Gift of art, architecture, hope
The Trivium, where nature and technology meet the arts
By Jamie Murphy and Brian L. Massey
Special to the Florida State Times
In the hamlet of Lloyd, just east of Tallahassee, a yellow, early-Victorian
couch sits in the hallway of a unique castle-like building.
For its current owner, retired FSU Professor François Bucher, it's
a cozy reminder of Princeton University - where he sometimes sat on the
same couch in Albert Einstein's home and chatted with the physicist about
the "nonsense of nuclear weapons, the speed of light and Gregorian
chants vs. Jewish music."
Bucher bought the couch from Einstein's estate. It's now a revered icon
of his Nautilus Foundation, a scholars' retreat he's woven into the untamed
North Florida forest to keep alive the light of those long-ago musings about
Today, the foundation is Bucher's $3.1-million gift to FSU, the taproot
of an avant-garde educational atmosphere, and Bucher's hope of salvation
for an ever-more-crowded, polluted and chaotic world.
The foundation puts a forward-thinking face on the ancient concept of the
"We have created a kind of think tank, a place to promote creative
thinking of ways to build a better world," said Bucher, who taught
medieval art and architecture at FSU from 1978 until last spring. "The
work and scholarship done here are focused on the future to ensure that
our grandchildren will live in an acceptable world free from environmental
hazards and pollutants."
It's after Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study that Bucher modeled
the think tank he nurtures on 400 woodland acres 18 miles from Tallahassee.
Here, he expects that some of the planet's brightest minds will live and
work in a solitude not possible on a bustling university campus.
The scholars will share their thoughts, visions and hopes for humankind's
future through seminars, research and publishing. But perhaps more important,
FSU's Nautilus village will offer them freedom, quiet and time to ponder
the world's pressing problems.
"This is very exciting for those of us involved in education of this
type,"said Jerry Draper, dean of the School of Visual Arts and Dance,
which will manage the foundation. He said Nautilus scholars will tackle
such woes as urban ecology, nuclear weapons proliferation, pollution, global
warming and over-population.
Before he came to FSU, Bucher spent time at Princeton's Institute for Advanced
Studies. His collaborations there with such legendary thinkers as Einstein
inspired the Nautilus Foundation, he said. An engaging philanthropist who
speaks six modern languages plus Latin, Bucher earned his doctorate in his
native Switzerland. Yet his career has been American: He's taught at the
State University of New York (Binghamton), Princeton, Brown, Yale, the University
of Minnesota and FSU.
At Yale, Bucher taught Draper. "He has phenomenal energy," Draper
said, "a great sort of inner clock and way of working so that he can
sort of dedicate one hour a day to a single project and three years later
that project is accomplished."
There may be no better example than the Nautilus Foundation. It began in
July 1980 with a covenant to protect the environment and opened officially
Today, the foundation holds an observatory, an experimental audiovisual
building affectionately called "the turtle," an open-air theater,
and the Trivium - the home of Einstein's couch - named for the lower division
of the seven liberal arts.
Now being built are the Quadrivium (for the higher division of the liberal
arts) and housing for the scholars.
The "Trivium" studies in ancient Rome were grammar, rhetoric and
dialectics. Bucher finds their modern counterparts in history, visual arts
and communication through literature, drama and film. The Nautilus Trivium
houses a library, seminar, study rooms, museum, auditorium, archive, trustees'
room, guest room and director's quarters.
The "Quadrivium" studies were mathematics, geometry, music and
astronomy. For Bucher, these find modern expression in architecture, urban
design, theory and use of proportions, spatial organization and global ecology.
This structure, being built from a design by Russian architect Georgi Stoilov,
will house design studios, seminar rooms, a library and dormitory.
Also planned is a three-mile "Art Walk" flanked by large sculptures
and pavilions for contemplative thought, which will underscore the symbiosis
of nature, technology and the arts.
The Foundation's past projects reflect Bucher's vision of a world made better
through creative thinking. For example, the 1990-91 exhibition "Nature,
Humanity and Technology" featured his friend, the late Buckminster
Fuller, a pioneer of urban ecology. Swiss architect Justus Dahinden led
a 1992 symposium titled "Ecopolis City of the Future." The International
Academy of Architecture cooperated on an international design workshop.
Bucher's gift also includes art, rare manuscripts and books, some dating
back 400 years.
The gift, Draper said, "is included in François' estate plan"
and will be deeded to FSU outright "as soon as the structure is in
place to receive and manage the assets." Bucher's gift is one of the
largest ever received by FSU's " capital campaign.
