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The 50-year club

April 25, 2012

In 1962, Elvis Presley’s swiveling hips were in full swing, Lawrence of Arabia and the first James Bond film were hitting the silver screen and the Vietnam War was rapidly escalating.

Although James Bond films are still being produced, and 1960s fashions, a la Mad Men, are back in style, Drake University has changed significantly since the Class of 1962 graduated.

On May 11–13, the Drake University class of ’62 will return to celebrate their 50-year reunion. Many alumni are expected to come back and relive their college days, catch up with old classmates and visit the campus some may have not seen since they graduated from Drake.

For those who haven’t been back, the transformation to campus alone will seem remarkable. Since 1962, Drake has experienced a massive building boom. Harmon Fine Arts Center, Olmsted Hall, Olin Hall, Cartwright Hall, the Bell Center, Aliber Hall, the Knapp Center and Opperman Hall were all built in the years since the class of ’62 graduated. Many buildings have had renovations inside and out and new landscaping has changed the grounds considerably.

“The alumni are really impressed with the physical changes to campus,” says Diane Caldbeck, associate vice president for alumni and development. “At the same time, they say the University still feels the same in terms of the spirit on campus and what Drake stands for.”

During the reunion, alumni will get the chance to learn more about how Drake has changed in the past 50 years in a class taught by Caldbeck, ED’72; Donald V. Adams, professor emeritus of education and retired vice president of enrollment management and student life; and Paul Morrison, LA’39, athletics historian.

While many traditions still remain, like the Drake Relays and Greek Life, some rites have fallen by the wayside. Skip Day is now part of fall break; in 1962, it was an annual ritual when students would play hooky en masse following a major football victory or Homecoming. The popular Bulldog Tales are no longer a staple on campus, and Quax, the Drake yearbook, ceased production in 1996.

Another difference that would no doubt alarm today’s students: Women were required to wear skirts or dresses during most hours of the day.

Despite the differences in dress, traditions and campus appearance, Caldbeck says alumni take the changes in stride and are proud of their Drake heritage.

“They really embrace the accomplishments of our students and they love hearing stories about their experiences,” Caldbeck says.

While back for their 50-year reunion, alumni will participate in a variety of activities. The weekend finishes off in grand fashion when the Class of 1962 dons their gold robes and leads the 2012 graduating class at Commencement. Alumni will also be inducted into the 50-Year Club and receive 50-year medals.

For more information about the 50-year reunion, visit www.alumni.drake.edu.