Retiring Faculty:
100 Years of Service

by Robert Gillespie


Board of Trustees voted emeritus status for all three of this year's retiring faculty--Charles Ferguson, Frederick Gillum and Marilyn Mavrinac. Their combined service spanned nearly a hundred years at the College.

Ferguson, who completed his Ph.D. at Ohio State University and taught at Ohio State, Ohio University and the University of Connecticut, came to Colby in 1967. He taught French and Italian languages and French literature and since 1989 served as secretary to the faculty. In 1977 he became director of Colby's Hitchcock Bindery, the nation's only working in-house bindery at a small college, where he trained and supervised student apprentices in repair and rebinding of volumes from Colby collections. In retirement he will continue bindery work for the library and private individuals.

Gillum, a member of the History Department for 47 years, was the last remaining active faculty member to have taught on the old campus in downtown Waterville. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and taught a range of courses in European and English history, including The Rise of Europe and the Decline of Europe, Medieval England, Tudor-Stuart England, Emergence of Modern Britain and Decline of Britain, Constitutional and Legal History of Modern England and the First and Second World Wars. During his tenure he served as acting department chair and coordinated the Gabrielson Lecture Series. Among his publications are a number of articles contributed to Encyclopedia of World Biography.

Marilyn Mavrinac graduated from Wellesley, received her M.A. at Columbia and entered a doctoral program at Harvard, which she completed in 1991. She first taught at Colby in 1963, and in 1976 she became one of the College's first part-time faculty to gain continuing status when she took a part-time position in history and education. Two summer fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities allowed her to do advanced research in French schools. In the late 1970s she was a co-founder of Colby's Women's Studies Program and for 10 years was the bedrock of the Education Department. One of the first Colby faculty members to use computers for quantitative research, she presented papers at professional meetings, published articles in English and French and served the local community on the boards of AAUW, MaineShare, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, the Maine Commission for Women and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day committee.

At the faculty-trustee dinner on Friday night before Commencement, Mavrinac expressed appreciation for the many support networks of Colby students and colleagues past and present. She praised the History Department, the Writing Center, the Women's Studies group, the librarians and bookstore workers, the Computer Center, the Dean of Faculty, Dean of Students and Registrar's offices, the Audiovisual Department, the Office of Off-Campus Study and local school teachers who take in Colby students on internships.

"I never worked alone," Mavrinac said, commending "Colby webs of support and generosity. It was impossible not to succeed in some ways."

Ex Files
by J. Kevin Cool

In New Jersey recently, a state supreme court ruled that a non-custodial father should not be required to help pay for his children's college tuition. It was the latest victory for advocates of "men's rights" and another grenade lobbed into an escalating gender war.

And war is the metaphor many men use to describe divorce, says Associate Professor of Sociology Terry Arendell in her recently published book, Fathers and Divorce. Arendell, whose earlier book, Mothers and Divorce, described the attitudes and opinions of women who had experienced divorce, conveys and puts into context the anger, hostility and frustration of men who believe they are victims of a system that favors women.

"What was striking --and strikingly different-- in this study was the level of rage expressed by these men," Aren-dell said. "There were some women [in my earlier study] who were angry, but they were mostly angry with the legal system. It wasn't personalized hostility. The men were angry at their ex-wives."

Based on extensive interviews with 75 divorced fathers from New York state, Arendell's study might --or might not-- be representative of divorced fathers in general. The characteristics of her sample group suggest that, if anything, their attitudes were moderate compared to the general population. "Only fifteen percent of the fathers in my study had no contact with their children; nationally, the percentage is much higher," Arendell said. "Earlier research suggests that fathers who are involved with their children have less anger towards their former spouse, perhaps because of the negative effects it has on their children. But among this sample, anger was definitely the dominant motif."

Indeed, the men in Arendell's book are given to diatribes aimed at their former wives. Said one, "She was a parasite, a money-sucking parasite, and she still is. That's what the law [in awarding a custodial mother child support] does, rewards parasitic women."

That these men devalued their former wives is not surprising in the context of the "gender-stratified society" in which they live, Arendell says. "Degrading the former wife served several functions," she said. "It lent support to assertions about a miscarriage of justice, including that they had been badly mistreated in the divorce settlement and illegitimately stripped of authority in the family."

While most of the men in her study complained that they had been victimized by a system that robs men of their rights, Arendell says, they often broadened their comments about their ex-wives to generalize about all women and to use their own experience as an example of the injustices divorced fathers must endure.

"I think the hostility these men feel is created by the loss of power and authority that they are experiencing for the first time in their lives," she said. "Men define themselves according to their perceived public role as a provider. When their authority as a provider is called into question, they're not sure how to deal with it. Most of these men [in the study] didn't anticipate how much those issues would be raised."

