Winter 1998
Medicine Men
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It's a small classroom after all
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Alma Matters
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TCU Magazine "Alma Matters"

Don't miss Verbatim at the bottom of the page!

To boldy go

Acclaimed Jewish author Chaim Potok -- whose appearance was the first sign of TCU's new Jewish Studies Program -- told a packed Ed Landreth Auditorium that it's okay to split the Star Trek infinitive so long as we discover the infinite worlds around us and in us.


After that, each of our stories begin.

"You wake up, you eat breakfast, you listen to rock music, you get on a bus, you go to school, you say hello to this person, you listen to that teacher, you respond that way," Jewish author Chaim Potok told an attentive Ed Landreth Auditorium crowd in October, filled primarily with TCU students and area elementary and middle school students.

"Later, your friend calls you up and asks, ‘How was your day?' Well, the last thing you're going to tell him is what happened to you moment by moment . . . . We leave this out, we put this in, we exaggerate here.

"That's how we communicate with each other. We tell stories."

Potok knows all about storytelling. In his book Zebra, a collection of six stories that was required reading for all freshmen this past semester, Potok uses a teacher-student relationship, a schoolyard bully, the death of a child, as means to confront trust, peer pressure and grief. As one young character in Zebra notes, I think losing your soul is when you can't tell a story about something that has happened to you. Known for "confronting culture" in all his works, Potok has also revealed what it means to be a Jew in 20th-century America.

TCU, he said, appears to be strengthening that message.

"When I heard that TCU was taking on a Jewish Studies program, I took notice and decided to come, primarily out of curiosity," he said." A university is supposed to be universal. I think this fuses together two communities in a bond of cooperation. Lord knows, we have a lot going on in America that is not so good. It's good to see something like this happening."

Potok was the first speaker of the Gates of Chai Lectureship (part of the Jewish Studies Program), created and endowed by the Gates of Chai Foundation in memory of Larry Kornbleet and family members of Stanley and Marcia Kornbleet Kurtz who perished in the Holocaust. The Jewish Studies Program will include as early as next fall the appointment of a premier Jewish scholar. The program was inspired by Dr. Gary Price, a Fort Worth urologist with a special interest in Jewish and Christian thought.

"Robinson Crusoe is a certain kind of story. Melville's Moby Dick is a certain kind of story," Potok told students in conclusion. "They are the stories of the inside of human beings."

"Just as you would be challenged on a voyage aboard the Starship Enterprise, you're going to be knocked off balance as a result of the reading you're doing. That's the purpose of school as well; there are worlds out there in literature, from which you could become a richer human being."

Home sweet housing

Tom Brown Residence Hall will be razed in January, but the soon-to-be displaced juniors and seniors were given first choice to move into the first phase of the new Tom Brown/Pete Wright Residential Community. Some 213 students will begin moving in Jan. 13. Each apartment includes a refrigerator with ice maker, dishwasher, stove and microwave, and each room will have a loftable bed, desk, chair and dresser. In the center of the residential complex is a "common" building housing office and meeting rooms, study areas and a fireplace.

Vouching for education

Facial expressions ranged from skepticism to enthusiasm as former Education Secretary Lamar Alexander explained his educational views -- schools free from government regulation, school hours to fit parent schedules, federal scholarships to give children choices of schools -- but apathy was all but absent among the 40 students who attended the private Honors Program reception prior to the first annual Fogelson Honors Forum in October. The forum was made possible by a 1996 grant from the E.E. Fogelson and Greer Garson Charitable Foundation of Dallas; Fogelson was a TCU student in 1919 and 1920.

Cruise control

For the 13 students in Engineering Prof. Steve Weis' control systems course, it was like drivers ed all over again. Students paired up and fitted cars with infra-red object detectors and then programmed the vehicles to momentarily turn left at full speed if an object was detected on the left, and vice versa for the right. The test? A T-shaped course; cars that successfully navigated the T received As. Ambitious students even placed soda cans at random points for extra credit.

Best again

TCU is listed in the latest edition of Barron's Best Buys in College Education, adding to its growing reputation of quality education at a fair price. The 1998 edition of U.S. News & World Report listed TCU among the Top 25 "Best College Values." In addition, the 1999 Report places the University among the top 117 best colleges in the nation among 1,400 surveyed.

