SLIDESHOW: Class of 1962 honored at Homecoming breakfast, alum reminisces about CMU 50 years ago
Only a handful of present-day buildings had been constructed, course offerings were few, and tuition was low at Central Michigan University in 1962.
A handful of graduates from the class of 1962 gathered at the Alumni Continental Breakfast Saturday at Powers Hall. The breakfast, open to all class of 1962 alums, served as an opportunity to reminisce and swap stories about CMU 50 years ago.
While there were no formal presentations or announcements, the room was full of chatter, at some points louder than others, particularly when one graduate would spot another whom they hadn’t seen in years.
“I remember back when we lived in Washington Court,” recalled 1962 graduate Richard Wenzel, accompanied by his wife, Gracie. “The neighbors would all get together and play cribbage. It was a famous battle that we would always have and a good way to relax your brain after a day of class.”
Washington Court, as Wenzel recalls, is one of the few buildings that was around in 1962 and still remains today. The Bovee University Center was just two years old, the Rose Athletic Complex was still 11 years from completion, and Anspach Hall was still in planning stages – not yet built until 1966. Pearce Hall followed a year after.
“I was here a couple years ago,” Wenzel said. “I don’t usually make it out toward Mount Pleasant unless it’s to visit friends, but I still try to keep in touch. Things have changed a lot even since then. The campus is just beautiful.”
During his time at CMU, Wenzel kept himself busy.
“Going to school while raising three children was a challenge,” Wenzel said. “I had a full load, and it was a busy time. I worked a lot and spent most of my time trying to keep my head above water.”
Although college was a busy time for Wenzel between juggling a family life and completing a Bachelor of Science in Education, he said he has no regrets and remains positive about his time at CMU.
“I was, and still am, very impressed with CMU,” he said. “A degree in teaching worked for me. It helped me in whatever I did. It taught me to live honestly and be willing to work hard.”
In addition to the architectural differences on campus, the cultural difference between then and now is huge.
In 1962, John F. Kennedy was president, the Cuban Missile Crisis had just averted, the first Polaroid pictures were being developed and segregation in public schools was just beginning to change.
“Times were a lot different back then,” Wenzel said. “But, even today, I think CMU is a great place to go to school. It’s a big school, but it’s not too big. The location is just ideal.”
While Wenzel’s experience as a Chippewa was positive, he offers some advice to current students so their experience can be equally as rewarding.
“Keep your nose to the grindstone,” he said. “Keep struggling. When you leave high school, you’re not used to having to read so much so quickly. It’s important to get your mind off play-things and focused on work-things. This is a serious time.”
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