Humanities – On Wisconsin https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Thu, 27 Jun 2019 17:02:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Madcap UW Writer Makes History in a Model T https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/madcap-uw-writer-makes-history-in-a-model-t/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/madcap-uw-writer-makes-history-in-a-model-t/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 14:47:32 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=25549 Emily Hahn ’26 opened readers’ minds by writing about her journeys across Africa and Asia. But her first adventure began with her college roommate, an old Ford, and 2,000 miles of uneven road.

Today, the Great American Road Trip is a common rite of passage for college students and graduates. But in 1924, before there was an Interstate Highway System, interstate automobile travel was a rare adventure. That year, two Badgers undertook a special cross-country drive that made headlines and history — and forever altered the trajectories of both travelers’ lives.

But first, let’s back up a bit.

Emily “Mickey” Hahn ’26 was one of the most prolific and adventurous writers to graduate from the University of Wisconsin, yet she’s also one of the least remembered. I first came across her name by accident during my final weeks as a science writer at the College of Engineering in 2011. I stumbled on a timeline buried deep in the website of the materials science department and noticed this tidbit: Emily Hahn, first female graduate, 1926.

No one else in my office had heard of Hahn, and I set about investigating her. What I found astonished me. Starting in the 1920s, Hahn traveled the world and worked for more than six decades as a correspondent for the New Yorker. In 1931, she hid herself in a crate to sneak across borders into the Belgian Congo, and she spent most of World War II in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. She split her later life between New York and London, and she wrote more than 50 novels, memoirs, and biographies, many of which are still in print.

Hahn poses with her pet gibbon, Mr. Mills, in Shanghai. Courtesy of Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana

I was leaving the College of Engineering to go across campus and obtain a master’s degree in journalism, and yet here was Hahn, who’d built a substantial writing career after earning, of all things, the first engineering degree ever awarded to a female UW student. “I don’t know that name,” the late UW journalism professor James Baughman told me when I suggested that he make a mention of Hahn in his long-running Literary Journalism course. Both of us were genuinely surprised that she’d never made it onto the journalism school’s radar.

Hahn’s experience at the UW wasn’t something that past generations of university storytellers were especially keen to promote. A Saint Louis native, she originally enrolled at the UW as an art major, and on a whim, she attempted to enroll in a geological chemistry course in the engineering college. She wrote later that the department chair blocked her enrollment and told her, “The female mind is incapable of grasping mechanics or higher mathematics or any of the fundamentals of mining taught in this course.” Indignant, Hahn immediately switched her major to mining engineering and survived the department’s appeal to the state legislature to remove her from the program.

Hahn’s engineering classmates and instructors frequently tested her resolve. “I trained myself to keep very quiet and to maintain a poker face whenever I was in the college,” she wrote in Times and Places, a collection of essays that was first published in 1970 and was recently rereleased under the title No Hurry to Get Home. Over time, though, Hahn did manage to make a few engineering friends, who took to calling her “Mickey,” a childhood nickname that sounded masculine enough for an engineer — and Hahn used it for the rest of her life.

Discrimination wasn’t limited to the classroom. During her sophomore year, Hahn watched with dismay as, one by one, her classmates were offered summer internships and fieldwork opportunities that were considered inappropriate for women. It was her roommate, Dorothy Raper (later Miller) ’27, who unrolled a map of the world and pointed to a solution: Lake Kivu in the Belgian Congo seemed as good a place as any for a summer adventure.

But before embarking for the Congo, the roommates decided to take a practice trip to Albuquerque. Miller suggested they drive south, stay with her uncle for a while, and then finish the trip with a quick jaunt over to California to see the Pacific Ocean. Hahn’s biographer, Ken Cuthbertson, describes Miller as “outgoing, energetic, and athletic; she was a competitive swimmer,” and Hahn also called her “enterprising.” The only daughter of a newspaper columnist in Cleveland, Miller didn’t hesitate to petition her parents for $290 to purchase a Model T Ford. Miller then spent the spring teaching Hahn how to drive in the “gentle, glaciated hills of the [Wisconsin] countryside, past grazing cows and farmhouses.”

