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Robert Stacey’s History Lecture Series is a smash

2011 History Lecture Series - UW Alumni AssociationThe UW Alumni Association’s 36th annual History Lecture Series reached its midway point Jan. 18, and we are hearing glowing compliments both for the program and the professor, Dr. Robert Stacey, divisional dean of Arts and Humanities here at UW.

Recently, UW alum Don Harrison wrote a synopsis of the second lecture. It’s always great to hear from a UWAA member, and Don has graciously granted us permission to repost some thoughts from his blog, Confused Ideas From the Northwest Corner:

The child is father to the man, so the saying goes. In the same way, the medieval world gave birth to the modern world of today. To understand why we act the way we do, both as individuals and as nations, we often need to look back to our childhoods.

The UW Alumni Association’s annual History Lecture Series is entitled “Medieval Origins of the Modern Western World.” As a one-time medieval history major myself, I showed up for the sold-out series expecting a rather superficial summation of the more exciting events of the period, a number of anecdotes that might appeal to the average guy who’s been out of school for a while. I was pleasantly surprised.

The series contains just four lectures. I regret having missed the first one, entitled “The Oddity of the Modern West,” while I was in California. This week’s lecture discussed the origins of one such “oddity”: “The Separation of Religion from Politics.” Dr. Stacey’s lecture was one of the best I’ve heard in the years I’ve attended these lectures at the UW. It was well delivered, highly organized, and crammed with information. … As an undergraduate, I took a very good course in political theory, a course that covered these same topics; Dr. Stacey’s single lecture pretty much summed up all the understanding (and more) that I took away from that undergrad class after the finals were over.

So props to the alumni association and to Dr. Stacey. I look forward eagerly to the two remaining lectures, “Limited Government” and “Love and Marriage.”

You can read Don’s full post on his blog.

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Remembering the first game at Husky Stadium in 1920

Cars surround Husky Stadium on the day of its opening in 1920.

As a six-year-old boy, Burr Odell cheered on the Husky football team in its first-ever game at Husky Stadium—a 28-7 loss to Dartmouth in 1920. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, as Odell went on to cheer for the Huskies for another 90 years until his passing in December 2010.

Odell’s family believes he could have been the last living person to attend the Dartmouth game in 1920. He followed the UW all his life and talked about that game right up to the end, they said. All told, Odell attended roughly 330 Husky football games, including six Rose Bowls in Pasadena.

Above, cars surround Husky Stadium on the day of its opening in 1920.

Odell and his father went to the Dartmouth game in support of the visitors, not the Huskies. Together, they walked across the temporary “pontoon” bridge that was later replaced by the Montlake Bridge, to the brand new Husky football stadium. It was familiar territory for Odell’s father, whose construction company had poured the concrete on the sides of the Montlake Cut a few years earlier.

Read more…

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords surgeon is a UW alum

UW alum Peter Rhee is Rep. Gabrielle Giffords surgeon

Dr. Peter Rhee, who holds a master’s of public health from the University of Washington, is a 24-year military surgeon who has treated hundreds of battlefield injuries during stints in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That experience, the Los Angeles Times reports, played a definitive role in his ability to treat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and direct care for 10 other victims following the horrific massacre Jan. 8 in Tucson that has since captivated our country. Last night, during the memorial service for the six killed and more than a dozen wounded, President Obama told the nation that Giffords “opened her eyes” for the first time, and doctors feel her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head, is a “miracle.”

Rhee is chief of trauma at University Medical Center in Tucson. He also spent five years as the director of the Navy Trauma Training Center at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he would sometimes treat 30 gunshot wounds a day. Rhee told the Los Angeles Times of his battlefield casualty care: “Did it prepare me? I would say of course it did. And that makes it so that when we have a mass casualty of 11 people here, it’s really not as bad as it can get.”

From all of us in the UW’s alumni community, thank you Doctor.

You make us proud.

Photo by AP.

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UW alum Michael Druxman revisits Hollywood in memoir

UW alum Michael Druxman revisits Hollywood in new bookWhen Seattle hosted the 1962 World’s Fair, Elvis Presley traveled to the Pacific Northwest to film “It Happened at the World’s Fair,” a musical about cropdusting buddies lost in gambling debt. Michael B. Druxman, a UW student at the time, wanted to be part of it.

Druxman went to the filming not for the experience as an extra, not for the $10 and a box lunch, but because he wanted to pick himself out on the big screen. Of course, the only way he could do that is if he got close enough to the film’s star. The director put him at the back of the scene, but young Druxman inched his way toward the front. As he sidled up next to Elvis and struck up a casual conversation, the assistant director stepped in and said, “You don’t talk to Elvis.” So to the back of the set he went. For the moment.

If you see the movie today, you can spot Druxman in the scene where a little boy (ironically, Kurt Russell) kicks Elvis in the shin. Druxman’s there in background, walking from one side to the other. Hi, Mom!

My Forty-Five Years in Hollywood and How I Escaped Alive is Druxman’s memoir. Beginning with his boyhood in Seattle, it follows him to Los Angeles where, without any show business contacts whatsoever, he creates a successful career for himself as a publicist, playwright, screenwriter, director and Hollywood historian. From Jimmy Durante and Elvis Presley to Jack Lemmon and Cary Grant, the book is filled with amusing stories of Druxman’s life in Hollywood.

Watch the book’s video trailer on YouTube.