For the Swiss-born scholar from Lausanne, it's a way to ensure that "the
ideals and the work of the Nautilus Foundation will continue long after
I am gone."
Bucher accepted the university's invitation to watch the Clemson game from
one of the plush new skyboxes, and to be honored onfield at halftime, but
not without comment on the relative importance of football games and the
"I'd rather people give the Nautilus Foundation a million dollars than
pay for sky boxes," he said.
Black alumns are distinct but loyal
FSU grad Hansel Tookes III, at right, and U.S. Air Force
Col. Michael Mushala examine the F119 engine designed by Pratt & Whitney
By John S. Cole
FSU Communications Group
Segregation didn't create the need for the Black Alumni Association
at FSU; integration did, its members say. For the first wave of blacks integrating
FSU in the mid 1960s, the process, while peaceful compared to other Southern
white colleges, was far from easy.
"My first year in college, it was clear that the welcome mat was not
there," said John Marks, one of nine black students who enrolled at
FSU in 1965. "We were not treated the same as other freshmen.
"Nobody tried to keep us out, but there weren't a lot of people welcoming
That changed, Marks said, but while a growing number of white students greeted
their new classmates with kindness and friendship, many of FSU's first blacks
suffered grade discrimination, anxiety, threats and, most of all, loneliness.
Long after graduation, some black alumni remained bitter, refusing to visit
the campus even for Homecoming or class reunions.
But through all the indignation, protests, triumphs and changes there was
one constant - their support for one another.
"We kind of bonded together," said Marks. "We had ourselves;
we looked out for each other."
Years later, that bond is still there, kept alive partly through the efforts
of the Black Alumni Association, an organization dedicated to bridging the
gap between FSU's black students and alumni, and the mainstream FSU community.
While the BAA is a chartered affiliate of the larger FSU Alumni Association,
its aims and goals are much more specialized.
"We wanted to provide a framework for black alumni to meet formally
and informally to discuss academic, social and other alumni-oriented issues,"
said Cassandra Jenkins, national president of the FSU Black Alumni Association.
The BAA focuses on issues important to blacks at FSU. Its doors are open
to members of all races and backgrounds, Jenkins said, "as long as
they are committed to the aims and goals of the Black Alumni Association.
Since its inception in 1983, the BAA has worked to improve the quality of
life for black students at FSU, to ensure that blacks have a voice in university
operations, to increase the number of black faculty and to get black alumni
more involved in university activities.
Black Alumni representatives have served on countless selection committees,
task forces and work groups put together by the university.
Jim Melton, president of the FSU Alumni Association and director of alumni
affairs, said the BAA is an integral part of the alumni community.
"What they do is vital," he said. "It's another way we can
relate to our alumni and, more importantly, a way our alumni can relate
Over the years, the number of blacks at FSU has climbed, from one in 1962
to more than 3,000 last year.
Of those who graduated, many have enjoyed sterling success in post college
life. They include astronaut Winston Scott, olympic medalist Kim Batten
and Pratt & Whitney executive Hansel Tookes III, who received achievement
awards from the Black Alumni Association in August.
Batten, a 1993 graduate in social work, won the silver medal in the 400-meter
hurdles at the 1996 Olympics. In August 1995 she set the world record in
Tookes, a 1969 graduate in physics, was a Navy pilot for seven years, achieving
the rank of lieutenant commander. His flying career eventually landed him
executive positions with aircraft companies Hamilton Standard and Pratt
Tookes is now president of government engine business at Pratt & Whitney.
Scott, a music major who joined the U.S. Air Force shortly after graduating
in 1972, was one of six crew members aboard the space shuttle Endeavor in
January. He is one of a handful who have walked in space.
Scott gave the school momentos from his foray in space.
During a break in his itinerary, the astronaut waxed nostalgic about his
days at FSU, but also remembered what he called turbulent times.
"We didn't have any big problems," he said. "There was no
violence, but there was still a lot of unrest. The members of the Black
Student Union were very, very active in trying to get the university to
recognize what we perceived as some unique needs."
Some of those needs were basic, he said, "like some black studies,
some black history courses, some black products in the exchange, little
things like that."
When it came to social activites and unwinding, blacks once again turned
inward, Scott said.
"There were two sets of activities," he recalled, "You'd
have the campus-wide activities and then the black students would quite
often be off to ourselves doing our own things."
It was only natural, said Marks, for blacks to want to be around other black
"There is a natural affinity and attraction that students in groups
have for each other," he said. "It's a part of our world."
