Lessons in Privilege
A huge mazel tov from my heart to Peggy McIntosh (“Unpacker of Privilege,” spring 2023). In 1987, I was a new teacher at Groton School, where there was one other Wellesley alumna (now deceased) on the faculty. Peggy came to a faculty meeting to present highlights of her working paper on white privilege. The other alumna was so incensed at what she perceived as an affront to her experience as a white woman that she announced to the room that she was immediately withdrawing all support from Wellesley College. As I consider Gov. [Ron] DeSantis’s twisted logic regarding sensitivities wounded by truth telling, I remember that evening. The experience was a harbinger of the opposition such truth would face, but the paper was a powerful early step in helping educate this country about the effects of systemic racism.
Judith Rulnick Klau ’56, Boston, Mass.
An Outstanding Role Model
“Miss” Rock, as she was known to her students in the ’60s (I hope that has since changed and “Dr.” or “Professor” substituted) was an outstanding teacher and role model (“In Memoriam: Elizabeth J. Rock,” spring 2023). She was an affirmation of my decision to come to Wellesley and major in chemistry. There were so many wonderful faculty at Wellesley during my years there, and she was one of the best. I went on to become a professor of biochemistry (now emerita), and tried to emulate her.
Susan Rittenhouse ’66, Burlington, Vt.
I was the only science major (chemistry) in the history of science course that Miss Rock introduced. It was a fabulous course. There I learned the basics of astronomy and the evolution of atomic theory. Miss Rock cared, and she expanded my liberal arts education immensely. I never thought twice about entering the workforce as an analytical chemist, because of our female scientist role models. We were empowered by their example.
Susan Van der Eb Greene ’65, North Chesterfield, Va.
I spent the summer of 1977 doing a research project in the brand new Science Center with Mr. Lyons. (Yes, even in the late ’70s we referred to the professors as Mr./Ms./Miss/Mrs., which does seem strange.) At the end of the summer, I attended the American Chemical Society meeting in Chicago with Mr. Lyons, Miss Rock, and her summer student. It was an eye-opening experience that strengthened my interest in becoming an academic scientist; I was dazzled by the amazing equipment on display and by the fascinating talks. The “black tar” products of my organic synthesis project put me off a career in organic chemistry. However, the NMR [nuclear magnetic resonance] project I did with Nancy Harrison Kolodny ’64 during the summer of 1978 and as my senior thesis set me on the path for a Ph.D. in physical chemistry and a career in NMR spectroscopy; 45 years later, I still love NMR. Inspirational women in the Wellesley chemistry department like professors Rock and Kolodny (plus professors Crawford and Levy) were fantastic role models, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them!
Christina Redfield ’79, Oxford, U.K.
A Monumental Professor
Miss Rock’s opinion was sought as to how best to clean the great stone lions in front of the New York Public Library, their necks discolored from years of Christmas wreaths. I think of her each time I pass those beauties at 42nd and Fifth Avenue. Thank you, Miss Rock, for helping this art historian fulfill her science requirement!
Barbara Drake Boehm ’76, Montclair, N.J.
A Friend Remembered
Thank you, Susan Rittenhouse ’66, for [your] words about Sally Swigert Hamilton ’66 (“In Memoriam,” fall 2022). I was Sally’s translating partner. I miss her beyond what words can express. I want to let Sally’s friends know that you can experience her work as an audiobook. Sally and I co-translated the French comedy of manners, A Night at the Amazon’s by Francesco Rapazzini, set at Natalie Barney’s salon on her birthday, Halloween Night 1926. I produced the project and gave the performance. You can listen on Apple, Amazon, and Google Play. I wish we could have gotten the novel published in print before Sally died. For our work on the biography of Elisabeth de Gramont by the same author, Sally made some truly artful translations of 19th-century French poetry. Before her death, she asked me to find publishers for these, and I keep trying.
Sally was the wittiest shy person anyone has ever known. Her mind worked so incredibly fast and well. She tossed off aphorisms better than Natalie Barney. “Nobody ever has half a million to spare,” she told me once in a department store. Sally was a brilliant lawyer who worked internationally in a field almost totally reserved for men, yet gave me the following career advice: “Remember, dear, that the workplace is really a treatment center.” It’s true that she became famous at work for the art of misplacing things. “It’s my only extravagance,” she told me. I’ll close with an image of Sally in pearls and a kayak in Dutchess County … or bicycling through the West Village … or on a trout stream in Montana … or trundling into the countryside on her Vespa only days before being hospitalized … or singing “I Did It My Way” at her retirement dinner, accompanied on the piano by her own chairman of the board (yes, they rehearsed for months) … or better yet, I’ll close with Sally on a midwinter’s day … curled up with her cat on a sofa, deep into a shortlisted novel. She was the most passionate and sensitive reader I ever knew. Sally is buried in Cincinnati at Spring Grove beside her parents. The epigram she chose is from a poem by Milton: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Suzanne Sadlier Stroh ’86, Middleburg, Va.
In “History on the Water” (spring 2023), we incorrectly identified the lightweight four crew members in a photograph on page 22. The crew members pictured in that photograph, which was taken at the 1977 Head of the Charles, are coxswain Elizabeth “Ping” Pingchang Chow ’79, Karen Cunningham Van Adzin ’79, Helen Fremont ’78, Elizabeth “Libby” Brooks ’78, and Eleanor Horrigan Spyropoulos ’80. Above is a photograph of Wellesley’s lightweight four at the 1977 Philadelphia nationals. Pictured are Polly Munts Talen ’77, Kim Cooke Himmelfarb ’77, Eleanor Horrigan Spyropoulos ’80, Karen Cunningham Van Adzin ’79, and Elizabeth “Ping” Pingchang Chow ’79. We also failed to mention that Wellesley’s four competed in the next two nationals, in Seattle and Detroit. Wellesley regrets the errors.