by James Robert Fuller/Corbis
from the Tsunami Zone
Eric Lipton 87
news, I have learned in my career as a reporter, is a wonderful tool to
distort certain natural catastrophes. Even if the damage is modest, the
camera can zoom in tight on a correspondent standing in front of one sorry-looking
spot and give viewers nationwide the distinct impression that whole swathes
of a city have been wiped out by a hurricane, tornado, or flood.
In Indonesia where I spent two weeks in early January writing about
the aftermath of the tsunami for The New York Times I learned
for the first time that the opposite can also be true. No matter what
you saw on television, no matter how terrifying, how horrible it all seemed,
I can tell you it was so much worse.
When I arrived in Banda Aceh province, one of the first spots I visited
was near the waterfront, where the military had taken control. The roadway
was stacked high with mud and crumpled homes. An ungodly stench filled
the air. So many bodies had been found, the soldiers simply placed a flag
outside any structure to alert separate teams with body bags.
Block after block after block, the scenes were both heart-breaking and
horrific. There was the man picking through a pile of rubble that was
his sisters home, turning up pictures and a few pieces of clothing
that he hung up to dry. There was the team of laborers tossing bodies
into a water-filled pit, one man using a stick to float the latest delivery
out of the way to make room for the next.
I saw the depth of the misery from the ground, but the scope could only
be grasped from the air. By military helicopter, I flew up the coast of
the Aceh province. The map listed a string of villages between Banda Aceh
and the seaside city of Meulaboh, but they were difficult to detect. The
ocean had not simply washed through these villages. As the water receded,
it swept almost every hint of civilization back out to sea.
More than 120,000 people had perished in this remote province of Indonesia.
The number seemed at first unfathomable. But now I could understand its
I am based in Washington for The Times and was working the week
between Christmas and New Years when the tsunami hit. The paper
wanted more reporters on the story beyond those posted in Asia. Asked
to fly out on a days notice, I packed what amounted to a mini CVS,
filling up a suitcase with something like $800 worth of medicines, water
purification kits, a mosquito net, even cans of tuna and dried fruit.
My work for the next two weeks would be to report from a land in ruin.
There was no running water. Telephones did not work. Electricity was sporadic.
There were no hotels. One night, I slept on the floor of a water-treatment
plant, where Oxfam and the Red Cross were working to get the water supply
going. Other nights, I slept in the basement of a house rented by Catholic
Relief Services, running out into the dark when major aftershocks rattled
Through so much of this, I found myself reflecting upon my experience
with the World Trade Center attack. I had lived just north of the towers
and on Sept. 11th, I watched them fall. As a reporter, I then covered
the aftermath of the attack. Now I wondered: how could any place sustain
a catastrophe this great an event that killed almost 100 times
more people than the attack in New York and still go on? More personally,
how could I still feel so traumatized by that event, when these people
are facing something so much worse?
That was perhaps the thing that amazed me the most through the journey
the extraordinary resilience of the people. There was Bismi, 45,
the headmaster at a Banda Aceh elementary school badly damaged by the
tsunami. Several teachers and an unknown number of students from his school
were dead. But Bismi put up a sign at the school entrance and called those
who survived back to class. I am still as I am before, the
sign said. I am still studying, studying hard for my future. I am
Somehow, he insisted, no matter how impossible it sounded, life here in
this school would be normal again. As I walked into a dusty classroom
where two-dozen children were busy singing songs and drawing sketches,
I realized that against all odds he was making it work. It is a
first step, Bismi said. I had seen a lot of terrible things on this
trip. For reasons I still cannot completely explain, this was the one
moment I lost it.
Eric Lipton 87 is co-author of City in the Sky, a history
of the World Trade Center.
Returns Home to Help
When catastrophe struck his family and homeland, Saiful Mahdi G01
put his doctoral studies at Cornell University on hold, left his wife
and three young children in Ithaca, and flew home to assist in the recovery.
Mahdi, who earned his master's degree in statistics at UVM, suffered devastating
personal loss, the deaths of 15 family members including a brother,
a sister, and his grandmother in his home region of Aceh, Indonesia.
When he arrived in January, Mahdi quickly set to work not only assisting
his own family but also creating the Aceh Relief Fund, a grassroots, community-based
effort to provide help where it is most needed. Backing for Mahdis
work came from an outpouring of donations from friends and the local Ithaca
community. His original goal was simply to find help covering $6,000 in
personal travel expenses, but the fund is at $75,000 and counting.
