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Spring 2002


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Letters

Note from the Editor
Many thanks to those supporting Vermont Quarterly’s new voluntary subscription effort, which we kicked-off in the winter issue. Your gifts are critical in helping us produce a high-quality magazine, bringing you news of your university and your classmates four times a year. In case you missed it, there’s one more of those pesky envelopes in this issue, then we promise to leave you alone for a while. Thanks again.

We confess. There were a few touchdown dances around the editorial offices in January when we learned that Vermont Quarterly was selected for a Council for Advancement and Support of Education District I Bronze Medal in recognition of superior achievement and creativity. The judges said, “We applaud UVM for its ability to do more with limited resources. It speaks well to its very broad audience.” They were talking about the magazine, but it sounds like a certain university we know.

Memory chips
Gigabytes indeed! The IBM 1620 had 2K of memory and is on the edge of my memory about computers. My friend Les Parker ’61, a double major in English and electrical engineering, was in that first computer class. He went to work for that upstart company called IB-something-or-other, and it has been his life’s work. Les invited me to visit “his” plant in 1962, where I watched women threading fine wires through arrays of 1024 ferrite beads to form core memories of 1K each. The miniaturization seemed incredible.

I studied to be a science teacher and have taught physics since graduation, and have watched computers slowly work their way into science education. Now I teach a course that uses the Web, and I expect high-resolution color pictures to download in seconds on personal computers owned by my students. These often have over a hundred megabytes of memory and cost significantly less than $40,000. Computer development has had quite a forty-year trip. Thanks to David Healy for his article in the Fall Vermont Quarterly.

Hilton Abbott ’62
Longmeadow, Massachusetts


Cutting Sports
As the interim vice president of student affairs, David Nestor, pointed out in the winter issue of Vermont Quarterly, cutting athletic programs is never popular. In theory, the administration and Athletic Council went about deciding which teams to cut in a logical and equitable manner. The six criteria that guided the “cutting” seem fair. But when one examines the characteristics of the teams that were cut, one can see that adherence to all of the criteria was nonexistent.

One criterion was the sport’s contribution to the academic quality of the student body. Each of the five teams cut makes a positive contribution to academics at the University of Vermont. In the winter issue, a letter to the editor from alumnae of the women’s gymnastics team points out their academic contributions as well as contributions to the community. Track and field athletes also typically have high GPAs and often receive academic awards.

Another criterion is visibility/fan interest. The gymnastics teams, for instance, were quite visible in the community. I believe this criterion really means how much money can be charged for tickets to the teams’ competitions so the sport can pay for itself.

The decision to cut the track and field team did not take into account the impact this will have on another sport – cross country. Many top high school runners will not even consider a college that does not offer both sports. I am a two time All-American in cross country, and I did not apply to a single school that did not also offer track and field.

It is ironic that the teams cut require a minimal budget when compared to other sports (hockey really comes to mind). One big-budget sport could have been cut and saved the other five. But no — track, gymnastics, and volleyball don’t bring in the big bucks with ticket sales. Money is what this decision was about, not the manure-laden “criteria.” A little bit of honesty would be nice from Nestor and the committee that took away the dreams of hundreds of UVM athletes.

Sara Fry G’97
Laramie, Wyoming


I was on the women’s track and cross country teams in the mid-1970s when those sports started at UVM. Back in those days when women’s sports were not always accepted, the members of the UVM men’s track and cross country teams were our biggest supporters. Now I want to support them.

I have already written to Interim President Edwin Colodny to protest the elimination of men’s track and field. His form letter reply, as well as the article in the latest Vermont Quarterly, left me with the feeling that there is more to the story than we are being told. I have contacted others close to UVM sports, and no one knows any good reason to cut men’s track.

Many reasons exist to keep men’s track. It is a relatively inexpensive sport. The events accommodate people with a variety of abilities. Many good track athletes have come from UVM.

In addition, a survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations found that participation in track and field has seen more growth than any other sport for boys.

Heart disease and obesity have greatly increased in the United States with the typical American sedentary lifestyle. The number of overweight children has doubled in the last thirty years. In this day and age, educational institutions should encourage participation in life-time sports such as track and field.

An important decision like cutting track and field should be postponed while there is an interim president. Maybe UVM will hire a permanent-position president who is a runner.

Carol Degan ’77
Kirkland, Washington

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