Dear Class of 2020 Members,
Congratulations! You’ve done it. You graduated from UW–Madison, earning a world-class degree from a world-class university — and there’s no doubt you’ll go far. As members of the Class of 1970, we want to welcome you to alumnihood and offer our best wishes as you set out into the world.
With that said, we know this is a difficult time to be graduating. The nation and the world are facing a time of pain and unrest, with a global pandemic, a slowed job market, and troubling new examples of historic racial injustices. In the midst of this, your commencement ceremony — a milestone moment — was postponed, and our hearts go out to you for the disappointment we imagine you felt and still feel, among the many other emotions you may have during this time.
Although we’re not in your exact shoes, our class is disappointed about commencement, too. Typically, members from the class that graduated 50 years prior participate in the ceremony, distributing alumni pins to new graduates as they step into this new life chapter. We are very sorry that, this year, we were unable to celebrate in that special moment with you. Even still, we wish to offer you our empathy, advice, memories, and hope for what’s ahead. Below are thoughts shared by individual members of the Class of 1970.
We are thinking of your class and sending each of you our collective support and congratulatory wishes. The Class of 1970 is so proud of you; Badgers are resilient — as your class has so elegantly shown — and together we’ll get through this and create a better tomorrow. On, Wisconsin, and on, Class of 2020!
Class of 1970
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Congratulations on your graduation! Your degree gets you started on your career path. It gets you in the door. YOU carry you through the journey. Every job, every experience gives you something (talent, skill, empathy…) you can apply to your career, however that career unwinds. Look at it that way. The value you add does not only [come] from your credits and credentials. — Heidi Cooper ’70
The spring 1970 semester was pass/fail because of demonstrations against the war. Bascom Hill was shrouded in tear gas. National Guard troops were all over. Cecil Taylor left town early. That’s what I remember of graduation. Now the 50th reunion is [postponed] due to the pandemic, and millions of Americans are demonstrating to say that Black Lives Matter. So much has changed and so little has changed. Good old Class of 1970.
Warmest greetings to you all! — Neil Geminder ’70, MS’75, MS’76
As difficult as things now seem in this crazy world, the sun will come out tomorrow, so hang in there. You have had a wonderful education, and [I] hope you enjoyed your years in Madison. That education will pay off, even if not as quickly as you thought. Congrats!!! — Edward Grossmann ’70
The Classes of 1970 and 2020 will always be connected in an unusual way. The Vietnam War, the National Guard on all campus street corners, the tear gas, and the bombing of Sterling Hall will live in the memories of the spring and summer of 1970. COVID-19 has put a spike into the traditions usually celebrated for the Class of 2020. The virus will be remembered by all of us as one of the most disrupting events in our country in our lifetime. However, the new graduates could learn from this experience. It can induce flexibility, spontaneity, and an empathy to reach out to their community with kindness and compassion. My wish for this class is to become open-minded in all things including science, the environment, and politics. Do your own research. Don’t join the herd without careful study and consideration. Express your feelings and views without fear. Be active in your communities, and especially don’t forget your roots [at] our great University of Wisconsin. Join WAA [the Wisconsin Alumni Association], keep connections with your classmates, and come back to campus occasionally to refresh your soul. Be well and happy. — Andrea Pryor Harkins ’70
Congratulations! Welcome to the wonderful world of UW alumni! We graduated in tough times, too. Jobs weren’t easy to find in the early 1970s. After a wonderful Peace Corps experience, it took me a year to find my first “real” job. You have the skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world, but you can’t give up during the hard and good times ahead. Consider a career in public service: the world needs your help! I found that during 50 paid and volunteer years, I benefitted as much as the people I served. The world needs collaborators who will work with everyone to improve the lives of all. You can do it! — Linda Kustka ’70, MS’96
I’m a daughter of a UW’47 grad dad, and I grew up within earshot of the UW stadium. My parents had season tickets, and when we were old enough, we would park cars for the game. I can’t remember a time when we did not have Badger football in our lives! When I got into the UW nursing program, I was so excited to be in a Big Ten school and to enjoy everything that the UW had to offer. Somehow, I managed to attend all UW football games in my school time — working around my work schedule and sometimes coming just a little late (now common but then not). I remember the “Upper Deck” and overcoming my fear of heights to make it work. I remember we did not win a home game until my senior year when we played Iowa in October ’69. I was there with my parents and future husband. To see our Badgers and watch them rally to win the game was an overwhelming experience. We massed unto the field, took over State Street and paraded up to the capitol along with the band. It was an impromptu pep rally and so darn fun! I remember going home along University Avenue and people waving, honking horns, screaming cheers — it was joyful! Through all those years of losses, students supported their team regardless. Badger football was — and still is — an experience, not an event. — Christine Ann (Tina) Jafferis Lund ’70
My undergraduate years combined the excitement of youth with the joy of learning. UW–Madison opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and combined [that] with a great social scene. My senior finals were canceled due to Vietnam demonstrations with tear gas on campus. Your graduation [was] canceled due to social distancing and coronavirus worries. I was lucky to graduate in a time of prosperity (1970). You are not so lucky, with jobs being scarce and the cost of living [being] high. Perseverance, patience, kindness, and empathy for the hardships of others will help you reach your goals and have a fulfilled life. — Paula Mayerson ’70, MS’75
