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photo of BC magazine and three missing students

"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 mystery.

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.

Tim Heffernan

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