TechAlum News

February 28, 2005 (Vol. 11, No. 40)

An award-winning weekly electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of Michigan Technological University. Written and distributed by Dean Woodbeck '78, Senior Director of University Communications. For past issues, see our archives.

In this issue:

  • Husky Tales
  • At da Tech
  • Around Town
  • From the E-mailbag
  • E-mail Updates/Welcome to new subscribers
  • Alumni Chapter Events
  • Job Opportunities
  • Electronic Services for Alumni

Husqi Tales

     Boy did we get some snow Saturday night. I think we've been lulled into a false sense of security recently, with blue skies and 25 degrees and fast conditions on the Nordic trails.

     Sunday morning, though, we had calf-high snow (take that how you want--human leg or bovine) all over the driveway. In some spots, I watched my 5' 7" son wade into drifts up to his shoulders. On mornings like this, it sure is nice to have someone else take on the Husqvarna duties and sit inside with a warm cup of coffee.

     That snowfall, by the way, isn't reflected in the totals below, since my source doesn't update their web site on the weekend.

     This is the time of year when two-lane roads become one-and-a-half lanes--when you can really fit only three cars into that four-lane road on the Hancock side of the bridge. This makes for interesting driving tactics, particularly when things are slippery.

     When we first moved back here, I took the Me First approach on such days: "Forget the rest of those cars--full speed ahead!" Now my approach is much more sensible, both because of my experience (some young city drivers might call it "timidity") and because my compact will win few battles with pick-ups-n-plows or SUVs. Now I just try to space myself so I won't end up squeezed like a Florida orange.

Snow Watch '04-'05

As of February 25, 2005
                     This week   Last week   Last year  
    Snowfall to date    140.01" 133.51"    207"     On the ground         32"        27"         30"
See our snowfall chart, dating back to 1890, at

Day--by-day snowfall:

ALUMNI BULLETIN BOARD: Remember the alumni bulletin board for you to use for discussions related to this newsletter, Tech sports, or anything else:

At Da Tech

BOARD APPROVES PROGRAMS: Michigan Tech's Board of Control approved six new degree programs Friday, including bachelor of science degrees in theater and entertainment technology and in audio production and technology. Other programs include BA degrees in theater and entertainment technology, sound design, cheminformatics and pharmaceutical chemistry.

     The board also approved major improvements to three 1960s-era elevators in the R. L. Smith Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Building and approved the new University Senate constitution. More:

FACULTY MEMBER HONORED BY SAE: John Gershenson, associate professor of mechanical engineering, has been selected by the Society of Automotive Engineers to receive a 2005 Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award. This annual award recognizes outstanding engineering educators. More:

FOOTBALL PLAYER AT NFL COMBINE: Tech's All-American lineman, Joe Berger, worked out in front of National Football League officials at the league's annual combine last week, becoming the first Tech player ever to do so. Berger was the subject of a front page sports feature in the Feb. 27 Detroit News. See the story:

TECH STUDENTS REACH OUT: To recognize National Engineering Week, engineering students from Michigan Tech visited middle and high schools throughout the area last week telling students of the importance of engineering in everyday life. One illustration: students were divided into teams to work out the most efficient way to assemble and package burgers and fries in an allotted time.

DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD FINALISTS: Alumni are invited to comment on the finalist for the Distinguished Teaching Award finalists. Send any comment by April 1, 2005, to Nancy Seely (nsseely(at) In the associate professor/professor category, finalists are Tomas Co (chemical engineering, Dean Johnson (business and economics), Dennis Lynch (humanities), Charles Nelson (humanities), John Sandell (chemical engineering), and Anne Wysocki (humanities).

     Finalists in the assistant professor/lecturer category are: Ann Brady (humanities), Sean Clancey (chemical engineering), Brian Davis (electrical and computer engineering), Karyn Fay (biological sciences), Michael Moore (College of Engineering), and Michael Powers (School of Technology)

BULLETIN BOARD UPDATES: The alumni bulletin board now includes separate boards for each reunion class and reunion group for 2005. For more information about the reunion in general, contact mtu_reunion(at) or toll-free 877-688-2586. You'll find the bulletin board here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION from Tech, see the weekly newsletter Tech Topics:

Around Town

LIBRARY PROPOSED FOR WATERFRONT: The Portage Lake District Library board and the City of Houghton are looking at building a new library on the waterfront. Officials are looking at the former Gundlach warehouse property, just west of the UPPCO headquarters. The warehouse burned to the ground over a year ago. During a library board meeting Wednesday, architectural representatives presented preliminary floor plans illustrating the project.

