Class Notes August 2014

johnWilliam Class Notes

Jon VanAmringe has stepped forward to become chair of our 45th reunion. His decision represented a victory of the call to service over the wish to avoid needless toil. We’re lucky to have him aboard. Here’s Jon’s inaugural message:

“The 45th Class Reunion is fast approaching.  Save the dates: May 28-31, 2015. Plan to come to New Haven to join classmates, old and new friends to enjoy tales of the past and experiences of the present.  New Haven is an exciting and vibrant community, and experiences at Yale are perhaps even better than we remember. Our reunion planning is focused on making this event all about you and us.  Whether you have attended prior gatherings or not, share ideas of what you thought was great or what could be included to entice you to join us in New Haven.

“I attended the Class of 1969 Reunion in June, where presentations were topical, interesting and enthusiastically received. Food was good and never ending.  Complimentary bar drinks flowed well into the evenings and a good time was had by all.  We have an opportunity to schedule class specific events on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons as well as in the evenings with music and conversation.

“We are particularly interested in your thoughts on topics for panels and discussions to make effective use of the class specific times.  So if you have comments, thoughts, or might like to share some of your time to make the reunion fun and successful, contact me at  Rumor has it that blanket immunity has been issued for all past stuff and — What happens in New Haven, stays in New Haven.”

 I hope you’ll take Jon up on his invitation. This is a perfect moment to weigh in on the kinds of events that you’d find rewarding. And it’s not too soon get in touch with classmates you’re close to and help encourage a robust turnout.

From Jeremy Travis, his first contribution to this column:

“For the past 10 years, I have been serving as president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a college within the City University of New York.  This is the capstone on a long career bridging public service in federal and city governments and research positions in nonprofit organizations.  Under the former I include director of the National Institute of Justice in the Clinton Administration, chief counsel to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, deputy NYC police commissioner and special advisor to the New York mayor, and clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she was on the appellate bench in DC. Under the latter heading I include senior fellow at the Justice Policy Center of the Urban Institute, various positions at the Vera Institute of Justice, and Marden and Marshall Fellow at NYU School of Law.

“But my current position at John Jay College is undoubtedly the capstone of a varied and exciting career … and I have actually managed to keep this job for 10 years, the longest of any of my professional engagements!  John Jay is a jewel of an academic institution – we have 15,000 students, offer liberal arts majors in addition to specialized majors in the criminal justice field, nine master’s degrees and two doctoral programs.  Some call us the Harvard of criminal justice research institutions, and who am I to quibble, except I would prefer to be called the Yale of that world.

“Recently I chaired the consensus panel of the National Academy of Sciences that released a report, “The Growth of Incarceration in the United States.” It reviews the evidence behind the reasons for the four-decade buildup in incarceration rates, which has given the US a level of imprisonment four times higher than before 1972, and five to 10 times higher than any other Western democracy …. And the evidence of the effects of this unprecedented shift in social policy that now leaves 2.2 million in prisons and jails. The report has garnered welcome attention at the highest levels of government and very favorable press attention, most recently a strong editorial by the NY Times.  So this has been a VERY gratifying project and culminates a 15-year journey on my part to try to raise awareness – in the policy and scholarly communities – about the prison phenomenon in the US.

“That’s enough for now … other than to say I recently had a wonderful breakfast with Ron Howell, another Brooklynite who was a classmate … and was saddened to learn of the death of my roommate and good friend Dek Kellman.  I have only occasional contact with classmates, but encourage folks who are coming to NYC to give a shout for a cup of coffee ….”

Finally, I’m happy to report that sports maven and public broadcasting hero Bill Littlefield’s latest book is coming out in October. It’s titled “Take Me Out” (Zephyr Press), is illustrated by Stephen Coren, and it’s a collection of poetry—or what the English department would call light verse. His publisher says it “spans the gap between those alien civilizations of childhood and adulthood.” Check it out.