Miller Upton Remembered
I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of sadness at the death of Miller Upton. Though he and I disagreed about nearly everything, I respected him, and his vision for a new type of college.
To those of us who entered Beloit in the late '60s, early '70s, Miller was a Moses-like speaker. I remember one address at Eaton Chapel where actual thunder and lightning accompanied his speech. None of us was surprised that he could command the forces of the weather to make a point.
After he retired, I saw a different Miller at Beloit reunions. A kinder, gentler, more human Miller, who treated me like an old friend instead of the antagonist I had been while we were at Beloit together.
I will miss his presence at the next reunion, but his spirit will still be there with us. He'll be a topic of conversation and fond memories. Maybe there'll even be a thunderstorm.
— Mykel Board'72
New York, N.Y.
|Beloit College Archives
|The late Miller Upton, sixth president of Beloit College.
I was so sorry to hear about Miller Upton's passing. I have many fond memories of Sunday suppers at the Marburgs' with Miller and June Upton in attendance. He was certainly great fun to be around, and if that doesn't define a great person, I don't know what does.
— McGregor Gray'66
I was so sorry to hear about the death of Miller Upton. To me, he was a very special president of Beloit College and a real friend. I believe he always looked after me and did many special things on my behalf. I know that he enjoyed what we were doing on campus as students and enthusiastically showed his support.
I will never forget the way he said my name, his wonderful smile, and his eloquent speaking ability.
To this day, I try to implement his ideas in the benefit work I do in our community by trying to make organizations more efficient and operate on a year-round basis.
A very important part of my life has physically disappeared, but I hope the personal instruction I have received from him will be passed on to our children.
— Allan Barta'63
In every way, Miller Upton was a giant, and those of us lucky enough to be products of his "plan" all flourished in a thousand different exciting ways as a result of his visionary leadership. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I will always feel indebted to him and will always consider him one of the handful of people who greatly influenced my life for the better.
— Tom Dickinson'73
In a nicely worded convocation address, Dean Lynn Franken examined the thesis that the "world is not finished yet" (see "What's Wrong With the World Is..." fall/winter 2005). I believe this initial thesis is so true that we need to be reminded of it. Yes, there is meaning, hope, and purpose in the idea that we are working toward an ideal, a finished product in which everything comes together in a utopian community of love and perfect functionality. Of course, we are not close to that ideal yet, and Dean Franken did not mention that human beings are not coming close to agreeing on what that perfect finished world should look like or how we should get there.
Most of us who come out of the Judeo-Christian background tend to think of the utopian goal in terms of peace and love, everyone getting along, and the "golden rule." But that is not what many other cultures, religions, and political philosophies espouse.
Dean Franken implies that the solution is to embrace our differences. And the positive point she seemed to make is that by saying
"yes" to our differences, we both may grow.
She said: "In the process of our becoming more fully human, it seems, there is a great deal to be said for owning up to complexity, and owning up frequently means finding the honesty and humility to say 'yes'
to the claims of others." Here we hear the ubiquitous PC message of cultural diversity and acceptance of every claim and point of view.
But the truth that Franken and so many others in the academic community avoid is that there are limits to how fully we should embrace our differences, limits to the extent that we should say "yes" to others.
Like it or not, saying "yes" to all of our differences means no boundaries and leads ultimately to chaos and anarchy; it means saying yes to human depravity, it means saying yes to human regression, it means saying yes to the destruction of all that is good.
Dean Franken mentions the importance of understanding and applying "multiple perspectives to solving these problems." But to solve problems, there must come a time to finally choose the one best way to accomplish goals, and then to set about doing it. In these "choosing"
and "doing" phases, liberal educators tend to be weak because multiple perspectives and playing with ideas and accepting differences only get in the way. At least, that is how this more pragmatic idealist sees it.
We have given up our most cherished religious ideals for a multicultural
"bowl of stew." It is not how the fathers of our nation envisioned America to be; it is much less. And it has resulted in a loss of morality, integrity, and positive purpose. Unless it turns back to God, our culture (like the great Roman Empire) will self-destruct.
Yes, we are unfinished business, but to move truly forward, ever closer to the divine ideal, we must get back to the basics of faith.
— Bruce E. Atkinson'68, Ph.D.
Powder Springs, Ga.
Greening the Campus
As someone who is planning to move to Maine soon to try and build a "green" house, I applaud Beloit's initiative in this direction (see "Blueprint for a Green Campus," fall/winter 2005). I shouldn't be surprised, as I was part of the "new plan" students, when Beloit was innovating in educational structure. Now you are continuing your innovation in other areas, and I continue to be pleased. I'm on my fourth master's degree (in social work this time), but I give what I can to Beloit's alumni fund because you continue to justify my support.
A final note regarding the destruction of Chamberlin Hall—
HOORAY! I was there when it was brand-new, and I hated it then. The major reason for my feelings: there was no front door, and one always felt one was skulking in a side door, no matter where you went in. A center for learning should be inviting, and that building never was, in any aspect. I don't know how it felt to work there, but I didn't feel the professors were happy with it either. (I well remember making an origami bird mobile for one of them, to make his sterile box of an office more congenial.) The new one looks full of light and air and actually has a front door, plus I applaud the initiative of making the campus more welcoming to the town.
So, kudos all around for a splendid issue of the magazine (I don't have time to talk about the article on John Peterson'72, besides "well done" to author and subject). I read almost all of it, and that is not something I say about my other alumni magazines.
— Karen Gleeson'69