Approximately 4,000 people lived in Mahdis village before the tsunami;
he estimates that 700-1,000 survived the disaster. He acknowledges that
his hopes for immediately mobilizing the community with the help of fellow
teachers at first proved difficult. Where to start? How to start?
Mahdi says in a phone interview while visiting his family in Ithaca during
March. When I got there I couldnt even motivate my colleagues.
But soon Mahdis community began to move beyond the devastation with
ARF dollars helping to establish a mobile clinic, distribute relief supplies,
and rebuild schools. Things are getting better, says Mahdi,
who anticipates returning to life as a doctoral student in July. People
show their resiliency.
To learn more about ARF and read Saiful Mahdis Journal from
the Ground, visit acehrelief.org.
John Burke has earned his rank as one of the countrys leading experts
on presidential transitions, the mechanics of how a candidate becomes
a leader. The political science professors most recent book, Becoming
President: The Bush Transition, 2000-2003, examines one of the fastest
launches of an administration in American history. Burkes previous
book, Presidential Transitions: From Politics to Practice, was a rare
exploration of the presidential transitions of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan,
George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton from the perspective of a political
scientist rather than a historian.
Q. What is a key understanding of presidential
transitions you would want readers to gain from your book?
A. The most important thing, and I dont
think most people realize this, is that when presidents take office, quite
literally all of the White House staff is gone. Most records have already
been taken to the National Archives. So its a huge challenge because
theres little institutional memory there. You have a very short
period of time, technically, between election day and inauguration day.
So presidents have to hit the ground running right after they are elected.
In order to do this successfully, they need to do a lot of preparation.
Thats the segue into George W. Bush, who began to plan for a Bush
presidency back in 1999 when he turned to Clay Johnson (gubernatorial
chief of staff) to organize (his transition), and thats really the
earliest weve ever seen somebody begin to take those steps.
Q. If someone is entering office and doesnt
have a lot of people around them with previous experience, how do they
know what to do?
A. There is no how-to manual. If you dont
have [access to experienced and well-connected staff], it hurts you. I
think this was one of Jimmy Carters big problems. He had run as
an anti-Washington candidate and was very dependent on the people from
Georgia. It had been eight years since the last Democratic administration,
so that there wasnt much of an opportunity, or the inclination,
to reach back and talk with people who had served in the Kennedy or Johnson
administrations. Clinton was more connected to the Washington political
base, so it was smoother.
If youre a governor and the people that are closest to you are from
Atlanta or Little Rock, theyre the ones you trust, so your inclination
is going to say OK, were going to Washington. But if
you look at Ronald Reagan a governor and an outsider he
had a lot of Californians going in with him, but at the same time was
very willing to draw in people from other camps within the Republican
Q. Youre starting to look at second-term
transitions, a subject that hasnt been written about very much.
How would you rate George W. Bushs second term performance thus
A. I think hes using the same game
plan (as he did in his first term), which is to pick out four or five
key things and push for them. Social Security; tax reform; the extension
of No Child Left Behind to secondary schools; immigration reform; and
tort reform thats going to be his agenda. In terms of other
second-term presidents you dont see that ambitious of an agenda,
even if they were ambitious in their first term.
Back in Court
Professor emeritus weighs in on Mississippi murders
As the national media have scrambled in recent months for an experts
angle on a major U.S. civil rights story, Professor Emeritus Howard Ball
has been much in demand. The January 2005 indictment of Baptist preacher
Edgar Ray Killen for the orchestration of the murders of three young civil
rights workers by Klansmen in 1964 coincided with the release of Balls
latest book, Murder in Mississippi: U.S. v. Price and the Struggle for
Civil Rights (University Press of Kansas), on the 40th anniversary of
Ball, who arrived at UVM in 1989 as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
after teaching at Mississippi State University, has followed the case
most of his career hoping for another trial. Theres no question
hes the one, Ball says. He got the order from (Ku Klux
Klan Wizard) Sam Bowers to kill Schwerner.
Ball is an expert on constitutional law, civil liberties, civil rights,
American government, judicial process, and the U.S. Supreme Court, but
he says his personal experience immersed in southern culture while living
and teaching at Mississippi State in Starkville was also key to informing
his latest publication.
Some of the professors exposure to local culture was through his
stint as a high school football official, when Ball, who is Jewish, was
dubbed The Rabbi by his fellow referees. His new book includes
an account of the evening he trembled with fear while driving to a game
on the same route that the three civil rights workers took the night they
were killed. Ball remembers receiving a phone call from the secretary
of the local high school football association asking him if hed
be willing to work a game with a new official, who was black.
