MIT Class of 1955 - November/December 2013 Expanded Class Notes

Hi Classmates  --

This is my third anniversary Notes column as Class Secretary.  I’ve been looking at how many classmates we still have with us out of those we started with, and at how many classmates have been mentioned in these Class Notes during the past three years.  I’ve also been looking at how many classmates have visited the class website.  I’d really appreciate it if you now would look at the same numbers I did.  They follow just below.  Then please send me any suggestions you may have for increasing the percentage of classmates who send in Notes, and who view the class website.  Thanks in advance for your reply.

The results:  10% of classmates have sent in Class Notes.  An additional 8% of classmates have been mentioned in those Notes.  An additional 6% have been mentioned in Notes obituaries.

Measuring the % of classmates viewing the class website is more difficult.  The best surrogate measure available via Google Analytics is the number of cities from which viewers logged on. That number peaks sharply just after Class President Gil Davidson (Course VIII) emails classmates with current email addresses on record to let them know new Class Notes are up on the website, about four months before they appear in Print in TR.  The number of viewers has varied from email to email.  The largest viewership so far was equivalent to 51% of the classmates reachable by email who received that early notification, or 33% of all living classmates.

The underlying numbers:  Total classmates in MIT Alumni Association records 730; Deceased Classmates 203; Lost to follow up Classmates 42; Current classmate base 485; Current classmate base reachable by email because they have current email address on record at the Alumni Association 313; Classmates mentioned in the Notes 117 (50 Note submitters, 37 mentions in Notes of other classmates, 30 obituary notices); Percent of email-reachable classmates so far receiving personal emails from me requesting class notes 90% ; Percentage of the 313 email-reachable classmates  who opened Gil Davidson’s May 23, 2013 email announcing that the Sept/Oct 2013 Notes column was up on the class website 48%

I hope that together we all can get the Note submissions and mentions, and the website views from all living classmates comfortably over 50% by the time my term of office ends in 2015 (alas, the % of obituaries will take care of themselves). 

What we need to do, together:  encourage more classmates to send in class notes, to view the class website, to update their email address at the Alumni Association if necessary, and to open MIT related emails they receive.  Your suggestions please.

From Walter Shifrin (Course I) – In 1988 I Started Shifrin & Associates, Inc. in St. Louis to provide consulting environmental engineering.  I’m still working full time.  We have a staff of 5, including my son who has been involved for 21 years.  Projects have been primarily local, but some all over the country.  We are engaged to perform Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments, remedial projects such as underground tank removals, cleanup of releases, etc.

On the non-work side, I’m on the Board of Trustees of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Western Golf Association.  The latter runs the largest private scholarship fund in the country.  Approximately 840 caddies (men and women) per year receive full scholarship and lodging for 4 years.  This past winter I was recognized by the St. Andrews Resources for Seniors, along with about 20 others, as “Ageless and Remarkable”.  Nice honor and a wonderful banquet and presentation.  Nice to be nominated for this honor. 

Our children and 4 grandchildren are in St. Louis and we spend a lot of time with them.  Fun watching the little ones grow up.  I play golf at least twice a week, weather permitting, and still walk 18 holes.  Do not carry my own bag, but love the young caddies and try to encourage them with many things. 

From Ralph Wanger (Course XV) - I am happily retired in my native Chicago.  My condo is on the 67th floor at the Ritz Carlton.  Is that the class altitude record?  If measured from sea level, then my Aspen house is at 8,100 ft.  My daughter Jenny is going to MIT Sloan starting in September.  She erred by going to Harvard as an undergrad, but has found the light.  The FabLab concept has seduced me.  I have sponsored one at the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago, and another in Haifa at Madatech, a science museum associated with Technion.

From Gil Davidson (Course VIII) - This year’s mini-reunion was held during Alumni Week on Thursday, June 6th, beginning with pre-Pops cocktails and dinner at the Stratton Center and then boarding busses to Pops.  Attendees were Paul Attridge (Course XV), Rowe Austin (Course X),  Richard Carroll (Course X),  Bob Dauwalter (Course II),  Phil Eisner (Course VII),  Dan Moore (Course VI),  Ted Papastavros (Course X),  Pete Peterson (Course XV),  Joe Saliba (Course VI),  Dennis Shapiro (Course VI),  Albert Skane (Course VI),  Gif Weber (Course XVI),  Mel Weiner (Course VI),  David Wilbourn (Course X),  Dean Zeilon (Course II),  Edie Greene, and I.  A total of 31 attended, including family and friends.  The Pops guest conductor was a very dynamic Thomas Wilkins, the BSO’s Youth and Family Concerts Conductor and Music Director of the Omaha Symphony.  The program included the MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble performing Harbison’s “Rhumba for Raphael Reif”, and a jazz version of “In Praise of MIT”.  The program included the Boston Pops first-ever performance of “Pixar in Concert”, a group of memorable scores from each of Pixar’s animated features.  Stunning clips from each of the features were projected above the orchestra in synchronization with the music. It all made for a most enjoyable evening.

Also from Gil - on Saturday evening, May 11, six of our classmates had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Gala honoring L. Rafael Reif, MIT’s recently inaugurated President.  The Gala, organized by the MIT Club of Boston and LAMIT (Latino/a Alumni/ae of MIT) was held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Classmates attending were Ted Papastavros (Course X), George Ploussios (Course VI), George Raymond (Course II), Class VP Dennis Shapiro (Course VI) who was on the organizing committee for the event, Jerry Zindler (Course II), and I. The evening started with a concert by a group from Berklee School of Music playing Venezuelan music, then the MIT Student Dance Group performing a number of lively Salsa dances, and finishing with a video of the debut performance of “Rumba for Raphael”, composed by MIT’s John Harbison for the Inaugural ceremony last September.  During the dinner that followed there were a number of speakers, including Pres. Reif’s older brother who gave an entertaining talk about Raphael’s early life in Venezuela.  The Gala gave us a most enjoyable opportunity to wear our red jackets.

I’d reached TR’s word count limit for this column when I received three more fine class notes, and, sadly, two classmates’ obituaries.  Look for these in the next Notes column.

Richard I. Bergman, secretary, 134 Leabrook Lane, Princeton, NJ 08540; e-mail: