Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Steven Harper

Northwestern alum Steven Harper is a very successful lawyer, adjunct law professor, novelist and author of a new book about Northwestern professor Richard Leopold. It is titled Straddling Worlds: The Jewish-American Journey of Professor Richard J. Leopold and is published by Northwestern University Press. The Winter 2007 edition of the Northwestern Magazine includes a fascinating story and video about the process of writing Straddling Worlds. Each Sunday for two years, Harper met with Leopold in his Evanston nursing home and listened to his former history professor's stories.

Harper writes:

To say that he had profoundly influenced generations of Northwestern’s finest sons and daughters seems wholly inadequate. Among his protégés were some of the University’s most illustrious alumni: 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern (G49, 53, H67); former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives Richard Gephardt (C62); journalist and commentator Georgie Anne Geyer (J56); General Dynamics Corp. chair Nick Chabraja (WCAS64, L67); director, writer and producer Garry Marshall (J56); former Assistant Secretary of State Phyllis Elliott Oakley (WCAS56); former Arizona Rep. James Kolbe (WCAS65). A long list of Leopold alumni at Northwestern and his previous employer, Harvard University, count him as their ultimate mentor.

“It’s not just that I took his class,” Crate & Barrel founder Gordon Segal (EB60) said. “He changed my life.

“He was supportive and nurturing. He spent most of his time pointing out what we’d done right rather than what we’d done wrong. Then he’d add just enough criticism to let us know we could do even better.”

Dick shaped many who would become famous, but he was something special to the rest of us, too. And we were something special to him.

Northwestern will host a publication launch of Straddling Worlds on Jan. 25. The event, free and open to the public, will take place at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 25 in 108 Harris Hall on the Evanston campus. For more information, call or write (847) 467-0885 or chs@northwestern.edu.

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