Photography: Millhiser gym courtesy Virginia Baptist Historical Society; Bo Diddley by Jeffrey Mayer; Bruce Springsteen by Album/Francesc Fàbregas


Aggrey Sam beautifully captures the rich tradition of Millhiser Gym in his “New Beginnings” article [Winter 2020]. He is so right to note that the next stage of Millhiser actually returns the building to its academic roots.

When I first arrived as a [mathematics] faculty member in the mid-1990s, I did not attend concerts or sneak in to play pickup basketball at Millhiser. Instead, I visited Millhiser exactly two times a year to turn in my grades for the semester. There, buttoned up against the chilly temperatures of December or clad in short sleeves in the warmth of a spring day in May, I handed over thick pieces of paper with the names of precious students who had taken calculus, linear algebra, or group theory with a grade assigned to them by completing a designated box with a #2 pencil.

These students have gone on to land faculty positions, help create technological innovations, and advance their communities in their own corners of the world. These quieter moments of Millhiser are woven into the tapestry of their lives.
—Della Dumbaugh,

The left-leaning tendencies of the modern university come as no surprise, nor should slip-shod recounting of history. Mr. Dewald reports that Professor Maurantonio makes the point that our culture “forgets as much as it remembers” and continues that the buried arm of Stonewall Jackson and his mummified horse reflect this, whereas “little is remembered [about] the people that Jackson enslaved” [“The Death of an Arm,” Winter 2020].

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Not one person in 10 million could tell you about Jackson’s arm, and not one in a million would know of a moldy old horse that is stuffed and now at VMI. The facts are these: An Amazon book search of “African American slaves” reveals thousands of titles. The same search reveals one self-published pamphlet regarding Jackson’s horse.

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson has his place in history. His campaigns have been studied all over the world. No one celebrates his role supporting a cause that enslaved Africans, but he is a part of our nation’s history.

The contention that there is an absence of study of the African American experience is incorrect and, indeed, ludicrous. Every day there is serious study of the African American experience, as indeed there should be. We should not give way to creating sloppy straw men that merely concur with today’s academic fad, “political correctness.” The Washington Post may love this sort of thing, but this is pandering.
—Thomas M. W. Green, R’79 and L’83
Winchester, Virginia

Editor's note: In her presentation, the professor contrasted the documentation and public memorialization of Jackson’s horse and amputated arm with the almost complete absence of historical records about any individual that Jackson enslaved. She did not suggest that enslavement, generally speaking, is not widely studied.

I was very touched by the memoriam in the UR Magazine [“E. Bruce Heilman, 1926–2019”]. My years have been filled with opportunity and professional growth due to the one special moment I spent in his office in 1978.

I had been working as a U.S. Coast Guard veteran corpsman when I decided to apply my GI Bill at U of R. After five years as a cutterman, I was ready for this challenge. I was waiting at the dean’s office when I was summoned to meet with Dr. Heilman. We had a warm conversation as I shared the service of my dad in Okinawa during World War II and the lineage of service back to the Continental Army in 1777.

At the conclusion, he looked into my eyes as he asked, “Will you stay the course and graduate from Richmond?” I paused at his seriousness and said confidently, “Yes, I will.” He extended his hand with a warm, yet firm handshake and said, “Welcome as a Richmond Spider.”

Richmond was a challenge, yet it shaped me for a professional career that has taken me across the USA with additional education and certifications. I now teach at Salt Lake Community College in Utah and continue my consulting efforts helping life science companies in quality compliance management. After 41 years with my wife, Mary Kathryne Valentine, we enjoy three grown kids and seven grandkids.

No regrets, only sincere gratitude to the man who commissioned my life as a Richmond Spider.
—Walter E. Murray, R’81
Salt Lake City

I would like to express my satisfaction about the article “The Fastest Way to Learn About Physics” [Winter 2020]. I enjoyed how physics concepts were explained [with the example of] a NASCAR race. I hope that it will not be the last article about science applied to our lives in your magazine.
—Antonio Freitas
Weston, Florida

My junior year, Shawn Barber, ’98, was drafted by the Washington Redskins. He was in the apartments the day of the draft and ran up and down the road celebrating when he got drafted — such a fun memory!
—Kerri Kimsey Nicholson, ’99
Parkton, Maryland

Editor’s note: In response to the Postscript graphic on the last page of the previous issue, several readers wrote similar notes about retired Spider professional athletes. This told us two things. First, that the copy was not clear that we listed only current professionals. Second, that Spider pride runs deep. Readers mentioned retired NFL players Matt Joyce, ’94, Walker Gillette, R’70, and Brian Jordan, R’89, who was also an MLB All-Star. Many other Spiders would join them on a list of former professional players.

We were happy to learn of three more Spiders currently working in professional sports. Dennis O’Connor, ’93 and G’95, is vice president of ticket sales and service for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. Bobby Basham, ’02, is director of player development for MLB’s Chicago Cubs. Max Paulsen, ’08, is director of business development for the NHL’s league office.

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