No one wanted to work with him, so the secretary of the league called
me and said, Hey Rabbi, do you mind working with a (racial epithet)?
And this was in 1980. A footnote not found in many histories of
southern football Howard Ball was the first Jew to ref high school
football in Mississippi and was part of the first integrated crew.
The professor adds that his book drew on a range of experiences while
teaching in Starkville, many of them positive. I learned a lot from
my students, both black and white, Ball says.
With Killens new trial set for March 28, Ball remains optimistic
that a new verdict will be reached. He still wonders, however, if any
echoes of the first trial, an 11-1 deadlock with the holdout saying she
couldnt convict a preacher, will resume.
Regardless of the outcome, Ball says hell never fully understand
how such hatred for people of another race could have become so prevalent
in America. What Im always left with after doing research
and writing about this is mans evil the evil men can do to
other men and women.
Number of applications UVM has received for the 2005-06 academic year.
The record-high applicant pool surpasses the late 1980s Public Ivy
era totals by more than one-thousand.
Lonergan Named to Head Hoops Program
In February, Mike Lonergan, an assistant coach at the University of Maryland
for the past year who led Catholic University to the 2001 NCAA Division
III national championship, was named as Tom Brennans successor as
head basketball coach at Vermont.
Lonergan, who joined Coach Gary Williams staff at Maryland in April
of 2004, led Catholic University in Washington, D.C., to seven consecutive
NCAA Division III Tournament appearances and nine overall from 1992 to
2004. He compiled a 251-88 (.740) record during his twelve-year tenure
and his squad averaged 24.7 victories per season over his last seven years.
Were thrilled and excited to have Mike join our staff,
Robert Corran, director of athletics, said. The values, experience,
and record of success which he brings to UVM will enable us to sustain
our program as a leader within America East and the northeast region and
as a model for the role of athletics within higher education.
Lonergan was the head coach at Catholic from the 1992-93 to 2003-04 seasons,
leading the Cardinals to nine of the 11 NCAA appearances in the history
of the program, all while graduating 100 percent of his players and taking
on Division I foes such as Princeton, American, Davidson, and William
I am very excited about becoming the next head coach at the University
of Vermont, Lonergan said. It has been a lifelong dream of
mine to become a Division I head coach at a great academic institution
like UVM. The program Coach Brennan, his players and his staff have built,
and how they have built it, represents everything I believe in.
Eye on The Orchid Thief
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, New Yorkers searched for their own
ways to return to normalcy, the assurance of the way things were. For
artist Jane Kent, who joined UVMs Art Department as an assistant
professor last fall, that meant immersing herself in the creative process.
From her Tribeca home, just five blocks from the World Trade Center, Kent
would travel to her 39th Street studio and spend the day drawing orchids.
It was incredibly restorative, just to sit there in this very small
universe drawing these orchids for hours and hours and hours, Kent
A print-maker and abstract painter, Kent found that the literal act of
these drawings was a critical step in adapting author Susan Orleans
The Orchid Thief into an artists book titled The Orchid Thief
Reimagined. Some 100 drawings emerged, along with a sharpened strategy.
This is why these projects are so great, because you actually get
to figure it out, Kent says. It grew like a plant. The
completed piece consists of eight unbound screenprinted pages, which combine
Kents art with Orleans words, and eight sheets of printed
interleaving (something like that sheet of tissue in a wedding invitation),
with all contained in a silk-covered box. Thirty-five edition prints were
co-published by Grenfell Press and the Rhode Island School of Design,
No. 6 of which is at home in UVMs Special Collections.
Kent, whose first artists book was a mid-1990s collaboration with
author Richard Ford, says she is always on the lookout for unusual text.
She found it in Susan Orleans 1998 Orchid Thief. She
starts out with this story about a man on trial. From there she goes on
to every subject in the universe and it just mutates and turns in on itself,
Kent says. And that, I thought, was very compatible with my work.
I always start out with a pretty singular form and it mutates and mutates
and mutates through the effort of working.
Orlean was immediately receptive to Kents proposal and took on the
job of selecting the passages of text that would go into The Orchid
Thief Reimagined. The project with Kent was evolving at the same
time Orlean was working with movie producers on the film Adaptation, in
which screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (with the authors blessing) takes
outrageous liberties including depicting Orlean in ways as unsavory as
they are untrue. Not surprisingly, Kent found the writer very generous
and liberal in how she would allow her work to be reinterpreted.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
"We are the best entertained and least informed people on the face
of the Earth."
