Annual: SIUE Chancellor David Werner spoke to a packed Meridian Hall for his annual State of the University Address. He pointed out the current fall enrollment is the largest its been since 1977 and also that the face of SIUE is changing from a commuter campus to a university where some 2,300 students reside.
Allan Ho thought, perhaps, his latest book would cause discussion among fellow musicologists but he was not at all prepared for the hostile barbs that have been thrown at him and his collaborator, Dmitry Feofanov, in the months following publication of their book, Shostakovich Reconsidered(Toccata Press).
“We’re dealing with issues that involve academic freedom and integrity,” said Ho, a professor in the SIUE Department of Music. “We’ve attacked some sacred cows and we’ve caused some Shostakovich scholars to rethink what they have written in the past about the Soviet composer.”
However, some of the more well known among those scholars are up in arms about Ho and Feofanov’s book. “Some of these musicologists have focused their careers on Shostakovich studies,” says Ho, “putting forth the idea that the composer was a Communist toady, sacrificing his artistic capabilities to conform to the Soviet ideal.”
In publishing the 800-page book, which was six years in the making, Ho and Feofanov took advantage of the opening of Soviet archives and accumulated testimony of those who knew the composer. What they’ve found is that Shostakovich was a survivor of Stalin and subsequent Soviet leaders, and, like so many in Soviet Russia, a survivor who learned to cope with Soviet oppression and still remain true to his musical creativity.
To a civilian this may all sound like a tempest in a teapot, but the music world has been abuzz with Shostakovich Reconsidered. The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune have written about the book, calling it highly controversial. Discussions of the book also have aired on NPR, CBC, and BBC radio, as well as EuroNews television.
Just before its publication, Ho gave a paper about his findings at the Midwest meeting of the American Musicological Society. He was met by calls for his banishment from future presentations at AMS meetings. “Many of these scholars have made a career out of denouncing Testimony but our book finds that, in fact, Testimony is authentic.”
Testimony is the posthumous memoir of Dmitri Shostakovich, published in 1979 by Solomon Volkov, a young Russian journalist who interviewed the famous composer before his death four years earlier. Upon publication, Testimony was attacked as fraudulent. Its image of the composer as a closet dissident, whose works often included hidden, deeper messages for his contemporaries, was dismissed by many scholars as pure fabrication and they continued to malign the composer’s memory.
“For nearly 20 years, prominent scholars in Russian/Soviet music, especially in the United States, have failed to report any of the evidence that corroborates Testimony and vindicates Volkov,” Ho said. “Feofanov and I have raised the question of whether this has been because of a cover-up to protect personal egos and professional reputations; or complacency, believing the issue of Testimony’s authenticity had long been settled; or, incompetence.”
According to Michael Mishra, an associate professor of music at SIUE and one of Ho’s colleagues, Shostakovich Reconsidered finally confronts head on the questions that have arisen since Testimony was published. “The question of (the book’s) authenticity was first raised by Laurel Fay, after she had discovered passages in the book which appeared to have been plagiarized from earlier (articles by Shostakovich),” Mishra pointed out. Fay is a musicologist now with G.Schirmer music publishers.
“Fay certainly had every right to ask questions, given what she thought she had found,” Mishra said. “Raising a legitimate question is one thing; passing judgement without further investigation is something else. Yet, this is exactly what has happened over the last twenty years. Despite the obvious lack of serious probing into the matter, many chose simply to interpret Volkov’s refusal to answer the charges as proof of guilt.”
Mishra, who also is bringing out his own book, A Shostakovich Companion (Greenwood Press), said Fay’s speculation unfortunately became the reality within the music world. “What started out as a piece of speculation ... was soon elevated to the status of ‘conclusive finding.’ Reading Shostakovich Reconsidered, one becomes convinced that Testimony is exactly what Volkov has always claimed it to be—not a scholarly document in which every ‘i’ is dotted and every ‘t’ is crossed—but a sincere memoir dictated in difficult conditions, such as we can only begin to imagine, in which the true voice of Shostakovich can be clearly heard.”
After Shostakovich Reconsidered was published, Ho gave another paper on his findings at the annual AMS meeting, which was featured in the N.Y. Times. The Times article states: “For the record, despite occasional shouts and derisive laughter and much speaking out of turn, no blows were struck.”
Ho points out that, so far, none of the scholars who have decried Testimony have come forward to confront the facts as presented in Shostakovich Reconsidered.
In the October issue of Commentary magazine, music critic Terry Teachout echoes Mishra’s thoughts: “... the evidence presented ... in Shostakovich Reconsidered, if not absolutely dispositive, still appears sufficiently convincing to ensure that Testimony will henceforth be generally acknowledged as what Volkov has always said it was: the autobiography of Dmitri Shostakovich.”
On the heels of President Clinton’s recent visit to East St. Louis in which he encouraged private re-investment in the city, SIUE’s East St. Louis Center has announced an “educational investment” it is making in the community.
The University opened the doors in late August to the East St. Louis Center’s charter school for area youth who have not finished high school, offering them the opportunity to continue their education and to earn diplomas.