Read more…

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UW’s Nancy Pearl is 2011 Librarian of the Year

UW's Nancy Pearl is the 2011 Librarian of the YearUniversity of Washington iSchool faculty Nancy Pearl is the 2011 Librarian of the Year, a prestigious honor given out by Library Journal, which has tracked library activities for 133 years.

Pearl, who teaches at UW despite retiring from the library system in 2004, was honored Jan. 7 in San Diego at the midwinter conference of The American Library Association. Read the full story from the Seattle Times.

Winner of a Washington Humanities Award and the author of four books, including her latest “Book Lust To Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds and Dreamers,” Pearl previously served as executive director of the Seattle Public Library’s Washington Center for the Book, and founded the “If All Seattle Reads the Same Book” program.

She was also the model for an action figure put out by legendary Seattle retailer Archie McPhee. It looks just like her. Pearl also starred in the now-famous Lady Gaga spoof produced by UW Libraries. She makes a cameo at the 1:32 mark.

Congratulations, Nancy, on a job well done!

Now, on to this week’s Dawg Treats:

  • What if the Internet had a delete button, so a future boss or mother-in-law was never able to see that photo of you wearing a garbage-can hat on New Year’s Eve or read a teenage status update about illicit drug use? UW researcher Tadayoshi Kohno is working on a program to do just that.
  • Husky play-by-play announcer Bob Rondeau was named Washington state’s Sportscaster of the Year for the eighth time. Read a feature story on Rondeau from the Columns archives.
  • UW alum Assunta Ng, founder and publisher of the Seattle Chinese Post and Northwest Asian Weekly, is the 2011 recipient of the University of Washington’s Charles E. Odegaard Award. Ng has devoted her life to promoting and mentoring women and youth.

    Read more…

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Movie magic: UW alums make hit documentary

Graduate from college. Form a production company. Premiere films at some of the biggest festivals in the world. Sounds like a dream children have as they picture growing up, right? For Travis Senger, this dream is reality.

After graduating from the University of Washington in 2005 with a degree in creative writing and drama, Senger went on to direct films and produce them with fellow UW alum Michael J. Mouncer. Together, they founded Lincoln Leopard Films. Their most recent work is White Lines and the Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug, an award-winning documentary on the life and death of the famous Bronx DJ from the 1980s.

With a Short Film Competition Special Jury Award at the Seattle International Film Festival, a Special Jury Prize at South by Southwest (SXSW) and the win of Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival in Lower Manhattan, White Lines has definitely made an impact.

In addition to the White Lines documentary, Senger’s team has produced a Sesame Street look-alike music video and a Seattle-based sci-fi short film.

Read more…

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The Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961 – Fifty years later

Cal-Tech's Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961Fifty years ago, a group of pesky Cal-Tech students hijacked the University of Washington’s halftime “flip-card” stunt in a Rose Bowl prank for the ages.

The Los Angeles Times tells the story of Lyn Hardy, the ringleader behind one of the greatest college football stunts of all time. UW fans on one side of the stadium were given flip cards that were supposed to spell out “WASHINGTON” but instead read “CALTECH.” It’s a marvelous tale, and you can read the full story here.

Hardy, now 69, says he learned how the stunt worked from UW cheerleaders. Upon learning the Husky Marching Band and Cheer Squad were staying at Long Beach State dormitories, Hardy—a Cal-Tech junior at the time—posed as a reporter for the Dorsey High student newspaper and walked right in. When everyone left for dinner, Hardy and another of Cal-Tech’s legendary “Fiendish 14″ swiped a card-stunt instruction book and headed back to Pasadena, where they made some 2,400 copies.

Jack Briggs
, Washington’s 1961 student body president, said at the time that the prank was “not in the best of taste.” Fifty years later, though, it’s still a classic.

Of course, Washington beat top-ranked Minnesota that day 17-7.

Enjoy this week’s Dawg Treats:

  • UW alum Nick Handy is departing his post as Washington’s state elections director after leading widely praised reform efforts that have boosted voter turnout.
  • A study by UW researcher Daryl Haggard explores the future of the Milky Way’s central black hole.
  • UW students win $40,000 to help make water safe to drink.
  • Former UW President Mark Emmert, now the head of the NCAA, is profiled in this piece by the New York Times. The story focuses on overseeing integrity and the threat of income in college sports.

    Read more…

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A new year means new stories for UW alumni

For me, New Year’s Eve is a big disappointment. Unlike Thanksgiving—in which I expect a big meal and get more that I hoped for—expecations are rarely met on the last night of the calendar year. Hopes are high. The reality is a bit different.

The one thing New Year’s Eve has going for it, however, are the resolutions. I love New Year’s resolutions. Some people hate them, but I look at these as a chance to set goals and start fresh. For example, when I was 13 I wanted to play less video games. My resolution was to find other ways to be creative. Believe it or not, that’s how I started writing.

This year, one of my resolutions is to better connect this blog with the values we all share as UW supporters. That means telling more stories, meeting more graduates, and defining the value of a UW Alumni Association membership. And just like former Husky star Tim Lincecum on the cover of Sports Illustrated, we’re going to be all smiles in 2011.

Did you know there are more UWAA members than UW students? More than 50,000 alumni make this organization one of the nation’s biggest and best, and I’m committed to telling those stories in new and exciting ways. My goal is to show you the value of staying connected to the University of Washington. That’s my resolution, and I’m excited about the prospects.

Happy New Year, Huskies! Let’s make it a great one.

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