Marcia Homiak

Lessons in learning from Professor Marcia Homiak, and a note of appreciation to Frank Hardison ’39

My Generation

Thank you for your article “A Generation of Greats” (Spring). It took me on a trip down memory lane. When I started at Oxy in the fall of 1978, I had no idea what I wanted to study. But as a freshman in the Collegium, I soon got excited about a whole variety of subjects. When forced to finally choose a major in my junior year, I opted for biology (with a minor in philosophy). Although that path required a lot of science and math courses, along the way I managed to fit in two or three terrific philosophy courses with Marcia Homiak, a couple of key economics courses with Robby Moore, and, together with our former president, several captivating political science courses with the late Roger Boesche —whom I would include in that same cohort of young, inspiring faculty on campus in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

It is funny how small moments stick with one over the years. In a Homiak course devoted entirely to the study of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, I recall students asking several times to move class out to the lawn on beautiful, warm spring days and Marcia explaining that one cannot do hard moral thinking sprawled out under the trees! That hard moral thinking has served me incredibly well over the years, both in practicing public interest environmental law and in teaching it at Stanford Law School for the last 22 years.

The ability to gain such a broad liberal arts education, from such bright and devoted faculty, is what really makes Oxy shine. It is the reason my younger son chose to matriculate at Oxy last fall. Heading into his sophomore year, he is thinking of combining chemistry with urban and environmental policy, and he is involved as a jazz saxophone player in the music program. I only regret that he won’t be able to take courses from Professors Homiak, Moore, Newhall, and the others heading into retirement.

Deborah A. Sivas ’82
Palo Alto

I first noticed the young professor bounding up the steps of Thorne Hall in her crimson cap and gown. I would see her talking with students and faculty as she strolled the Quad. I was moved by her articulate and courageous advocacy for faculty benefits during an open community meeting. Eventually, I enrolled in her class. Like a drop of dye in a pool of clear water, Marcia Homiak indelibly changed the atmosphere at Oxy. She had impact. She mattered. She would conscientiously take notes on every student during the first class, and subsequently engage personally and dynamically with each of us. The clarity of her response to one paper I wrote was more voluminous and insightful by far than my essay. I’ll always remember, with fondness and deep respect, her principled participation in the greater Oxy community, her attentiveness to what was essential, her apparent warmheartedness toward all. During my own graduate studies and career, it was often her voice, the memory of her comportment, and the impact of her kindness, that gave me courage, sparked my curiosity, and inspired me to continued learning. Brava, Dr. Homiak. I hope you fully enjoy your well-earned retirement.

Leslie Chatham ’78
San Rafael

A Swing and a Miss

Editor’s note: Because of an editing error in the tribute to Homiak last issue, we should point out that the sixth game of the 1975 World Series was a 12-inning, Series-tying win by Boston over Cincinnati, not a Series-clinching win by the Reds over the Red Sox. (The Reds took the Series in seven.)

House of Champions

Your article “Team Building” (Spring) was excellent and the renovation of the Payton Jordan Athletic Offices is magnificent. However, the article is remiss in not mentioning Tod White ’59, the visionary who created a matching gift program which made the renovation possible. Many of Tod’s teammates, classmates, friends, and others supported the effort because of Tod and to honor Payton Jordan, Oxy’s track and field coach in the 1940s and 1950s. Tod felt that naming the athletic offices was a proper tribute to the coach of so many fine athletes he developed and mentored during his tenure at Oxy. Hats off also to Armando Gonzales, the architect who contributed to the wonderful Myron Hunt building.

Loren Brodhead ’59

From the Editor: Thanks, Frank

I had the pleasure of spending a morning with Frank Hardison ’39 just weeks before his 102nd birthday in April. He welcomed me into his Emerald Bay home, sharing artifacts of his many golf triumphs and stories of his world travels with his late wife, Virginia “Duffer” McGary, whom he wed in 1945. The couple moved to Emerald Bay in Laguna Beach in 1967, where they built a 9,000-square-foot home with a magnificent view of the coastline. On the Fourth of July, he said, you can see the fireworks “all the way from Dana Point to Palos Verdes.” Frank did not live to see the fireworks this year, passing away July 2. The last time I spoke with him in June, he expressed his appreciation for the way the magazine story (“The World According to Frank,” Spring) had turned out, gently chiding me for neglecting to mention that he was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Oxy. Let the record show that Frank was a gentleman and a scholar. He will be missed by his Oxy family.—Dick Anderson