SNOMOBILER KILLED NEAR DOLLAR BAY: Patrick Cassin, a 19-year-old Elk Grove, Illinois, native was killed in Osceola Township Saturday when his snowmobile collided with the sled being driven by his friend thirty-year-old Andrew Gresens. Gresens was treated at Keewenaw Memorial Hospital before being transferred to Marquette General.

From the E-mailbag

E-mail from Blake Lieffers '95 (BLieffers(at)


11 Detroit Chapter 2005 Gold Outing

A gold outing? Sign me up! Will we be panning for gold
in the Detroit river? Or the rouge river?

E-mail from Mike Magyar '89 (mmmikkke(at)


Quoting from your recent writing:

"This time of year can be especially tough, with
Carnival over, winter now in its fourth month (or so),
And spring a distant glimmer. It helps to remember,
Come winter, spring, summer or fall (well, OK, spring
isn't the most beautiful time around here), that this
really is a nice place to live, work, and go to

That was poetic, and heartfelt. Thanks!

E-mail from John Helge '75 (jhelge(at)


I laughed when I read John Chamberlin's email in
today's AlumNews! Here's a couple more stories about
the Winter Carnival days of yore!

During my first year in Blue Key in 1974-75 I was
assigned to help Michigan Tech hockey player and all-around bon
vivant Bruce Abbey run the Winter Carnival Queen
Competition. As a football offensive lineman, I was a
better scramble blocker than I was a ladies' man. So
needless to say I was in hog heaven just watching
Bruce handle the stress of having to interface with
all those lovely queen candidates. I truly must say
that I learned at the feet of the master! As Bruce was
tied up with the Winter Carnival hockey games, the
task of escorting the visitor from South West Texas
State fell to me that year. I knew we were in a bit of
trouble when she got off the plane in her only winter
coat, a windbreaker! We got her some warm clothes and
she had a blast visiting the snow statue sites in
their final hours of preparation.

In 1975-76 I somehow was selected President of Michigan Tech
Blue Key and as such found myself on a plane leaving
Houghton one frigid November Sunday headed for San
Antonio, TX. I had never been south of Cincinnati in
my short life and was very pleased to find myself in
80 degree sunshine, but more pleased to be met
planeside by 20 of the most beautiful young women I
had ever seen. These were the candidates for the
Southwest Texas State University All Campus Beauty of
1976 and I was there to do my duty as a "celebrity"
judge. For the next 3 days and nights I was snapped up
in a whirlwind of interviews, rehearsals, and talent
presentations. I answered countless questions about
that small engineering school on the edge of the
frozen tundra that sent down a ton of snow every
January so the fraternities and sororities could have
a snowball fight on campus. Most interviewers wanted
to know why there as so much snow and why there were
so few women at Michigan Tech. I am sure that my answers to both
those questions soon became relatively intertwined.
The night of the final competition was a highlight as
I got to help crown the new STSU All Campus Beauty and
present her with a huge down parka in preparation for
her upcoming visit to Houghton the following February!

I always thought we got quite a deal in this exchange
with Southwest Texas State University. One ton of snow
for their All Campus Beauty! I have never been able to
negotiate a deal like that in my 30 years since!

E-mail from Bruce Osten '67 (bruceosten(at)

Dean --

How expensive can it be to ship a couple of boxes of
snowballs from Houghton to Texas? Whoever gave you
that excuse ought to be challenged!

If I'm not mistaken, the subject (apparently now
defunct) tradition began during my Tech tenure --
1962-67 -- as West Texas State was the alma mater of
then U.S. President Lyndon Johnson. At the time it
was great PR for both schools, but I suppose that
since he has faded from popularity so has the PR
value. Your source should be more truthful! The cost
of shipment cannot be the real reason... As today is
President's day, I suggest that Blue Key re-evaluate
their decision.

Dean sez: I should have been more clear. This was *a lot* of snow being shipped in cargo containers to SW Texas State.

E-mail from Kurt Westphal '85 (Kurt.G.Westphal(at)

Hi Dean,

Thanks for the weekly infusion of Michigan Tech news to the
otherwise mundane work day.

I am inspired to write in response the Kerry Irons
hidden challenge to uncover how many times Michigan Tech has
shut down due to weather. With the e-newsletter
reaching 7,139 alumni going to back to the 1940's, I
think we can collect a reasonable list of dates (month
/ yr) when Michigan Tech closed due to weather.

Give me the privilege of starting the list with two
events January 1982 and December 2, 1985. I remember
the 1985 date well because it was after my
commencement and I did not suffer through the 16 hour
drive my former roommates made heading back to
school. Several previous newsletter contributors have
mentioned this storm by their memorable escort of a
highway road scraper leading them on Hwy 41 around the
bay between L'Anse and Baraga.

