Letters: Fall 2010

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I would like to commend and thank you and John Syme for the timely and interesting article on the role of Davidson alumni in the field of education. Recruitment and retention of good teachers is a priority personal involvement of mine. I am very appreciative of the contributions of Ann Clark, Molly Shaw and others; they provide excellent role models for Davidson students and recent graduates who may consider a career in education.

In this context, I think that it is relevant to mention that 12 percent of the Davidson Class of 2010 applied to Teach for America, and this fall 16 Davidson graduates will begin either their first or second year of a Teach for America commitment.

I would also like to point out with pride that Dr. Ty Finch is a classmate of mine in the class of ’61, not ’67.

Again, thanks very much for the excellent article as well as the continued improvement of the Davidson Journal.

R. Edward Kizer, Jr. ’61
Denver, N.C.


Thank you for publishing the article about Davidson alumni working in education (“Habits of Mind: Writing the Next Chapter,” Summer 2010). It was inspiring to read about alumni who have chosen to take on the hard work of ensuring that all children have access to an excellent education.

Expanding educational opportunities for all children is an issue that is very important to us as well, which is why we serve on the regional advisory board for Teach For America-Charlotte. We were excited to see that Elizabeth Devlin, a Davidson as well as Teach For America alumna, was featured in the article. But we were disappointed that many others were not.

This school year, there are 16 Davidson alumni teaching in low-income communities across the country, including right here in Charlotte, through Teach For America. While most people who join Teach For America say that they hadn’t planned to seek a career in education, many end up staying in the field. Among the 37 Davidson alumni who completed the Teach For America program between 2005 and 2010, about half are still working or studying in the field of education. And those who pursue careers outside of education are continuing to work to expand opportunities for low-income children. For example, Bill Ferguson, a 2005 Davidson alumnus and 2005 Teach For America corps member, focused his successful Maryland State Senate primary campaign on education reform.

What all of this tells us is that the two-year teaching commitment is a truly transformative experience that is inspiring these talented people to work to improve the lives of children in need.

We believe that Teach For America plays an important role in raising awareness about the achievement gap that exists in our country. It also gives more of us the opportunity to support and become involved in the effort to solve the problem. Last spring, Davidson President Thomas W. Ross participated in the annual “Teach For America Week” event as a guest teacher in a high-school classroom in Charlotte and spoke to students about the law and his experience as a judge.

We are thrilled that so many people within the Davidson community support Teach For America—Ed Kizer ’61 also serves on Teach For America Charlotte’s regional advisory group with us—and it is our hope that Davidson alumni continue to participate in and support Teach For America.

Shannon Walters McFayden ’82 and Ernie Reigel ’80
Charlotte, N.C.


My father, Bennett Y. Cowan, Sr. ’42, recognized the scene immediately as occurring in the moments after graduation 1942 when the ROTC cadets (who were wearing their uniforms underneath) had shucked the robes to be commissioned into the Army (they were required to be in full uniform for that bit of ceremony).

On page 8 of Soldiers and Sentinels: Davidson’s World War II Veterans Speak, ed. by [Matt] Merrell ’84, there is a picture taken only a few moments earlier, which shows a similar bit of cordage separating the graduates from the audience, as well as the graduates disrobing with their uniforms underneath.

Although his eyesight is failing, and there are no family photos for corroboration, he thinks that the matron on the left might be his mother.  But his memory and recall remain nearly 100 percent!

Hope this doesn’t disappoint anyone hoping for photographic proof of The Rapture.

Bennett Y. Cowan, Jr. ’71
Bristol, Tenn.


The 1942 photo may be those robes of newly graduated young men reporting directly from commencement to military duty, leaving the task of turning in robes to the family members.

I’ll be interested to find out for certain!

Sandy Saxton
Parent of Caroline Saxton Muegge ’05
Apex, N.C.


This is in response to the mystery photo in the most recent edition of the Davidson Journal. My father, George Thompson “Tommy” Brown was in the class of 1942. My father tells the story of his graduation in 1942, in the middle of the war. Many if not most of the graduates were commissioned into the Army and sent off to war immediately upon graduation. They all had their uniforms on under their graduation gowns. This photo must show the gowns after they were discarded for the Army commissioning ceremony. My father says it was quite a dramatic and emotional moment—sons and daughters were already being lost at an alarming rate in the middle of the war. My father served in the war from his graduation in 1942 until 1945 or ’46, and later became a Presbyterian missionary to Korea. He and his wife of 67 years, Mary Hopper Brown (Agnes Scott 1943), live in Stone Mountain.

Bruce Brown ’79
Atlanta, Ga.


Reference the subject on page 36 of the Summer Print edition “Viewfinder” mystery photo of discarded graduation robes on the pavement in front of Chambers:

In the spring of 1943 during WWII, I witnessed the caps and gowns graduation ceremony held in front of Chambers, which was followed by the swearing in ceremony of new 2nd Lieutenants being commissioned from ROTC. Immediately after the graduation ceremony, and as a continuation of the ceremonial program, these new officers, who were going off to war, symbolically pulled off and dropped their academic caps and gowns. It was to reveal their pink and green uniforms with gold bar rank insignia, before raising their right hands for the oath of office swearing in ceremony administered by the Professor of Military Science and Tactics.

This could possibly explain the dropped academic robes at the time of war ’42 graduation?

John Edward Gray ’46–’49
Mt. Ulla, N.C.


I echo John Syme’s sentiments about the Alma Mater. I’d like to have a source to have it as a “ring tone.” It’d also be good to have it available on the Davidson Web site, both as background music and as a download. In the olden times, we sang the Alma Mater frequently, and woe betide the freshman who had to appear before the Court of Control who knew not its words.

Robert P. Majors, Jr. ’57
Raleigh, N.C.


Have been meaning to send a “high five” for the fine “reinvention” of the Davidson Journal. This ole traditionalist likes it and sends congrats.

Leland Park ’62
Davidson, N.C.


After reading the Davidson Journal for summer 2010, the article I most connected with was about Lindsey Martin ’11, who is a champion swimmer. I swam also for Davidson, but without any championships. My other alma mater, Duke University School of Medicine, Class of ’60, has an advantage that Davidson doesn’t have; that is the chapel is in the center of the campus. You have the feeling that the Duke experience is grounded from this centerpiece. We have to work hard to make the church the centerpiece of learning at Davidson.

Larry Parrott ’56
Camden, S.C.


“The Davidson Journal”

Yes I do enjoy. Of course at my age I turn to the Obits
But I am probably the oldest still around I remember
My walk up and at that time which was 1932 the Treasurer
Was a man named Jackson. Boy was he glad to see me for
I had a check.

My class was 1936. I knew no one, but it was not long
Before going into rush that I had some comrades I
Knew nothing about Davidson as my family decided
That is where you were going and that was it.

I read that you will have over 400 graduating this yr
My first yr we had or I thought we had only 600 in the school. No
Females. The most eventful happening that yr was
We beat Wake Forest for the first time in about ten
Years. The students felt it was enough for cancellation
Of school. Not the Pres. We all left and the next
Wk we were all campused.

Unfortunately I was not at Davidson but for two yrs,
And I left to go to the Wharton School as this was
The only Insurance school in the country at that
Time. But my heart was always at Davidson and
In traveling back and forth I would always stop off
At Davidson

I did love the school.

Warner Wells, Jr. ’36
Jackson, Miss.

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