By Thomas J. Bourgeois
Because I couldn’t put it any better, I’ll let Ron Goldser, who presided over the Yale Club of the Northwest (so named when the Northwest was much farther east) from 2015 through 2018, deliver what we television types would call the elevator pitch for his new book No Small Coincidence: How Yale Alumni Made History in Minnesota: “‘Why Yale?’ Lori Sturdevant asked George S. Pillsbury (Yale ’43) one day as they were working on their book,The Pillsburys of Minnesota (Nodin Press, 2011). ‘Why did you, your brothers, your cousins, and so many of your Minnesota contemporaries choose an undergraduate education at Yale University?’ George knew a great deal about his kinsmen’s thinking. But he confessed that he did not know precisely who and what inspired the devotion to Yale that was first exhibited in Minneapolis and St. Paul early in the Twin Cities’ history. It was no small coincidence they all went to Yale. This book tells you why.”
As these notes go to press, Ron’s book is on display in the lobby bookcase at the Yale Club (you know, the one across from Grand Central Station). Among its glowing reviews is this encomium from President Salovey: “In this delightful volume, Ronald Goldser explores the intertwined history of Minnesota and one of America’s oldest institutions of higher learning. For over 200 years, Yale alumni have left their mark on the North Star State in business, education, politics, culture, and more. Yalies of all generations and geographies can take pride in the rich legacy of achievement and public service Goldser shares with us.” Minnesota’s senior senator Amy Klobuchar ’82 has taken time from her busy schedule in DC and on the presidential campaign trail to weigh in, as well: “‘Bright College Years’ meets Minnesota Nice in Ronald Goldser’s engaging collection of alumni anecdotes that detail just how many Bulldogs—from different walks of life—made a lasting impact on our state. From North Star natives, to refugees turned farmers, to doctors behind the Mayo Clinic’s groundbreaking medical research, Goldser’s collection of stories unveils a fascinating history of leaders who left their legacy on the Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
I asked Ron for a few words on how the book came about, and he kindly obliged: “It was a three-year project, motivated by Malcolm McDonald, one of our older alums, who knows everyone and has stories to tell. We have lost a number of our wonderful older alums, and I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass to get Malcolm down on paper. We also had a summer intern, recent graduate Christine Wang, who not only spent time in the historical society stacks, but also interviewed some prominent people, and drove around the Twin Cities to really feel and see the impact of Yale on Minnesota. A true labor of love.” Kudos to Ron for producing this volume. You can find out more—and order an e-book, paperback, or hardbound copy—at booklocker.com.
Daniel Deudney, recently named professor of political science at Johns Hopkins, shared a byline in Foreign Affairs’ July/August 2018 edition with G. John Ikenberry, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton. Their article, “Liberal World: The Resilient Order,” examines the post–World War II international order whose stability seems suddenly in question in the age of Brexit, Trump, and the rise of a newly invigorated nationalism. The authors ultimately express optimism in the face of recent challenges to liberal democracies, taking the view that republics will always prove inherently more resilient than autocratic states.
This next item falls under the general category of Better Late than Never:
Our March 30 L.A. class lunch, held at CBS Seafood in Chinatown (and here I take my customary pains to point out that the restaurant is in no way affiliated with my employer), was the setting of an uncommonly formal ceremony of sorts. Matthew Fragner, Rob Watson, BK Munguia (on loan to us from Westchester County), David Rosman, Wendy Goodman Thum, Arthur Greenwald, Sayre Weaver, and your faithful reporter saw teammate Fred Cantor present Tim Gustafson with the sweater bearing his varsity soccer letter. Fred, who gives current men’s soccer coach Kylie Stannard the primary credit for correcting a decades-long oversight, provides this background:
“When I discovered vintage 1972–74 Yale soccer scoresheets while helping out with research on Wendy Goodman Thum’s documentary about the first women’s varsity swim team, I noticed that Tim played in eight of the 13 games on the 1972 schedule, and yet somehow he never received a letter. Since injuries curtailed Tim’s career after our sophomore year, ’72 turned out to be his one shot at a varsity letter. Also, those of us who played with Tim freshman year know how important he was to the success of that team, including our becoming the first Yale freshman squad to beat Harvard in 13 years. So this seemed like something that needed to be rectified, and Kylie fully embraced the idea when I reached out to him a few months back. This was not something Tim sought, and he was surprised to receive the sweater and Kylie’s letter announcing his decision to award it, however belatedly. The letter reads in part, ‘It has come to our attention that your time and service as a member of the Yale men’s soccer team as a valuable and contributing member of the 1971 freshman team, as well as the 1972 varsity team, was never properly documented. . . . Please accept my apologies for this past oversight.’” In the era of the non-apology apology, it’s refreshing to read such a forthright admission of error. Hats off to Fred for his part in seeing this wrong righted!
As always, I invite your news. Along with our 45th reunion chair JC Chaudhri, I also encourage you to mark your calendars for May 28–31, 2020. I hope to see you there!