Kennedy spoke to a full house at Ira Allen Chapel as part of a panel discussion
on Politics and the Public Trust: In Search of the Next Generation
of Civic Heroes. The event was a tribute to the late Charlie Ross,
a longtime Vermont public servant who taught at UVM for two years during
the 1970s. Scott Baldwin 76 and William Wachtel 76 were two
of the students Ross inspired. They developed and organized the tribute,
the first of several annual events planned in Rosss honor. Kennedy
was joined on the panel by Sen. Patrick Leahy, former Vermont Governor
Madeleine Kunin, former NY Times journalist Adam Clymer, and Professor
The image of three UVM hockey players wearing casts from ankle to hip
remains with Bruce Beynnon 82. As captain of the 1978-79 mens
basketball team, he remembers wondering how such strong, fit athletes
could suddenly have their careers ended by a knee injury.
Now an associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, Beynnon
says the anterior cruciate ligament injuries of Garry Hebert, Chris Coutu
and Serge Leblanc, as well as fellow basketball player Charlie Trapani,
played a role in his early interest with knee injuries, and his subsequent
decision to pursue a career that has made him a leading researcher of
ACL injuries and the surgical and rehabilitation techniques used to treat
It wasnt like I saw these injuries and decided to dedicate
my life to studying the ACL gods, but it really stuck in my mind,
Beynnon says. Its been interesting to see how an injury that
was career-ending at any level back in the 70s is now treatable
to where an athlete can return within the same year.
When Beynnon first started working at UVM, the institution where he earned
a bachelors in mechanical engineering in 1982, followed by a masters
and doctorate in biomechanical and mechanical engineering, he focused
his attention on the biomechanics of the ACL with the intention of finding
better ways of reconstructing it.
Beynnon and his colleagues eventually developed techniques to measure
the biomechanics of the ACL. This led to the study of the strain biomechanics
of ligaments in people doing rehab exercises such as weight-lifting, biking,
and stair climbing.
Beynnon, director of research in the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation,
and a team of College of Medicine researchers have built an international
reputation and published extensively on sports injuries and rehabilitation.
A pair of new studies one on the effectiveness of ACL rehab programs
and another study focusing on the effect of extrinsic and intrinsic risk
factors on first-time inversion ankle ligament injuries in high school
and college athletes are expected to be published later this year.
As with much of this UVM teams work, they promise to suggest better,
safer ways to help athletes get back in the game.
James C. Pizzagalli, chair of the UVM Board of Trustees since May 2004,
resigned from the board in February. In stepping down, Pizzagalli, who
is also co-chairman of Pizzagalli Construction Company, said he felt it
was in his firms best interest in relation to potential bids on
future construction contracts at the University for him to remove himself
from the board.
Jim has brought boundless energy and enthusiasm to his duties, along
with a high level of professionalism, said UVM President Daniel
Mark Fogel. While we respect his decision, I greatly regret the
departure from the board of such a longtime friend of the University.
Jim has been a valued and trusted colleague on the UVM board,
said vice chair Martha Heath, who will serve as interim chair until the
May board meeting, when a new chair will be elected. We could count
on him for hard work, a practical approach, and a high level of civility
and professionalism. We also understand the rationale that led him to
resign, although we regret his departure.
Pizzagalli, a 1966 graduate of the University of Vermont, will continue
to serve the University as a member of the National Campaign Steering
Committee. Before taking on the chairs role last spring, he had
served on the board since 2000.
Three new legislative trustees and one student trustee were named to the
University of Vermont board in February. The legislative trustees are
Sen. Claire Ayer, Rep. Bill Botzow, and Rep. Johannah Leddy Donovan. The
new student trustee is Kami Patrizio.
UVM institute aids artisans
Over the past decade, gourmet quality artisan cheese has emerged as a
signature Vermont agricultural product. Most artisan cheesemakers per
capita of any state in the union, an ever-expanding collection of national
and international awards, and a high profile in the media, all contribute
to the Green Mountains reputation as a hotbed for bon fromage.
Allison Hooper, co-owner of Vermont Butter and Cheese with alumnus Bob
Reese 79 and a former president of the Vermont Cheese Council, is
among the states leaders in the business.
Theres a lot of growth potential here, Hooper says.
But to be truly successful as an industry, we need to not only make
prize-winning cheeses, but to do it on a scale that's consistently profitable.
