30 Ways We've Changed the World
by Russ Brown
Ever find yourself at a loss for words when defending your alma mater's contributions to society? Then you might want to stock up on the following supply of verbal ammo. In its 200-plus years of existence, U of L has made numerous contributions to who we are and how we live. Some are quirky, some bold. Some are well-known-and some may surprise you. But the fact is, U of L has definitely made an impact. We list just a few of the ways the university has left its mark on the region and in some cases even the world.

The Rat Pact

NASA owes a couple of researchers and a few rats at U of L a debt of gratitude for their contribution to its space exploration efforts. In the early 1980s, X.J. Musacchia and research associate Joseph Steffen of the university's physiology and biophysics department used white rats in a series of experiments on the effects of weightlessness. They wanted to find out what happens to certain human leg muscles after long periods in space. The results matched tests done on earthbound patients who had been bedridden for an extended period. The researchers then shared their findings with NASA, which used the experiments to form the foundation for its own future space physiology projects.

A Developing Project

Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Dorothea Lange are just a few of the noted artists whose original work can be viewed in the nationally esteemed U of L Photographic Archives. The Archives, located in Ekstrom Library, is among the country's largest, housing more than 1.2 million photographs. Its mission is to collect and organize significant documentary photographic collections and make them available to both the researcher and the casual browser. Hundreds of discrete collections include significant national documentary projects, local history photos and an excellent museum collection of fine prints.

We're Once, Twice, Three Times a Champ

U of L is the only school to have won three separate national championships in men's basketball-the NAIB, the NIT and the NCAA (twice).

Seeing Double

At more than 40 years old, the Louisville Twin Study is the longest-running research project of its kind. It uses the development of twins and siblings to probe how genes influence human behavior. Twins offer a unique opportunity to explore the influence of heredity and environment because of their genetic similarities. Therefore, it can be assumed that their differences will be related to environmental factors. Since the study began, more than 800 sets of twins have participated. Among other findings, research shows that identical twins are more likely to remain similar in their behavior than they are to diverge, even as they grow older and are exposed to different environmental conditions.

No Mickey Mouse Feat

James Barnhouse '70S helped design the audio systems for Epcot Center at Walt Disney World in Orlando when it was built in the early '80s. Barnhouse, an electrical engineer and amateur guitarist, worked with the mass of cables, wires, disk drives, tapes and projectors that run Epcot, Disney's futuristic dream that has turned into one of the world's most popular attractions.

First Hand Experience

Surgeons connected with U of L performed the first hand transplant in the United States.

Matthew Scott, a 37-year-old resident of Absecon, N.J., lost his left hand in 1985 when an M-80 firecracker exploded. He received a new one during a 15-hour surgery at Jewish Hospital in January 1999, performed by a team from U of L, Jewish Hospital and Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center. The team was led by Warren C. Breidenbach, a U of L assistant clinical professor of surgery.

Following an intense course of physical therapy, Scott returned home. Several months later he was recovering right on schedule. He could wiggle his new fingers, touch the index finger and thumb together and feel heat and cold.

From SGA to DC

After flirting with politics as president of U of L's Student Council and the dental school's Class of 1955, James Edwards was elected in 1975 as South Carolina's first Republican governor in 100 years. Edwards returned to his dental practice in Charleston in 1979, but his stay was brief. Because of his track record in energy reform, in late 1980 President Reagan appointed him Secretary of Energy. His tenure began at a time when the nation was just beginning to recover from the OPEC oil embargo.

Big Ape Man on Campus

Want to know where U of L's swingers hang out? Check out Ekstrom Library. That's where you'll find the world's largest collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs' materials, including extensive Tarzan memorabilia. The collection, which was assembled and prepared by professor George T. McWhorter, has become a mecca for Tarzan fans and Burroughs' bibliophiles.

A Supreme Being

Noted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, after whom U of L's School of Law is named, was a Louisville native, a colleague of Oliver Wendall Holmes and a celebrated longtime liberal on the Supreme Court. He was also the first Jew on the high court.

