Log in

Asilomar 2008 “Interpreting Science, Humanities, And The Law”

Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association 22nd Asilomar Conference,
February 15-18, 2008

Sign Up For The Upcoming Asilomar

Go to Past Asilomars 



The conference program consists of a newcomers reception, three sessions of T’ai Chi before breakfast, eight outstanding lectures, discussions, and tours, visiting with old and new friends, relaxing in your room, enjoying the fire in Hearst Hall, bicycling to Monterey, walking through the Pacific Grove butterfly zone, and shopping in Carmel, You may participate in as many or as few of these events as you like. Bicycles may be rented from the gift shop in Hearst Hall.

One hundred five Phi Betes and their guests attended the 22nd Annual Northern California Association Conference at Asilomar, February 15-18. We enjoyed outstanding lectures, stimulating discussions, and quiet time for recreation and relaxation.

President Jean James ordered gorgeous weather for Friday and Saturday, when many participants walked to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary under the leadership of Bob and Dee Dee Baronian.

The conference registration fees will help fund two graduate student fellowships to be awarded during our annual meeting at the University of California Berkeley faculty club in May. After expenses are paid, each registrant may take a $79.19 deduction on his or her income taxes for this charitable contribution. You probably made your $100 payment for the 2008 conference sometime in 2007, in which case this deduction would apply to the tax return you file this April. We do not give tax advice; confirm this with your accountant.

Participants have made valuable suggestions on their evaluation forms that will be included in planning for next year’s program. The responses were 5 to 1 for reading and discussing a common book by one of the speakers, and most suggestions favored non-fiction.

Over 60 members have already submitted their registration for next year. Please spread the word among your Phi Beta Kappa friends and consider bringing a guest with you next year, President’s Day Weekend, February 13-16. 2009.

Friday 5:00-6:00 p.m. Newcomers Reception, Forest Lodge Suite

All those attending the conference for the first time are invited to a reception hosted by our President Jean James, where you will have an opportunity to meet one another and become acquainted with your NCA officers.



Friday, 7:45 p.m. “Engineering the Oceans"

Marcia McNutt, president and CEO, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, earned her BA and Phi Beta Kappa from Colorado 

College and her PhD in earth sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She has worked for the U.S. Geological Survey and has been on the faculty of the University of Minnesota and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has published numerous scientific articles on her specialization of volcanism and continental break up in areas such as Polynesia and Tibet. She chaired President Clinton’s Panel on Ocean Exploration and is a member of the National Academy of Science.

Dr McNutt took over in November 2009 as the first female director of the U.S. Geological Survey. A year on the job, she takes pride in disaster response - see Science News, December 18, 2010


Saturday, Sunday, Monday 7:15-7:45 a.m. T’ai Chi before Breakfast

Each morning on the patio in front of Fred Farr Forum, Cynthia Fels, M.Ed., a retired teacher and a volunteer naturalist for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, will teach us simple exercises for 30 minutes before breakfast. She is a certified T’ai Chi for Arthritis instructor and uses the method of Dr. Paul Lam. His website describes the program as “warm-up, wind-down, Qigong exercises, special precautions and a set of 12 movement Sun-style T’ai Chi.” Wear loose, comfortable clothing and flat shoes to calm those twinges in the hinges.


Saturday, 9:30 a.m. “Interpreting Supreme Court Decisions”

Kermit Roosevelt teaches law at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous law journal articles plus a work of fiction, titled In the Shadow of the Law (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005). His latest book, the stimulating The Myth of Judicial Activism (Yale University Press, 2006) written for non-lawyers, is the common reading for our conference this year. Professor Roosevelt is a junior-year Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He received his Juris Doctorate from Yale University, clerked for Associate Justice David Souter on the United States Supreme Court, and practiced law in Chicago. His areas of specialization are constitutional law, conflict of law, and law and technology.

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Small Group Discussions of The Myth of Judicial Activism

This is the time for you to ask more questions and express your opinions on the U.S. Supreme Court, on Professor Roosevelt’s book, and on his remarks from the morning session. Please refer to the accompanying list of discussion questions. For example is the Court too powerful? Do justices make law? You are welcome to meet with your friends and a discussion leader in a small group in the Fred Farr Forum or in the living room of one of the residence halls–Afterglow, Embers, Hearth, Forest Lodge Suite, Longview North, Longview South.

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Butterfly Walk

You may stroll through the Pacific Grove Monarch Butterfly Preserve. Sharon Blezik, a leading docent, will guide you to see the Danaus plexippu (Monarch Butterfly), which make their winter home just a few blocks from Asilomar. These magnificent creatures migrate to Pacific Grove from Canada and Alaska, arriving from October through November. In February and March they mate and leave their progeny to return another year.


Saturday, 4:00-5:30 p.m. Wine Appreciation Seminar

David McCuan has been in love with wine making and wine tasting for years. Despite his day job as political science professor at Sonoma State University, he has been able to assemble a private collection of more than 5,000 bottles. He has sampled some of the world’s best vintages and will reveal to us the secrets of wine appreciation.


Saturday, 7:30-9:00 p.m. “Interpreting the Liberal Arts”

John Churchill is the Secretary of Phi Beta Kappa. He was born and raised in Arkansas, elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Rhodes College, attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and earned a Ph.D. in philosophy at Yale. He is a teacher and scholar with emphasis on the works of David Hume and Ludwig Wittengstein. After serving as Vice President of Hendrix College, he worked for the Rhodes Scholarship Trust prior to accepting the position of leadership with PBK. He is married to Jean, and they have three children, ages 20, 18, and 16.


Sunday, 9:30 a.m. “Interpreting Bird of Another Heaven”

James Houston is a keen observer of western America and a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Mr. Houston studied at San Jose State University and was a Stegner Writing Fellow at Stanford. He has taught at numerous universities and holds the Lurie Chair as Distinguished Visiting Professor in Creative Writing at his alma mater. His ninth novel, a search for family roots, combines the histories of indigenous peoples in California and Hawaii. He and his wife Jeanne are the parents of three children.


Sunday, 7:30 p.m. “Interpreting Optical Illusions”

Ed Granger, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Rochester, is President of Ontario Beach Systems and Chief Technical Officer for Delta E. He developed the Subjective Quality Factor (S.Q.F.) of imaging, which has been applied to testing camera lenses at Eastman Kodak and is used to copy documents at the National Archives. His work has produced a new model for human vision, called ATD, which, in turn, has led to a new Image Quality Merit Function for color images and color displays.


Monday, 9:30 a.m. Historical Tour of Asilomar

Ranger Roxanne Jacobus,our favorite California State Park Ranger, along with Ranger Andrea, will take us on a walking tour of the history of the park and the many buildings designed by California’s first woman architect, Julia Morgan.



We are indebted to Judson Goodrich for many of the Asilomar pictures on this page


Quick links

Follow our activities

© Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software