December 11, 2006 (Vol. 13, No. 30)

A weekly electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of Michigan Technological University

Edited by Dennis Walikainen (MS ’92), Director, Web Development, University Marketing and Communications

For past issues, see our archives.

In this issue:

No-Snow Days

We were doing well for a while, going from no snow nearly all deer season to almost enough for the snowmobilers. They even opened Mont Ripley this past weekend, thanks in great part to snow-making equipment. Then it warmed up and the hill and trails took a beating. It seems like it did last year, too, looking at the snow totals. The weatherman says more warm temperatures this week, and I thought I heard the "Heikki Lunta Snow Dance Song" on the radio this morning.

The "white gold" is a necessity up here, obviously. In addition to Mont Ripley and other ski hills, the snowmobile and cross-country ski trails bring big tourist dollars to the local area. And, for Tech students, the snow is one of the reasons they choose Tech. They want to ski and snowshoe and, of course, build those statues in February. We are supposed to be hosting an event on our ski trails this weekend, and we've already had one cancelled this year. Also, we are hosting the U.S. Nationals Men's and Women's Nordic Skiing in early January. We need snow.

So, we don't complain too much when we have to sweep, scoop, shovel, snow-plow and/or snow-blow most mornings from now until April. We know the snow is one more reason we are here. Besides, we've been thinking about getting the old cross-country skis out of the attic for the first time since 1982. Do they still sell wax for those things?


Snowfall Totals (from KRC)

Snowfall to date: 33.0"
Depth on ground: 10.0"
Snowfall total last week: 15.5"
Depth on ground last week: 5.5"
Snowfall total last year: 16.5"
Depth on ground last year: 1"

At Tech

TECH TO OFFER ONLINE ASTRONOMY COURSE: Michigan Tech is offering an online introductory astronomy course for its spring 2007 semester, beginning Tuesday, Jan. 16. The course is a standard two-credit course, with all its material including lectures, homework and tests available online. As such, students will never have to attend a class. Topics will include basic information about the sky, the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, black holes, the Big Bang theory and what we know about the universe as a whole. The class will also be available as a podcast. A podcast is an Internet audio show, much like a radio show. It can be saved to one's hard drive as an MP3 and played back at any time, as well. Tuition for the course will amount to $589.40 for residents and $1,374 for non-residents. Access to a computer with Windows XP is required. A program such as iTunes is required if one wishes to listen to the podcast; this is optional. For more information, call the Michigan Tech physics department at 906-487-2086 or e-mail epollins(at) To apply for the class, contact the Admissions Office at 487-2335 or 888-688-1885 and say you are interested in taking PH1600, Introductory Astronomy, online.


STUDENTS HELP ONE OF THEIR OWN: A bake sale, donations, and volunteer time were all coordinated to help a Tech student with mounting medical expenses. Paul, a fifth-year civil engineering student, was the recipient of all the good will, including the bake sale, which was cosponsored by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the University Writing Center. Paul's family lacks medical coverage, "and he expects to end up either in Ann Arbor or the Mayo Clinic, so proceeds will help with his travel expenses," said Lori Sherman, an advisor to AISES. The helping effort was begun by emails and word of mouth, and students, departments, faculty, and staff all contributed. "We had food coming in from 8:00 a.m. to noon," Sherman said. "I had students coming in who baked something. I didn't even know who they were, they just wanted to help. Students were giving $5, $10, even $20 donations, which is unbelievable because I know how tight money can be for students." Additional donations will be put into a savings account and can be sent to Lori Sherman, Alumni House, Room 102.


MONT RIPLEY OPENED WITH FREE SKIING: Mont Ripley opened for the season last weekend with free skiing on Friday and reduced rates Saturday and Sunday. The hill will be closed again Monday through Thursday, December 11-14, for snowmaking and will re-open Friday, December 15.