During his Supreme Court tenure from 19161939, Brandeis championed such causes as low-cost life insurance and savings banks. He also opposed trusts, monopolies and the "curse of bigness" in government and business.

Though he was a Harvard graduate and Brandeis University in Massachusetts is named for him, the judge was a true Cardinal at heart. He worked to build up U of L as a major institution, donating his own collection of books, pamphlets and rare documents to its library and giving important Supreme Court documents and photographs to the law school.

But Brandeis left the university much more than just his documents and his heart-he left it his whole body. His ashes, along with those of his wife, Alice, are interred near the portico of the main law school building.

Johnny (U of L)

Perhaps U of L's best-known graduate is Johnny Unitas, who passed for 3,007 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Cards from 195154, then went on to a stellar 18-year career in the NFL. Most of his school records have since been eclipsed-most recently by Chris Redman-but Unitas' famous number "16" remains the lone one ever to be retired by the university.

Unitas began his pro career with the Baltimore Colts in 1956 and played there until joining the San Diego Chargers for his final season. Among his many records is one that may stand forever-he threw a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games. Unitas was selected as the greatest NFL quarterback of all time and was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1979. Unitas Tower, a high-rise dormitory on Belknap campus, was named for him.

Cheer Champs

Think cheerleaders are just a timeout distraction?

At U of L, they're first-class entertainers and athletes in their own right. And they're highly touted for their abilities.

The team won its second consecutive National Cheerleading Association Championship in 1999-the group's eighth title in the last 14 years (1985, '86, '89, '92, '94, '96, '98, '99). The squad almost repeated its win this year, with a second-place finish to North Texas.

The cheerleaders are directed by James Speed, a former U of L cheerleader who is now in his seventh year as the squad's coach.

U of L also has a nationally recognized dance team in the Ladybirds. They ranked third in the country this year, just behind Memphis and Brigham Young.

U of L's Dynamic Duo

Few believed it could be done, but under the leadership of then-athletic director Bill Olsen the university landed Howard Schnellenberger as its head football coach. This earned U of L a unique distinction.

When Schnellenberger joined the Cardinal family for the 1985 season, it made U of L the only Division I school in the country with national championship coaches in both football and basketball. Schnellenberger guided Miami to the national title in 1983. Of course, Denny Crum had directed the Cards to the 1980 NCAA basketball championship and was to add another title in 1986.

Crum is still at U of L, while Schnellenberger-who moved to Oklahoma after the 1994 season-is now starting a football program at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Think About This

The casting of one of the university's best known icons, the Thinker, is believed to have been supervised by renowned artist Auguste Rodin himself. It is also thought to be one of only three in the world and it is the only known cast made using the "lost wax" process.

The bronze statue, which was placed on the steps of Grawemeyer Hall in 1949 (back then the building was called the Administration Building), made its debut in St. Louis at the 1904 World's Fair. It was a gift to the City of Louisville from the late Arthur E. Hopkins, president of the Board of Aldermen. The statue was purchased for $22,500 from the Henry Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore.

Classy Kudos

Think the Nobel Prize is the world's most prestigious?

Maybe so-but U of L's own Grawemeyer Awards have climbed high on the list of most sought-after honors. Over the past 15 years, more than $7 million has been awarded to 47 worldwide notables, Mikhail Gorbachev among them.

The first Grawemeyer was presented in 1985 for music composition. Soon to follow were awards in the categories of ideas improving world order, education, religion and, making its debut next year, psychology.

The Grawemeyers are the legacy of H. Charles Grawemeyer '34S, an industrialist, philanthropist and U of L graduate in chemical engineering. He established the program in 1984 with an initial endowment of $9 million through the foundation that bears his name.

Whistler Rediscovered

Mint juleps quenched the thirst of famous American artist James McNeill Whistler (18341903), but the painter of "Arrangement in Gray and Black"-better known as "Whistler's Mother"-has a more modern Kentucky connection.