However, not everyone was supportive. “Why do you talk all the time about getting away?” a date asked Hahn not long before the trip. “Isn’t Madison good enough for you?”

“Madison’s all right, I guess, but no one place is good enough,” she replied. “I want to get around. I want to see things.”

• • •

In 1903, Horatio Nelson Jackson and Sewall Crocker took 63 days, 12 hours, and 30 minutes to complete the first-ever American cross-country car trip, driving from San Francisco to New York. Twenty years later, most travelers were still unaccustomed to moving long distances by car. Most American roads were still unpaved, highways were not yet numbered, and the country’s first “motor hotels” wouldn’t open until 1925.

Yet the concept of Hahn and Miller’s driving trip wasn’t quite as radical or treacherous as it seemed to Hahn’s sophomore date. Before the roommates’ quest, Luella Bates had already gained a modicum of fame in Wisconsin as the “first girl truck driver” after she was hired by the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company in Clintonville. And Jazz Age Americans were far more captivated by airplanes than automobiles, anyway; female pilots like Bessie Coleman and Lillian Boyer were barrel-rolling their biplanes and walking on the wings (literally) when Hahn and Miller let their boyfriends haul the last of their luggage into the Model T. However, none of this is to say that what Hahn and Miller did in 1924 was simple or easy. In fact, what interests me most about their adventure is that it was encouraged and financially supported by their parents — and yet was still considered audacious enough to attract newspaper coverage in the Albuquerque Morning Journal.

The roommates departed Madison on June 19, 1924, and made their way first to Chicago and then Saint Louis to see their families. They’d converted the back of the Model T into a fold-down bed — complete with a mosquito net — and as they tried to sleep in a relative’s yard, Hahn’s young cousins kept peeking in through the windows to spy on them. Finally, the women broke free of their required visits and got out on the open road and headed south.

“On our way, on our own, on the road,” Hahn recounted saying to Miller as they skidded along rain-soaked country lanes, taking more than a few curves too fast through rural Missouri. When they didn’t sleep in the car, they stayed at “tourist camps,” which were just gated fields with outhouses. Once, a local sheriff tapped on their car window as they slept and insisted they relocate in front of his own house where he could keep an eye on them. In the morning, Hahn and Miller woke up with a crowd of locals staring at them.

They pressed on, navigating bumpy roads and regularly quieting the Model T’s hissing radiator with buckets of water. The roommates named the Model T “O-O” in honor of all the times the car made an odd noise and prompted them to exclaim, “Oh-oh!” After negotiating a mountain pass and testing the limits of O-O’s radiator and brakes, Miller and Hahn finally arrived in New Mexico on July 6 in mixed spirits. “I must be wrong to recall the tour as long,” Hahn wrote. “Even in 1924 it was not a matter of months to drive to Albuquerque from Saint Louis. Nevertheless, that is the impression I have kept.”

After six days in Albuquerque, the roommates pressed onward to Los Angeles to briefly glimpse the ocean as planned, driving through the desert mostly by night. But the trip finale was anticlimactic, wrote Hahn. By then, Miller was homesick and O-O was developing mechanical problems. “Might as well start back to Albuquerque,” Hahn recounted Miller saying as they watched blue-green waves crash against the rocky shore. “We’ve seen the Pacific.” • • •

The drive west was the first but far from the last time that Hahn garnered public attention for her travels. When the roommates set out for New Mexico, they were almost certainly aware of some of the famous American women who’d trail-blazed before them, such as Wisconsin-born explorer and museum curator Delia Denning Akeley, along with others who circled the globe and then made money giving public lectures about their adventures.

Later in life, the “lady traveler” persona became a devil’s bargain for Hahn, and she chronically struggled to get New York critics to take her work seriously. Her first major book, Congo Solo, originally exposed the polygamous lifestyle and cruelty of a prominent American medical missionary, but her publisher was wary of a lawsuit and edited the book to instead emphasize Hahn’s challenges as a woman traveling in Africa. Reviewers dismissed the result when it was published in 1933. Kirkus Reviews called it “utterly unconvincing in so far as the human equation is concerned.”

