Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Back to School

To the Great Class of 1969:

In his letter to the Deerfield community a year ago Eric Widmer wrote, "Our practice always seems to be to begin school, wait for a week to make sure everything is up and running smoothly, and then have our opening Convocation and announce that the school year had begun". What Eric wryly described as Deerfield's "risk adverse management theory" seems to have been carried over by Margarita Curtis, Deerfield's 55th Head of School, who presided over the official opening of the year at the Convocation ceremony in the Memorial Building on September 17th. That school had opened hardly came as a surprise to students who began returning the week of the 4th and who started classes on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, although the induction of Deerfield's first female Head since the brief tenure of Orpha Julina Hall in the 1870's lent additional gravitas to the commencement of Deerfield's 208th academic year.

In keeping with the "Back to School" theme, the September 4th Education Issue of The New Yorker included a long piece entitled "Deerfield in the Desert" about King's Academy in Jordan which is modeled after Deerfield. For anyone who didn't see the article and would be interested in reading it in its entirety, please let me know by e-mailing me at

If you haven't visited recently (or still have your head in the sand trying to imagine Deerfield anywhere other than where it is), the most striking physical change to the campus is the Koch Center, the 78,000 square foot science, math and technology building adjacent to the Library which was constructed with over one million red bricks and more than 50 million greenbacks. After numerous delays and cost overruns, the Koch Center is scheduled to open sometime this fall with the official dedication to take place on Friday, May 4th. If you were visiting Deerfield, you also would notice that the Brick Church is currently surrounded by metal scaffolding which has been erected in order to repair and renovate the steeple to historic standards. The $200,000+ project is being funded by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, members of the congregation and friends. A less obvious physical change to the campus is underway behind the locker room where they have just broken ground for 10-12 new international squash courts, depending on financing, which are expected to be ready sometime next fall.

Class News

Business. As those of you who read the business section regularly will know, the mergers and acquisitions business is at a record level with one eye popping deal after another. What you may not know is that two CEO's in the class got the urge to merge since I last wrote and have made news. Charlie Bishop, the first employee of Bone Care International, as well as the first public company CEO in the class, re-emerged after selling Bone Care to Genzyme by founding Proventiv Therapeutics in September 2005. While at Bone Care, Charlie was responsible for the successful preparation and prosecution of three "New Drug Applications" that ultimately led to FDA approval of doxercalciferol, a novel Vitamin D drug, for secondary hyperparathyroidism in dialysis patients. In July, Charlie sold Proventiv to Cytochroma, a specialty pharmaceutical company engaged in Vitamin D therapies, and has been named CEO.

With all the investor interest in stock exchanges, it probably comes as no surprise that a consortium of securities firms eventually would come knocking on the door of the National Stock Exchange, which David Colker has headed for the past seven years. Earlier this month the NSX announced that it would sell a 50% interest to six firms, including Credit Suisse where I hang my hat. In the press release, David was quoted as saying, "We believe our new business model will be the alternative the industry is seeking - the biggest tent in which everyone is welcome to trade".

Arts and Leisure. In June, Rusty Young hosted the annual Fab Faux benefit concert at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ which raised $170,000 for three Monmouth County charities. In attendance were AC Starkey, Mark Hall, Jim Lunt and Elliot Evers. For anyone with an interest in reliving the '60's and seeing some classmates, mark your calendars for June 18, 2007. Rusty summed it up in the local press when he rhetorically asked, "How many fundraisers can you go to where you don't have to get dressed up, where you can listen to the music of the Beatles performed by some of the country's most talented musicians and know that every dollar raised through ticket sales will go directly to the evening's beneficiaries?" Also in June, Hank Louis was the featured speaker at this year's Design Awareness event at the University of Utah's Museum of Fine Arts. Hank is the founder and philosophical leader of DesignBuildBLUFF whose motto is "Engaged minds, calloused hands and open hearts". Hank also heads up Gigaplex, an award-winning firm based in Park City, UT.