TCU's Speaker

Former House Speaker Jim Wright vacated his downtown Fort Worth office and took up permanent office quarters in the Mary Couts Burnett Library in October. Wright, who has taught at TCU since 1992, already had a small office there, from which he wrote his last three books. With his latest move, Wright also donated to the University the presidential addresses of every President since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

From the Board

The Board of Trustees in November approved an $8.9 million plan that will improve classroom technology, the music program and athletics facilities. Of note, the music department will be renamed the School of Music, and approval to purchase 52 more Steinway-made pianos will soon give TCU the right to call its piano program "All-Steinway," a designation held by only 10 other programs in the nation. (See page 34 for more info. on athletics improvements.)

Easy as falling off a log

Line up randomly on a log, then line up according to birth dates -- without getting off. That was just one of many fun challenges facing the more than 730 new Frogs attending one of eight Frog Camps this year. Some headed for the mountains of Colorado, some stayed in town and built a Habitat for Humanity House, others learned about Frogdom at camps near Waco or Gainesville.

Diary of a Frog Camper

By Nancy Bartosek
It's pretty cool looking 50 feet down, knowing you just conquered a whole bunch of fear to climb safely to the top of a wooden tower. When you're 43 and trying to figure out "what it means to be a Frog" alongside a bunch of agile 19-year-olds, you don't quit halfway up.

When I arrived at Frog Camp in August, that view was furthest from my mind. I was just an outsider, there only to support and observe. Or so I imagined. When the busses arrived, the facilitators, a bold and slightly tetched group of upper classpersons, cranked up some booming music and began to boogy. It took some encouragement, but even the most reticent freshman, or professional staff member like me, clambered onto a chair and riffed and ramed and bahed and zooed. That was in the first 20 minutes.

Travis and Jodi, my Frog group facilitators, pulled me into team challenges such as slipping stiffened bodies horizontally through a rope web and pushing each other to the top of a 12-foot wall. These activities were interrupted only by frank and open group discussions that shed light on fears and hopes and aspirations of friends so new you had trouble remembering their names -- but knew you would never forget their faces. Or the strengths they each possessed. Or the way they made you feel.

Frog Camp is optional, just like scaling that tower was. It requires reaching outside your comfort zone, opening your mind and heart to new people, new experiences, new challenges. But there are people there anchoring your emotional safety lines. Still, it takes some moxie to make it to the top.

And let me tell you, the view is spectacular.

Kilt for hire

When junior Travis Stuntz, left, and fellow traveler Kevin Krichbaum tried to rent a kilt, they found that things in Scotland aren't rented, they're hired. It was just one of many cultural lessons in Geology Prof. Nowell Donovan's four-week TCU in Scotland excursion this summer. Highlighted by field trips, 19 students started in Edinburgh and worked their way to Glasgow, Iona and the Scottish Highlands. Thanks to a new study abroad scholarship program endowed by Minda and Malcolm Brachman, eight Honors students also studied in the country, taking side trips to destinations such as the Royal Scottish Museum and Sir Walter Scott's home of Abbotsford, as well as to lochs, castles and battlefields.

This year's freshmen

The 1,397 freshman admitted to TCU this fall fell short of last fall's record-setter, but this year's newcomers still managed to put up some impressive numbers: -- Thirty-four percent were ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class. -- The mid-50 percent range of their SAT scores was 1040-1240. While "average" scores are not released, these numbers mean about 82 percent of this year's freshmen scored above last year's national average. -- They come from 40 states and 41 countries, including Argentina, the Ukraine, India and Zimbabwe. The student body as a whole represents 48 states and 75 countries. Admission Dean Sandy Ware smiles as broadly as anyone when such numbers come up in campus conversation, but she always follows the good news with a mild warning. "We still need to be vigilant in getting the word out about TCU," she said. "Every year, we have a whole new group of high school seniors who don't know about TCU… who don't know that it really is a place that can change your life."

Student speak

By Justin Hensley '99
Yes, that's right, we live in the age of technology . . . and man, is it annoying. I'm not one to complain, I'd rather just sit back and make fun of people in as polite a manner as possible. That's why I can't stop smiling at the recent epidemic regarding the use of cellular phones on campus.

