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College's Golden Scots treated to 'a surprise at every turn'

Barry McNamara
Richard Downard '67 learned to play the bagpipes as a student at Monmouth College. As part of Friday's festivities, he led the procession as his 50th class reunion enjoyed a progressive supper on campus.
Caroline Marvin ’67 was among the many alumni who came away impressed with Monmouth College during their return to campus for the Golden Scots Celebration, June 8-11.

“There was a surprise at every turn,” said Marvin, who had not been back to campus in 40 years.

More than 140 alumni and friends returned for the College’s ninth annual Golden Scots Celebration, which is held for alumni who graduated 45 years ago or longer.

In addition to the “beauty and symmetry” of campus, Marvin also pointed out another of the College’s strengths.

“I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the staff,” she said. “I could really feel that it was a community of people working together to make this place strong.”

It was not unlike the experience Marvin had as a prospective student in 1963.

“I could really feel myself here,” she said of that visit. “Nowhere else I visited gave me the feel that Monmouth did.”

She said that once she had matriculated as a student, “I felt from quite a few professors a sense of investment in me.”

Marvin was one of a handful of alumni who presented talks during the weekend. She discussed her career in psychotherapy, and she credited the late biology professor Robert Buchholz for being one of the Monmouth faculty who played an important role in her development.

Classmate Rick Kaskel took his appreciation for Buchholz a step farther, featuring him in a talk about the importance of mentors in his life.

“He showed a personal interest in his students’ success that was really exemplary,” said Kaskel, who showed a photo he took with Buchholz from his 40th reunion in 2007. “He told me then, ‘You’re one of the best investments we ever made.’ I really love the guy.”

Two other members of the Class of 1967, Tom Oswald and Wendell Shauman, presented talks related to agriculture. Shauman provided statistics that illustrated improvements of the past half-century – crop yields have continuously spiked upward, while the input required for those yields has stayed nearly constant.

In the half-century or so since the Golden Scots graduated, alumni noted a similar rise in their alma mater. While the College has maintained such elements as a caring faculty and staff, a strong academic program and the opportunity to make lifelong friends, alumni noted that the “impressive” campus has doubled in size and also added many new features and programs.

“I was impressed by the telescope, and the football field with its new suites is very impressive,” said Barry Shatwell ’67, who also commented on the addition of a major in biopsychology.

“That athletic center!” marveled Lucy Hyde Johnson ’72 after touring the Huff Athletic Center. “Even I want to go back in that gym.”

Classmate Claudia Lawson Moss was pleased to see that Greek life is thriving and doing even more than when she was a student.

“They’re doing so much more programming and charity work and philanthropies,” she said. “I was impressed by how much more involved they are and how they have lots more responsibilities and are being held to higher standards.”

“I was really taken by the presentation on the Lux Center (for Church and Religious Leadership) and how broadly they are thinking,” said Marvin, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. “The Presbyterian tie feels much more evident now than when I was a student.”

Another area of improvement is access to off-campus opportunities.

“Look at what they can do now,” Kaskel said of current Monmouth students, referring to a slide in his presentation that showed “Global Classroom” opportunities. “This is wonderful.”

Students from the 1960s did have some opportunities to study off-campus and one, Bill Irelan ’62, used it as a springboard.

“Monmouth College really opened the door to what has become quite an international life for me,” said Irelan, who has set foot in 83 different countries.

The final slide from Irelan’s presentation was one of the most memorable images from the weekend. It showed him at the top of the Great Pyramid, with the sun rising in the distance.

It was Marvin who provided one of the celebration’s top sentiments: “This weekend really renewed my energy for Monmouth and my interest in what it’s doing.”