Tech Sports

MEN'S HOOPS NOW 4-0 AT HOME: The Michigan Tech men's basketball team won both of its games last week to improve its home record to 4-0 this season. The Huskies have won five straight and 13-of-14 home contests dating back to last year. Since the start of the 2001-02 season, Tech is 58-11 (.841) at the Student Development Complex Gym. Including Saturday's (Dec. 16) tilt with Findlay, Michigan Tech has nine home games remaining on its 2006-07 schedule.
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MINNESOTA EARNS SWEEP WITH 5-2 WIN OVER TECH HOCKEY TEAM: Minnesota (15-1-3, 9-0-3 WCHA) recorded three goals in the first period and two in the third stanza to help secure a 5-2 triumph and series sweep of the Michigan Tech hockey team (6-8-2, 3-7-2 WCHA) in front of 3,017 Saturday night at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Freshman Ryan Bunger (Sammamish, Wash.) and senior Tyler Skworchinski (Marathon, Ontario) each scored for the Huskies and sophomore Rob Nolan (Sherwood Park, Alberta) made 22 saves between the pipes for Michigan Tech.
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HOCKEY TRAVELS TO #10 NORTH DAKOTA: The Michigan Tech hockey team will be on the road for the first time in in nearly a month when it travels to take on #10 North Dakota this Friday (Dec. 15) and Saturday (Dec. 16) at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The Huskies last away games were at Denver Nov. 17-18.

FIRST CAGER CLUB LUNCHEON TUESDAY: The first Cager Club Luncheon of the 2006-07 basketball season will take place Tuesday (Dec. 12) at 12 noon in the Begg Conference Room of the Grant Hockey Educational Center. Men's basketball coach Kevin Luke and women's basketball skipper John Barnes will speak at the event, which is free of charge and open to all Huskies fans. A light lunch will be provided.


Recent Results

Hockey (6-8-2, 3-7-2 WCHA)
12/8--#1 Minnesota 4, at Michigan Tech 1
12/9--#1 Minnesota 5, at Michigan Tech 2

Women's Basketball (5-3, 3-1 GLIAC)
12/7--at Michigan Tech 62, Northwood 48
12/9--Saginaw Valley State 68, at Michigan Tech 54

Men's Basketball (5-3, 3-1 GLIAC)
12/7--at Michigan Tech 70, Northwood 52
12/9--at Michigan Tech 64, Saginaw Valley State 56

Nordic Skiing
12/2 & 12/3--Men and Women at Central Collegiate Ski Association Opener (no team scores)


What's Happening This Week

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Cager Club Luncheon, 12 noon (Grant Hockey Ed Center)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Huskies Drive Time on Mix 93.5 FM, 7:30-8 a.m.

Friday, December 15, 2006 (Husky Friday: wear school colors!)
Hockey at #10 North Dakota, 8:37 p.m. (Live Radio, 93.5 FM)

Saturday, December 16, 2006
Nordic Skiing hosts Michigan Tech Christmas Classic
Women's Basketball hosts Findlay, 3:30 p.m. (Live Radio, 93.5 FM)
Men's Basketball hosts #16 Findlay, 5:30 p.m. (Live Radio, 93.5 FM)
Hockey at #10 North Dakota, 8:07 p.m. (Live Radio, 93.5 FM)