Some 54 books and hundreds of articles and short stories followed, covering diverse topics ranging from biographies to natural history, from the diamond trade to zoos, cookery, and communication with animals. But even her 1997 obituary in the New York Times was headlined “Emily Hahn, Chronicler of Her Own Exploits, Dies at 92,” which strikes me as unfair. It does little justice to Hahn’s extensive bibliography or her serious reporting on international politics on three continents. But her legacy does reflect that Hahn eventually recognized that to sell her work, she had to play up her more audacious angles. For example, her most lasting success, China to Me, highlighted her years as an opium addict in Shanghai and her romance during World War II with a married British spy, who later became the father of Hahn’s two daughters.

Hahn with her two daughters, Amanda and Carola. Courtesy of Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana

But long before Africa and China, there were Albuquerque and California. And that’s where the UW roommates’ paths began to diverge. In her later writings about the trip, Hahn was quick to juxtapose her own New Woman persona with Miller’s more traditional outlook. In particular, Hahn was critical of Miller’s boyfriend, who sent letters for Miller to pick up at every town along their planned route.

“Letters in general were an intrusion, I felt, on this otherwise wonderful existence, reminding me that I had not always been free, that I would someday have to go back to my past,” Hahn wrote. She added that Miller’s “life wasn’t affected by the trip in any serious way, though no doubt it altered a few details for her … She married an Albuquerque man instead of [her college boyfriend], but what’s the difference really? If that’s the way you’re going to be, that’s it. Why, by the time I actually got there — to Lake Kivu [in 1931] — [Miller] already had two children.”

It’s easy to buy into the myth of Miller and Hahn as opposites, to make the practical Miller a duller foil to the risk-loving, adventuresome Hahn. Yet there’s no question the road trip was originally Miller’s idea, and so perhaps she knew what she was doing all along. After all, Miller effectively harnessed her plucky roommate’s energy to get exactly where she wanted to go: New Mexico, where she began to lay the groundwork for a new life. Miller fell in love with Albuquerque during the trip, and after finishing her UW degree, she spent the rest of her life there.

The drive was also an important moment for Hahn’s budding sense of herself as an adventurer. “My first trip West was a tremendous affair,” Hahn wrote. “I don’t think I ever got so steamed up again, not even when I went to Africa or China.”

After returning to Madison, Hahn completed her mining engineering degree and landed a job with a petroleum company in Saint Louis, which she appeared to accept with a sense of resignation rather than pride. Though she did successfully become an engineer, she didn’t stay one for long. One night after work, she heard that fellow UW engineering student Charles Lindbergh x’24 was attempting to fly across the Atlantic. She made a bet with herself that if he made it, she’d quit her job and become a writer. When The Spirit of Saint Louis landed in Paris the next day, she did just that and bought a ticket to New Mexico.

Hahn wanted to say hello to her old friend before embarking on her next adventure.

• • •

I carried Hahn’s name with me through graduate school and into another campus writing job, this time at the Wisconsin Alumni Association. There, I introduced her to my editor, who put her on the list of names to be included in the new Alumni Park. You’ll now find Hahn’s words laser-cut into one of the metal benches along the east side of the park: “Let’s not spend money on anything else, except books.”

Personally, my favorite Hahn quip is what she’d say in response to those who asked why she often chose the roads less traveled: “Nobody said not to go.” Those words became my mantra when I, too, finally left Madison. In 2016, I moved to Europe and traveled across a few borders myself — though never while hidden in a crate. I continue to be inspired by Hahn’s fearlessness, along with her prolific work as a writer. And I hope that the Badgers who happen across her words in Alumni Park will now know the answer to the question I first asked almost a decade ago: Who was she?

