Fall 2001
Cover Story
Alma Matters
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TCU Magazine "Alma Matters"

Recording greatness

Every four years the best young pianists in the world descend upon Fort Worth for the renowned Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

The two-week event draws observers from throughout the world, but one who arrived for the May competition had a particular interest -- Peter Rosen, a documentary director and producer, who delved even deeper into the psyche of the competitors than he did in his Emmy-winning documentary of the 1997 Competition.

And this time he had extra help: eight TCU students and young alumni who joined the documentary crew as cameramen, film editors and production assistants.

Their task? Long hours spent editing tape, little recognition and the chance to capture with Rosen the trials and triumphs of the world's truly best pianists. Film and Theater Senior Dimitar Orovcanec said being part of the crew was a dream job for a student.

"We are out in the field shooting by ourselves," said the Macedonian native. "So we are really directing our own little documentary about the competitors we are following. If I get even three minutes of footage in the final product, I'll be very happy because I'll know I did it myself."

"They have been really terrific," said Molly McBride, assistant producer. "At first we weren't sure how well they would work out, but we have been very pleased. Now I'm trying to find some other projects to use students in."

Jennifer Davis, a film student who graduated in May, said working on a production of this scope in Fort Worth was a treat. Davis and several other Frogs worked 10-hour shifts doing rudimentary editing on the tapes.

"To be able to interact at this level with an award-winning director is a great opportunity," she said. "Not only will our names be in the credits, but we know we are part of something really important."

The cameramen -- shooters in their lingo -- agreed that filming the competitors as people rather than just pianists added poignant dimension to the experience.

"We're all about the same age as these competitiors," Orovcanec said, "so we really bonded with them as we followed them around and interacted with them. I joke that I am their lucky star since all four of the ones I filmed made it into the semifinals."

No kidding: Orovcanec's favorite, Olga Kern, shared the gold with the future filmmaker's other primary assignment, Stanislav Loudenitch.

To hear all the performances via Webcast, visit http://www.webcasting.com/vc/

A summit of good people

"Surround yourself with good people," was just one secret to success revealed by legendary restaurateur Norman Brinker to a crowd of 200 businesspeople in May at TCU's first Entrepreneurial Summit -- a networking and idea-sharing event hosted by the James A. Ryffel Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

The 70-year-old chairman of Brinker International, at right with Ryffel Center Director David Minor and motivational business speaker Richard Eyre, then underlined the thought by alluding to an accident that almost killed him several years earlier. "Surround yourself with good people; setbacks such as injuries are only temporary, but stupidity is forever."

The all-day event included keynote speaker Kenny Trout, the founder and former CEO of Excel Communications, a company he started with Austin entrepreneur Steve Smith. Along with his wife Sarah, the latter made a $10 million gift to TCU, the largest by any living donor in TCU's history. It will go toward the Sarah and Steve Smith Entrepreneurs Hall, to break ground north of Tandy Hall this fall.


Radio-TV-film Prof. Richard Allen is the sort who ponders: Will Lilly find her lost husband and son? Will Craig be convicted of planting the bomb that nearly killed Barbara? Will Carly choose Craig over Jack, and will Julia attack Carly in revenge?

No, Allen, a favorite professor of students and in his eighth year at TCU, isn't a soap opera addict; he's more like these characters' spiritual father -- Allen gets to decide what they'll do and what'll they say as an award-winning writer for CBS's As the World Turns.

Allen's writing decisions earned the dramatist an Emmy as well as one for the series and one of its actresses. (Yet, in a soap opera-like move, Allen's contract expired shortly after the award and the show chose not to renew it. Stay tuned.) Allen's fame as a writer also earned him a recent honor in the Jewish community as the online magazine Jewsweek selected him in July as one of the 50 Most Influential Jews in America.

According to the site, he was chosen for his religious integrity as a writer and teacher. Other members of Jewsweek.com's list include Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman and filmmaker Stephen Spielberg.

Allen said he knew nothing of the recognition in advance, and was surprised to get a congratulatory phone call about it.

"It's very nice to be up with that company, but I don't think I'm even the most influential Jew in my zip code, and I'm sure as heck not the most influential Jew in my household," Allen quipped, noting he is 46 on the list. "But I'm the only one of the list from Texas or even from the South, I think, so I may be the most influential Jew south of the Mason-Dixon line."

Allen has been writing for daytime dramas -- including One Life to Live, General Hospital and Another World -- since 1986 and received his first Emmy nomination the next year. He joined the TCU faculty eight years ago. Now that he's not doing scripts for TV, he's secured a TCU grant to write an original stage musical based on the 1945 movie Mildred Pierce, starring Joan Crawford.

The musical will be a workshop production which will premier at Stage West next fall. Allen hopes the project will secure external funding that will allow this type of musical workshop program to become an ongoing opportunity for local artists.

