UMS in the Pandemic – July 15, 2020

The conversation before the July 15 meeting covered a lot of topics. First, we greeted Dr. Janet M. Burns, who is our new Assistant District Governor. Dr. Burns and Arthur Williams had immediate rapport – Dr. Burns is a retired former Superintendent of the River Valley School District, located in Three Oaks, Michigan. Not content with one career, she then proceeded to medical school and became a PA. Welcome to Dr. Janet.

Jody Tull deSallis and Lori Walters jousted over who has the most books. Tom Strode was glad to welcome pianist Joanne Knoertzer back into the rotation for our patriotic song. Nishta Bhatia introduced a somber note, sharing that she is feeling very sad about the pandemic and the other stresses we are all feeling. Everyone agreed, many expressing appreciation for Nishta’s opening the conversation.  Tom Strode reminded us that vaccines are under rapid development and Bob Buchannan cautioned that vaccine development takes a very long time.   A little later, Linda Carter advocated for outing anyone who attends Covid parties or does other selfish and dangerous things.

A lighter tone took over when Past President Rosemarie was welcomed back from vacation in Northern Michigan. President Joanne was asked about the cabin in the picture behind her.  It is from a camp on the Leelanaw Peninsula where she was camp director.  Joe Fitzsimmons told us that his Frankfurt area has avoided much contagion, and that he and Beth are busy and happy.

Executive Director Lori Walters delivered the Zoom etiquette lesson at 12:25.  Joanne Knoertzer played America the Beautiful  Agnes Reading read some quotes about the joy of music.  Penny Fischer played Morning Has Broken on her flute – a beautiful and happy beginning to our meeting.

President Joanne thanked the people who make our Zoom meetings possible and asked for more people to contact Lori Walters to help.  She welcomed guests and reintroduced Dr. Janet Burns, the new ADG. And she announced birthdays.

The Board met earlier that morning and approved formation of the Anti Racism Committee (ARC), an outgrowth of the Peace Committee.  She announced that there will be no Black Lives Matter logo on our website and communications, and that words DO matter.

Marcia Lane

Marcia Lane, Chairwoman of ARC, explained that ARC references a writing of 19th century Unitarian minister Theodore Parker, quoted by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  The Committee’s intent is to work to bend the arc a little faster. Reverend Yolanda Whiten introduced a video prepared by Carolyn Jones.  Quoting from the Rotarian Action Group For Peace:  “We are inspired by this woman of action. Throughout Carolyn’s life, she has overpowered racism, misogyny, and discrimination by consistently making choices never to accept them for her destiny. Carolyn’s beauty shines through as a Human Rights Attorney and a phenomenal Rotarian. She has been a voice of truth for the sick, the poor, and the voiceless.  Carolyn earned her education from Stanford and Yale Law School. She protected the rights of others for 31 years, as an attorney for the Alaska Human Rights Commission, and Assistant Attorney General for the State of Alaska.Within the first year that women were allowed in Rotary, Carolyn joined the Rotary Club of Anchorage East. Within a five-year period, she advanced from member to board member, to president, to governor of Rotary District 5010. Through her powerful leadership skills and kind humanitarian heart, she became the first woman in the world to be a Rotary Foundation Trustee.”  You can link to Carolyn’s presentation here:

Yolanda Whiten

President Joanne took over with announcements.  Our Golf and Outing fundraiser will be replaced with the Virtual Mid-August Italian Festival Fundraiser on Monday, August 17.  The evening will begin at 6:00pm with Happy Hour, and at 7:00pm there will  be an informative talk by wine experts Mike Roddy, founder of Paesano Restaurant & Wine bar, and Chaad Thomas of Eagle Eye Imports.  Steve Schram will be emceeing the evening.  Aspecial magnum of the superb Montefalco Sagrantino, Scacciodiavolo 2015 will be auctioned. Dinner and wine will be available for pickup by Paesano’s.  Register on our website by August 12 for this great evening.

President Joanne welcomed one new club member, Laurie Atwood,  and welcomed back Dan Romanchik.  She announced Karen Wasco as Sargent at Arms.   Our Endowment is up 4%. Past President Collyer Smith was awarded the Keith Koke Award and Past ADG Anne Nauts was awarded the Virginia Nordby Award.  And Dues are Over Due!!! so get them in.  She asked for more members to help with Zoom and that suggestions for August speakers to be sent to Dawn Johnson:


Notes from the Program

Dallas Dort introduced Matthew VanBeisen, president of University Musical Society.  Matthew has been President for three years, having served in Houston, Melborne, and New York.  He is a well respected producer and educator and has served in many roles over the years.

Matthew began his presentation by acknowledging that UMS has cancelled its 2019-2020 and that there will be big changes to the 2020-2021 season.  UMS was gratified that 1050 households donated their ticket 2019-2020 purchases to the organization, amounting to more than $200,000.  Some of the digital strategies UMS has deployed are shared playlists of the featured performers, a weekly newsletter with curated digital events, and Performance Playground, a program aimed at K- 12 students. The 2020-2021 season has been announced and tickets went on sale in May, with the caveat that changes will likely be made.  The season is informed by public health planning.  UMS is steadfast in its commitment to its mission:  To inspire individuals and enrich communities by connecting audiences and artists in uncommon and engaging experiences. This commitment is why the season was not cancelled.  Digital offerings, so important this season, were already in the strategic plans.  UMS recognized that some time honored practices should be retired and updated.  Residencies this year will be digital. Participating artists include actor Wendell Pierce, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and performance artist and U-M alumnus Brian Lobel + Friends.  Performance Playground is aimed at K-12 students and will include digital presentations of artists to schools.  Matthew spoke abut the future for performing arts, noting that this is a time for reflection as well as reimagining.

Matthew talked about how UMS is working on antiracisim both in its own organization and in programing and presentation.  He showed the cover of Ken Fischer’s upcoming book, “Everybody in Nobody Out”, which will be available in early August or September.


Next Week’s Speaker: Aditaya Pandey, M.D., UM Dept. of Neurosurgery “Transformative Brain Bleed Treatment: Innovating to Improve Patient Outcomes and Save Lives”

President Joanne closed the meeting with these thoughts:

  • Plato: “Those who wish to sing always find a song.”
  • Jeremiah Wheeler, age 22, President of the Black Student Union at Wayne State when asked, How should non-black folks advocate for the black community?: “Commit. Commit to the struggle. Commit to the black liberation movement. Commit yourself. Commit your life in one way or another. You can commit your leadership, your voice, your resources, your talents. Just commit to freedom.”
  • And then Carolyn Jones — “…be on the right side of history.”