Hahn at a 1954 lunch with British magazine publisher Edward Hulton. Kurt Hutton/Picture Post/Getty Images

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Diplomatic Dilemma https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/diplomatic-dilemma/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/diplomatic-dilemma/#respond Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:13 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=24295 Russ Feingold

Tom Williams/AP

It’s been 47 years since Russ Feingold ’75 first walked up Bascom Hill as a freshman from Janesville, Wisconsin. He would go on to earn degrees in history and political science, win a Rhodes Scholarship, and eventually serve in the Wisconsin State Legislature and the U.S. Senate.

This fall, he made the same walk — as a visiting lecturer in UW–Madison’s African Studies Program. Feingold is teaching a capstone course for international studies based on his experiences as a special envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa, which includes Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and surrounding countries.

Millions have died there since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, as armed groups fight for control of lucrative land and minerals. From 2013 to 2015, Feingold worked with envoys from the African Union, Europe, and the United Nations to successfully get Rwanda to stop supporting the March 23 Movement, a brutal rebel group. But conflict and violence remain in the region, which has a multilayered history.

“By the time we get to the end of this course, you’ll want to pull your hair out. Some things aren’t knowable,” Feingold told his students in September. “Some things are simply that complicated.”

And that’s one reason why Americans don’t know more about what Feingold calls “one of the greatest catastrophes in human history” during a class discussion on Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa. (The author, Jason Stearns, worked for the UN in Congo.) The book — from a reading list Feingold received when he was appointed to his diplomatic position — explains how the conflict has involved at least 20 rebel groups and the armies of nine countries.

“There’s no one bad guy” — no single figure like Hitler or Mussolini, Feingold tells the class. That ambiguity has led to less news coverage compared to other parts of Africa, such as Darfur, despite how many have suffered and died in the Congo.

Like Feingold, most of the course’s 17 students are Wisconsin natives. “I really feel at home here,” Feingold says. “There couldn’t be a more special place in my life and the lives of many Wisconsinites.”

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Raw Talent https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/raw-talent/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/raw-talent/#respond Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:13 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=24335 After college, Marie Moody ’90 moved to New York City, studied acting, got fired from waitressing jobs, worked in fashion marketing, and adopted two dogs: first Stella, then Chewy.

Chewy’s health was failing, and Moody learned that changing his diet had the potential to help. She began preparing her pups meals of raw meats, fruits, and vegetables: a fresh, unprocessed menu intended to be closer to the animals’ ancestral fare. The raw-food diet helped Chewy fully recover — and fired up Moody’s entrepreneurial spirit. She filled her tiny Manhattan apartment with industrial freezers, made her own raw-food blends, and took taxis to personally deliver her small-batch product to customers.

Fifteen years later, Stella & Chewy’s is a multi- million-dollar, national pet-food brand, headquartered in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Moody has stepped away from her role as chief executive; she now serves as founder and chairman of the board.

What keeps you most engaged with Stella & Chewy’s?

Getting people on board who are much smarter than me has been so much fun. To build a brand is like pushing a boulder uphill, so the more people doing it, the better it is.

How have the preferences of pet owners changed over time?

People are able to access so much information, and I think that helps [them] make more educated and intelligent decisions about what they want to feed both themselves and their pets. Pets are our family members, and the kind of unconditional love they give has become really important. With the evolution of the internet and social media, there’s something in between us and other people oftentimes. With your pets, you communicate in person.

You were one of the first entrepreneurs to bring raw pet food to market.

When I started, raw was a bad word. People were like, “Oh, you can’t call it raw. Can you call it gently uncooked?” When people hear raw meat, they still need to sometimes be talked through it, because they might think there could be a food-safety concern. But openness to raw feeding has come a long way.

Is it true that you collaborated with UW scientists on food safety?

I could not have done it without people at the UW. It’s funny, because I was an English major and a women’s studies major, and I came back and worked with an animal nutritionist and a meat scientist. I didn’t even know there was a building for meat science [on campus].

You know more about pathogens than the average person.

I know all about bacteria. More than I want to.

When you worked with UW scientists, was there a breakthrough moment?