Learning to change the campus

In early summer, the Tucker Technology Center may have been the largest construction project on campus, but by no means was it alone. One weekly work schedule released by the Physical Plant in July listed more than 50 construction efforts, from the complete renovation of Waits residence hall to 80 major classroom and lab upgrades.

Much of the work is part of a three-year plan to upgrade academic buildings with new lighting, ceilings, furniture and the latest audiovisual and computer enhancements. Preliminary work also began on the $30 million recreation center that will replace the Rickel. Architectural drawings for the Sarah and Steve Smith Entrepreneurs Hall and MBA Facility were also complete, at left, with ground to be broken next fall.

Break a leg

The removal of a soft cast, top left, inspired one grimace and a lot of smiles among students who attended this year's athletic training workshops, but education was the take-home lesson for the 88 budding doctors and trainers who attended the rehab camp this summer.

Led by Chris Hall, TCU's coordinator of sports medicine and head trainer, students learned the X's and O's of how to run a proper rehabilitation and training center, from simple taping techniques to the risks of blood-borne pathogens. Hall was joined by Soccer Coach David Rubinson, above, and Art Prof. Terri Cummings, left, who also held camps.

The Neeley School, below, also conducted its first EntrePrep Summer Institute, attended by 24 aspiring high school students looking to start everything from lawn businesses to Internet commerce sites.

"We have a band and basketball camp," said Director Mark Muller. "Why not a business camp?"

In all, TCU played host to more than 4,000 children attending 40 different interest areas, a 32-year tradition.

Gains and losses

July was bittersweet for the Jewish Studies Program: Just as the program celebrated the arrival of its first distinguished scholars, E. M. "Manny" Rosenthal, donor of the Rosenthal Chair of Judiac Studies, passed away July 25. The gift by Rosenthal, wife Rosalyn, and son and TCU Trustee Billy in 1997 was just one of many philanthropic interests for Rosenthal, who made his fortune in the meat-packing business. The Rosenthal endowment is currently providing for the appointment of two professors who will begin teaching in the fall:

-- W. David Nelson, a lecturer in rabbinic culture and thought at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, will be the Rosalyn and Manny Rosenthal Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies. Nelson will focus in part on starting the Jack B. Friedman Judaica Library collection, named in recognition of the gifts given by Jack B. Friedman, Barbara Friedman Rakoover '67, and her husband Burt.
-- Athalya Brenner, a faculty member at the University of Amsterdam, has been named Rosalyn and Manny Rosenthal Distinguished Professor-in-Residence of Hebrew Bible for an initial term of three years.
-- In May, Dr. Israel Finkelstein became the first Barnett International Scholar to visit the campus, made possible by a gift from Dr. and Mrs. Louis Barnett.
-- The first Bermont Family Undergraduate Jewish Student Scholarship will be awarded this fall. The fund was established last year by TCU Trustee Peter Bermont '67 to encourage undergraduate Jewish student enrollment.
-- The annual Gates of Chai Lecture Series, named in memory of Larry Kornbleet and family members of Stanley and Marcia Kornbleet Kurtz, will bring civil rights lawyer Morris Dees to campus Sept. 10. This outspoken critic of hate groups and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center will begin his address, "Responding to Hate: Voices of Hope and Tolerance," at 8 p.m. Monday in Ed Landreth Auditorium. Call 817-257-7626 for tickets or 817-257-7804 for more information.

Mentor of mentors

University minister John Butler was awarded in July the Alexander Campbell Award, the highest award given by the Division of Higher Education of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), to recognize distinguished service at Disciples-related colleges and universities. In his 23rd year at TCU, Butler has long been a visionary of diversity and inclusiveness at the University.

"We are very proud of this extraordinary recognition given to John by the higher education community of the Christian Church," Chancellor Michael R. Ferrari said. "He has given so much to our students over the years, and this is worthy praise indeed for his enormous contributions to TCU and to the Church."

Homecoming/Reunion Requiem

"Everybody wants to hear Mozart's Requiem," said Ronald Shirey, director of choral studies. Even better, the Austrian composer's last work, written as he was dying in 1791 at the age of 35, will be the musical centerpiece of this year's Homecoming/Reunion Weekend, Oct. 18-21. "It is the acknowledged masterpiece that ended the classic age of music." The 40-minute Requiem performance, at 3 p.m. on that weekend's Sunday, will feature 200-plus voices and the 65-member TCU Symphony, conducted by German Gutierrez. Alumni of the University's choral groups have been invited to rehearse with the students over the course of the weekend and add their voices to the talented ensemble. Free public concerts of the super classics might become an annual tradition at TCU.

Another flash of Fame

Dancer and film star Debbie Allen brings her Imagination to TCU The nearly 150 local youth arrived at the Ballet Building. They tied their tennies in Studio A to the pounding beat of hip hop music. Heads bobbed, feet shuffled, shoulders bopped as they lined up -- and even showed off -- during the two-week dance institute sponsored by the Kennedy Center's Imagination Celebration.