Sunday, December 17, 2006
Nordic Skiing hosts Michigan Tech Christmas Classic

All Times are Eastern

Around the Keweenaw

Adapted from the Daily Mining Gazette

SNOWY STREET STILL BETTER THAN CANOPY: Even with winter hitting Houghton, most people don't miss the canopies over Huron Street, though the railings might be another matter. The canopies, covering Montezuma Avenue to Shelden Avenue and Shelden to Lake Avenue, were taken down earlier this year. The three-decade run ended on two counts: looks and functionality. With the canopies gone, Huron Street has an unobstructed view of the Portage Canal. And while the canopies were still keeping snow off the street, the beams supporting them were rotting. While the canopies had shielded the street from snow, water dripping off the canopies had made the sidewalks icy, said Kathy Puuri of the Suomi Restaurant. "Now it's not covered, but there's no ice ... it's been nice so far," she said. It hasn't been any more difficult to drive up the street so far, said Mary Dionne of Dollar Bay. "It's nice and bright now," she said. "It was so dark."
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DNR: DEER NUMBERS UP THIS YEAR: More and better deer came to Department of Natural Resources checkpoints in the Copper Country this year. One-hundred and ninety-six deer were checked in at Baraga during this year's firearm season, a 31 percent increase over last year, said Wildlife Biologist Rob Aho. That number's the third-highest in the past six years, and 8 percent higher than the six-year average. As of Friday morning, McLain State Park had reported 116 deer checked in from firearm season, as compared to 122 for all seasons last year. "We will exceed that this year," Aho said. Muzzle loading season ends on Sunday, while bow hunting ends on Jan. 1. Statewide, 258,000 deer were killed, a 7 percent jump from last year. Preliminary numbers are based on the observations of employees, hunters and processors, the number of licensees and the number of deer checked. This year's deer harvest can be partially attributed to a mild winter in 2005. In the area south of Baraga, last year's winter severity index was 20 percent lower than average.
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EAGLE HARBOR LIGHT RESTORED TO FULL SWEEP: Boaters, tourists and others with an interest in the Eagle Harbor lighthouse will see more light out of the landmark tower next summer. Since July 12, the windows on the harbor side of the light have been rendered opaque with black paint, preventing light from sweeping over the harbor. But a Tuesday decision by the U.S. Coast Guard's Ninth District Waterway and Management Board will restore the light to its pre-July 12 condition, with the light sweeping over the harbor. "I couldn't be happier," said Eagle Harbor resident Pat Roche, who advocated for restoring the sweep of the light after it was restricted this summer. Prior to its final approval, the change was opened for public comment over the past six weeks through the Ninth Coast Guard District's publication, "Local Notice to Mariners," available online at <>. Seasonal Eagle Harbor resident Carol Bogart circulated a petition and mailed it to the coast guard station in Dollar Bay. She collected 160 signatures from Eagle Harbor residents and frequent visitors in favor of giving the light a wider range of rotation. Restoring the light will involve replacing some of the lighthouse's glass panes. The change will not likely be made until the spring.
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DEVELOPMENT IN HANCOCK: Development, doors and discs all found a forum for discussion during a regular meeting of the Hancock City Council recently. Partially in an effort to inform three newly elected council members and also because "it was time," City Manager Glenn Anderson provided the council with an update on the city's current and proposed development projects. "Because they're new, it's good to give an overview of things that have been under discussion over the last year or so," Anderson said. Seven lots out of 19 have been sold at the Pleasant Ridge subdivision, Anderson said, while 23 out of 31 lots have been sold at the Birch Grove subdivision. Both privately owned subdivisions are located near Portage Health. Lots are also available at Spruce Haven, Anderson said, which is city-owned. The city still hopes to extend Campus Drive West, which also runs by the hospital, but is waiting for federal funding for that project, he said. Hancock is also looking to sell a parcel of prior Department of Public Works property located on the waterfront, with an asking price of $430,000. In other news: The Doors Doors Doors Art Project is also in full swing, with artist Mary Wright bringing 50 painted and decorated doors to Hancock's main street and its businesses. Anderson announced that the city will also host the 50th International Frisbee Tournament next June at the Hancock Driving Park. The event is expected to draw more than 200 participants, with teams from as far away as Japan and West Germany.
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From the Emailbag

Hi Dennis--Thanks for the Newsletter!

I applied for work at the Gates Tennis Center when it was under construction ('75-'76?), and joined the Tennis Team under Coach Cox.  Between Team Practices, working the counter and teaching Beginning Tennis, I spent 35 to 40 hours per week at the 'Gates'; much of the time with Coach Cox. This Hall of Fame Coach--was always #1 a Gentleman, and #2 a Taskmaster.  He will always be among the best memories of my years at Tech (There were a lot of them!) My son started at Michigan Tech this year ~ I pointed-out my favorite coach to him and many others at the SDC Hall of Fame Display! Kindest Regards to his family and all others he touched.

Rob Sattler--'77 & '79


Hey Dennis,
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Verdie Cox...His sports record speaks for itself, and he is certainly deserving of being placed in the sports hall of fame. But I feel that alone falls short.

When I was at Tech in the early 70s, we had to take the obligatory PE lasses, and like many of my peers, I looked for things I felt reasonably comfortable doing, and I ended up taking a swimming class that was taught by Coach Cox. I don't remember all the details, but I remember clearly how impressed I was when he was teaching me a 'back dive' from the side of the pool. He had a way of making you feel like you were the only person in the room. He broke the problems you were having down into such small steps you couldn't help but get better. After that experience, I watched him work with one student in particular who could barely swim, and before the end of the quarter, he was swimming the length of the pool with confidence.