They were able to point me to a technology called HPP [high pressure processing, a food-preservation method that retains nutrition and eliminates harmful bacteria]. There was one place to have it done [on a fee-for-service basis] in the United States 10 years ago, and it was in Milwaukee. It was pretty serendipitous.

How did your women’s studies major influence the Stella & Chewy’s brand?

I was coming out of the fashion industry, so I was looking at things like how to name it something besides “Natural Champion,” you know, like a really boring name. Because raw diets were already a brand-new way of thinking, I wanted something that was a little more approachable and friendly. Women’s studies really forced me to question the existing corporate hierarchy. For example, when I wanted to build a manufacturing plant, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t. And that’s thanks to the women who came before us. So I do feel a sense of responsibility to pass that on and to help women coming up now. That gives me great joy.

Has your advice changed for those who want to step forward in business as you did 15 years ago?

It’s fun to be at this point in my life and to have anything to offer the next generation in terms of advice. People complain about millennials, but I love millennials. I love the way they’re going about building businesses that are more concerned about the environment and sustainability and giving back.

How many pets do you have at home?

One cat, one dog, one kid. We were getting hate mail at Stella & Chewy’s that we weren’t focused enough on cats. My son and I were at a rescue event, and I told him he could pick one out. I just wanted to understand. You know how cats are.

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A Civil Rights Pioneer https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/a-civil-rights-pioneer/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/a-civil-rights-pioneer/#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 16:54:02 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=22505 "Justice for All" book cover

The influence of Lloyd Barbee LLB’56, a civil rights leader and lawyer in the 1960s and ’70s, lives on through Justice for All: Selected Writings of Lloyd A. Barbee, which was edited by Barbee’s daughter and civil rights lawyer Daphne Barbee-Wooten ’75. The book includes a foreword by Wisconsin congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee, who describes Barbee’s lasting impact on the state and the nation.

Barbee, who died in 2002, frequently signed his correspondence with “Justice for All,” a principle he carried out day to day. An attorney who is most remembered for the case that desegregated Milwaukee Public Schools in the 1970s, he defended prisoners, protestors, the poor, and Wisconsin college students who were expelled after pushing the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh to offer black-history courses.

Daphne Barbee-Wooten holding up black and white photo of Lloyd Barbee.

Daphne Barbee-Wooten Kathy Borkowski

Barbee was the only African American in the Wisconsin legislature from 1965 to 1977, and he advocated for fair housing, criminal-justice reform, equal employment opportunities, women’s rights, gay rights, and equal access to quality education.

The selected writings detail Barbee’s experiences during the civil rights movement and the challenges he faced while legislating. In the book’s introduction, Barbee-Wooten says that growing up as his child was like “riding a wave of history.” She writes, “By introducing and compiling this book, I am proudly fulfilling his goal and dream to share his thoughts and philosophy with all.”

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Ladee Hubbard https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/conversation/ladee-hubbard/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/conversation/ladee-hubbard/#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 16:53:42 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=22479 Portrait of Ladee Hubbard standing against vine-covered wall

Paula Burch-Celentano

At home in New Orleans, Ladee Hubbard MFA’14 was booked. She had a full-time job as an adjunct lecturer in Africana Studies at Tulane University, a growing family, and a super-powerful calling: to write a novel. Sight unseen, Hubbard moved to Wisconsin with her three children — the youngest then just four months old — for UW–Madison’s creative writing program, where the award-winning author transformed one of her short stories into her debut novel, The Talented Ribkins. Inspired in part by a 1903 essay by W.E.B. DuBois, “The Talented Tenth,” Hubbard’s book tells the story of an African American family with a catalog of superpowers (think fire-breathing, super strength, telekinesis) and a generations-long fight for social justice.

Tell us about the moment [last fall] when you were a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers, and the crowd applauded your mention of W.E.B. DuBois, the sociologist who wrote “The Talented Tenth.”

A lot of times I have to explain the reference to people. I think he’s not as well-known as I feel he needs to be. I was happy that people were acknowledging his role. He’s a towering figure in American history. He was not just an African American figure, but really, he’s such an important thinker.