In September, Christopher Beach secured a gift of $1,000,000 for the La Jolla Music Society. Christopher was quoted in The San Diego Union-Tribune as follows, “This remarkable act of generosity will enable La Jolla Music Society to continue to bring world-class musicians to San Diego while expanding the depth of our programming. This gift represents approximately 10 percent of our annual operating budget over the next three years, and, combined with the continued support of our many patrons, will help secure our future as a leading presenter of the performing arts in San Diego.” Also in September, the Lost Ramblers, featuring John Updike on banjo, performed at the Delaware Water Gap Jazz & Arts Festival. John is one of the founders of the Pocono Bluegrass & Folk Society which is "dedicated to the promotion and preservation of authentic acoustic music".

Politics. Zech Chafee's brother, the incumbent Republican Senator from Rhode Island (and graduate of a competitive Massachusetts school well known to our current Head of School), held his own in the state primary in a nationally watched contest on September 12. On a more local scale, Tom Merrigan defeated the incumbent in the Democratic primary for Governor's Council in the 8th District of Massachusetts in a down to the wire finish a week later. Rounding out the political spectrum, Jonathan Carter was elected to a newly formed five member Board of Directors of the Maine Green Independent Party at its annual convention in May with a mandate to take the party in a new direction. It was Jonathan's showing in the 1994 Maine Gubernatorial race that resulted in the Green Party achieving ballot status.

"Metro" Section. While this may not fit your definition of "metropolitan", two doctors in the class practicing in the Pine Tree State received press last year for being worthy of their heritage. You can read all about their experiences by clicking on the following links for Robert Clough and Lare Huber.

Class Trivia

Since I last wrote, David Suitor became at least the fourth member of the class to win the Academy's Photo Trivia contest by correctly identifying Anthony Mahar, an English instructor from 1954-1967. (David may not deserve full credit on this one because (1) he entered as a freshman and (2) his father did, after all, head the English Department for many years.) For those of you who would like to test your brain cells, the Academy runs a Photo Trivia contest every couple of weeks and awards some bit of Deerfield memorabilia to the winner. John Lacey and I are each in possession of some crock-ware that appears to date to the Academy's founding.

In case you were wondering, I have selected John Lacey as the 2005-2006 Valedictorian for the Great Class of 1969, for his consistently prompt and informed responses to last year's Class Trivia questions. Most recently, John was the first to answer my class trivia question correctly by identifying Putty MacLean as the classmate whose grandfather was named "Man of the Century" by the International Maritime Hall of Fame for having pioneered containerized shipping. John also came up with the definition of "pelagic longline fishing" as involving a type of gear used in fishing in the upper layers of the open sea.

For those of you who can't fathom Lacey being Class Valedictorian, I would remind you that he is a proud graduate of Amherst, which finished #2 to Williams in the 2007 USN&WR ranking of liberal arts colleges after refusing to fill out the USN&WR form. (N.B. Tom Ehrgood, another classmate who went to Amherst, liked it so much he now works there.) For anyone who would like to displace John this year, my first trivia question for the new school year is the following: Can you name the classmate whose seven-part biography is included in Wikipedia?

Current and Upcoming Events

From now through November 6th, you can see an exhibition of Todd Stone's work at the James A Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, PA. The exhibition is a series of fifteen watercolors entitled "Witness" which document what Todd saw from his apartment in Tribeca when the planes hit the World Trade Center five years ago.

If you enjoy the outdoors and are looking for something healthy to do on the weekend of November 4-5, you can join Charlie Olchowski, a master cider maker, for a tasting at CiderDay, a community festival celebrating all things apple in Franklin County.

Let me know what you're up to and, while you're at it, join those of us who already have registered at Deerfield Alumni. I am, as always, looking for additional photos to add to the 44 classmates in our Online Yearbook.

Be well.