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November 2009

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Vol. 2009-2010 No.4

Holiday gala to feature choral ensemble

Celebrate the holidays by joining friends at the IU Retirees Association gala on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at Terry’s Banquets and Catering in Westbury Village. After a delicious lunch, enjoy a rousing performance by members of IU’s African American Choral Ensemble, directed by Keith McCutchen. The choral ensemble has a broad repertoire of spirituals, folk songs, gospel music, and works by and about the African American experience.

The ensemble will pay tribute to American composer R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943), performing his anthem Listen to the Lambs. They will also sing Robert L. Morris’s spiritual “I Thank You, Jesus.” Morris, who earned his master’s in choral conducting at IU in 1970, is the founder and artistic director of the Leigh Morris Chorale, a community chorale in the Twin Cities, and artist in residence at Carleton College. Solo performances of arranged spirituals will round out the program.

McCutchen, an accomplished jazz musician, composer, teacher, and pianist, has directed the ensemble since 2006. Before coming to IU, he directed the gospel choir at St. Olaf College (where he also taught courses in music theory and jazz piano); the vocal jazz ensemble at the University of Minnesota; and the Black Music Ensemble at Berea College in Kentucky.

For the luncheon itself, you may choose between grilled flank steak with demiglace or grilled and marinated portobello mushroom. Accompanying the entrees will be herbed mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, rolls and butter, pumpkin pie with whipped topping, and coffee or iced tea. Remember, after two years under different management, Terry’s original owners, Terry and Lillie Cockerham, are back, with the recipes and kitchen that made Terry’s famous.

The cost is $16 per person, and reservations must be received by no later than Dec. 2. Doors open at 11:45 a.m., with luncheon served at noon. Do it today: complete the reservation form in this newsletter, send it with your payment of $16 for each meal, and look forward to an uplifting musical treat.

A.T., North End Zone facility impressive

More than 100 people enjoyed a tour of the new North End Zone Center when IU retirees took a field trip to Indiana Memorial Stadium Nov. 11. Our guide to the facility was Terre Haute (Ind.) native Anthony Thompson, now assistant director for development for the Varsity Club. Don Weaver introduced A.T. as “one of the finest running backs in the history of college football.” A.T., a two-time All-American during his career as a Hoosier, was second in the 1989 Heisman Trophy voting and, Don said, the first Hoosier athlete to have his number retired. In 2007 A.T. was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Recruited by Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, Illinois, and Indiana, A.T. said he came to Indiana because he “fell in love with one guy, Bill Mallory, who became the father I never had. He taught me a lot about the game of life.” A.T. compared the new facilities with those he experienced as a student: “It’s like a country club around here now,” he said with a smile.

At 135,000 square feet, the state-of-the-art North End Zone facility makes a statement about football at IU, A.T. said. The third-floor Hall of Champions, where retirees met, will feature museum-quality displays that tell the history of each sport at Indiana. It can accommodate 540 people at athletic banquets and receptions.

The weight and conditioning room, at 25,000 square feet, is the biggest in the country, A.T. said. It provides strength and cardio equipment for 620 student athletes in every varsity sport. It opened in August.

Now that administrative and football offices have been moved to the North End Zone Center, a 25,000-square-foot academic resource center soon will occupy the former football offices under the stadium. With training, academic support, and administrative offices all in a single facility, student athletes will find it easier to balance competing demands on their time, A.T. said.

A.T. emphasized the importance of the Big Ten Network in financing the facility. It takes IU all season to earn in ticket sales what Michigan earns at a single home football game. Therefore, the $7 million IU receives from the Big Ten Network each year was influential in securing $45 million in bonding. Eighty percent of the cost of the facility has been raised so far.

Fans have embraced Memorial Stadium’s new horseshoe design, with the east and west stands now linked at concourse level. The Knothole Park at the south end of the stadium was the idea of Athletics Director Fred Glass, A.T. told retirees. “There’s no other place in the Big Ten where kids can play that close to the playing field,” he said.

Following A.T.’s remarks, retirees toured the facility, including Glory Plaza, where several retirees (your reporter saw bricks for Max Skirvin and Sue Talbot) have bricks bearing their names.

United Way campaign marches on

At the November 11 Retirees Association meeting Doris Burton announced that retirees have pledged $53,395 to the current United Way campaign, 76 percent of our $70K goal. [Update: we’re up to $53,945, 77 percent.] Retirees will be receiving reminder letters soon.