Of course, it helps when the event's mastermind is choreographer and producer Debbie Allen, renowned for her roles in the hit film and later TV series, Fame. She also produced the critically acclaimed film Amistad with Steven Spielberg and Colin Wilson and has choreographed the annual Academy Awards for five years.

"I want to promote dance at its highest level," Allen told the dancers, as her faculty of five professional dancers stood at her side. "You must be versed in many dance languages because the art of dance is going in so many directions."

And true enough, many of her would-be pupils, ages 7 to 18, had been trained in classical ballet or tap, but few had experienced the rolling, pulsing, get-down movements of ultra-hot hip hop and pounding beat of genuine African dances. A large dance vocabulary was just one of the goals Allen had for the third annual Debbie Allen Dance Institute held at TCU.

She first came to Fort Worth to present a ballet and was so enamored with the community that she contacted TCU about space to hold her institute.

"The best part is seeing kids who have never danced an African dance, or Hip Hop, or tap to suddenly 'get it,' " she said. "It's so wonderful to see their enthusiasm."


Five public concerts cap two weeks of intensive teaching at the fourth annual Mimir Chamber Music Festival The name Mimir is taken from the god of wisdom in Norse mythology. And fittingly enough, before the last note faded of the fourth annual Mimir Chamber Music Festival, faculty leapt to their feet and in a flurry of excitement began sharing their expertise and passion for the Dvorak composition the students had just performed.

It was a fitting example of the energy and devotion of the nine professional musicians who gathered from around the world for the two-week festival. The festival, which continually receives rave reviews, brings together musical artists who teach during the day, then perform in the evening.

"Chamber music is the spoonful of sugar that makes a lot of practice and learning go down easier," said Violin Prof. Curt Thompson, founder of the Mimir Festival. "When you play chamber music, you're learning to be a soloist within an ensemble."

The 18 students were chosen by audition from across the nation. The faculty included artists from the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Corigiliano String Quartet and beyond as ensemble members. Artist-in-ResidenceJose Feghali, Gold Medal winner of the 1985 Cliburn Competition also performed, along with fellow faculty Thompson and Misha Galaganov, professor of viola.



"It's a job. . . . A buddy of mine got a job at an oil company; another buddy is working for Merrill Lynch. It's life, and I'm still a human being."

-- Hollywood actor and former TCU student Chris Klein, in July's Vogue

Hollywood seemed to come full circle TCU-wise in August as the 1975 screenplay, Rollerball, by William Harrison '55, was reincarnated for the silver screen, with frustrated hockey player Jonathan Cross played by former TCU student Chris Klein, who spoke to Vogue in July of his transition from Horned Frog to A-list movie star: "... although he's very happy about his career, he's unwilling to concede that a lifestyle that includes training with the Canadian Olympic speed-skating team, traveling the world, and dating Katie Holmes sets him apart."

God's pod goes kaput

"I think it's fairly clear that the jail probably has an obligation to provide [equal access] . . . . A jail chaplaincy is like a military chaplaincy. It should be open to people of all faiths."

-- Lawyer Lanny Priddy, Star-Telegram, June 29 Lawyer Lanny Priddy, representing inmate Michael Huff, a Jehovah's Witness, and TCU Religion Prof. Ron Flowers.

The latter joined in the lawsuit that ended in June when the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Christian inmates segregated from the general inmate population and enrolled in strict religious study in Tarrant County Jail was unconstitutional because it only represented one religious viewpoint.

Hi, Mom!

"It's the most easily understood sentiment. It's something you can mouth to the camera without sound and it's still easily read by the movement of your lips, whereas ‘Hi, Bill' or ‘Hi, Keisha' just isn't going to come through. But everyone knows Mom, and what is Mom about? Unconditional acceptance. She is your biggest fan. No one loves you more than she does."

-- Anne Lucchetti, assistant professor of speech comm., Washington Post, May 13

Student bodies

"Well, it means that it's seventeen percent harder to get into TCU this year."

-- TCU Admissions Dean Ray Brown, Texas Monthly, April 2001

Brown commented on the increasing demand for, and competition in, Texas schools. TCU and Texas Tech have both received historic numbers of applications. Tech's freshman applications are up an astonishing 32 percent in one year. TCU's rose by 17 percent.

Leapin' Lizards

"We've already declared Fort Worth the Horned Frog capital a long time ago, so we've pre-empted them."

-- State Rep. Glenn Lewis, Star-Telegram, June 25

Lewis commenting on the House resolution honoring Eastland, Texas, (pop. 5,000) as the state's horned lizard capital. The town also boasts a Horned Lizard Society and a famed lizard named "Rip" that legend holds lived for years in the cornerstone of the courthouse there.