figuratively.”

The Hyde gets a lot in return, says Zaroff. “We rely on interns because we're mostly one-person departments. Having motivated, intelligent individuals who can take on not just clerical work but a project with some substance in it is crucial to our day-to-day functioning.” We talked with three students about their internships, and here are their experiences.

Nina Cohen '97

For Nina Cohen '97,
an arts major with a concentration in art history, her internship added museum work to an already impressive list of work experiences.

Cohen, who hopes to find work in a museum or gallery, says that she wasn't even sure what art history was until she came to Union.

“At first, like the typical student, I changed my major often,” she says. In her sophomore year, she took Introduction to Art History II with Prof. Eyerman, and she knew that she wanted to be an arts major.

Eyerman encouraged her to look into working in a gallery, and for two summers Cohen interned at the Peter Joseph Gallery in New York City, receiving academic credit. Involved in archival work and public relations, Cohen had her first glimpse of the real work of art historians. “That internship spurred my interest in the arts,” she says. “I was already an arts major, but it got
me interested in galleries and museums.”

Last summer, she was at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City, working exclusively in the archives department. When she returned to Union in the fall, she knew she wanted a different work experience. “I enjoyed my internships at the galleries, but I wanted to be someplace where people were looking at art that was going to be there forever, not art that was waiting to be sold,” she says. “I thought it would help me to make
a decision for the future whether I want to work in a museum or a gallery.”

That's when Eyerman directed her to the Hyde Collection, where Cohen spent each Tuesday and Thursday with Tamara Zaroff, education coordinator. She and Zaroff worked on the Regional Juried High School Art Exhibition, an annual exhibition featuring the work of area students, and organized a general tour for elementary students who visit the museum, encouraging them to really look at art.

Cohen loved her time at the Hyde, especially working in education and the preparation of the general tour for elementary students. “It's always bothered me that I didn't know what art history was when I was young,” she says. “Why can a child tell you that the Mona Lisa was on `Tom and Jerry' but not know what the Mona Lisa is? I think that it's really important that kids be in museums learning about art.”

Working on the student tour, Cohen was challenged to make art interesting and fun for children.
“It is hard because I have all this information swirling through my head-artist dates, styles,
techniques and to go back to `They used a lot of red in this painting' is difficult,” she says.

Immersed in her projects, Cohen says she easily forgot about the startling quality of the artwork around her. Then one day she came upon staff members contemplating the loan of a painting by Ingres to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “I didn't think that you could even touch an Ingres, and they were holding it in their hands,” she says. “This internship is clearly hands on. You learn what it's like to literally touch art, not just look at a projected image.”

Jennifer Cohen '97

Jennifer Cohen '97
grew up loving to visit the many museums in New York City, so it's not surprising that her love of art developed into studying art history and spending time at the Hyde Collection.

As her fascination with art history grew, she became interested in interning at the Hyde Collection, which she had visited with a friend. “I loved the setting-that it was in a house, something so different from a regular museum setting,” she says. And she was impressed by the quality and variety of the collection.

With Prof. Charlotte Eyerman's help, Cohen arranged an internship with Robin Blakney-Carlson, the collections manager. “I really wanted a hands-on opportunity, and working in special collections allowed me to get right in there,” she says. Cohen helped Blakney
Carlson with several projects and took responsibility for a project organizing
un-cataloged artwork. Careful not to touch any of the pieces, she searched through several boxes in the storage room and categorized each work as a drawing, lithograph, or print. “What amazed me is that some of the artists were familiar to me,” she says.

Because the Hyde is such a small museum, Cohen was able to spend time with nearly every member of the staff, learning the various roles in the functioning of the museum. After completing her Hyde internship, Cohen looked for more ways to add to her experiences in the art world. One summer, she interned at Sotheby's, working with appraisal experts in the impressionist and modern art department. Over winter break of her senior year, Cohen interned with the photo editor at
Art in America magazine, reading manuscripts, writing captions, and corresponding with artists.

“The internships reflect related but very different aspects of art,” she says. “The museum is about preserving art, the auction house is about selling art as a commodity, and the magazine is writing about art.”

Cohen plans to find work in advertising, but she stresses that the writing, research, and people skills that she gained in her internships are important in a successful career in advertising- and almost
any job.

And what about art?
“It's always been part of my life,” she says. “When I came to college I had no idea that I'd major in arts, and even if I don't use art history directly in my career, it's something I'll always do.”

Jack Howard-Potter '97

Jack Howard-Potter '97
is a sculptor who has been greatly influenced by studying art history and completing internships in galleries and museums.

When he arrived at Union, Howard-Potter concentrated on studio art classes, but he then took an art history class that changed his opinion about the importance of art history.

“That class made me realize how important it is to have a basis in history when you are making art,” he says. “I gained great respect for the history of art, and I use that a lot more in my creations than I did when I first came to Union.” For example,
he recently noticed a stone figure from the first century in an art history book and mimicked that figure in a life-size steel sculpture for his senior project.

Howard-Potter learned the advanced techniques of welding from Marsha Pels, an artist who spent a year at Union as a visiting professor. The summer after his sophomore year, Howard-Potter interned with Pels in her studio in Brooklyn and helped to install `Terranova' at the Sculpture Center in Manhattan. `Terranova', which featured a neon umbilical cord connecting two glass babies resting
on marble pillows beneath a sky of translucent Fiberglas umbrellas, gave Howard-Potter the opportunity to work with new materials.

Working with Pels was “radically different” from anything he had seen, and he made many contacts
in the art world, one of which turned into another internship the following year. During his junior year, he spent a term in New York City on an internship
sponsored by the Great Lakes College Association, working with Marion Griffiths, director at the Sculpture Center in Manhattan, and Heidi Fasnacht, a former professor at Harvard and an artist.

Fasnacht sculpted with polyester rubber, and Howard-Potter loved working with a sculptor he describes as “really trying to push the bounds.” He helped her sculpt “amorphous forms that looked biological-like caterpillars and green peas.” With Griffiths, he was able to see the business side of art, which he says he enjoyed and “had a knack for.”

In the spring of 1996, he began an internship at the Hyde Collection with Randall Suffolk, the curator. He had a chance to help Rebecca Smith, an artist and daughter of his idol, sculptor David Smith, with the installation of a piece she donated to the Hyde. “But I can't wait until it's my pickup truck and I put my sculpture in the gallery,” he says.

Howard-Potter says his internships have prepared him for a career as an artist. “Without them, I'd be a lot worse off in terms of being prepared to leave college and be able to do what I want to do-to become an artist and get works in galleries,” he says.

Now, with the skills gained from his internships and
all that he has learned in Union's studios, Howard-Potter is busy creating art. “The things that I'm making are like nothing I've ever done. And they're coming out great. I couldn't be happier,” he says.

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