He had a way of making you feel important, and place in you a desire to do your very best. I had the pleasure of sitting under some great teachers while at Tech. People like Dr. Tim in the ME Dept, and certainly Dr. Berry. If we ever have a great teacher hall of fame, I'd nominate those two and add Verdie Cox.

Pat Parker
ME 1975


Dennis, It might be worth sharing, that through his charm and wit, Verdie charmed some company who was doing highway work in the area into volunteering some equipment and fill, and got that front nine holes built for only about $25,000. I got that information a few years ago from Verdie himself, when I was up for graduation. Verdie, Rick yeo, Chuck Lucchesi and I went out after the Friday graduation dinner, and managed to squeeze in 9 holes on Verdie's nine before dark. It was a special evening for me, and I will never forget it. Like everyone else who ever knew him, I loved that guy.

Jim Mitchell



See if there's anyone out there that remembers Verdie playing a game of squash with George Mans (1961 University of Michigan Football Captain). I believe Verdie coached golf, tennis and was an assistant football coach. George was an assistant football coach at the time.

Tom Weston '65

Editor's Note: Any alums remember this one?


Dennis, I was browsing your letter and was sorry to see that Verdie died. I played football and basketball for Verdie and there is no end to the stories about him. But more than his humor he was a sincere person interested in the welfare of his charges.

It was 1959 and I and a good friend from the same high school were living in the barracks behind DHH where football, basketball, and hockey players lived and you could only sleep after 1 AM. One evening my pal and I were sampling some surprisingly good lager in a bar in Chassell and there was two old flintlock rifles sitting by the door. For some reason we thought we should have these guns, so when no one was paying attention, we walked out the door with them. The next morning Verdie was at the barracks at 8 AM explaining that if he returned the guns by noon nothing would be said. I have no idea how he found out about it or what he had to say or do to keep us out of trouble but I am forever grateful. He never mentioned the issue again.

The last time I saw Verdie we played golf at Treetops in Gaylord (2002 football outing). He played from the front tees but you could still see the fundamentals of a good swing. It was there, later in the evening, that he reminded me, and everyone within earshot, of the incident. But he still didn't say how he found out.

He was truly a man worth knowing.  Bill Wiljanen '61


From the Michigan Tech Fund:

Please Make Your Annual Gift to Tech Soon

Many Tech alumni make year-end gifts to the University in order to benefit from a tax deduction for the current year.  If you are planning to make a 2006 contribution to Michigan Tech, please don't wait. The end of the years is rapidly approaching!  You can call the MTF at 906-487-2310.

The IRS states that a check you mail to a charity is considered delivered on the date it is mailed.  Contributions charged on your bank credit card are deductible in the year you make the charge, so it must be completed by December 31.

Gifts to the Michigan Tech Fund can be made online at  <>.


Alumni Association Programs

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


20--Houghton, Keweenaw Alumni Chapter, Holiday Social, Thirsty Fish (Franklin Square Inn), 5:00-6:30 p.m.

29-30--Detroit, GLI Hockey at the Joe Louis Arena

The order form for GLI tickets: 


Tickets that are ordered in advance are $1 less than the box office, and a portion of the money goes to the Detroit Chapter Scholarship Fund.


3--Michigan Tech vs. GVSU West Michigan Chapter Event

28--Brunch at Marie Catrib's West Michigan Chapter Event


10--Houghton, Tech Legacy Reception, Winter Carnival


ALUMNI ASSOCIATION LOOKING FOR NOMINEES: The Alumni Association would like to solicit nominees for the four awards to be given at next year's Alumni Reunion in August 2007. The four awards are Outstanding Service, utstanding Young Alumni, Distinguished Alumni, and Honorary Alumni. Nomination forms can be found at:
There was an outstanding slate of award winners at this year's Alumni Dinner at Reunion including former Michigan Tech President Ray Smith. Any alumni can nominate someone they feel is deserving via the online form. Nominations must be in by January 2007. Feel free to contact Mark Mitchell <mmitch12(at)>   if you have any questions.

Job Opportunities This Week

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

No job postings this week.

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