[ counterpoints ]
Letters to the Editor
Summer 2008

Best Issue Ever

Just finished reading the Spring 2008 issue of the magazine. It is one of the best, if not the best, I have ever seen. Enjoyed all the articles and especially the notes from alumni. Earlier  I had received the 2007 President’s Report and this also was exceptional. The first time I ever actually read every word in a business report! Congratulations on a job well done on both publications.
— Beatrice F. Knott ’88 (M.A. ’91)

We Miss You, Too

As the mother of young children, I rarely read anything cover-to-cover (other than Goodnight Moon). But when my latest issue of USD Magazine arrived, I couldn’t put it down. From “But Now I See,” (how do they grow up so fast?) to “Garden Is A Verb” (USD’s beauty spoke to me as a high school junior) to “The Witch Creek Sisterhood” (I, too, took an eclectic collection of items for my first fire evacuation), I found myself thoroughly enjoying the Spring 2008 issue — and thoroughly missing San Diego and USD.
— Kelly (England) McElwain ‘90

An Encouraging Word

Instead of reading tax law while hooked up to my I.V. of coffee this morning at Aromas, I read the Spring 2008 USD Magazine. Outstanding! Loved your inspirational editorial, “But Now I See”; I’ll definitely keep my eye out for the young actress referenced at future awards shows. My kudos to all of your writers; I think each is fantastic. Additionally, I thought the story on Darlene Shiley (“Meet Madam Chair”) was warm and fun. It’s uplifting to me to see you encouraging readers to support this university. Consistently promoting a culture of philanthropy is vitally important to the future of USD students. And finally, many thanks for getting the Mankey story told to the masses (“A Life Lived in Service”). Excellent job all around!
— John Phillips
Senior Director, Planned Giving

Flora Simply Wrong?

A word about grammar in your Spring 2008 USD Magazine: I believe that the word “flora,” as used on the postcards (“The school’s stunning flora is nearly as renowned … “) requires the plural form of the verb to be. The sentence should read “The school’s stunning flora are … “
This is admittedly a bit odd, because flora is singular in Latin (the plural is florae), but the meaning of flora is not singular in English. The word means “the plants of a certain area or period” (or, sometimes, along with fauna, ”the microorganisms inhabiting the human body.”) There may be some precedent for your singular use of flora, but I believe that it is distinctly unusual, and likely to be considered simply wrong by readers who pay attention to this sort of thing. The same error, if it is an error, occurs on page 1 of the magazine: “ … USD’s flora has something to offer … “ The point, I suppose, is that flora refers neither to a single object, nor to a collection of objects, but to the objects themselves considered as a group. Compare “The flowering plants of the Anza-Borrego desert bloom (not blooms) only after the winter rains.”
— Alastair Norman Mcleod, ’98 (J.D.)

According to Frederick Utech, adjunct professor of Biological Sciences at the Flora of North America Project at Carnegie Mellon University, the word “flora” is singular, and requires the singular form of the verb “to be.” While that may sound odd to the ear, we stand by our original usage. — Ed.

Daniel, Revisited

We are writing to give you an update on Daniel Akech James ‘07, who appeared on the cover of the Fall 2005 USD Magazine (“Finding Daniel”). We are parents of three USD alumni; Daniel lived with us during several summers while he was in school and we are very involved with him in a new project he has started in Sudan. He is taking kids from the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where he first received schooling, and putting them into secondary boarding schools outside Nairobi. He is doing this with his own money and the help of friends here. He has always been so appreciative of the opportunity he was given at USD to get an education and sees himself in these kids. He now has 12 students enrolled, with 89 more starting in April. It is really amazing to see what he has accomplished in a very short time while waiting to start his own graduate program.

We will be helping him in the future to provide for these students. His goal is to eventually build a secondary school for them there. Thank you again for doing such a great story on him.
— Jerry and Kathy Moser