How did your University of Wisconsin experience influence this novel?

I knew I needed to go somewhere and focus, because I have a lot of other responsibilities here in New Orleans. I didn’t have much of [the book] written until I got there, beyond the first draft. If you really want to write a book, you’re going to have to make some changes if you want it to actually happen. I just really wanted to have a chance to immerse myself in writing.

What are you hearing from readers of The Talented Ribkins ?

It’s been really gratifying that so many people seem to connect with what I was trying to accomplish with it, because there is a lot going on in the book. It talks about the family dynamic a lot, which I think you can certainly extend to how people interact with each other when they do have a connection. We are one people, in a sense.

What do you hope readers will take away from the novel’s themes of politics, history, freedom, and movement?

I talk about self-love a lot and learning to love yourself — also, in the face of all these obstacles, the value of just trying to do the best that you can with what you’ve been given. What I personally find so heroic about [Johnny the Great, a central character in the book who has a gift for making maps of places he’s never seen] is that he keeps trying. I think that’s really important, trying to find new paths — not getting stuck on one way of seeing things, either, but not being afraid to keep trying to make things better.

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8 Late Literary Giants https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/8-late-literary-giants/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/8-late-literary-giants/#respond Fri, 03 Nov 2017 23:02:37 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=21648 Faded old photograph of author

Zona Gale. UW Archives S10366

Saul Bellow x’41 Humboldt’s Gift, The Adventures of Augie March; Bellow was awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature

August Derleth ’30 The Sac Prairie Saga

Zona Gale 1895, MA1899 Miss Lulu Bett, Friendship Village series of short stories

Lorraine Hansberry x’52 A Raisin in the Sun, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 1918 The Yearling

Delmore Schwartz x’35 In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

Jean Toomer x’18 Cane, The Collected Poems of Jean Toomer

Eudora Welty ’29 The Optimist’s Daughter, which won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize; short story “Why I Live at the P.O.”

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Hail, Juvenile Logophiles https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/hail-juvenile-logophiles/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/hail-juvenile-logophiles/#respond Wed, 23 Aug 2017 19:28:34 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=21022

“I’d enjoy the dulcifluous water and empyreal sky much more if I weren’t so concerned about my arachibutyrophobia!” is what a child might say at your next streamside picnic, courtesy of Big Words for Little Geniuses.

In this clever picture book by Susan Solie Patterson ’79, MFA’82 and James Patterson, each letter of the alphabet is represented by a sophisticated word (that even adults may not know and children will love using), its definition, and a delightful illustration — with more words at the back. As the book wisely concludes, “Every little genius has to start somewhere.” (Dulcifluous, by the way, means “flowing sweetly and gently”; empyreal means “heavenly”; and arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.)

David Burnett

“The idea for this book,” explains Susan, “stems from our passion for reading and the importance of getting kids to learn (love) to read, and to learn (love) language.” Big Words fulfills a dream for Susan, who has wanted to write and art-direct a children’s book since grad school, when part of her MFA show consisted of entirely handmade books. During her subsequent career in advertising, her eventual husband hired her as an art director at J. Walter Thompson. James holds the Guinness World Record for writing the most number-one New York Times bestsellers, some of which have been made into films. He’s currently collaborating with Bill Clinton on a fiction work.

The couple passionately champions reading initiatives, teacher education, the UW’s swimmers (Susan was a two-time All-American swimmer), and the UW’s Schools of Education and Nursing.

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2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_alumni/2016-distinguished-alumni-awards/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_alumni/2016-distinguished-alumni-awards/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:22 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18499 For 80 years, the Wisconsin Alumni Association has honored exceptional alumni with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Early recipients include actor Fredric March ’20 of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fame and Helen C. White PhD’24, the beloved English professor whose name now graces College Library. More recently, alumni such as Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson LLB’42, scientist Carl Djerassi PhD’45, and fashion icon Iris Apfel ’43 have joined their ranks. We imagine they’d be as proud as we are to welcome this year’s honorees into the fold.