As part of their orientation, new faculty members visited the charter school located in classrooms of the former Metropolitan Community College building.
“The SIU East St. Louis Charter School offers students and their parents a choice to re-enter a new environment in which the students can succeed,” said Willie Epps, director of the center and a driving force for the establishment of the school. “More than 700 students leave school each year before finishing, but we have seen a demand through our GED program that tells us East St. Louis youth want to complete their education.”
The school is open for 14- to 19-year-old students who have left school without receiving a diploma. Students must agree to attend classes, maintain a C average and abide by a strict discipline policy which forbids drugs, alcohol, weapons, harassment, and verbal or physical abuse.
A comprehensive high school curriculum will be offered, complete with science courses in the fully equipped science labs and computer education in two state-of-the-art computer labs. “In limiting the school to 75 to 125 students, we are offering small class sizes for individualized attention,” said Epps.
Leatrice Tyler-Riddle is the school’s principal. She comes to the new school after seven years with the Ferguson-Florissant (Mo.) School District. Most recently, she was that district’s re-entry program coordinator.
Though initial plans for the East St. Louis Center to open a charter elementary school were turned down by East St. Louis School District 189, efforts to establish the charter high school succeeded with the school board.
While operated by the SIUE center, the charter school receives its funding—roughly $500,000 for the coming year—from the Illinois State Department of Education by way of School District 189 as a reimbursement for each student.
Epps says the new school will maintain and strengthen its relationship with the school district over the course of the school’s initial five-year charter. “I am confident our students will learn and achieve.”
MPAG. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? It stands for Multidisciplinary Project Action Group Program, which has been bringing down traditional barriers around campus since its inception earlier this year.
Seven projects have been funded and 10 more applications are expected for MPAG’s second year by the Dec. 1 deadline, according to Kevin McClearey. “In the past, when faculty or staff from two departments or units wanted to work together, it was difficult to obtain cross funding for projects,” he said.
“MPAG helps cut through that red tape and makes seed money available for research projects that cross lines of discipline. We are trying to break down those unintentional barriers that are inherent in an academic setting.”
Steve Hansen, dean of the SIUE Graduate School, and McClearey are the ones who initiated MPAG on this campus. McClearey is a professor of Speech Communication currently on assignment in the Graduate School. They’re following a model published in a journal of the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA).
MPAG brings together research teams whose members are from various disciplines. McClearey explained this year’s MPAG funding of $30,000 was available because of indirect cost funds received when SIUE faculty and staff get external funding for their research, public service, training, and demonstration projects.
“In addition, we plan to recycle 25 percent of any indirect costs we obtain when an MPAG project gets external funding,” McClearey said. “So, this entire system feeds itself.”
Some of the projects under the MPAG program include research in: endodontic lesions, with various disciplines from the School of Dental Medicine; mental health and aging, with team members from public administration and policy analysis, management, marketing, and gerontology; women’s health issues, with members from kinesiology, nursing, and public administration and policy analysis; and disability studies, with members from Disability Support Services, special education, nursing, social work, and psychology.
”The other benefit of this program is that MPAG has brought together faculty and staff who otherwise might not have met,” McClearey said. “And, while some projects don’t work out, there are members of the campus community who have gotten together for the first time and who now are keeping in touch because they have found similar interests.”
Strung together from railroad right-of-ways and the old Inter-Urban trolley route is one of SIUE’s best-known secrets, the Delyte W. Morris trail.
The trail is a bicyclist’s delight, a 2.8-mile route that winds through some of the campus’ most scenic areas. A trail for bicyclists and hikers was part of the original plan for the SIUE campus and students have used the Morris trail from the very beginning.
Bob Washburn, director of SIUE's Office of Facilities Management, says that the trail was included in the initial master plan for the campus back in the early 1960s. “Much of the trail follows old railroad right-of- ways and remained undeveloped because of the utility tunnels that ran beneath the property,” he noted.
The trail has always been popular, Washburn said. SIUE students and employees commute regularly on the Morris trail. “I know for a fact that we have several university employees, including a few professors, who use the trails to get to work each day. It certainly helps the environment to have the trails here for bicyclists and it helps to ease the traffic congestion somewhat when people bike to the university.”
According to Campus Recreation Associate Director Ann M. Schonlau, once people began to use the Morris trail they wanted more. “Fitness has driven the usage of the trails more than anything else,” she said. “People get a more exciting workout than they do in a gym and they wanted connectivity.” Connectivity is what SIUE cyclists got when work on the Madison County Transit Nature Trial (formerly the Vadalabene Bicycle Trail) was completed in 1997.
Madison County Transit undertook the massive project in late 1992. The project transformed railroad right-of-ways and rutted farm paths into a network of smooth surfaced trails perfect for bicycling, roller-blading, or pushing a stroller. The increase in the trail connectivity is a boon to SIUE as well as the surrounding area. “A lot of the trail users are St. Louis residents who come in just to ride the trail. Edwardsville is a very bike-friendly place and SIUE in particular has a very good attitude toward bicyclists,” Schonlau observed.
