YAM Notes: January/February 2013

By Rich Banbury

A reasonable argument can be made that we are an exceptional class, from an exceptional university, in an exceptional country.  The outstanding accomplishments of class members, and it is a long list, include United States Senator Jack Heinz, Secretary of Defense Less Aspin, President of Yale Bart Giamatti, and Secretary of Yale John Wilkinson.  We are recognized and praised by Yale for funding the Aspin, Heinz and Branford summer fellowship programs, by which many dozens of classmates have come to New Haven over the years to interview undergraduates applying for those fellowships.  Arvin Murch is currently our enthusiastic and efficient coordinator of the three fellowship programs.  All of us who have experienced those contacts with Yale students have been greatly impressed with their intelligence, dedication, work ethic, and what I suppose can be described as pragmatic idealism.  In recent years, there have been extended contacts between some of these students and class volunteers who have come to know and respect them.  That dynamic has now been expressed at an on-campus program during which several fellows shared their experiences with each other and members of our class who have been active with one or more of the fellowship programs.  The first of these colloquia, under the leadership of Harry Mazadoorian, was conducted in October, with the support of Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.  Nataliya Langburd, a recent Aspin Fellow, was also instrumental in organizing and coordinating this event.  Following the presentations and panel discussions, all participants dined at Branford College, hosted by Master Betsy Bradley, a strong supporter of the fellowship programs.

The 2012 Jacob Davis Volunteer Leadership Award, an annual event of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, was presented to Francie and John Pepper.  The citation recognized John and Francie as “tirelessly devoted to making our community – and our world – a better place for generations to come”, recognizing the numerous not-for-profit foundations and organizations supported by the Pepper family.  Another of our outstanding classmates, John has served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Proctor & Gamble, and similar positions at Disney.

You may have seen during the last couple of months one of the network documentaries dealing with the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong.  If so, you likely saw Dr. Don Catlin, one of the leading experts in the arcane universe of testing elite athletes for detection of performance-enhancing drugs.  Unlike many other high-profile competitors, Armstrong found a way to beat the game.  Don’s highly regarded lab in Los Angeles, as well as many others, missed the subterfuge, although Don believed that Armstrong was doping all along because it was unlikely he could achieve that level of success without using banned substances, particularly an agent known as erythropoietin (EPO).  As Don related to me during a recent telephone conversation, EPO directs additional oxygen to the red blood cells, enhancing strength and endurance.  Eventually, Lance Armstrong’s downfall came about through revelations from other members of his racing team and recent testing protocols.

Two Class Events On The Horizon.  The colloquium scheduled for next May, on the subject of Criminal Justice in America, is open to all class members and perhaps others with a special interest in the subject.  Led by Peter Knudsen, this initiative will span many issues in the area of criminal behavior, incarceration, community policing, rehabilitation, and other related subjects, with class members and outside speakers participating in multiple panels over a four-day event.  Although not considered a mini-reunion, this conclave will in some way include the concept of class members coming together in the same place for several days, with obvious opportunities to renew friendships and share experiences.  We also are planning a mini reunion for Toronto in the Fall of 2013.  More to come on both of these initiatives.

The genesis of one of the greatest essays on the game of baseball, The Green Fields of the Mind, was explored in this magazine last Fall by Mark Alden Branch ’86, the executive editor of the Alumni Magazine.  The author of the essay was at that time, in 1977, our class secretary, who attempted to publish it as a class notes column.  With an introduction that he had “absolutely nothing to say about my classmates,” Bart Giamatti submitted the Green Fields essay, which was “properly and immediately rejected as unsuitable for the class notes section.”  Two months later, when Bart became President of Yale, the essay was published as a separate piece in the Alumni MagazineGreen Fields, an elegant elegy celebrating the author’s favored pastime, is recited by Joe Castiglione, a Red Sox radio announcer, every year at the end of the last game.  Since Bart’s symbolism includes the notion that baseball is all about “getting to home,” it is appropriate that the Giamatti and Castiglione families were close friends in their mutual hometown of New Haven.