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Letters - Fall 2014

By Terp Staff

Terp CoverMagazine Critic

Given that this is an alumni magazine, whose purpose is to build engagement and contributions, this failed miserably.

Looking at similar magazines from Vanderbilt and Clemson, there’s a clear concept of the mission of the schools, what makes these schools special and the magazine focuses on these themes.

Vanderbilt – A top tier school focused on research and all around excellence.

Clemson – A flagship public university with a worldview.

Accordingly, both magazines focus on current research and current student activities to support these themes.

On the other hand, from reading Terp magazine, Maryland is a school building new space for programmers, with out-of-control athletes and stressed-out students who can aspire to run a motocross dirt track in the sticks.

Even Dr. Loh’s letter is disappointing. “Broad access to a top-quality flagship education” is so vague and meaningless it may as well be a mission statement for Target or Wal-Mart, and people don’t identify with or contribute to Wal-Mart.

The bottom line is that if you want to develop support and engagement from alumni you need to clearly communicate Maryland’s mission, goals and the progress being made toward attaining those goals.

Tell me what’s special about Maryland, why I should encourage my kids and/or grandchildren to attend Maryland and give me articles about current students that let me say, “If you go to Maryland, here’s what you can aspire to.”

On the other hand, a cover and six-page spread attempting to sugarcoat a disappointing, out-of-control period in Maryland’s basketball history is clearly NOT the way to go. Especially, hard on the heels of Maryland’s “anything for a buck” switch from the ACC to the Big Ten.

Jim Folus ’75
Pikesville, Md.

Our Bias

I was extremely disappointed when the University of Maryland Athletic Department elevated Len Bias to Hall of Fame status. In this day of multimillion-dollar athletic departments run by businessmen with little input from the academic departments of the university, it didn’t surprise me. It seems that the motto of athletics is “my thugs can beat your thugs and misfits.” A coke-snorting Len Bias fit right in to that category. You have given a message to the youth in America that it is OK to do drugs so long as you win games and bring athletic glory to the athletic department. For shame.

George Hogan ’57
Southbury, Conn.

P.S.: I was a classmate of Ed Cooke, a deserving recipient.

I have never written to a magazine before, but your article on Len Bias really touched me. Such a wonderful person, such a tragic loss. I never heard a bad word about him. Everybody is entitled to a “pass” for a mistake. Why didn’t he get his? Godspeed, Len.

Allan Weber ’87
Robbinsville, N.J.

I take issue with your celebration of Len Bias’ election to Maryland Athletics’ Hall of Fame. While your article referenced the circumstances around Bias’ death, the tone of the piece suggested that his selection to the hall was, without question, the right thing to do. I disagree. Bias had the opportunity to represent the university on the grandest of stages and to put himself in a position to give back to his school and his community. Instead he wasted his talent and threw away his life.

So many Maryland athletes have done more for the school and the community while serving in anonymity. I’d have respected your editorial board far more if they made the decision to highlight one of these athletes instead. Indeed, they might even have gone so far as to acknowledge a student for their academic or artistic accomplishments. To elevate Bias does all of us a disservice.

Bias may have achieved great things inside Cole Field House, but his legacy, sadly, rests in Washington Hall.

Paul Myette ’98
Byfield, Mass.

I am not a Maryland alum, but I was raised by Maryland basketball. I proudly grew up right next door to the university in University Park. Your article brought me to tears.

As a tween, I spent my summers running through Cole Field House learning to play tennis and swim with Dr. Steele. But in between the tennis courts and the swimming pool, what we were all really looking for was a glimpse of the greatness of Len Bias. And oh, when we saw him… Oh, our jaws dropped in awe, giggled in glee, and quickly extended our hands in hopes of touching greatness.

I always will always remember the day Len Bias died. What I remember was watching my younger brother sit in front of the television in tears. How do you explain the death of greatness to an 8-year old boy?

Len Bias deserves to be recognized by Maryland. He was great, he inspired, and he was a kind soul. And he was a young man who made a silly mistake… and he paid for that mistake with his life.

As Merlyn said to a young King Arthur, “The best thing for being sad is to learn something.”

I am now 43 years old. My parents still have their season tickets to Maryland basketball. With every Maryland basketball game win (or even loss), every time, you can still hear someone mention Len Bias. Pretty amazing that his amazing smile, kind heart and determined spirit still linger through the crowd.

And maybe what we have learned from the great sadness is to remember what was good and not the mistakes. Thank you for reminding us of that. Well done!

Karen D. Groppe
Bethesda, Md.

It is really disappointing to see the picture of Len Bias on the cover page and the centerfold after 30 years. Len Bias was in the news when I arrived to the U.S. and joined the UMD system, and I am surprised that after doing nothing for last 25th, Len Bias still occupies the cover page of Terp.

Len Bias was a gifted player but portraying him as the greatest—UMD is celebrating drug abuse on a college campus. This culture of drugs should not be celebrated at all.

I am disappointed that a university system wants focus more on “sports” rather than education.

Please celebrate leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, journalists and not some 18- to 20-year old who became famous by throwing a ball in the hoop.
Sunil Kolhekar
Potomac, Md.

I just received Terp magazine and want to thank you for sending me a copy. I really appreciate receiving it.

I especially liked the “Our Bias” article. Since my children (and now some of my grandchildren) went to the University of Maryland, we remember how awful we felt when we heard the news of his death. Who can ever forget the victory over North Carolina? I’m so glad he is finally in the UMD Athletics Hall of Fame. He deserves nothing less.
Go Terps!

Shirley Tevelow
Silver Spring, Md.

Stressed for Success

I read the article in Terp titled “Stressed for Success.” The article begs several questions. For example: Have we as a society become success-driven? What is the definition of success? and Have we neglected to look within rather than without in finding our place?

I found the article troubling—not for myself but for those students who experience such stress. I personally do not recall experiencing such stress, although I worked throughout my undergraduate years during the semesters. Certainly life was busy and there were challenges.

I entered the Marine Corps 12 days after high school graduation, and in those three years I grew in maturity. Those were three years well spent, while some of my high school friends went directly to college. Some dropped out or withdrew, and some graduated. It would be interesting to find those seeking counseling who entered college, say at 21 or 22 years of age as compared to those who entered directly from high school.

My parents did not pressure me in any direction. I attended the university of my choice, not to please anyone, and not to pursue some evasive vision of success.

I attended Maryland to learn. I attended graduate school to learn more, and the same for law school. I am now in my 13th year as a judge. Perhaps that begs the question, am I a success? The more correct question is: Have I lived a life of meaning? Or have I found satisfaction in my work? The answers are yes.

Each individual has the freedom to follow a path of one’s choosing. That thought is well expressed by Jean Paul Sartre in the play “Flies:”

The heavier it is to carry, the better pleased I shall be; for that burden is my freedom.
Only yesterday I walked the earth haphazard; thousands of roads I tramped that brought
be nowhere, for they were other men’s roads… Today I have one path only, and heaven
knows where it leads. But it is my path.

I hope those students find a way to their path, that they experience an inner sense of who they are, an inner vision distinct from visions others my hold for them and in that process, their stress will be replaced with a self-found purpose.

Robert J. Bennett ’71, M.A. ‘76
Fernley, Nev. 

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