"You can naturally imagine how pleased I was to see my name
[on] your Winter issue cover," wrote the author of a letter
that reached our offices shortly after the Winter 2000 issue came
out. The writer signed himself simply "- - - - '68." Thus
began the trail toward the resolution of a 30-year-old Boston College
The photo on the Winter cover showed part of a wall in Gasson 305,
where the names of the annual Fulton prize debate winners are painted
on a long trompe l'oeil plaque.
In the spaces reserved for 1968, 1969, and 1970 there were no names,
just dashes. Except for the years 1944-46, when World War II interrupted
campus life, these were the only blanks on a roster of Fulton Prize
winners stretching from 1890 to the present.
The mysterious note was passed on to John P. Katsulas, director
of the Fulton Debating Society. A clue it contained--"[I] also
won the medal twice"--proved inconclusive, so Katsulas set
about solving the mystery of "- - - - '68" the old-fashioned
way: with legwork. While at it, he decided to identify the other
winners, as well.
Combing the Fulton archives, Katsulas came up with a list of likely
prize-winners. He sent letters of inquiry, and a few months later
he had his men.
Joining the ranks were, chronologically, David M. White '68; Mark
Killenbeck '70; and Ronald Hoenig '70. (Hoenig didn't actually win
the Fulton debate in 1970, but received the honor after antiwar
protests led to the cancellation of all campus activities in the
latter half of the spring semester.) The names have now been painted
in their rightful spots.
According to Katsulas, Fultonians of the time trace the origin of
the empty spaces to then Fulton director Bob Shrum's expanding political
life. A speechwriter for John Lindsay in the 1969 New York mayoral
campaign (and, since, for a string of politicians from George McGovern
to Al Gore), Shrum "can't be blamed for letting it slip for
a few years," says White.
White now runs Testing for the Public, a nonprofit firm, and Killenbeck
is a professor of law at the University of Arkansas. Hoenig could
not be reached.