BY BARBARA PALMER
DON BARR, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF sociology, wore vintage black when he accepted a Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award at Sunday's Commencement exercises: He donned the professorial robes worn by his grandfather, Frank Adams, Class of '01. His grandfather entered Stanford in 1896, stopped out for a year to earn money, and later was a professor of agriculture, first at UC-Davis and later at UC-Berkeley, Barr said. He thinks that the last time his grandfather wore the robe was in the 1940s; Barr wore it in Stanford Stadium a decade ago, when he was awarded a Ph.D. in sociology. A more colorful item in his grandfather's academic wardrobe also has survived the years -- a "plug ugly," which is a hat once traditionally worn by juniors during an annual melee in the Inner Quad. (The practice was later abolished.) Barr wasn't wearing the plug ugly on Sunday -- he donated it to the Stanford Archives.
A MYRIAD OF DETAILS THAT GO INTO making Commencement appear seamless, and one of the more pressing chores this year fell to GLENNA LETSINGER, administrative associate for Stanford Events. Last week, Letsinger cheerfully ironed 26 robes for campus officials and visiting dignitaries who took part in the ceremonies. (She even brought her own iron and ironing board when she didn't like the way the rented steamer was performing.) Director of Public Events ELAINE ENOS and ALISA NEWSON, public events associate, have been working full throttle on Commencement for months, but in the days preceding the big event, the entire Stanford Events staff pitches in to help. "I'm happy to do it; it's so fun, " Letsinger said. She started her day Sunday by (again, cheerfully) providing wake-up calls to the flag bearers. ("They're students. They might need help getting up.") One of the more gratifying aspects is being able to provide information to rattled parents who call the office looking for information, said Letsinger, who is something of an expert on Stanford: She earned a bachelor's degree in human biology and married a Stanford grad. She found her job while volunteering on campus through the Volunteer Clearinghouse, a program operated by the Office of Alumni Volunteer Relations.
Glenna Letsinger, administrative associate for Stanford Events, ironed 26 robes for campus officials and visiting dignitaries. She brought the iron and ironing board from home. Photo: L.A. Cicero
WITH FORMER DEAN OF STUDENTS MARC WAIS as guest speaker, the Class of 2003 dedicated its senior plaque and tucked away a time capsule on Saturday. Among the 44 items saved for posterity were a Stanford Band "Dolly" dress, an organic chemistry final with a failing grade, a golf ball, a cell phone, disposable underwear, an article about SARS from the Stanford Biomedicine Quarterly, five Euros, a water gun, a heart-shaped badge bearing the name of a 9/11 victim and a green ribbon protesting the Iraq war.
A HARRY POTTER-INSPIRED GAME OF quidditch, bowling (with human pins) and a giant game of Twister were among the games students played at Sunday's Wacky Walk. During Commencement, students amused themselves with "Graduation Bingo," played with a paper grid marked with words including "academia," "attitude," "journey," "success" and "happiness." Participants were instructed to shout "Bingo" every time they heard the words marked in five boxes in a row. The first clearly audible "Bingo!" came while President JOHN HENNESSY was introducing Commencement speaker Alejandro Toledo.
AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THE Baccalaureate Celebration, Commencement and numerous smaller official events over the weekend, the staff of the Office for Religious Life had one more tradition to go. On Tuesday, nine staff members, including Rabbi PATRICIA KARLIN-NEUMANN, the Revs. SCOTTY MCLENNAN and JOANNE SANDERS, and university organist ROBERT HUW MORGAN had a picnic and played croquet behind Memorial Church, in a kind of "post-Commencement unwinding," said Karlin-Neumann. It was a "jovial competition," said Sanders, who added that she still remembers how to do a little "trash-talking" from her days as a collegiate athletic coach. "We do this kind of thing from time to time to learn not to take ourselves too seriously," she said. Mid-match, SUNNY TOY, an administrative associate for the Department of Religious Studies, brought over a bottle of champagne and challenged the group to an interdepartmental match.
THE PHONE NUMBER FOR MARIAN LEIB ADAMS, chairman of the Stanford Historical Society's "Historic Houses" project, was listed incorrectly in last week's Cardinal Chronicle. Volunteers for the project, which researches historic campus homes, can reach Adams at 326-9212.
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or mail code 2245 or call her at 724-6184.
Stanford Report, June 18, 2003