August 2012 Letters to the Editor

July 23, 2012

ACCOLADES FOR MENTOR

I missed a great opportunity to shower accolades on Bernie Weigman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of engineering science, who was a mentor to me and countless others in our brief four years at Loyola (“The Supreme Art,” April 2012).

In the ’60s, physicists were revered, and I was one of those young men who aspired to a challenging job in the space industry or federal lab work or perhaps teaching physics or engineering.

When I was a junior, Charlie Krapp and I, under the tutelage of Dr. Weigman and Zav Spiegal, had designed and fabricated an 8-foot, round plywood table top with a central hole that became our horizontal surface for a mechanical scattering experiment.

The key to this experimental setup was the rubber membrane that was attached to the surface, which allowed stainless steel balls to roll from an inclined plane onto the surface and trace a trajectory toward the center. After adding a weight to stretch the membrane into the hole, this depression became our equivalent of an attracting potential.

Based on where the ball was released relative to the center line, the ball would roll into the depression and wind up in peripheral pockets, which formed our statistical basis for analysis of the geometry of the target. As I recall, many a thread had been sacrificed from the arms of jackets that reached over the chicken wire pockets to collect the balls.

In the end, the experimental results merited a paper at a conference in New York City, which we presented. Afterwards, one company representative followed up with us to see if we would be willing to work with them to make this into a product for science teachers. Without Dr. Weigman’s mentorship, this experience would have never occurred. This was an honor for me to have been included in this work, and, I might add, it was exceptionally rare to have a student participate at this level. I thank Dr. Weigman for his mentorship that helped build my confidence and skills that have allowed me to continue to work actively, even at an advanced age, on challenging energy problems.

Albert A. Koenig, Ph.D., ’62
Coatesville, Pa.

CHEMICAL INTERACTION

Thanks for the articles in April on Mel Miller, who started teaching chemistry at Loyola when I began studying there in the fall of ’61. I first met him in the spring on a campus tour. His warm, yet serious attitude was one of the reasons I picked Loyola. He taught physical chemistry when I took it in the fall of ’63.

There were a lot of distractions that year, including half a dozen College of Notre Dame students sharing the class, but I liked the subject and Mel’s straightforward, rigorous teaching of it enough to go on that track in graduate school at Johns Hopkins. He also helped me with the research project I presented at meetings of the American Chemical Society Student Affiliates.

I’ve considered my studies at Loyola a great start to my more than 30-year career in chemistry devising and testing catalysts for making fuels and petrochemicals.

Best wishes to Mel in his emeritus status.

Joseph Bartek, ’65, Ph.D.
Wheaton, Ill.

GENERATIONS OF TEACHING

I have enjoyed recent copies of your magazine, which you began sending me after having made a contribution to Loyola in memory of a friend who was a Loyola graduate. The April 2012 issue had a special meaning for me, a Johns Hopkins University graduate many years ago (1949).

One of the featured professors of your cover story, “The Supreme Art,” is Robert Pond. At Hopkins, I, too, had a Professor Robert Pond. I surmised they were father and son. The Internet revealed that my Professor Pond, who is no longer living, had a son named Robert. I phoned your Professor Pond who confirmed my supposition and we had a nice talk about my experiences with his dad and his recollections of that time more than 50 years ago.

Another matter of interest in the April issue is the letter from Greg Bissonette, ’05. Such discussions between “intelligent design” and “natural selection” seem to be based on the concept that they are mutually exclusive. This is not so. A dispassionate view of the ongoing creativity of God is several orders of magnitude greater than the scratchings and speculations of scientists and researchers on the fringes of the university.

Loyola is wise to foster a linkup between learning and the Creator. It is likely that God has established natural selection so he does not have to be there every time a molecule or a corpuscle or even an ion comes to a fork in the road. Humility, which God holds in high regard, leads to such a conclusion.

Paul B. Hessemer
New Holland, Pa.

CELEBRATING THE CREATOR

We strongly disagree with the philosophy set forth by Dr. Greg Bissonette, ’05, in his letter to Loyola magazine (published in the April 2012 issue). We trust Dr. Bissonette is not and will not be a member of Loyola’s faculty.