University Police has officers who regularly patrol the Morris trail and the University maintains the area, checking for downed trees and other safety hazards. “Many times a cyclist will call us to tell us about a problem on the trail,” Washburn said. “The trail users really help maintain it.”
The safety of the Morris trail has often been a concern for its users. Washburn concedes that parts of the Morris trail need work. “After heavy storms, the trail is sometimes impassable. Many times a significant rain will wash out parts of the trail, especially in the spring.” But, good news may be on the horizon for trail users.
Improvement of the trail network is one of SIUE’s priorities, according to Vice Chancellor for Administration Kenn Neher. “We think the network of bike and hiking trails is an outstanding feature of SIUE. We’re actively seeking grants and cooperative agreements to improve them.”
Neher said that the university is waiting for word on funding for a project to pave, widen and straighten the Morris trail network throughout the campus. An additional spur is planned for accessing the campus from University Park..
“The Morris trail is one of the oldest trails around here,” Schonlau said. “People use the trails all the time. I think it definitely improves the quality of SIUE life.”
Worth makes the man,
The lack of it, a fellow,
The rest is all, but
Leather and prunella.
Alexander Pope’s reference to the ideal notwithstanding, SIUE’s East St. Louis Center has formed a new partnership with Dress for Success of Southern Illinois—an organization dedicated to helping women who would like some “leather and prunella” for job interviews.
Through Dress for Success, a client can receive a complete business outfit—a suit, shoes, handbag, accessories, and hosiery—for an interview. In addition, a client may be coached for the interview, given hair styling and make-up assistance, and also may be provided a mentor.
If an interview is successful, the client may also return for another complete outfit. One measure of the program’s effectiveness is that 70 percent of the women come back for that second suit.
And, once a client has been hired, Dress for Success continues to help. Once a month, women from professional ranks volunteer to speak to participants on subjects such as time management, budgeting, and coping with work stress. Mentoring also continues and can be expanded to involve a client’s family.
Dress for Success, 614 North Seventh St., East St. Louis, is operated by Barbara and Sandy Parker who believe the program is more than “just come in and look pretty.” They point out that the program helps women set long-term professional and personal goals.
The Dress for Success coordinator at the East St. Louis Center is Curtiseena Ellis-Wilson, who is also the Head Start Parent Involvement coordinator. Camille McCaskill, Kay Werner, and Gloria Atkins serve on the advisory board.
The East St. Louis Center, through its partnership with Dress for Success, recently conducted a fall/winter suit drive and also plans a spring drive. Items for women only are needed, such as business suits, blouses, pants suits and dresses appropriate for the office, and accessories such as costume jewelry, belts, scarves, and bags, shoes, and new (packaged) hosiery.
Donations also are gratefully accepted; checks should be made to Dress for Success, Southern Illinois, and may be sent to the organization: 2221 Greenfield Drive, Belleville, IL 62221. Clothing items may be dropped off in Room 2051 or 2071 of the East St. Louis Center, 411 E. Broadway.
Other drop-off locations include St. Joseph’s Head Start Center (HSC), 1501 Martin Luther King Drive, East St. Louis, (618) 875-9812; Bluffview HSC, 8100 Bunkum Road, Caseyville, (618) 394-8897; Bel-Mac HSC, 912 Carlyle Road, Belleville, (618) 277-4681; or in Room 2228 of SIUE’s Rendleman Hall, (618) 650-2536.
Appointments to help clients are currently scheduled from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, as well as from 9 a.m.-noon on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. All clients must be referred by an agency.
Volunteers are an integral part of the operation and the Parkers will provide training. Those interested in volunteering may call Curtiseena, (618) 482-6948, or the Parkers, (618) 531-8391.
Perhaps, the best endorsement for the program comes in a story Barbara Parker likes to tell. “We were booking some meeting rooms at a local motel when the clerk heard we were from Dress for Success and said: ‘I love you; I love you. I am wearing one of your suits.’ I can’t think of any better endorsement,” Parker said.
Garbage In—Energy Out
Can St Louis County find an economical and sustained electrical energy alternative for its county government complex in downtown Clayton, Mo., one that will reduce electricity costs?
And, if the county does find an alternative, can that electrical source be generated from ... garbage?
That’s the $75,000 question. It’s a question that a team of engineers from the SIUE School of Engineering will attempt to answer as a result of a $75,000 grant the university received recently.
“The county wants to examine whether electrical generation from local landfills may be an alternative energy source when deregulation is implementation,” said Susan Morgan, assistant professor of civil engineering at SIUE. “If it is, then there will be a local alternative energy source available that may be cheaper for the county than conventional electricity sources.
The SIUE research project—The Effect of Deregulation on Efficient Energy Utilization of Building Complexes—will examine what impact the deregulation of electrical utilities will have on the possibile use of this alternative by the county.
Morgan is joined on the project by a team of SIUE civil, environmental and electrical engineering researchers. Says Morgan: “A landfill will generate methane gas for 20 to 30 years, perhaps even longer. Depending on the type of electrical generation equipment that is used, this method to generate power can be more ‘environmentally friendly’ than venting the gas into the atmosphere.”
Some area landfills already are producing electrical energy.