The Maynard Institute family mourns the death of Van Alden Ferguson, a 1986 Summer Program for Minority Journalists graduate and a well-respected education reporter for the Hartford Courant. Ferguson died on October 16, 2000. He was 41.


In his abundance of spare time between editing the Caldwell Journals, teaching at the University of Southern California and working for multicultural equity in the news business, our own Roy Aarons has managed to write the libretto of an opera, soon to be performed! Long before the DNA trials, scriptwriter Aarons saw the operatic possibilities of the liaison of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings as a metaphor for America's duality regarding race and equality. That vision, with an inspired score by Glenn Paxton, comes to life in LA Theater Works' world premier of "Monticello" at Skirball Hall, Los Angeles, starring performers of the Los Angeles Opera. You can catch the in-concert production of the opera April 26 to April 30, with performances on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights and matinee and evening performances Sunday.

Librettist Aarons was drawn to irresistible elements of the tale -- the secret love affair breaking as a national scandal in the midst of Jefferson's presidency; the Gothic aspects of the mixed-blood relationships of the Hemingses and the Jeffersons; Monticello's dark secret; and, significantly, the contradictions between Jefferson's personal squeamishness about "Negroes," his mixed record on slavery and his 30-year-plus affair with his black mistress.

These elements are woven tightly into 100 minutes of vocal art set by Los Angeles composer Glenn Paxton. Complex yet accessible, with high points of lyric beauty, Paxton's score is the crown in a composing career that has encompassed classical works and soundtracks for film and television.

A first opera for both artists, "Monticello" was so compelling that LA Theater Works decided to make it the second opera ever essayed by the company, which over 15 years has recorded dozens of live theatrical performances for radio airing.

For details and tickets, contact the LA Theater Works box office at (310) 827-0889.

Len Hollie, 1984 SPMJ, has been appointed the 1999-2000 George W. Polk Journalist In Residence at Long Island University. Hollie is an associate editor at the New York City-based Internet business magazine Individual Investor Magazine Online. He has been an adjunct associate professor of journalism at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus since 1995. In addition to teaching, Hollie will join the panel of judges for the prestigious Polk Award given annually for outstanding investigative journalism.

Patrisia Gonzales, 1981 SPMJ, and her husband, Roberto Rodriguez, both nationally syndicated columnists (Universal Press Syndicate) are currently working on a documentary film and companion book on the ancient homeland of the Aztecs. Filming for the one-hour docudrama, "In Search of Aztlan," began in July by award-winning filmmaker Jesus Teviño. The film and companion book represent the culmination of years of investigative reporting and research by Gonzales and Rodriguez on the location of the original site of the ancient homeland of the Mexican (Aztec or Nahuatl) peoples who settled in the Valley of Mexico in the 12th century A.D. The authors have also formed a nonprofit organization dedicated to research in this area called Aztlanahuac: Origins and Migrations Institute, based in Albuquerque, N.M..

Lewis Diuguid, 1984 EP and 1991-1999 EP faculty, has been promoted to vice president for community relations at The Kansas City Star. Diuguid has worked at The Star since 1977, as a reporter, editor, photographer and columnist. Prior to this promotion, he was an associate editor and metropolitan columnist at the paper. In his new position he will oversee The Star'sphilanthropic role in the community. Diuguid will also write a twice-weekly column appearing on the opinion page and will serve as a member of The Star's editorial board.

Patrick Lee, 1983 Summer Program for Minority Journalists, is currently News Editor of SCI FI Wire, the daily news service of the SCI FI.com, the web site of the SCI FI Channel and part of the USA Networks Interactive. He was previously at the Los Angeles Times where he was part of the staff that won Pulitzer Prizes in 1993 and 1995.

James K. Schulte, 1986 MTC, is the vice president and editor in chief of USA TODAY.com. Previously he was the deputy managing editor/sports for the newspaper.

Mary Blatch, 1998 EP, is a copy editor at the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. Formerly she was a copy editor at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa..

Wilma Randle, 1978 SPMJ and 1986 SPMJ faculty, is the director of the African Women's Media Center in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa. The AWMC is a project of the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization, the International Women's Media Foundation. Randle is a former business writer for the Chicago Tribune.

Alan Llavore, 1984 SPMJ, is the assistant metro editor at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif.. He was previously the assistant metro editor at The Fresno Bee.

Sylvia Fong, 1989 MTC, is the manager of executive management and development for ARCO's corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas. She moved to Dallas in 1997, after completing a 14-month stint for ARCO in England. Fong has worked for ARCO since 1993. Previously, she was a human relations manager at the Los Angeles Times.

Tillie Fong, 1987 SPMJ, reports that she has been "fighting the good fight," as one of the first co-chairs of the Denver Rocky Mountain News' diversity task force. The task force put together a minority recruiting and hiring policy and implemented diversity training programs. Fong is a staff writer at the newspaper.

A belated congratulations to Vita Reed, 1989 SPMJ, who reports that in 1998 she swept the business reporting category in the Nevada Press Association Awards. She won for articles she wrote on multilevel marketing, HMO reform and chelation therapy. Reed is a staff writer at the Las Vegas Business Press.

Maya Blackmun, 1987 SPMJ, is currently covering education at The Oregonian's metro southwest bureau. She reports that she shares an office with two MIJE family members: George Rede, 1995 MTC, and EP and SPMJ faculty, and Phil Manzano, 1978 SPMJ.

Michael Rollins. 1992 MTM, opened a one-person Seattle bureau for The Oregonian last February. Previously, he was a team leader editor at the paper and is expected to return to management in 2000.

Jacqueline Sergeant, 1998 MTC, is a metro assignment editor at the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Previously she was a business reporter at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey.


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