Arendell says she struggled to resolve her own theoretical influences, informed by interpretative feminist sociology, with her desire to be a neutral researcher. "It was a real dilemma, because on the one hand my objective was to be neutral, but on the other I was being pushed to contextualize the data because I recognize that the society is gender-stratified."

Arendell says that much of the current debate about men's divorce rights is driven by economics. She says that, while there are obvious exceptions, many divorced fathers are pushing to expand their custodial rights as a way of lowering their child-support payments. "It's interesting that the men complained about the deprivation their divorces had brought upon them, but the women in my study were preoccupied with economic survival."

The direction of recent court rulings broadening custodial rights of divorced fathers and increasing their leverage in determining child support payments and other economic settlements disturbs Arendell. "What's especially unfortunate is that the debate is being posed as a fight between men and women rather than as an issue about caring for children," she said.

Arendell's next research effort may be aimed at college-aged children of divorced parents. "I have a lot of students who tell me they would like to see more research done about the effects of divorce on young adults," she said. "That might be an interesting study."

Impressive Dossier

Pick a subject. Any subject. Paul Doss will tell you how it's related to geology. It's an exercise the assistant professor of geology uses occasionally to illustrate for his students the ubiquitous role his chosen discipline plays in human affairs.

"Think about it," Doss said, "geology is the study of the Earth. You can't get any more holistic than that."

It's not surprising that Doss does not confine his academic study to a narrow, esoteric subdiscipline. He is committed to teaching geology in the context of everyday life and believes it is an ideal subject for a liberal arts curriculum.

Doss joined other members of the prestigious National Committee on Geology and Public Policy (an arm of the Geological Society of America) on an educational mission to Capitol Hill last spring. He and the other geologists met with influential legislators, including senators Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Phil Gramm of Texas, Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado and Tom Daschle of South Dakota. The geologists were not there to advocate a particular position, Doss says, but to convince members of Congress to educate themselves about matters involving geoscience before deciding on legislation affecting the environment.

"In the past geologists have not been much of a presence on Capitol Hill, unlike physicists, chemists and other scientists," Doss said. "There's tremendous public ignorance as well as a lack of acknowledgment within government about the important role geology plays in public policy issues." The work of geologists --whether predicting seismic activity, testing groundwater supplies or studying erosion-- is integral to both public understanding and effective decision making, Doss says.

The trip also served to inform Doss's teaching, which offers students insights into how geology affects their lives. "Part of my job as a teacher is to enlighten students about the fundamentals of the discipline," he said. "Those fundamentals can be taught, discussed and questioned without an applied sense. But to get a full understanding and an appreciation of that material, it helps to have examples that apply to real-life situations that students can relate to."

He hopes to take his interdisciplinary approach a step further by collaborating with Associate Professor of English James Boylan on a course integrating environmental geology and composition. "It's only in the planning stage at this point, but we're excited about doing it," he said.

Doss says his philosophy in the classroom is similar to that he used with the legislators on Capitol Hill--that is, to educate rather than to advocate. "It's not my job to convince students about my opinion," he said. "They're all individuals who are intelligent enough to form their own opinions. My job is to give them the information to do that."

Faculty Notes
Ten professors will be taking year-long sabbaticals to further their field experiences, research and studies. Several more professors will take half-year leaves. Kim Besio, assistant professor of Chinese, is taking a one-year leave from the East Asian Studies Department to complete her manuscript "Rowdiness and Rectitude in Play." . . . Clara C. Piper Professor of Biology David Firmage will continue his research dealing with pollination ecology during his full-year sabbatical from the Colby Biology Department. . . . Professor of Music Paul Machlin has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for College Teachers to work on Fats Waller in Performance, a volume of transcriptions of jazz performances by Waller. It is part of the series "Music of the United States of America" partially funded by the American Musicological Society. . . . Professor of Art Michael Marlais will continue his research involving the mural cycles of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. . . . Julie Millard, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, will research the effects of DNA interstrand cross-linking agents on cells. . . . Assistant Professor of History Julie Kay Mueller will complete her monograph on the early history of the Soviet press. . . . Hanna Roisman, professor of classics, and Joseph Roisman, professor of classics and of history, will research the ideology of manhood in ancient Greece at Cornell University.  . . . During the 1995-96 year in Dijon, France, Dace Weiss, instructor in French, will research new methods of language teaching being used in France and England. . . . Assistant Professor of Biology W. Herbert Wilson will continue to measure the ecological impact on wintering birds by the millions of Americans who feed them and will extend the research to those birds wintering in the northern woods of Maine.

