YAM Notes: July/August 2008

By Rich Banbury

Sturdy and stalwart like a bulldog, the Yale Club of New York still stands across Vanderbilt Avenue from Grand Central Station, nicely convenient to those arriving by train for our Class Dinner on April 18th.  This event occurred as the result of Peter Wells’ leadership, with a timely late-inning assist from Rob Hanke.  A well-attended meeting of the Class Council took place on Friday afternoon, which included an informative briefing on the continuing success of our Les Aspin, John Heinz, and Branford College summer Fellowships.  There were several reporters who spoke of the talented undergraduates who benefit from these programs.  The winners are selected after probing interviews by various panels from our Class.  Members of the Fellowship team who spoke were Peter Knudsen, Arvin Murch, Chuck Schmitz, Rob Hanke, and Bill Weber. The walls of the Trumbull meeting room were then treated to an interesting discussion relating to the concept of a four-day preamble to our official 2010 affair in New Haven.  Based to some extent on a tradition initiated by the Class of 1958, the idea is to take up waterfront lodgings in Westbrook or Saybrook and invite faculty members to share their scholarship with our yet inquisitive minds.  Knudsen has composed an impressive list of classmates and Yale faculty to present their views on four subjects, to wit the environment, world health, cultural and religious conflicts, and the United Nations.  Feedback to Peter at pknudsen@ecoair.com would help determine whether this teaser gets traction.  John Wilkinson and Steve Lasewicz, along with Knudsen, are working as tri-chairs for the Reunion.  Others in attendance at the Class Council caucus were Blake Bidwell, Dave Carls, Peter Felfe, Mike Harris, Bill Martin, Harry Mazadoorian, Ed Pearson, Carol and Barry Schaller, Gus Weidlich, Charlie Weymouth, Howie Wilkins, and your correspondent.

The feature event at the Yale Club gathering was a dinner lecture by Professor Minh Luong, a highly-regarded academic in the field of International Security Studies at Yale.  Professor Luong also drives the Ivy Scholars Program, which brings outstanding secondary school leaders from around the world to New Haven for a rigorous academic program, with the intent of recruiting these dynamic scholars and leaders for Yale’s undergraduate brain team.  Professor Luong’s presentation was on China at the Crossroads, wherein he postulated that the China bubble may well burst under convergent pressures from a deteriorating environment, increasing unrest in the countryside, an aging population, and shortcomings in the area of public health. Having posed the question, Professor Luong then pronounced that the answer will not be known until the decade of 2015 to 2025.  On Saturday, thanks to some timely hitting by host Rob Hanke, the bases were loaded at the Asian Society for a splendid lunch.  The total headcount for this April adventure was half a hundred classmates and fast friends.

With an academic career in preventative medicine, public health, internal medicine, and medical administration, Bob Reynolds is retiring this summer.  The last 20 of his 44 working years have been at the University of Virginia, where he held a number of high-ranking administrative posts in addition to his role as a professor of medicine and public health.

The number of Class authors continues to expand.  The History Publishing Company has agreed to publish David George Ball’s manuscript entitled A Marked Heart.  The pre-publication teaser, with a supporting photograph, reports that Dave’s story began when, as a Yale student, he “… gave the relatively unknown Martin Luther King his 30th birthday party”.  Energized by his encounter with Dr. King, Dave decided to work for social and economic progress in a professional career starting after his graduation from Columbia Law in 1964.  His eventual appointment as Assistant Secretary of Labor by the first President Bush presented an unusual opportunity to bring about positive changes for the benefit of working Americans, and the photograph of Dave and Dr. King hanging on his wall was a continuing inspiration in that regard.  Dave became the chief federal officer responsible for enforcing ERISA, and in 1992 he “published a regulation fostering the rapid growth of 401(k) plans”, then described in the New York Times as a watershed event in the pension industry.  The pre-pub bulletin describes A Marked Heart as “A magical chronicle of how one person inspired by Martin Luther King made a difference in the world”.  Dave’s book is scheduled for national release next January.

Bill (Jamie) Kunz and a fellow Cook County Public Defender were bound to silence for 26 years after being told by a client that he murdered a McDonald’s security guard during a Chicago robbery, all the while knowing that an innocent man had been convicted of the crime.  This Kafkaesque conflict between legal ethics and ultimate justice was recently explored on 60 Minutes, with Jamie, released from confidentiality by the death of the client, telling his wrenching story to segment reporter Bob Simon.

At least one renowned architect likes to hang out in Dakar with the Ministers of Tourism and Economic Development.  Dave Sellers was camped in Senegal while designing a sports academy promoted by the National Basketball Association and Nike, where African teenage athletes will combine studies and sports with a goal of obtaining scholarships to U.S. .  Describing Senegal as “safe and friendly”, Dave reports that he has encountered several 17 year-olds surpassing seven feet, sans their Nike Liftoffs.  As an aside, Dave mentions a potential role in the design of a billion-dollar port project in Dubai.