Steven Block '55A was working in Washington, D.C., when he discovered some neglected creations by Whistler. Block's findings led to the finest private collection of Whistler lithographs, numbering over half the known works and including the most important ones. It has been exhibited at the Speed Museum and toured with the Smithsonian Institution.

Step Aside, Clooney

Television's popular ER might be set in Chicago, but one of the nation's first accident services-the precursor to the modern-day emergency room-opened right here at Louisville City Hospital in 1911.

And it was U of L surgeon Arnold Grishwold who, during the 1930s and '40s, developed many of the ways in which we treat emergency room victims today. He also improved trauma surgery techniques in general.

That's not all. Long before EMS came about, Grishwold equipped police vehicles with medical supplies and trained officers to give emergency care while en route to the hospital. He also developed auto-transfusion (in which the patient's own blood is used) and helped establish Louisville's first blood bank.

Tough Turf

Astroturf will forever symbolize the synthesizing of American sports. But how many know that the man most responsible for bringing sports indoors is a U of L graduate?

In 1965, Houston Astros' owner Judge Roy Hofheinz was having trouble keeping the grass alive in his Houston Astrodome. Enter Donald Elbert '55S, '62G. Elbert headed up a team of engineers at Chemstrand (now Monsanto) who had just invented a synthetic turf. They slapped it on the judge's stadium field and-voila!-"Astroturf" was born.

Astroturf went on to become the most widely patented product in the world, but don't bother to hit Elbert up for a loan based on what you think he earned for his brainchild. Chemstrand paid him a grand total of $5. Which just goes to show that when it comes to fake grass, maybe it is greener on the other side of the fence.

Tissue Time

Does the playing of "My Old Kentucky Home" right before the Run for the Roses leave you running for the Kleenex? Blame it on the U of L marching band. With few exceptions, the band has performed the song that announces the world's most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, since 1936. And it does it whether the sun shines bright or not.

He's for the Birds

One of the world's foremost experts on ornithology-birds, that is-came out of U of L. As a fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union, Burt Monroe Jr. '55A helped classify how bird species in North America are identified. He also led the publishing efforts of the "Check-List of North American Birds," the definitive study of birds on this continent and wrote more than 100 articles for professional and academic publications-the first when he was about 15, according to his bibliography. Monroe counted his authorship of the 1,000-page "Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World," released in 1991, as one of his greatest accomplishments.

Monroe traced his interest in birds to his father, a Louisville businessman and amateur birdwatcher who was so respected for his knowledge that he was named the state's official ornithologist. Monroe often accompanied his father on field trips and, by the age of 11, could recite the scientific names of all 800 then-known species of American birds. Monroe chaired U of L's biology department from 1970 to 1993. He died in 1994 at the age of 63.

Rowing into History

Tori Murden-McClure '95L made worldwide headlines when she became the first American and woman to row solo across the Atlantic. Her nearly 3,000-mile journey, which began in the Canary Islands, lasted 82 days. She landed in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadaloupe-and in the history books-on Dec. 3, 1999.

Longest Winning Streak In History

U of L and basketball have been linked with excellence for decades, and for many years the Cardinals owned a streak that was the envy of many other Division I programs in the country. Beginning with a 163 record under Peck Hickman in 194445, U of L posted 45 consecutive winning seasons-the longest such run in the nation. The streak ended when the 199091 club finished with a 1416 record, even though it put on a strong push and won five of its last six games. The Cards have had only one other losing season in coach Denny Crum's 29 years-a 1220 mark in 199798.

College Bowl Brains

Forget "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"! U of L made game-show glory years ago. When the university defeated Iona College on May 5, 1963, it became only the 17th team to win the GE College Bowl four times in a row. The quiz program ran first on NBC then moved to CBS. Every week two college teams made up of four students each were pitted against one another; the winner would return the following show to take on a new challenger. After five straight wins, the team was retired. The brain-wracking questions came from the areas of liberal arts, literature, history, math, music, art and the sciences. Some samples: What is a umiak? What is a hemipterous animal?

