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Rensselaer Magazine Winter 2007

Extra-Ordinary People

I don’t recall how many years I have been reading Rensselaer, but the article on Jamie Rolewicz ’96 and his NASCAR support business in the Winter 2006-07 issue was a breath of fresh air [“Jamie Rolewicz ’96 Keeps NASCAR on the Move”]. For years we have been entertained with articles on cutting-edge technology, the latest inventions to better serve fellow man, and perhaps a whole cadre of humanitarians fighting the fight. Usually after reading those I still had enough energy left to skim the Class Notes, noting the stellar accomplishments of fellow classmates. Then I’m exhausted, and a tiny voice inside my head asks me why I’m not as great as all of those folks. After all, I sat next to some of these stars in the same classes and graduated from RPI, didn’t I?

I am suggesting that out of the tens of thousands of alumni, there must be some heartwarming stories of ordinary people doing some just plain good things. Some of these stories might even be interesting enough to print, so I encourage your staff to find the great avocations and vocations of our classmates and share them with us.

I don’t know Jamie Rolewicz personally but I am certainly impressed with his business success in NASCAR. He supplies wheels to most of the race teams, and how basic an industry and how basic an invention is that? Will his business help mankind to find a cure for cancer? Of course it won’t. But will his business make possible the entertainment of millions of racing fans every Saturday and Sunday? You betcha!

Bob Addis ’67
Cohoes, N.Y.

Remembering Joel Dolven

My first awareness of Joel Dolven [“Musical Memories,” Winter 2006-07] was in 1948 when I entered Albany High School as a sophomore and joined the band as a tuba player. Joel had left at the end of the previous year, but his legacy remained. Under Joel, the Albany High School band was one of the best in New York state, arguably on a par with many college bands. Without Joel’s pioneering efforts, I doubt if his successor could have maintained this excellence.

When I entered RPI in 1952 I was surprised to find Joel there, since I had not previously been aware of where he had gone. I played bass in the orchestra under Joel during my years at RPI. A welcome respite from the rigors of the EE curriculum. He will be missed.

Dick Bellin ’56
Washington, D.C.

Proof Is in the Science

It seems the difference in explaining things through religion vs. science centers on the huge number of religions and other beliefs, which provide “answers” without evidence and proofs, versus one science — which we are pretty near — that sets standards for data, etc., and differs only in the interpretations of them, which leads to more theories and more experiments. The great Richard Feynman wrote something like “the world has thousands of religions and they are all trying to kill each other.” (Still happening.) We have learned a lot but have a long way to go... e.g. dark matter and dark energy.

Religion is prescience when we were only guessing why the sun rotates around the Earth, while scientists found out what was really happening. Therefore, let religions pray and worship and let science find out.

Larry Wackerman ’52
Hicksville, N.Y.

The Gift of Rensselaer

I read every issue of your exceptional magazine from cover to cover. My personal favorite is the Class Notes section; it is such a pleasure to read about the benchmarks in the lives and careers of our alumni. Those of us who work at Rensselaer are so very fortunate to be part of a culture that not only supports the students while they are part of the campus community, but also benefits so greatly from the interactions with such extraordinary individuals while they are students here and in the years that follow.

My mother taught me to write thank you notes when I received a gift. Please consider this my thank you note for the amazing gift I have been given by so many of Rensselaer’s former and current students, faculty, and staff. As a longtime staff member in the admissions office, I have been honored to participate in the recruiting of 28 freshman classes. And, I estimate I have watched about 35,000 Rensselaer graduates head off into amazing lives and careers. In almost three decades at Rensselaer, my life, career, and world view have undergone a transformation as I have reaped the rewards of the interactions I have had with so many unique and special people.

In a world that faces many daunting challenges, Rensselaer is a beacon of promise and optimism. As the Class of 2011 comes on board, I retire from my work at this truly extraordinary place, and I salute all the people of Rensselaer for unflagging commitment to excellence, hard work, and “changing the world” for the better. It has been a rare privilege, indeed, to be a part of this community. My heartfelt thanks and good wishes to all.

Jeanne Jenkins
Slingerlands, N.Y.

We’d love to hear from you! To provide space for as many letters as possible, we often must edit them for length. Please address correspondence to: Rensselaer Magazine, Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180, e-mail to alum.mag @rpi.edu, or call (518) 276-6531.

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.