Michigan Tech Magazine Winter 2009-10

Letters to the Editor

What happened to the Wurlitzer?

The fall 2009 issue of the Michigan Tech Magazine was one of the best in many years. There were many interesting articles, recipes, stories, and photos in this issue. I grew to love pasties in my five years in the Copper Country, and since those years were in the 1960s, I got a great kick out of the "Where the Boys Are" article.

But the most impact on me, and on my wife, was the photo and article about the Wurlitzer pipe organ. We are wondering what is going to happen to the organ in its retirement.

Jim Pharis
BSME '67

Editor's note: Thank you so much for asking. We inquired of Mike Abbott, Michigan Tech's director of sports and recreation, and he tells us that the G. M. Buck Organ Company of Grand Rapids has lovingly dismantled and removed the Mighty Wurlitzer from the MacInnes Student Ice Arena and plans to restore it and sell it. Hopefully the gracious lady will find new life in a new home.

A question of retention

On page 10 of the fall 2009 Michigan Tech Magazine are graphs that indicate that, although incoming students have equivalent ACT scores, females persistently graduate at a higher rate. The point is well made.

As a Michigan Tech professor (1968–88), now emeritus, who has experienced the problems of student retention (and of new faculty), I see something else in the second graph that bothers me. When I read that about 40 percent of the incoming men and 30 percent of the incoming women do not graduate, I wish that there were also a footnote to explain why it is so high. My worry is that if a parent were to see this number, would the parent encourage a student to come to a university that has such a large dropout rate?

At Michigan Tech the dropout rate for freshmen is about 20 percent. Even at the highly selective Ivy League schools it is a high number, about 10 percent. From purely the marketing point of view, perhaps another useful number to use would be the graduation rate starting with the sophomores because they have now declared their major.

Jorma (Joe) Kalliokoski

Editor's note: We agree that those numbers could seem rather alarming and deserve to be put in context. The Federal Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act requires that the University calculate its graduation rates based on the percentage of students in an incoming, full-time, degree-seeking freshman class who complete their degrees within six years for a four-year program. Based on these numbers, Michigan Tech ranks third among the state's fifteen public universities at 64 percent, behind the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (88 percent) and Michigan State University (75 percent). We believe that's pretty impressive, particularly considering the rigor of Tech's programs.

Where the boys (and the girls) are

The first female engineering students at Michigan Tech had countless boundaries to overcome while charting a new path for women. Since that time, women in technical fields have encountered different barriers and have successfully overcome them. They entered a field that was, and still is, male-dominated. Whether these women knew it or not, they have helped pave the path that today's female students at Michigan Tech have followed. It is our responsibility as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) to help continue to pave the path that the brave women before us have started.

The women who studied engineering before us did not try to overcome gender barriers simply to obtain their "MRS" degree; they came here for the quality education that Michigan Tech had to offer. This reason still holds true for the present members of Michigan Tech's SWE section. The male-to-female ratio had no effect on our decision to study here. Our decisions were made based on Michigan Tech's reputation for preparing students to be strong engineers and scientists, ready to thrive in technical careers.

We do agree with some statements made in this article. None of our current members have ever felt discriminated against despite being one of a few women in some courses. We have all always felt that we belong here, and have never been discouraged from studying in these technical fields due to our gender.

However, we disagree with the viewpoint that the current male-to-female ratio is fine the way it is. We feel that only a narrow group of students were interviewed, so that an accurate picture was not painted. We would love to see more women at Michigan Tech. SWE's position is to promote equality and provide support for women who study in technical fields. We organize many activities to encourage young women to pursue engineering or technology if that is what they are passionate about. We spend time each semester teaching elementary school students about engineering and writing letters to successful high school students to reward them for their hard work, in order to show that women can thrive as engineering students and professionals.

As women we need to encourage each other to follow our hearts and study in technical fields. We should not discourage women from attending Michigan Tech for any reason. The first female engineering students at Michigan Tech would be proud to see the advances that have been made for women in this field. We must continue their original mission as we strive for diversity at Michigan Tech.

