Close Mobile Menu

Class Notes: 1980

Class of 1980
Olsen accepting his award
John Olsen / Johannes Setzer

University of Arizona Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Anthropology John W. Olsen (Ph.D. 1980, Anthropology) has received the Order of the Polar Star, the highest state award Mongolia can present to a foreign citizen. Created in 1936, the Order was bestowed upon Olsen in acknowledgment of his contributions to Mongolian science and society extending back over three decades.

Olsen first visited Mongolia in 1991 and, since 1995, has co-directed the Joint Mongolian-Russian-American Archaeological Expeditions that have conducted excavations at many sites, especially Tsagaan Agui Cave in the Gobi Desert where several hundred thousand years of human cultural
evolution are recorded in the cavern’s layers.

On accepting the award at a ceremony in Ulaanbaatar on August 25th, Olsen said: “I am delighted and humbled to have received this recognition of my efforts to work collaboratively with Mongolian colleagues to advance archaeology in the country.”

Former Mongolian Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Yondongiin Otgonbayar, noted the award was equivalent to the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and is not often given to non-Mongolians.

Previous American recipients of Mongolia’s Order of the Polar Star include President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Arizona Senator John McCain.

Class of 1980
Charlotte's War book cover

Go Bears! After receiving his PhD in Business (minor in Anthropology) John Lawrence Graham has spent the last four decades in research, teaching and writing about peace in a variety of contexts — within families, neighborhoods, international commerce, and foreign relations. Graham has published nine nonfiction books on those topics. 

Continuing this endeavor — teaching peace — he has a new historical novel being published this spring. The title is Charlotte’s War. Themes explored in the book include: 

• Men’s vs. women’s affection for firearms 

• Nuclear weapons and war crimes 

• Paths to peace – women’s leadership and international trade 

• Biographies of Henry Kissinger and Ho Chi Minh  

• The romance and humor of everyday life, and more 

Charlotte, the main fictional character, is a Berkeley Anthropology PhD alumna protesting the war in Vietnam. Frighteningly, her son is headed into that harm’s way as a Navy SEAL. Please see the reviews posted on Amazon and pass the word if you like the book.

Class of 1980
Book cover

Jamie Bowman ’80 just published her first book, Bike Riding in Kabul: The Global Adventures of a Foreign Aid Practitioner.  Getting roughed up by Islamic fundamentalists, the weekly “feline sex-fest” in Kyiv, bribing Russian police to avoid jail in Moscow, sheltering under the sink (with the lizards) when the ammo dump exploded in Juba, automatic weapons training in Indiana, and that ill-fated morning bike ride in Kabul. It was a great job!  

Bike Riding in Kabul follows the professional and personal adventures ofinternational legal consultant Jamie Bowman, an attorney from California, as she endeavors to update the laws of Kosovo, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Moscow, Afghanistan, Southern Sudan, Rwanda, and Afghanistan.  

As seen through Ms. Bowman’s good humor and unique perspective, Bike Riding in Kabul moves with effortless charm through a fascinating array of personalities and events. It is full of exotic locations, difficult work challenges, strong female role models, and quirky characters, and explores a wide range of themes, including the important role of reform, Islamic attitudes toward a Western woman, endemic corruption, post-Cold War sentiments, and how other countries view the United States. Throughout the book, Jamie is supported by an Argentine boyfriend who helps her make sense of the crazy situations she finds herself in.  

Fast-paced, funny, occasionally heartbreaking, but always wholly original, Bike Riding in Kabul captures the challenges of an American working overseas and is a story of finding the strength necessary to do the right thing, even when the consequences may be personally damaging.

Class of 1980

Your Class Secretary made all of the home Cal football games this fall. Leo O’Farrell made all but one of the home games. It was an up-and-down season, but it was fun to root for the Bears. Once known as a regular on the fifth floor of Moffitt Library, Jeff Oki retired as an executive after 47 years at Grocery Outlet. Believe it or not, Steve Roscow ’81 has given up on Cal sports and now is an avid Stanford women’s basketball fan. Mike Neal ’81 is pleasantly surprised by the relative success (and winning record through early January) of the Cal men’s basketball team.

Class Secretary: Kevin Johnson, 232 Tern Pl, Davis 95616,

Class of 1980

Emily Gold Mears’s new book, Optimizing Your Health, is a guide to reducing one’s risk of chronic disease. It was released on May 17 and can be found on Amazon.

Jeff Schaffer writes: “Last year, I became president and owner of JMC Philanthropic Advisors, where I’ve been working for the past six years. We’re a boutique firm advising and supporting family foundations and other donors in their philanthropic giving. Being a small business owner has meant a huge learning curve for me, but it’s enabled me to continue doing work that I love, and to have continued impact in addressing many of the challenges facing our community and world.”

Class Secretary: Kevin Johnson, 232 Tern Pl, Davis 95616,