Being born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, I was fortunate to have a Catholic education, which prepared me for my studies at UW–Madison. During my undergraduate and graduate days, I continually felt very fortunate to be at this prestigious university. The university prepared me for many challenges in life and provided me with the knowledge that I can partake in many experiences in life. The education here gave me the strength, fortitude, and hope that I could achieve many things in life. Being able to be a Peace Corps volunteer, work in correctional facilities, and [be] involved in education in various ways for 40 years has fulfilled many of my dreams. As an alumnus and lifetime member of the [Wisconsin] Alumni Association, I am truly thankful to be part of this illustrious educational institution. Each day as you and I have experienced, and will continue to experience, you and I are thankfully proud to be a Badger for life. — Eugene Nelson ’70, MS’74
I thoroughly enjoyed my years at Wisconsin. I graduated with honors in economics and went on to receive an MBA (U of Chicago). I was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and earned a letter from my swim-team participation. I have been involved with Wisconsin since I graduated. My activities include the Chancellor’s Scholarship Program, the Economics Advisory Board, the Bascom Hill Society, the UW Foundation, the W Club, and WAA. I was delighted when my son graduated from Wisconsin in 2015. — Richard Patterson ’70
Graduating with a degree from UW–Madison in the most challenging of times — different than many of us have ever experienced — will serve you well. Not only have you succeeded in the classroom, but like the graduates before you, you have learned much about life outside the classroom; for the class of 1970, we learned to ask the tough questions about major cultural issues facing our generation: the Vietnam War, women’s rights, and racism. To question, to seek to understand, to value everyone’s humanity, [as well as] a commitment to serve your greater community, are all part of the learning experiences and the mission of UW–Madison. So, as uncertain as the future seems, you have the fundamental skills and foundation to succeed. Your generation gives me great hope for our future — especially knowing you graduated from UW–Madison. ON, WISCONSIN! — Claudia Grams Pogreba ’70
Student protest was something that was always with us. The university encouraged out-of-classroom learning. Although I had decided NOT to attend graduation due to my antiestablishment bias, my parents informed me they were coming regardless of whether I was there. At the last minute, I entered, as you can see in the enclosed picture. Although I refused to wear a cap and gown, I did decide on a UW T-shirt! — Jerome Silver ’70
Hi, Class of 2020,
This recollection of bygone days will no doubt sound like fake news; but believe it or not, Badger football victories, now an expectation, were in my UW days barely a rumor.
I should know. I was the poor wretch who covered the 1968 team for the Daily Cardinal, which gave me a bird’s-eye view of a 0–10 train wreck that remains the worst season in Wisconsin football history. The futility included everything from a 48-point rout to a four-point loss in which the Badgers threw four interceptions in the game’s final four minutes to a one-point defeat that featured six missed Wisconsin field goal attempts.
The season ended with many of the team’s African American players skipping the team banquet, protesting what they believed to be unequal treatment by the coaching staff.
Thanks to a 0–9–1 finish in 1967, the Badgers entered 1969 with a 20-game winless streak, which reached 23 heading into a home matchup against Iowa. Then a near-miraculous comeback turned a 17–0 fourth-quarter deficit into a 23–17 upset triumph.
As you well know, it’s any excuse for a party, and students took over lower State Street that night. The highlight of the festivities was an impromptu appearance by Badger legend Elroy Hirsch, then the UW’s athletic director, who delivered a brief, impassioned speech after students hoisted him onto the overhang at the old Grotto Restaurant.
Finally, let me offer congratulations, best wishes, and this thought from author Brad Meltzer: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
— Barry Temkin ’70
Dear Class of 2020,
Congratulations on your graduation! Of course, I’m sorry that you were not able to have the commencement ceremony you deserved, but that ceremony was merely public recognition of the hard work you put forth and the success you achieved. You know what you’ve done and, frankly, so do we, the class of 1970.
Our classes share a lot. We experienced great fears and concerns during our final semester before graduation, and the events of our times stayed with us for the rest of our lives. The events and difficulties you experienced this year will stay with you, too. And they’ll make you a better person because you will work harder to make your life meaningful, and you’ll make the world a better place. I know you will.
My class, and the others that have come before yours, contribute to the current almost half a million living University of Wisconsin alumni population. The people in my class and the others have been successful in an unimaginable number of fields, professions, skills, and endeavors. What this means for you is that no matter what you wish to do with your life, no matter where you wish to go, there are other UW grads there already, and their successes and achievements give a value to your degree and act as a calling card for you. No matter what you do and where you do it, from Beloit, to Boston, to Barcelona, to Beijing, these UW grads there already demonstrate the value of your degree. Don’t let anyone tell you that where you went to college makes no difference. It truly does, and the accomplishments of those almost half million Badger grads are proof.
But I also have a challenge for you. In 50 years, you will be having your class reunion. One of your jobs before that reunion is to ensure that you have made full value of your degree so that someone graduating in 2070 can take advantage of the reputation your efforts have given to a University of Wisconsin degree from Madison. The next 50 years represent your opportunity to “play it forward” so others can succeed as you have done. We’ve had your back for a long time. We’re delighted to turn the job over to you. We know we place that job in good hands!
Again, congratulations, and on, Wisconsin!
— Keith White ’70, MA’87
Good luck to all of you UW 2020 graduates! — David Zucker ’70