Walking to class, in the library, in the halls, even in the bathroom . . . you can't keep from noticing these people chatting away. Granted, it's a wonderful way for busy people who require the necessity of a cellular phone to keep in touch. But I don't understand why it's important for the girl in the new skirt with perfect hair, fresh makeup, and her high heels clicking all the way to call her friend during the 10-minute passing period in order to inform her that she "had the most magnificent time last night and met the cutest boy with a set of wheels to die for!" Guys, on the other hand, have a way of making it look like their doing some very important business, like negotiating peace for a small island in the Pacific. They don't bat their eyes, wave their hands in the air, or exclaim "Ohmygosh, you didn't!" every 5 seconds. Instead, they lower their eyebrows, flip open their phones with authority, and go about their business. They don't fool me, though, I don't think half of them even put batteries in their phones.

All of this doesn't even mention the annoying interruptions that phones and beepers provide during lectures. I just can't stand it when -- oh wait, I've got a call coming in. (Actually, it's just a garage door opener I wear on my belt for style.)

All in the family

When Ellen Tatsch stepped on campus this fall, she wasn't the first in her family to do so. At least 25 McConnells, Taylors or Tatsches have attended TCU across six generations. And this latest Tatsch is the fifth consecutive generation to attend TCU, an all-time first. Her great-great-great uncle, Rev. P.J. Taylor, went to TCU around the time it was founded in 1873. Tatsch's parents, Gregory Tatsch '70 and Holly Lindsay Tatsch '70, met at TCU and married shortly after graduation. "My grandmother had all these big visions for me -- what TCU was like when she went here -- but I remember thinking, ‘Yeah, but it's not like that anymore,' " said Tatsch, salutatorian of her Fredericksburg High School class. "But I've found that TCU has stuck to its principles, and that's been pretty neat for me."

Thriving thespians

TCU Theatre opened its 54th season with Euripides' Trojan Women. Senior Georgianna Hatley played the lead role of Hecuba, with senior Caleb Moody playing the part of Talthybius. The production was just the tip of the performance iceberg since the September grand opening of the Walsh Center for Performing Arts, which featured the one-act play, Charlie Goodnight's Last Night, featuring actor Barry Corbin.

On top of the world

Junior Zach Friedman never wants to eat another Snickers. After climbing more than 14,000 feet to the top of Mount Rainier in Washington this summer, chocolate was the last thing on his mind but the only thing left in his pack. Friedman and his father began climbing the mountain together, but Dad became ill at 10,000 feet. Friedman continued on, he said, for himself and for his namesake. "Being up there by yourself," Friedman said, "you learn about who you are, what you're made of, and how to depend on other people since you're trusting them with your life."


Liar detector

Everybody knows it's not just what you say. How you say it can also separate the truthtellers from the fibbers. You've only got to pick up the "clues," said Dr. Melissa Young, an assistant professor of communications at Texas Christian University, who teaches a class that she calls "Deception Detection."
. . . . She said there's a misconception that liars also avoid eye contact, the good liars quickly learn to compensate. . . . Liars also tend to make speech errors. Voice pitch rises. They hesitate and stumble over words. The problem is that lying takes up cognitive energy. . . . Among the verbal clues, Young said "deceptive statements tend to be more general . . . . The over-generalizing often includes terms such as "all," "every," "no one" and "none."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sept. 21

Stiff stakeout

Someone broke into a Chevrolet Caprice with police markings parked next to the university's ranch management building Oct. 28 and removed a uniform shirt and hat from a dummy sitting in the driver's seat, Fort Worth police said. The car and dummy were placed in the parking lot as a crime deterrent in 1995. . .
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Nov. 4

Worm DNA offers insights into human ageing, or...

A mutation in succinate dehydrogenase cytochrome b causes oxidative stress and ageing in nematodes.
(From a study co-published by Biology Prof. Phil Hartman, who hopes that further study will help identify the causes of such diseases as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.)
Nature, Aug. 13

On the air (head)

KDGE disk jockey: "Tell us the names of the four presidents on Mount Rushmore." SMU freshman: "Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson and, gosh I don't know, Edison?"
KDGE 94.5 FM, Aug. 27