He says Loyola College Dean James Miracky, S.J.’s, statement, “We believe that any area of knowledge is a potential place to encounter the Divine,” smacks of “intelligent design.” That is a euphemistic term used by some to get public schools to teach of God’s creation.

Loyola, a Catholic, Jesuit university, and surely all believers will not mince words in celebrating God as Creator as we discover His Creation in scientific studies.

Francis Meagher, Sr., J.D., ’50
Alma Duvall Meagher, MSA ’49
James Gentry, J.D., ’49
Timonium, Md.

HIGHER THAN SELF

As a parent of a Loyola graduate, Class of 2004, I am shocked by the letter of Greg Bissonette, Ph.D. That he is embarrassed by himself and his education is amazing! Perhaps he should have attended a more elitist, more liberal school as opposed to a Jesuit institution that promotes education, faith in oneself, and the idea that there might be something higher than the self.

I suspect there is no school that could accommodate one who views himself above other graduates who aren’t “stained” by the words on the science building, and accept and are tolerant of religion (theology) and science “mixed” in philosophical discussions.

My experience of youth today is that they need to be less self-indulgent, seeing themselves as the center of all things, and rejecting those who search for faith in today’s chaotic world. Volunteerism in our youth may be up (and is often required in our schools), but church and fellowship are fading among all denominations.

Diane White
Manhasset, N.Y.

SECOND-BEST SEASON

After reading in your magazine about Loyola’s basketball successes, noting the brief references to Jim Lacy’s individual scoring record and the current team breaking the seasonal win record of the 1948-49 team, I am reminded of the precedent-setting welcome home festivities for that team upon its return from the National Catholic Invitational Basketball Tournament (NCIB).

Loyola had earlier won its Mason-Dixon Conference tournament title, got to the second round of the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball tournament in Kansas City, then finished third of 16 teams in the NCIB in Denver.

On return from Denver, the team was met at the Mount Royal train station by Baltimore Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., and an outpouring of Loyola students, then escorted in a 50-car parade north on Charles Street to Evergreen, where the student body provided a rousing welcome. That night, a huge party, attended by the mayor, the sports editor of The Sun, and other celebrities, was held in the Loyola gym.

There was one other game, not listed on the season schedule because it was an ad hoc arrangement. Texas Wesleyan had the second and third leading scorers in the nation, Cliff McNeeley and I’ve forgotten the other. So, with Lacy number one, a game was arranged and played in the Baltimore Coliseum. It has to be unique in college basketball—the nation’s top three scorers in one game! Oh, yes, Texas Wesleyan won.

Putting in a plug for the second-best season in Loyola basketball history.

Raymond “Mickey” E. Parr, ’49
Tarzana, Calif.

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2 Comments

  • Posted by Michael E Pelczar,MD '60 | August 20, 2012

    During my senior year, Father Beatty, then President of the College, would invite a few of us to have lunch with him. We would discuss campus issues primarily . On occasion the conversation would drift to other topics. He once said that it was his desire to build a Jesuit high school in Highlandtown. This was prompted by the large Catholic population in that area. ( Of which a I was one ). A side comment was, ” Think of the football team we would have!” I submit that Cristo Rey is Fr. Beatty’s dream wish fulfilled.
    I very much enjoy the Loyola magazine. As an aside ,it was nice to see my next door neighbor’s picture in the current issue, J. P. Dalton .
    Go Hounds!
    Mickey Pelczar

  • Posted by Michael S. Smith '80 | January 7, 2013

    I agree with the Meaghers and Mr. Gentry. Somehow, it seems that Loyola has failed Dr. Greg Bissonette. Despite four years of excellent Jesuit education, the student managed to graduate apparently without a single iota of understanding that God can be found in every millimeter of nature. If only he could have attended a lecture about Euler’s Identity, he could have seen a mathematical proof that God is everywhere. I am embarrassed by Dr. Bissonette’s embarrassment.

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