Having recently received an invitation from his alma mater, Anderson University, to participate in an oral history project, this 1962 alum began reminiscing on what has become a lifelong connection with the institution.

I came to Anderson in 1951, and within four months I was living about two blocks off the campus of what was then known as Anderson College and Theological Seminary. Our next-door neighbor was Dr. John Buehler, chemistry professor. A block away lived Dr. Val Clear, who taught sociology and social work. We attended what was considered the mother church of the college at that time.

When it came time to enroll in college, Anderson seemed like a good fit. I was able to live at home just off campus. My vocational interest was journalism, in which the college at the time had no specific major, but an English major and speech minor as part of a liberal arts curriculum prepared me well for my career.,

Since that time, I have seen the small liberal arts school, only a decade removed from its initial North Central Association accreditation, transform into a university serving nearly three times the enrollment of which I was part from 1957 to 1962. From an institution that at the time was widely viewed by outsiders as provincial, it has gained recognition in several areas as one of the top universities in Indiana and beyond.

I have been acquainted with all five AU presidents. I enrolled during the last year of the tenure of Dr. John Morrison, who talked with me about the connection with the ill-fated Warner Memorial College in Texas of which my father was dean before it folded during the Great Depression. My local newspaper career brought me in frequent contact with each of Morrison’s successors.

Our family has had a longstanding AU connection. Two of my daughters attended, Rachel active in the music program and Ruth earning a social work degree. Just this year, granddaughter LeeAnn graduated from the AU School of Nursing. Several of my cousins, as well as some of their children, attended AU as well, including Dr. Eugene Miller, who founded and directed the Male Chorus for several years.

Only two of the present dormitories were in service when I first enrolled. The Charles E. Wilson Library had just been completed. Nearly all classes were held in the building known as Old Main, long since replaced by Decker Hall. The building now known as Byrum Hall served as the gymnasium. Still to come were the newer academic buildings that now make up the campus.

Attracting national attention was the appointment of John Pistole as the institution’s fifth president following a long and distinguished career with the FBI and the Transportation Security Administration.

I have come to realize a degree from Anderson University represents not only personal academic achievement but decades of progress in building a first-class institution of higher learning.

Jim Bailey’s column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by email at jameshenrybailey@earthlink.net.

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