According to Joan Lappin, there were eight things women were allowed to be when she graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1964: school teacher, bank teller, secretary, stewardess, librarian, department store buyer, nurse and social worker.
“I did the first three,” Lappin said. “And many other gals went to college in pursuit of becoming a ‘Mrs.’”
Lappin had bigger dreams, however. And, after taking inspiration from the University of Wisconsin, she turned those dreams into reality by going on to enjoy a successful career on Wall Street.
But Lappin’s memories also included nostalgia for times of her days as a student:
"Great classes; Picnic Point; traying down the hill into oncoming traffic; slip-sliding down the hill the following morning when the walks were so slick if one person fell up at the top it started a chain reaction; watching the crew team sliding past our windows practicing on the lake; beer in the Rath with friends; late-night popcorn popping in the dorm; studying at the Historical Society where it was quiet or in the stacks; freezing at football games; walking to class in minus-30-degree temps and getting a fantastic education, second to none in one of the nation’s top 10 research universities."
These are among the many stories alumni from the Class of 1964 shared when they returned to campus this month to celebrate their 50-year class reunion, hosted by the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Nearly 250 classmates came back to commemorate this milestone moment and to reconnect with the campus and each other.
“I have talked with hundreds of UW-Madison alumni who connect their achievements in life to their education on this campus,” said Judith Ward, who’s known for her accomplished career on campus, including her service as the executive associate director of the Waisman Center and as “first lady” of UW-Madison, when her husband, David Ward, led the campus as Chancellor. “They are not only appreciative, they provide good counsel to their alma mater and they reinvest in the University to help future generations of students.”
Along with reminiscing, reunion-goers partook in a variety of campus tours and the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Day of Learning, which included sessions about how the 1960s are still affecting the world today, led by author and journalist David Maraniss and fellow 1964 graduate Jeff Greenfield, an award-winning author, journalist and former editor of The Daily Cardinal.
The highlight for many, though, was a dinner event at which Chancellor Rebecca Blank welcomed alumni to the Half Century Club. This time-honored tradition also included awarding commemorative pins and recognizing the class gift of more than $235,000 raised. The Class of 1964 gift supports the continuing development of the Lakefront Gateway, which combines the Memorial Union Reinvestment, Alumni Park and One Alumni Place.
“The Class of 1964 really took the Wisconsin Idea to heart by using your education to make a difference beyond the boundaries of the classroom,” said Paula Bonner, president of the Wisconsin Alumni Association. “While your class was making an impact in the world, you never forgot your Badger roots either — always supporting the UW in ways great and small.”