Mail to the Illinois State magazine editor for May 2014.

To the Editor,

Thank you for your efforts pulling together the alumni magazine. It is enjoyable to stay in touch with my Redbird past. I was particularly excited to see the article in the February issue on the “Study of Latin back through new minor.”

Although I did not receive a minor in Latin during my studies, I did complete three semesters studying the language. As such, I have a rather strong opinion when it comes to the use of the language.

In particular, I am disappointed when people use the words alum and alums to describe individuals who graduated from a particular university. Since the University is touting the new Latin minor, I thought it would be helpful if the language was used correctly.

For clarity, alum is an element on the periodic table and something to cook with. One who graduates from a university is an alumnus or alumna, depending on gender.

Sorry, if I didn’t say something I’d be fearful my Latin professor, Susan Stevens, would retroactively flunk me.

Marty Koehler ’86
(Editor’s note: While notedly more informal, Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary does allow for the use of alum in reference to graduates.)


To the Editor,

Being a graduate of Illinois State University and a veteran of the U.S. Army (1970-1973), I am upset that you are telling alumnae to wear red on Friday (“What you can do for ISU,” Feb. 2014).

Wearing red on Fridays has come to symbolize support for our troops. Why infringe on their day? Be bold and wear red on Mondays. Start your week off with a proud statement, and you could end your week with a patriotic statement.

I enjoyed the article about one-room schools and the Normal school. My mother attended Normal, received her teaching certificate, and proudly served the children of Illinois until her retirement. She has since passed on and I still have her thank you certificate from her last teaching assignment.

Laurence D. Lindholm, C.T.R.S., ’80


To the Editor,

I am writing in reference to “The End of N” (Feb. 2014).

Fifty years ago Illinois State Normal University became Illinois State University. Does ISU have a reputation for preparing the best educators in America? That is the question to ask.

What is so wrong with Normal? When I think of Normal I think of a noble calling. Teaching. The select  Ecoles of France have prepared senior civil servants and government ministers for several centuries. I don’t think they are considering a name change. Too many are eager to be selected and be associated with their reputation.

Had ISU/ISNU focused its resources it might have become the premier Normal school in the United States. It might have influenced other schools to copy the Normal “brand.”

But here we are in 2014 and back discussing a tired topic. Americans, it seems to me, are incapable of focusing on what is really important.

Robert L. Johnson ’71