Yale Class of 1975

YAM Notes: September/October 2021

By Thomas J. Bourgeois

On July 2, I got an email whose subject line read, “Some Fourth of July Reading: The Rooseveltian Tradition and the Biden Revolution.” How could I possibly ignore this message? The messenger was Johns Hopkins political science professor Daniel Deudney. The heading referred to an article, posted that day on Foreign Policy’s website, that Daniel cowrote with Princeton politics and international affairs professor G. John Ikenberry, entitled “The Intellectual Foundations of the Biden Revolution.” The piece raises an interesting question: namely, “Why is there no Rooseveltian school of foreign policy?” The authors set out to identify that “school’s” precepts, and they place President Biden’s foreign policy goals and initiatives in the context of Franklin Roosevelt’s international relations legacy. They also underscore the connection between the two presidents’ ambitious domestic agendas—both fashioned in response to national and global crises—and their visions of American influence and leadership in the world.

News from new correspondents:

Matthew Siegelbaum checks in: “I am writing this, my first class note to the class of 1975, since I remember you from our second year at Yale. I took off our third year to live on a Zen commune in upstate New York. After graduating with a major in philosophy and psychology in 1976 (Morse), I entered Rutgers’s New Jersey Medical School in Newark. For many years now, I have been a GP in the Judean Hills of Israel. I work in clinics run by a health organization, and I make house calls. One clinic is just a five-minute walk from my house! My wife and I are blessed with children and grandchildren. We have a seminary for women where we teach organic gardening and Torah Judaism. Since my Yale days, cannabis and methods of administration have become so refined that when relaxing in my hammock, under the fruit trees, I often feel as though I am sitting in the Garden of Eden!” Thanks, Matthew, for the thorough report, especially that vivid evocation of the consciousness-expanding days of yesteryear! I seem to recall that William Faulkner made a highly relevant comment about the past. What was it again?

Scott Shershow, my frequent guitar-playing companion during our Bright College Years (to whom I remain grateful for deepening my appreciation of Leo Kottke and John Fahey, as well as his company in my not infrequent distraction from study), writes, “I can’t even remember when I last submitted something for class notes! But I thought I would share the news that I’ve retired, after 33 years as a college professor. Yesterday, July 22, I finished clearing out my university office at the University of California, Davis, after filling a recycling bin with ancient lecture notes and photocopies from the vanished era when we still used paper for everything. Technically I was retired as of July 1; but turning in my office keys felt like the real date.

“I hope to continue writing as I move into retirement. In fact, perhaps you and some of our colleagues might enjoy one recent book of mine: Bread, from Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series. It’s a short book written for the general reader about the history and meanings of bread, which draws in part on my own experience as a longtime amateur bread baker. Anyone who got into ‘sourdough’ during the pandemic might find something of interest in it.”

Timothy Morton, Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University, gave Bread this glowing praise: “Scott Shershow is a writer of beautiful sentences that convey the ambiguity of a thing we often take as a bland lump to be smeared with fats and oils. In prose as crystal as bread isn’t, and as sensual as it is, Shershow reveals how deeply political and philosophical issues surrounding hospitality (aka the taking of bread) are fueled and interrupted by bread itself. All other bread books are now toast.” Congratulations to the amateur baker and newly minted emeritus professor of English!

As almost anyone who knew him would agree, the topic of bread and hospitality provides as good an approach as any to the sad task of memorializing Arthur Craig Greenwald, who succumbed on April 30 in Burbank, California, to complications of end-stage kidney disease. As I write, nearly three months after his death, still reeling from my loss of a close friend and confidant, I wrestle with where to begin and how best to remember his contributions to our class, to Yale, and to the world at large.

I’ll start by observing a seeming self-contradiction, realizing that self-contradictory beliefs and stances may well be what makes an interesting person so interesting. The product of a Reform Jewish family, Arthur was never religiously observant, and he professed what might be termed an adamantly secularist worldview. I recall that one year the Alumni Association made religion and religious communities at Yale the centerpiece of its annual assembly. Arthur rose in the plenary session to cite organized religion’s frequent opposition to scientific and humanities-based inquiry—as well as the degree to which religious fervor was responsible for so much disunity, tumult, and violence in the world—and to challenge whether Yale should even continue its School of Divinity. Some in the crowd applauded; others wondered who had invited the skunk to the garden party. Yet whenever asked to identify his most important influences and mentors, Art readily and proudly claimed two: the Reverend William Sloane Coffin, the Congregationalist university chaplain during our era; and “Mr.” Fred McFeely Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister who went on to become a lifelong friend.

The former—a model of critical and constructive engagement in community and world affairs—inspired Arthur’s volunteer work at Dwight Hall and his service to the Yale Daily News. The latter would become his first employer and was the pivotal figure in his career as a television and electronic media writer, producer, and consultant. Some of you may know that Art’s advocacy was in part responsible for Yale’s granting Fred Rogers an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the 1974 Commencement. You may also know that Arthur’s ambitious Scholar of the House project, a series of videos intended to help children prepare for the daunting prospect of hospitalization, was written and produced in collaboration with both Mr. Rogers’s production company and the Yale Center for the Study of the Child.

Arthur’s class service included two terms (1995–2000 and 2005–2010) as secretary, and he cochaired our 40th reunion with Mike Greenwald. He also produced, and in some cases moderated, several reunion panels over the years. He was a mainstay of our Southern California contingent, a servant who encouraged others to serve and a leader who inspired others to lead. I am immeasurably grateful for his friendship, inspiration, and sage advice.

His professional career featured stints as a writer on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, news and special programs producer at KDKA in his beloved Pittsburgh, and independent consultant on media and public relations at Greenwald Productions. His company’s clients included CBS Affiliate Promotions, the Ad Council, the Entertainment Resources Professionals Association, and Yale University, among many others.

I’ll reserve space in my next column to publish classmates’ warm and loving remembrances.

Arthur’s survivors include his wife Wendy Garen, sister Cathy Fulton, brother-in-law Paul Fulton, niece Elizabeth Fulton, and nephews Benjamin and Skyler Fulton. Contributions are welcomed to the Arthur C. Greenwald Memorial Fund at the California Community Foundation, 221 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.