Learn more about the award winners. The deadline for 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award nominations is December 16.

John Daniels Jr.

John Daniels Jr. was the first African American lawyer in the United States to start as an associate in a major law firm and become chair.

John Daniels Jr. MS’72

John Daniels Jr. is chair emeritus at the national law firm Quarles & Brady. As chair, he grew the law firm significantly during the worst downturn since the Great Depression. A nationally recognized expert in real estate and business law, he has been involved in some of the nation’s most complex real estate redevelopment projects. He is the former national president of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and has represented major corporations such as General Electric, Kraft Foods, and Xerox.

After earning his MS in education, Daniels received his JD from Harvard University. Over the years, he has been a major force for civic good in Milwaukee. He has worked as lead lawyer on many signature downtown projects. He also helped organize an annual golf tournament, the Fellowship Open, that raises money to support children in need, and he has worked with his brother, a Milwaukee clergyman, on a number of community housing and education projects.

Judith Faulkner

Judith Faulkner, who earned her MS in computer sciences, serves on the department’s board of visitors, and the company she founded, Epic Systems, has endowed three computer sciences faculty positions.

Judith Greenfield Faulkner MS’67

Judith Faulkner is the founder and CEO of Epic Systems, which she launched in 1979 in an apartment-house basement. Epic has since grown to become a leading provider of integrated health care software, with clients that include the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Cedars-Sinai, Kaiser Permanente, CVS Health, and Walgreens. More than half of the U.S. population has medical information in an Epic system. Faulkner has kept the company privately held and has built a sustainable corporate campus in Verona, Wisconsin, with 9,900 employees.

In 2013, Forbes magazine called her the “most powerful woman in health care.” Faulkner has pledged to donate 99 percent of her assets to philanthropy. UW–Madison awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2010, and she is a member of the National Academy of Medicine’s Leadership Roundtable. She also served on the Health Information Technology Policy Committee, a federal advisory group that helps to shape IT-related health care policy, and its Privacy and Security subcommittee.

Doris Weisberg

Doris Weisberg serves on the Memorial Union Building Association and is helping to position the Wisconsin Union to use locally grown products in its food-service operations.

Doris Feldman Weisberg ’58

Doris Feldman Weisberg was part of the team that launched the Food Network, where she produced numerous shows and was the managing editor of food news. She has also produced cooking shows for Lifetime Television. Prior to that, she was on the faculty of City College of the City University of New York, where she taught for 26 years. She was director of the Speech and Hearing Center and retired in 1992 as chair of the speech department.

Weisberg earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and went on to receive her MS and PhD from Columbia University. She serves on the political science department’s board of visitors, and she is also on the board of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association and is a member of its Women’s Philanthropy Council. She and her husband have created a planned gift to establish the Doris Feldman Weisberg and Robert Weisberg Center for Progressive Political Thought. They also established the Doris and Robert Weisberg Current Issues Symposium Fund at the Memorial Union to bring relevant and timely speakers to campus.

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A Long To-Do List https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/calculation/a-long-to-do-list/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/calculation/a-long-to-do-list/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:06 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18466 calc_copy-01

Illustration: Danielle Lawry; Source: UW–Madison Facilities Planning and Management

After World War II, American universities experienced a building boom to handle the flood of incoming students. At UW–Madison, more than 40 percent of campus buildings were constructed in the 1950s, ’60s, or ’70s.

But volume meant speedy construction, producing structures that haven’t stood the test of time and now need attention.

That’s what William Elvey had to worry about — a lot — as UW–Madison’s associate vice chancellor for Facilities Planning and Management. He likens the university’s backlog of deferred maintenance to what happens when a snowball rolls down a hill: it gets bigger. “It keeps me awake at night,” he said before leaving the UW to work for Children’s Health System of Texas.