In 1983, that attraction led a handful of alumni, including Marks, to plan
a reunion for some of the school's first black students. The plans were
soon expanded, said Jenkins, then a recent graduate of the School of Criminology's
"They opened it up to everyone," she said. "They didn't want
to limit it, and a lot of people wanted to participate."
Most agree that blacks at FSU today enjoy an atmosphere that is far less
hostile than that suffered by the pioneers.
But many black alumni point out that blacks still are heavily outnumbered
by whites and continue to face challenges assimilating to life at the university.
So, having an organized group that black students and alumni can turn to,
socially and academically, is just as important as it ever was, Marks said.
"There may come a time when (the Black Alumni Association) is not needed,"
he said. "But right now, it's a good idea."
Making a career of weather
By Amy Welch
FSU Communications Group
The roar of a C-130 (Hercules) airplane muffles the sound of strong winds
and fierce rain beating the metal of the craft. The crew inside waits for
the brief moment of illumination - for the moon and stars to shine through
the eye of Hurricane Edouard.
Edouard has a remarkably well-defined eye, and the crew is not disappointed.
For a couple of minutes, the rain stops, the wind is calm and the sky shimmers
with white light.
The six crew members, all Air Force reservists, fly into every hurricane
that comes to the Gulf of Mexico or the southern Atlantic to gather information
for the National Weather Service.
For Richard Henning, a member of the crew and a master's candidate in FSU's
Meteorology Department, it will be a career.
Henning is getting experience that will help him move into the job he wants.
For some, it's a television job, explaining and forecasting the weather
In a slow market, FSU graduates have been unusually successful at landing
The best known is 1980 graduate Bryan Norcross, who reports for a CBS affiliate
in Miami and often finds himself talking to Dan Rather on the nightly news.
But more recent graduates are also doing well. In Cheyenne, Wyo., Colin
Toenjes forecasts the weather for audiences in Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming.
Toenjes, who graduated last spring, had forecasting tapes to show when he
went job hunting. He had made the tapes, including the graphics, for FSU's
"The weather casting class at FSU and my other experience working with
Channel 47 taught me the basics of how to be a TV meteorologist," Toenjes
Other graduates with Channel 47 experience are broadcasting the weather
in Atlanta, Miami, Fort Smith, Ark., San Francisco and Chicago.
The jobs weren't easy to get. First, they had to make it through FSU's meteorology
"(It) was very difficult, and I think that accomplishing that and being
determined to get that degree is the way life works," Norcross said.
"It was good that it was difficult. I realized doing weather, and doing
it well, is not simple."
Jon Ahlquist, an FSU associate professor of meteorology, gives credit for
the department's success to Tiruvalam Krishnamurti.
"I'm confident saying (Krishnamurti) is the best in the world,"
Ahlquist said. "That's why he got that (International Meteorological
Organization) award. He's just very good."
Between the academics in the classroom and the practical experience at Channel
47, job prospects can only get better, according to Donna Gabrielle, operations
and program manager of Channel 47.
Gabrielle hopes this year to add live weather forecasts - now they're taped
- to the students' repertoire.
FSU is most efficient
By Margaret Leonard
Editor in chief, Florida State Times
It may be the nation's number-one party school, but Florida State is also
the nation's most efficient university, offering the best education for
the money of them all, according to a recent study by U.S. News and World
The magazine arrives at the annual ranking by surveying academic quality
and dividing that score by the school's spending per student (from all sources,
including tuition and tax dollars).
The rankings are published in the "America's Best Colleges" guidebook.
Last year, FSU was seventh most efficient.
In another category, when quality was divided by the student's cost ("sticker
price," the magazine calls it), FSU ranked eighth this year.
FSU Provost Lawrence Abele attributed the ranking to "hard work of
our faculty and staff, as well as good management."
The good news about efficiency came just a week after FSU learned that it
had earned the Princeton Review's "best party school" ranking,
up from Number 2 last year.
Princeton Review (not affiliated with Princeton University) based the rankings
on interviews with students about drinking on campus, hours of study and
popularity of sororities and fraternities.
FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte said the party-school recognition isn't
all bad. Princeton Review acknowledged that the "strong-willed"
can obtain an "excellent education ... at a bargain basement price"
at FSU. "One can easily feel overwhelmed at a school this size, but
only if they allow themselves," an FSU student was quoted in the Princeton
Review. "It's a friendly place, not to mention fun, plus there are
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