When youre taking milk from 50 cows, rather than just a half dozen,
you need assistance on issues like quality control, production methods,
The Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese, in business for the past year
at UVM, promises to give Hooper and her fellow cheesemakers just the help
they need on such critical issues. The institute created with the
support of $500,000 in funding from U.S. Sen. James M. Jeffords, the John
Merck Fund, and an anonymous private donor is the first organization
in the country dedicated to providing professional education, research,
technical, food safety, and marketing support to makers of hand-crafted
Artisan cheesemaking is a perfect fit for Vermont. It supports our
dairy farms, encourages tourism and bolsters our international reputation
for high-quality specialty food products, says Sen. Jeffords, who
earmarked a $200,000 appropriation for the project.
While technical and other kinds of support for small-scale food producers
is common in Europe, it is virtually non-existent in the United States,
where expert assistance from universities, government and other organizations
goes predominantly to large food concerns.
Catherine Donnelly and Paul Kindstedt, professors of nutrition and food
sciences at UVM, are co-directors of the institute. Donnelly notes that
Vermonts artisan cheesemakers operating at full potential could
play a significant role in the states economic development.
Through education, research, and outreach, the UVM institute is geared
to provide guidance with the inevitable challenges of running a small-scale
cheese operation. Whether youre having trouble replicating
a batch of award-winning cheese, need help understanding new regulations,
are designing safety protocols or want guidance identifying a market and
the distribution channels to reach it, we have the expertise to help,
COW, BY SHEEP, BY GOAT
A number of UVM grads are among Vermonts artisan cheesemakers. A
brief survey of their wares:
The Brand: Willow Smart 92 and her husband, David Phinney,
have built a national reputation with the organic sheep cheese they produce
at their Willow Hill Farm in Milton.
The Buzz: They are simply proof that cheesemaking in America
is breaking new ground every day.
Laura Werlin, The New American Cheese
The Brand: Andy Kehler 93, his brother Mateo, and their spouses
started the Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro in 2002 with the purchase of
15 Ayrshire heifers and have proven to be quick learners in the cheese
The Buzz: It was tangy, sweet, creamy, velvet on the tongue,
the most delicious blue cheese Id ever tasted. Cynthia Zarin
describing Bayley Hazen Blue in the New Yorker.
The Brand: The grand-daddy of Vermonts artisan cheesemakers,
Vermont Butter and Cheese got its start in 1984 when Bob Reese 79
combined his marketing skills with business partner Allison Hoopers
European-trained cheesemaking chops.
The Buzz: Vermont Cultured Butter with Sea Salt Crystals took outstanding
cheese or dairy product at the Fancy Food Show 2004. Vermont Chevre, the
goat cheese that started it all for VBC, remains a fan favorite.
by Sabin Gratz
Boards & Beyond
Lisa Hovey is explaining her drive to study mechanical engineering. Every
day there are hundreds of things around us that could be improved in some
way, she says. The UVM junior takes a quick look around the Martin
Luther King Lounge in Billings Student Center, searching for one of those
hundreds of things. She walks over to a pair of chairs, points out refinements
in the newer models design that have made an inexpensive chair into
a more comfortable inexpensive chair.
Talk with Hovey just a bit more and you soon discover that in her world
view working with things is good, working with people on those things
is even better.
Outgoing and assured, Hoveys interpersonal skills are clearly on
par with her intellectual abilities and sharing her enthusiasm for her
discipline is all part of the program. Hovey is president of the American
Society of Mechanical Engineers and vice president of the Society of Women
Engineers at UVM. She's also volunteered with the Girl Scout's Gizmo
Girls program, which fosters interest in the traditionally male
field of engineering.
Supplementing her classroom work with experiential learning has been an
important part of her UVM education, Hovey says. Last summer, on the strength
of a Hughes Endeavor for Life Science Excellence grant, Hovey assisted
Professor James Iatridis with work in the Biomedical Spine Lab, where
she explored the problems and causes of disc degeneration and low-back
pain. This year shes connected engineering with her passion for
snowboarding. Hovey landed a paid internship in Burton Snowboards
hard goods engineering division, where she conducts strength tests on
bindings. When Burtons 2007 gear hits the market, Hovey will know
she had a hand in it and thats a real motivator. I like those
kinds of results, Hovey says.
Post-graduation, Hovey hopes to put both her engineering major and Spanish
minor to work through a year in South America with Engineers Without Borders.
As the clock ticks down on her UVM years, shell no doubt be scouring
the course catalog for some new directions. If she has one regret, Hovey
says, its that she hasn't had the chance to look even more widely.
I want to do everything, but you have to choose, she says.
I wish there was more time.