The 2009–10 SWE Executive Council
Kaitlyn Bunker, President
Christina Vandyke, Vice President
Melanie McQueen, Second Vice President for Membership Fall 2009
Pamela Wolting, Second Vice president for Membership Spring 2010
Amy Saelen, Secretary
Justine Wiles, Treasurer

Your article is a slap in the face to all the women and men who put in hard work to earn degrees from Michigan Tech. You are trivializing an excellent education down to whether there is someone to talk to in class, whether the girls wear make-up and the boys open doors for them. How about focusing on excellence in education? When a Tech grad heads out to interviews it is against the law for the interviewer to ask the questions asked in this article. Did you know that?

I am a female EE grad from the early 1990s. I worked my you-know-what off for my grades and for respect among the professors and male students. We were always teased that we were only there to get a guy, not to mention all the other derogatory comments we received that went as far as rating us on our looks publicly.

I am astonished, in shock, insulted, and angry that you would write something like this, and worse, that Tech would find it important enough to publish. I look forward to Michigan Tech news that means something, that tells the story of Tech and their excellence, not this sort of fluff, sorry, crap.

If Tech needs to beef up enrollment, how about making sure the programs are still top notch? I'm not sure what's happening to my alma mater, but you're not getting any money out of me if you keep going down this road.

When I graduated from Tech my education was a level above any other engineering school grad that was hired with me. I graduated from Tech when we were still on quarters and you had to be one tough cookie, male or female to make the cut. Now, Tech writes articles about a "flirty little secret."

Kaet Johnson
EE Power '92

I just wanted to let Marcia Goodrich know how much I thoroughly enjoyed her article "Where the Boys Are" in the fall 2009 Michigan Tech Magazine. When I attended Michigan Tech, from 1985 to 1989, I felt like many of the young ladies that were interviewed for this article. And to be honest, being one of a few females in some of my classes really did prepare me for the real world and my career in the construction industry. I am glad to see Michigan Tech continuing to make a targeted effort to recruit female students. I absolutely enjoy my profession as an engineer, and couldn't image doing anything else!

Kerry Sutton '89, PE, LEED AP
Director of Engineering, SE MICHIGAN
Michigan Concrete Association

It was refreshing to see that article in the last issue of the Michigan Tech Magazine focusing on the coed experience. However, contrary to what was stated in the article, most of the girls were not studying nursing in 1960.

I started in fall of 1957 and did not know anyone who was studying nursing. It was always said that the nurses from St. Joe's (St. Joseph's Hospital in Hancock) took some of their classes at Tech, but I never knew any. However, I'm guessing that nearly half of those starting in my class were studying medical technology, quite different from nursing. The rest were in engineering, math, or were beginning at Tech with the goal of transferring to another college after a year or two. We had approximately thirty girls living on campus in Smith House; the rest were local girls or Tech wives. Medical technology was sort of an orphan discipline at Tech then. We were part of the chemistry department and also took many of our classes with the foresters.

Before classes even started, the chemistry department head told us flat out in an orientation meeting (along with the new chem majors) that girls didn't belong at Tech and weren't welcome at Tech. By the time we were juniors, he did condescend to acknowledge us when passing through quant lab.

Some of us from our generation had some very un-PC experiences at Tech. Generally we med techs had less of that because we were in a "women's profession." However, the girls in the more nontraditional or "male" fields had much more of it.

Gail Richter '61

Editor's note: According to our research, Michigan Tech did not begin an associate degree program in nursing until 1974 and graduated its last nurses in 1982. The medical technology degree has a far longer history and is still alive and well.

I read with interest Marcia Goodrich's article titled "Where the Boys Are" in the fall '09 edition of Michigan Tech Magazine. When I began at Tech I had little interest in girls in a romantic sense. However, those whom I got to know were generally fellow members of Alpha Phi Omega as we did service projects together such as teaching Scouts how to swim on a weekly basis, showing Friday and Saturday night movies in Fisher Hall, serving hot chocolate during Winter Carnival, and working the "snow holes" as ushers during hockey season. As the result of an APO get-together with other Michigan Tech friends during my graduation year, I was introduced to the love of my life, to whom I've now been happily married for the past thirty-four years.

My question is, "Do Tech toots who marry each other tend to stay together longer than those at colleges where the male-to-female ratio is more even?" For those of us who are science, technology, engineering, and math oriented it is certainly something worth exploring.

Rodney Merrill '75
Married to Janice Lothrop '73

Editor's note: According to our records, about 8,800 Tech grads are married to their fellow alumni/ae. That's about 4,400 couples. We'd love to verify that those matches last longer than others, but it's better to be honest and concede that this question is beyond our purview.

