Yesterday was one of my favorite days in the academic calendar at WSU: the Diamond and Golden Grads were on campus for their reunion. It is always fun and inspiring to meet these Cougs of yesteryear.
It is interesting to track history as a result of engaging with these 50- and 60-year alumnae. Over the last few years, we finished up celebrating the 60th year anniversaries of the graduation of the WWII group. These folks, mainly male, and appropriately coined by Tom Brokaw as “The Greatest Generation,” returned back to Washington State College following service in the war.
Now we are moving into a new era of alumnus – this year’s being graduates of 1952 and 1962. We had fun reliving old times – the ’52 graduates were on campus when C. Clement French was appointed as president of WSC, and the ’62 graduates recalled the Apple Cup during their senior year when WSU beat UW in Seattle, 27-25.
Being a college formed through the merger of the former College of Agriculture and College of Home Economics, we also try to honor the legacy of both colleges. For the Home Economics grads, we invite Dr. Alberta Hill, Dean Emeritus of the College of Economics, to speak each year. Dr. Hill retired from WSU in 1983, and still can give an inspiring address. All of us yearn to have her level of energy and insight during that stage of our lives.
So, what’s on the mind of our diamond and golden grads? Interestingly, their number one issue is access to higher education for today’s youth. These folks accessed a public education during a difficult economic era and credit that opportunity as the factor that allowed them to pursue their careers. They hear about the increasing cost of higher education (nearly 100 percent over the past five years at WSU) and wonder if we are closing off opportunities such as the one they experienced. Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.” Clearly, it is not the Greatest Generation that is pushing us to the current state of funding for public education!