For all those other alumni who got a day off, please
let Dean know, I am sure he would appreciate being the
designated record keeper. : )

E-mail from Pete Dohms '67 (pdohms(at)

Snow Days: In the four years I was at Tech (Fall '63 -
Spring '67), classes were cancelled only once, and
that was one fine afternoon in the Winter Quarter of
'65 when the snow plows couldn't make it down Highway
41. That was the same year we had the "ugly" snow
statues; the night before judging, the temperature
fell to about -15, wind was from the northwest at
about 25 knots; it wasn't snowing, the precipitation
was ice pellets and they hurt!. All the "outdoor" beer
froze solid, and the wine started to get slushy.
About 11 pm came the word that the Theta Tau statue
had a disaster (one of the four corner towers of the
near life-size Taj Mahal collapsed; they tried to
cover it up by placing the name plate in that
location; didn't fool the judges).

Point is, the previous correspondents (e.g., Kerry
Irons) were correct. Snow days were & are rare, so
much so that "nobody can remember the last one" when
one occurs.

E-mail from Debby (Gregorius) Kozol '84

Hi Dean!

I agree with Kerry Irons. I would like to see the
list of dates Michigan Tech when closed down but you'll need to
survey aging Techie brains.

I remember a Friday in January 1981. Balmy 60 degrees
F at 8 AM, Rain at 10AM, Blizzard at 11 AM, TECH
closed by noon. My friend, Cathy Hudson, who was
visiting me and had attended Tech for two years,
missed her once-a-day bus to return to Purdue.

E-mail from Courtney Fitzsimons

Hi Dean!

One last comment on snow closings at Tech, and then
I'll shut up. There's a big difference between a snow
closing, and class cancellation because of snow. There
were a few times when I was there (77 to Winter 82-83)
when Tech cancelled afternoon classes, or even the
whole day (usually found this out only after you'd
fought the blizzard and gotten to campus!) because of
snow or white-out wind conditions. But when the closed
Tech in my 78-79 year, they closed the WHOLE thing;
faculty, administrative and auxiliary staff,
maintenance, maybe even the physical plant and public
safety, too. I mean, Tech just shut down! On the class
cancellation days, I'm pretty sure administration,
staff, maintenance, and faculty that could make it in,
had to report.

At least that was my understanding of how it worked,
because I seem to remember some faculty and staff
complaining that they had to be there, while we had
classes cancelled. But I also remember some bad snow
days when classes were not cancelled, and the profs
didn't even show up, mainly cause they probably lived
somewhere north of Mohawk on some impassible two-track
road. Ah well, such is executive privilege.

Keep up the great newsletter. Don't know when I'll get
up for another carney, but I hope Labor Day is in
order for our Phi Kap reunion.

E-mail from Bryon Freeman '04 (bpfreema(at)

Answer to #3 from a recent Pep Band Alum:

From what I was told, the Pep Band switched it's power
play riff to a short handed riff mostly because our
team could not hear each other. The riff was
distracting to our players. The band then switched so
that it would be distracting to the opposing team
instead. I am pretty sure that this switch took place
towards the end of last year.

E-mail from Ward Rietz, Jr. '03 (wwrietz1(at)


I have a couple comments about Winter Carnival myself,
as well as a couple of answers to Kevin Britton's e-
mail. To answer Kevin first:

I was surprised when I heard it played as a short
handed riff for the first hockey game of the season, I
thought the band screwed up. I was told by the
current band members the reason for this change was
that coach Jamie Russell asked them to switch it. The
reason is that because the band is so loud, the team
had trouble calling out plays when on the power play.
When they are short handed, they just need to clear
the puck and it would actually disrupt the other team
more, because they can't communicate as easily when
it's louder. I still get confused when I play with
them, but, I guess it works ok since we're doing very
well on the PP this season.

On to Carnival..

I also had an amazing time. Houghton sure feels more
like home than my current home does. It was really
great being out at the Hockey and Basketball games
playing with the band and directing a few songs. It's
weird how many people from the community still
recognize me and say hi when I am at games. It sure
was a great weekend for Tech athletics! I keep
realizing I'm getting too old for that band stuff now
(even at only 24). I lost my voice by the end of the
Saturday Hockey game and couldn't talk until Monday.
But it was worth it. Could anyone hear me? ;o)

I walked around the new addition to the library and
was definitely impressed. Have they initiated phase
II yet? I think this was just the completion of phase
I if memory serves me correctly. Also, when all
phases are completed, they really need to change the
name from the Center for Integrated Learning and
Information Technology (CILIT) to anything else (pick
a name of a donor). The students have been snickering
over the CILIT since the idea was born (2000-2001?).

