From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Spring 2016

Memories of Mulford Q.

Thank you for Tim Brady’s tribute to Professor Mulford Sibley [Winter 2016]. I was fresh out of the Army with the GI Bill and rather conservatively inclined. I was immediately drawn to this tall, modest, scholarly teacher with his socialist and pacifist views, and my conservatism turned decisively left. I extended my graduate years to two, knowing I could fit all of his courses into my Russian Area Studies major.

On my masters degree committee, chaired by Harold Deutsch, Sibley’s first question was, “are you a Marxist?” My negative reply and stumbling justification didn’t bother him in the least. I subsequently became a high school teacher in suburban Chicago. After returning from a teacher exchange program in Russia, I discovered that three of my colleagues were accused of Communist sympathies. A school board meeting brought them to the stage to be excoriated by John Birchites, then exonerated by the board. Afterward one of them joked that the real Communist—fresh from Russia—was in the audience laughing: me. I modeled myself after Mulford Sibley in a variety of ways.

D. Stanley Moore (M.A. ’56), Park Forest, Illinois

I wonder how Mulford would have stood on the many campus protests that have denied conservative speakers the opportunity to present their thoughts on campus? These student protests have occurred multiple times around the country and have been successful in protecting the “safe space” that keeps at bay ideas that may not be in sync with liberal thinking.

My recollection of Professor Sibley is one of arrogance and dismissiveness to anyone who didn’t see his point of view. Perhaps he would fall right in line with these current protests.

Tom Johnson (B.A. ’65), Visalia, California

How wonderful to be reminded of Mulford Q. Sibley and of that time 50 years ago when he taught a generation of students about the role of irony in a democratic society, of the importance of free academic discourse, and of the tone-deafness of politicians.

I (Susan) appreciated him in another way. He taught a class on extra sensory perception, a topic which some considered non-academic. But as a psychology major I thought there might be things we didn’t understand that should be investigated. Following in that vein, I became an anthropologist. While some may have ridiculed such a class, Professor Sibley taught us how to evaluate reports of ESP in a scientific way. In today’s bizarre atmosphere of political posturing and prevarication—much of it about the same scary topics Mulford addressed in his letter to the Daily—we can be thankful for that gentle, powerful intellect.

Doug Davis (B.A. ’65) and Susan Schaefer Davis (B.A. ’65) Haverford, Pennsylvania

While I never experienced Mulford Q. Sibley’s political science classes during my undergraduate days, I routinely saw him standing somewhere between Folwell Hall and the Armory along University Avenue with a picket sign. Dressed in his dark suit, white shirt, and colorful tie, he stood out because of his canvas tennis shoes—discordant dress for a discordant time! A military service break in my undergraduate work found me back at a quieter campus as the Vietnam war faded from the news. To my surprise, Professor Sibley was the teacher of an evening class I took entitled Introduction to Psychical Phenomena. He was fun to be in a room with and an engaging teacher, regardless of the subject!

Dan Erkkila (B.S. ’77, M.S. ’82, Ph.D. ’91), Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Great Redesign, But. . .

The new name, Minnesota Alumni, is appropriate, descriptive, and attractive. However, are the articles published in a smaller, lighter, less easy-to-read print than those in previous issues? Or am I seeing this through the aging eyes of an alumna?

Elizabeth Behnke (B.S. ’60), Manitowoc, Wisconsin

Editor’s reply: We heard from many readers who expressed the same concern as Mrs. Behnke about our new text font. We agreed that the new style needed tweaking. We hope you find the improvements in this issue reader-friendly and inviting. Thank you everyone for your comments!

I made two changes in 1978 when I became editor of the now-called Minnesota Alumni magazine. I switched from a tabloid newspaper called the University of Minnesota Alumni News to a magazine format and renamed the publication Minnesota Magazine. I applaud the name change to Minnesota Alumni and hope that the magazine will continue in its excellent direction to keep alumni informed about our great University.

Richard D. Haines (M.A. ’76), Hopkins, Minnesota


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