I am writing to you regarding your recent article on Pat Fitzgerald [“The Fitzgerald Era,” by Noah Isackson, Arena, August]. Your piece was an accurate and positive depiction of Pat and his program. However, there were several parts of your article that perpetuate the myth that we aren’t a successful Division I sports program and don’t care about sports.

You wrote, “Academics tower over athletics, and there’s a strong preference to keep it that way.” Academics does not tower over athletics. That might have been the case for a 25-year period, but since President Bienen’s arrival in 1995, we have proven that academics and athletics can peacefully coexist at the highest levels. Northwestern has finished in the top 45 in the Directors’ Cup [an award for collegiate athletics] the last five years, three times placing in the top 30. At the same time, we have maintained our high admissions standards and have continued to be one of the top schools in graduation success rates.

It is interesting that there is no mention of the success achieved by Randy Walker. During his time as our head football coach (1999 to 2005), Northwestern [tied for] the Big Ten title in 2000 and played in three bowl games. If one with little Northwestern football knowledge were to read your article, they’d be led to believe that Northwestern had no success whatsoever besides 1995, 1997, and 2008.

You ask, “How serious can an academic institution afford to be?” I think our past track record proves Northwestern can afford to be very serious.

Bradford D. Hurlbut
Senior Associate Athletic Director
Northwestern University




Loved Jeff Ruby’s piece about his grandfather, a true World War II hero [“Flesh and Blood,” Outer Drive, October]. I’m continually amazed by these Greatest Generation warriors who never brag about their exploits and instead usually say, “The real heroes are the ones who didn’t come home.” Well, Grandpa, we still think you’re a hero, and we’re all very glad that you came home. God bless you.

Tom Karczewski
Kansas City, Missouri


Wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it. It certainly hit close to home with me. My father, God rest his soul, was a veteran of World War II—North Africa, Sicily, Italy. A number of years ago when my dad was in his midseventies, on Thanksgiving, he couldn’t get comfortable. His back was itching, and he knew what it was. My mom helped him, and she later showed me a piece of shrapnel had worked its way to the surface. She told me it had happened before. He never said a word about that episode or any other. My sons revered their grandpa, and my youngest is serving with the Marine Corps and is currently deployed to the Middle East.

Ed Lacey


In November’s 30 Under $30, the days Petterino’s offers its 7 After 7 Menu were misstated. It is available every day, not just Monday through Wednesday.

In November’s Deal Estate, the photographs of Library Plaza Townhomes and Mozart Manor were transposed.


In the September issue, the veteran investigative reporter John Conroy described his experience of getting punched and injured by a black teenager while riding his bicycle on the West Side. In A Mugging on Lake Street, he examined the complex knot of legal and personal questions raised by the attack. Since then, Conroy has learned that the high-school records of “Larry,” the assailant, have been transferred out of state, likely indicating that the teenager will begin attending school again. Conroy’s knee has continued to heal, and he plans to return to playing scrimmage hockey games.

Soon after the article was posted at Chicagomag.com, many other sites, including TheAtlantic.com and Economist.com, linked to the story, and scores of readers contributed thoughtful comments:

» “It seems like violence can so easily make the world a worse place while there isn’t as powerful a positive force to counteract it. Is there some positive thing that could have happened to Larry that would have affected him as deeply? Could he have been randomly hit in the face with kindness?”

» “But what is the alternative [to looking for the good in all people]? To see only the bad? I taught in the CPS for several years, and this was one of the biggest difficulties for me. I want to see the good in people, I want to trust people and assume that they learn from their mistakes, but at the same time, I don’t want to be a chump.”

» “Is it wrong to say that, if this had to happen, I’m glad it could happen to someone who would then use the experience to share it with others and make people think?”

» “That whole thing about conservatives being mugged liberals ought to focus on the fact that liberals will under no condition have any visceral hatred for ‘Larry’ up UNTIL their faces are smashed into the concrete.”

» “Okay, so what if you had been biking along a cliff and a rock had fallen on you, producing injuries identical to the ones you sustained when Larry coldcocked you? Would your feelings differ? . . . Can we not focus on providing higher standards of education, health care, and civil rights for everyone, so that we can continue the process of taming the barbarians among us?”

Conroy says, “I was surprised at how thoughtful most of [the comments] were, because I expected there to be a lot more heat than light there.”

The outpouring may owe something to the cloak of anonymity offered by the Internet. Conroy notes a dramatic contrast between the eager opinions and testimony online and the reticence of people he spoke to in person about the article. “People I know, they say, ‘I saw your article,’ ” Conroy remarks. “And they don’t know what else to say.”