This year the Lilly Foundation is matching all new Vanguard gifts, Doris announced. Vanguards pledge at least $1,000 for 2010; to date 28 retirees have become Vanguard givers.

Because retirees often take the long view, Retirees Association historian Bob Dodd obtained totals for the last four years from Katie Harvey, campus coordinator for United Way:
2006 $63,636
2007 $92,696
2008 $88,408
2009 $68,150

“We have been on a declining trend for the last three years,” Bob observes, “undoubtedly a reflection of the state of the economy. Many people think the economy is now turning around. Let’s see if our members agree by reaching — and surpassing — our modest goal for 2010 of $70,000.”

Darwin in December at Emeriti House;
Rose says twins converge, diverge

As the semester comes to an end, only one Wednesday session is scheduled at the Emeriti Center in December. On Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. a panel will discuss the concept of time as a roadblock to accepting the Darwinian view of the origin of the human species. Panelists are Simon Brassell (geology); Don Lichtenberg (physics); George Malacinski (biology); and Craig Nelson (biology). This panel is part of the College of Arts and Sciences Themester on Evolution, Diversity, and Change.

Now for an editorial confession: For more than two years, I have been describing the programs at the Emeriti Center, at 1015 E. Atwater, one block east of the Atwater Garage, but I had never been to a program. On Nov. 4 I decided to experience the Emeriti Center firsthand by going to hear Richard Rose, professor emeritus of psychological and brain sciences, speak on the subject “What do studies of twins tell us about ourselves?”

One thing I learned: arrive early. Dashing in as the clock struck 4 p.m., I missed the refreshments and barely managed to find a seat. Not all sessions are SRO, I’m told, but Dick’s topic appealed to a wide audience, including those of us with grandchildren who are twins.

Introducing the speaker, program chair Jerry Chertkoff said Dick is “visiting professor for life” at the University of Helsinki Medical School. Dick explained that he studies twins as others may breed a line of rats or drosophila (“fruit flies”) — to study why we turn out differently. Finland offers a unique opportunity for twin studies because its population registries make it easy to locate twins, and Dick has been doing research there for more than 25 years.

Twin research, he said, seems to confirm a Chinese proverb: As a man grows older, he becomes more like himself. Or, in more scholarly terms, “we develop behavior repertories that narrow with time while the expression of genetic disposition increases over time.” There has been a historic shift from an emphasis on behavior — think B.F. Skinner — to a recognition of the importance of heredity in such books as David Cohen’s Stranger in the Nest: Do Parents Really Shape Their Child’s Personality, Intelligence, or Character?

Twins, Dick said, come in five varieties. One-third are brother/sister pairs, one-third are two sisters or two brothers from one egg (monozygotic, or MZ, commonly known as identical twins), and one-third are two brothers or two sisters from two eggs (dizygotic, or DZ, commonly known as fraternal twins; a brother/sister pair is obviously also DZ). MZ (‘identical”) twins have identical DNA at conception, while DZ (“fraternal”) twins come from different eggs and different sperm. MZ twins inherit the same genes, but DZ twins are ordinary siblings who share, on average, half their genes. Twin studies show that MZ (“identical”) twins become more alike as they age but DZ (“fraternal”) twins diverge over time as their genetic differences are expressed.

Of course birth cohorts share behavior commonalities, Dick said. For some behaviors MZ twins are no more alike than DZ twins. Behaviors have much more influence in rural environments, he said, where there are common environmental effects. But in the long term, whether in physical appearance or mental ability, we become more and more the expression of our genetics. MZ (“identical”) twins, therefore, converge, become more alike, while DZ (“fraternal”) twins diverge, become less alike.

Parents matter in modulating genetic behavior, but peers as well as parents influence children’s development. We do not mirror our experiences passively or mechanically, Dick said, but we selectively seek environments in which to express our genetic disposition. We inherit dispositions, however, not destinies, and “life trajectories reflect the continuing interplay of our dispositional differences and our shared and unique experiences: This is what makes us what we are.”

From personal experience, I recommend the programs at the Emeriti Center. Even if you are unable to make a weekly commitment, you are welcome whenever a particular program resonates with you.

About those refreshments: Emeriti House Director Dick Stryker says they are varied but always include wines, juices, coffee, and tea, plus cookies and miscellaneous munchies.

The final event of 2009 at the Emeriti Center will be an end-of-semester tasting party, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11.