The UW’s current deferred maintenance costs are estimated at $1.2 billion and continue to grow. Unlike previous state budgets, the most recent budget didn’t provide $20 million a year in borrowing to cover the costs of capital projects that typically cost more than $50,000, such as replacing roofs, and less expensive maintenance work, such as roof patching.

“[The Humanities Building] is the poster child for deferred maintenance,” Elvey says. The concrete exterior of the 1960s-era building is in poor condition and has exposed rebar. Elvey says it reminds him of the Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit, about an unending home renovation project.

Over the summer, university officials elected to transfer nearly $2 million from academic and research funds to cover repairs to the exterior and roof of the Humanities Building and 23 other projects that were critical to safety, including fire escapes.

For the next two-year budget, UW System officials have requested $100 million to restore the money campuses received in the past for repair and maintenance projects.

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https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/17045/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/17045/#respond Mon, 29 Feb 2016 16:52:29 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17045 the_russian_woodpecker

Nuclear conspiracy

The title of director/editor Chad Gracia ’92s debut documentary film — The Russian Woodpecker — invites so many questions, but, it turns out, it has nothing to do with birds and everything to do with Fedor Alexandrovich: an eccentric, Ukrainian artist who is investigating the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.

His conspiracy theory goes like this: Soviet officials caused the meltdown to mask a failed plot to penetrate Western communications systems (and minds?) using a massive radio transmitter — nicknamed “the Woodpecker” for the pecking sound it made. Fantastical? Perhaps. But the more Alexandrovich’s inquiries unnerve the old-guard officials, the more credible his theory seems.

The Boston-based Gracia has worked in New York theater for nearly two decades as a producer, dramaturge, and playwright, focusing on plays in verse. He was in Ukraine doing a theater project when he met Alexandrovich, whom the film portrays as both protagonist and antagonist. Gracia hopes it will enlighten audiences about Ukraine’s history and its difficulty shedding its Soviet past. And, modern-day tensions between Ukraine and Russia give it renewed relevance and resonance.

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Chad Gracia

The Russian Woodpecker won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival; it’s one of Yahoo’s top forty movies of 2015; and it’s a nominee for a 2016 Film Independent Spirit Award, among other honors, nominations, and best-ofs. Gracia and Alexandrovich showed it at the 2015 Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison, and it opened in theaters and as video-on-demand this fall. Indie film distributor FilmBuff has also bought the worldwide rights to it.

Gracia said in a statement, “I’m excited to share Fedor’s incredible journey with audiences around the world, who I’m sure will be as charmed by his character as they are stunned by his investigation.”

wisconsin_agriculture

All about agriculture

Few folks are as quintessentially “Wisconsin” as celebrated rural historian Jerry Apps ’55, MS’57, PhD’67, who splits his time between Madison and his farm in Waushara County. He’s had a career as a UW-Extension agent, professor (now emeritus) of UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, and now full-time writer and creative-writing instructor. He’s also the subject of Wisconsin Public Television programs.

The latest in Apps’s forty-plus books — memoirs about growing up on a Wisconsin farm and fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books about many facets of the state’s history — is Wisconsin Agriculture: A History. But what about being the Dairy State? Well, Wisconsin has been a farming state from its start — and it’s one of the nation’s most diverse agricultural states as well.

Hailed as the first expansive volume on the subject in nearly a century, Apps’s book features first-person accounts from the settlement era to today and more than two hundred photos. It covers artisanal cheeses and cranberries, of course, but it also explores the state’s relationship with its terrain, weather, and natural resources to highlight Christmas trees, honey, cattle, goats, fur farming, beekeeping, maple syrup, ginseng, hemp, cherries, sugar beets, mint, sphagnum moss, flax, and hops.

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Jerry Apps

Ethnic and pioneer settlement patterns also play into Wisconsin’s agricultural profile, as do changing technologies, ag research and education, government policies, and endeavors such as aquaculture and urban farming. Finally, Apps contemplates ethical growing practices, sustainability, food safety, and the potential effects of climate change.

Wisconsin Agriculture is a giant undertaking, but then, would we expect any less from Jerry Apps?

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