Remembrance of pasties past

We have received a request for the vegetarian pasty recipe served at Tech in the 1970s. Here is the one in use now, courtesy of Ernie Beutler, dining services supervisor and bakery manager, along with a traditional meat recipe. Both have been adapted to yield ten pies.

Regular Pasties
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/16 cup shortening
1 1/4 cup cold water
4 teaspoons salt

4 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 1/2 pounds coarse ground pork
12 ounces coarse ground beef
1 1/4 cups diced onions
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced rutabaga
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Veggie Pasties
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/16 cups shortening
1 1/4 cups cold water
4 teaspoons salt

3 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 cup diced rutabaga
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced onion
1 1/4 cups diced broccoli
1 1/4 cups diced firm tofu
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon margarine

The procedures are the same for both recipes; only the ingredients differ.

Mix the filling ingredients together and set aside.

Mix the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening as for pie crust. Add the water and mix gently just until the dry particles are absorbed; do not over mix.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Divide the dough into 10 equal parts. On a floured surface, roll out each into circles about the size of a dinner plate. Put about 12 ounces of filling on one half. Dampen the edges, fold the crust of the filling, and seal.

Place on greased baking sheets (or use baking paper). Bake for one hour and serve with catsup or gravy.


Mix 1-3/4 cups water with 2 ounces of broth concentrate, either beef or vegetarian, and bring to a boil. While waiting for the mix to boil, combine 2 tablespoons of flour and 1/4 cup cold water; stir all the lumps out. Just before the bouillon boils, slowly add flour mixture while stirring constantly. Add a few drops of Kitchen Bouquet for additional color if you like. Continue to stir for about 1 minute after gravy boils. This will cook the flour taste out. Yield: 2 cups of gravy

The rest of the story . . .

I enjoyed the article in the recent Michigan Tech Magazine about the panty raid on the nurses' home at St. Joseph's Hospital. Although I was not actually a participant I was not too far from the action and remember some facts that will shed new light on the incident.

It is important to understand the layout of the hospital and the nurses' home, Ryan Hall. The old hospital was a beautiful old sandstone structure that sat on the edge of the hill with an expansive view of Portage Lake. It was administered by the Sisters of St. Joseph, whose convent was in a nearby building. In about 1950 a new hospital was built adjacent to the old one, and in early 1952 the hospital operations were transferred to the new building.

When I was at Tech, 1948-51, I was invited to several parties at Ryan Hall. The nurses had dances and parties similar to those at the Tech fraternities. The socials were lots of fun, and I met several girls and even dated one a couple of times.

Now let's get down to the panty raid itself. At that time I was working in Sault Ste. Marie. About once every six weeks I came home to Houghton to visit my parents and my girlfriend and often took a passenger with me to share the cost. On that particular weekend I took a student from Soo Tech. I can't remember his name so lets refer to him as Mr. Whatshisname. I dropped him off in Houghton Friday night and told him to meet me at 4:30 p.m. Sunday to return to the Soo.

Anyway, he wasn't there on Sunday, and after about fifteen minutes I parked the car and went looking for him. I was about to leave when the dean of men showed up. He told me that Whatshisname would not be going back with me because he was in jail. He then explained that he had gone with a group of his buddies on a panty raid at the nurses' home in Ryan Hall. What they didn't know was that about a week earlier, the nurses had been moved from Ryan Hall into their new quarters in the old hospital. The nuns then moved into Ryan Hall, which became the new convent. In other words, the Tech guys made a panty raid on the convent and didn't realize their horrible mistake until some of them actually got inside. Mother Superior was not amused. By the time the students discovered their tragic error the police had arrived and promptly threw them in the slammer.

I have to believe that if the raid had indeed been on the nurses' home, the police would probably not have been called at all, or if they had, they would have told the Tech guys to go back to the dorm and cool off. Anyway, many of the prominent Catholics in town were all for having the sheriff throw the keys away. It was only after Monsignor asked for a little forgiveness did the situation cool down.

Can you imagine the publicity it would have gotten if we had the internet at that time and CNN News? If there had been a competition for the Most Outrageous Panty Raid, I'm sure Tech would have gone home with the gold.

Gene Knaebel '51