I also liked what they are doing to the basement of
Wadsworth hall so far. WMichigan Tech looks great. And the
kitchenettes upstairs are really nice looking. I wish
my apartment kitchen was that nice. I should have
stayed at Tech to get my masters....

It's 76 degrees today.. in February. Gotta love New

Dean sez: Phase II, which includes the renovation of Fisher Hall, is still in Tech's priority list when capital funding becomes available from the state.

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

We're at 7,135 subscribers.

Here are the new e-mail addresses from the past week. Please note, we are
using the word "at" instead of the at sign to guard against spambots.

1955 Harold Nyquist hjnyq(at)
1959 William Mundhenk wmundhenk(at)
1961 Monte Clark cmontec(at)
1981 Ralph Herberg herberg(at)
1986 Joseph Palace japalace(at)
1990 Ramsey Franjieh rfranjieh(at)
1991 Robert Crowley bob(at)
1992 Kurt Komraus kurtk(at)
1993 Kenneth Shear kenwisconsin(at)
1994 Susan Wagner (Seppanen) swagner5150(at)
1994 James Kirsch kirsch828(at)
1994 Michael Thom michaelwthom(at)
1994 James Kirsch kirsch828(at)
1995 Scott Wagner swagner5150(at)
1995 Joel Johnson joel.johnson(at)
1996 Ryan Plum rmplum(at)
1998 Leah Arnold leah2675(at)
2000 Michael Skowronek skowronek22(at)
2001 Amanda Kuhl (Shanight) ashanight(at)
2001 Randal EngBlade 2ndr(at)

You can update your information at:

Alumni Association Programs

CHAPTER EVENTS: For more information on alumni chapter events,
e-mail mtu_alumni at or see the alumni chapter site on the web.


7 Iron Mountain Chapter student send-off

18 West Michigan -- alumni night with the Griffins

14 West Michigan Chapter Spring Dinner

25 Green Bay Chapter 26th Annual Golf Outing

11 Detroit Chapter 2005 Golf Outing

ADA PLANS 25-YEAR REUNION: Alpha Delta Alpha sorority will celebrate its 25-year reunion this summer during the Tech alumni reunion. The event will take place the weekend of August 5-7. For information contact Kim Klender at ksklende(at) or visit the ADA alumni website at

ALPHA XI ZETA PLANS 20TH REUNION: Alpha Xi Zeta is planning its 20-year reunion Labor Day Weekend, September 2-4, 2005. For more information, contact Shannan Fisher at snfisher(at)"

SIGMA PHI EPSILON PLANS 40TH: Sigma Phi Epsilon will celebrate its 40th anniversary during the Michigan Tech alumni reunion weekend this summer, August 5-7.

LAMBDA CHI ALPHA REUNION: The Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity is planning their 25th reunion during reunion weekend, August 5th through August 7th. For information, contact Carl Craven at carl_1955(at)

DELTA ZETA PLANS 30-YEAR REUNION: The Delta Zeta sorority will celebrate its 30-year reunion this summer during the Tech alumni reunion. The event will take place the weekend of August 5-7. For information contact Heidi Mueller at hmuelle6(at) or Ellie Mulcahy at eamulcahy(at)

ALPHA SIGMA TAU plans 25th REUNION:  Alpha Sigma Tau's 25th Reunion will be held over Labor Day weekend, September 2-5, 2005.  Details will be sent over the alumnae email list.  Please contact Emily Callow at elcallow(at) with any questions.

PHI LAMBDA BETA REUNION: Phi Lambda Beta Sorority, which was active on campus from 1958 thru 1978, is planning a reunion in Houghton, August 2 thru August 4, 2005.  After a year of searching and correspondence, many sisters are planning to be in Houghton for this event. Phi Lambda Beta later became Alpha Gamma Delta. There are many sisters who remain on our "lost" list, and we would like very much to contact as many as possible.  Any information:  please contact:  Diane Henderson Smith-Messner at dianemessner(at) 

DELTA UPSILON REUNION MAY 14:  I am setting up a 25th Anniversary for the Delta Upsilon International Fraternity/ Alpha Delta Upsilon Colonization on May 14, 2005 in Houghton. For more information visit or email Adam Mitteer (aamittee(at)

Job Opportunities This Week

ON CAMPUS: Complete job descriptions for these positions are available by e-mailing jobs at

  • No new postings this week

OFF CAMPUS: For off-campus positions, visit the alumni section of the career center's web site (

See you next week