When U of L made its run in mid-1963, only 10 teams had retired unbeaten. But after trouncing Iona, the Cards lost their fifth match to Yeshiva University. Still, they brought home $13,000 in scholarship funds for U of L. Who were the brains behind this feat? Frank Krull served as captain, while Michael "Giles" Kotcher '64A, Evelyn Feltner '63A and Anne Groves were regular team members. J. Daryll Powell '64A was an alternate.

Super Slanguists

Feeling pretty addlepated over how such favorite terms as "paddy wagon," "chowderhead," "old rip" and "dog my cats!" came about? When it comes to the history of the English language, Stuart Berg Flexner '48A, '49G "knows the score."

Flexner is a leading scholar of the American language and its social history. He was an editor of the Random House dictionary series and the major author of "The Dictionary of American Slang"-which has been described as a "superb semantic smorgasbord" by language fans. Another U of L "slanguist" and Flexner's teacher, David Warren Maurer served as a language consultant for the popular movie The Sting starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Maurer, who is considered a pioneer in sociolinguistics, was a member of the U of L faculty from 1932 to 1972.

Mascot with the Most

Speaking of birds, the winner of the first-ever national collegiate mascot competition was U of L's own Cardinal. It strutted right past Mississippi State's bulldog and Baylor's Bear in finals held during the 1995 National Cheerleaders Association championship in Dallas. Giving the judges the bird was U of L graduate Aaron Flaker '94B, '98G.

The Child's Advocate

World-renonwned neonatologist and former U of L pediatrics department chair Billy Andrews Sr. '87AD has long been an advocate of children's rights. His most significant work in raising the world's consciousness regarding children-amid a long list of accomplishments-was penning the Children's Bill of Rights in 1968. The bill was adopted as the theme of the United Nation's International Year of the Child in 1979 and has since been translated into a number of languages.

A Point of Light

U of L alumnus Sharon Darling was honored as one of the "1,000 points of light" by President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush during their administration. Darling was recognized for her battle in the fight against illiteracy as founder of the National Center for Family Literacy. The center attacks both adult and childhood illiteracy and has won the support and regard of a host of prominent figures.

More Medical Firsts

Just a few of the university's other medical firsts include William Owen Roberts, a U of L graduate and professor of surgery, who performed the first successful operation on a human abdominal stab wound in 1883. ... In 1847, Joshua B. Flint, U of L's first chair of surgery, administered ether for the first time in what was then considered "the West." At the same time, U of L professor Samuel Gross (pictured)-considered by some to be the finest 19th century surgeon-used chloroform for the first time in Kentucky. ... And in case you've been wondering where in the world the Pap smear was developed into an effective diagnostic tool, look no further. That, too, is a U of L contribution.

100 + 11 = Sesquicentennial

It's probably safe to say that U of L is the only university to celebrate its 150th anniversary just 11 years after its 100th.

How did this happen?

It seems that a decade after U of L had proudly proclaimed its centennial at Christmas in 1937, researchers uncovered evidence that traced the university back to 1798. So, in the true Kentucky spirit of never missing any opportunity for a party, the university threw a big 150th birthday bash in 1948.

A Modern-Day Sherlock

Chet Dettlinger '72A was assistant police chief in Atlanta when a national crime story propelled him into the spotlight.

His official responsibility was directing a police training academy, but he became intrigued by a string of murders occurring in the city between 197981 in which at least 29 children and young men were killed. So he began conducting his own investigation. The methodology he used uncovered some key clues-and gained him widespread recognition.

A book Dettlinger wrote about the experience, "The List," earned him a Pulitzer nomination and he was hired by the FBI to brief others on how he conducted his investigation. On a less lofty note, Dettlinger was the subject of a made-for-television movie which starred Martin Sheen in his role.

Sculpting Glory

Internationally prominent artist Ed Hamilton is a '69 graduate of U of L's Louisville School of Art. His works include the bronze Civil War Memorial for African-American soldiers that stands in Washington, D.C., and the Amistad Memorial in New Haven, Conn. It memorializes Joseph Cinque's capture by slavers in Africa and his subsequent quest for freedom.