Several professors will be on sabbatical for one semester of the 1995-1996 academic year. Assistant Professor of Economics Debra Barbezat will continue research on longitudinal data of new Ph.D. economists who were looking for employment during the 1988-89 academic year. . . . Associate Professor of English James Boylan will work on two new novels as well as a collection of short stories. . . . Assistant Professor of Government Deborah Norden will continue work on a monograph, The Military and Democracy in Venezuela: Explaining the 1992 Coup Attempts. . . . Associate Professor of English Patricia Onion will continue her research on American Indian literature, focusing on the relationship between contemporary fiction and poetry and their roots in the oral tradition of each writer's culture. . . . Associate Professor of English Linda Tatelbaum will use her sabbatical to working on a collection of essays, Body English, in which she explores the connection between physical labor in the material world and the life and limitations of language. . . . Jon Weiss, professor of French and director of off-campus studies and academic affairs, will begin research on a critical biography of the French novelist Irene Nemirovsky.  . . . Professor of Psychology Diane Winn will continue her research on "Tales Told by the Unconscious Mind: Jung's Active Imagination as a Framework for Shamanic Journeys, Past-Life Regressions and Other Trance Narratives." . . . Laurie Osborne, recently tenured associate professor of English, is the editor of Twelfe Night or What you Will, one in a new series of books being published by Prentice Hall that raises questions about the authenticity of contemporary versions of Shakespeare's texts. . . . Larissa Taylor, assistant professor of history, was awarded a fellowship for an NEH summer seminar in Paris to study Gothic architecture in the Ile-de-France.  . . . James Webb, associate professor of history, participated in a six-week NEH Summer Institute, "Rethinking Europe, Rethinking World History, 1500-1750" at the University of California at Santa Cruz. . . . Associate Professor of Music Eva Linfield chaired a panel for the Society for 17th Century Music at Centre College in Kentucky. . . . JoyLynn Wing, associate professor of performing arts and of English, chaired a panel for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education in San Francisco. She also directed a production of David Mamet's American Buffalo, which was chosen as a semi-finalist in the American College Theatre Festival competition in February. . . . Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, John D. MacArthur Associate Professor of Sociology and of African-American Studies, has been elected vice-president-elect of the Eastern Sociological Society.

Take a Bow
Intrigued by the idea that one could study sailing in the dead of winter in inland Maine, Sailing magazine devoted a full page of its June issue to an article about the Jan Plan course Sailing Science and Technology 129 offered by Professor of Administrative Science Leonard Reich.

The article described how students in the class learned the science of sailboat dynamics and the history of sailing and boat construction methods and even designed their own sailboats. Reich, whose texts for the course included The Art and Science of Sails by Colby alumnus Tom Whidden '70, and students Andy Smith '98 (New Canaan, Conn.), Karen Goodrich '96 (Yarmouth, Maine) and Takashi Watanabe '95 (Tokyo, Japan) were featured in photographs accompanying the article. Reich told Sailing that the sport of sailing and sailboat design provided rich illustrations of how applied science works, which was a goal of the course.

Jan Plan itself merited a sidebar in the magazine. The article described the history of the January Program --pioneered by Colby in 1961-- and listed other courses offered in 1995, such as William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Government Sandy Maisel's National Pastime: Baseball in American Society.

Second in Command
A recent study shows that The Journal of Contemporary China, edited by Associate Professor of Government Suisheng Zhao, is the second most powerful influence on Americans' attitudes toward China. The study, conducted by a professor of political science at the University of Connecticut at Hartford, listed Zhao's journal behind ex-CBS newscaster Connie Chung and ahead of The Private Life of Chairman Mao, a new book written by Mao Zedong's physician. The Journal of Contemporary China, founded in 1992, publishes articles on prominent mainland Chinese issues. Topics have included the political debate about Tibet, economic reform, Communism, the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan and Chinese intellectuals. It is the only English language journal in North America that provides information about contemporary Chinese affairs.

Careful Criteria
Vice President for Development Randy Helm was quoted in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education about efforts by institutions to recruit wealthy trustees.

"Trusteeship is too important to put blinders on and only look at philanthropic ability," Helm told the newspaper. He explained that Colby's philosophy in selecting trustees used a "three W's" rule of thumb. The College seeks trustees who can provide at least two of the three W's: wealth, work and wisdom, Helm says.

"The quickest route for disaster is to make wealth the sole criterion," he said.

The Chronicle of Higher Education is a leading publication aimed at faculty and administrators.

Ghost in the Machine
A survey co-authored by Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Batya Friedman and Lynette Millett '94 revealed that some people who design computer systems feel no moral responsbility for the problems caused by system crashes.

The survey, whose results were paraphrased in Washington Technology, asked 29 male undergraduate computer science students whether programmers or their computers should be blamed for system crashes that wreak havoc. More than one-fifth of the respondents said it was the computers' fault. In fact, 83 percent maintained that computers "decide" how to perform and are partially responsible for their own problems.

However, one respondent held that such a claim is ridiculous, saying: " . . . that would be like me blaming the car for running over a dog. You can't blame an inanimate object."

The study may help shed light on a developing legal dilemma about who should be held accountable when valuable computer-based information is damaged by system malfunctions.



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