Fifty Years and Counting

Art Wical '63 alongside Fran Oldak Dolan '63


Literally and figuratively, students from the first days of the San Diego College for Women (1952) and the College for Men (1954) were Pioneers. Not only was “Pioneers” the school’s mascot nickname until 1961, but these students were the earliest beneficiaries of the leadership of co-founders Bishop Charles Francis Buddy and Mother Rosalie Clifton Hill.

That got John Phillips, director of USD’s Office of Planned Giving, thinking about how best to acknowledge alumni who’ve marked 50 years or more since graduating.

“A coordinated effort has been made to make 50th reunions a focus of Homecoming reunion weekend the last few years, but it occurred to me that the 50th reunion seems like an ‘end of the road’ for class reunions,” he says. “What comes after the 50th? It’s time to move these classes to the next level.”

That idea was launched at a landmark event during USD’s 2013 Homecoming and Family Weekend celebration.

Seventy-six people — alumni from 1953-63 along with a few special additions — became inaugural Golden Toreros members. They each received a medallion from USD President Mary E. Lyons, PhD. The ceremony was the highlight of the Oct. 12 Homecoming Dinner with the President in Copley Library’s Mother Rosalie Hill Reading Room.

“I’m always proud to welcome you to your home, your Torero home,” Lyons said. “You can take pride not only in what’s happened here at Alcalá Park, but also the value of the degree you received so many years ago.”

Among those receiving Golden Torero medallions were USD’s first president, Author “Art” Hughes; Sister Sally Furay, an alumna, faculty emerita and former administrator; retired chemistry professor Patricia Shaffer, RSCJ; Patrick Pidgeon, faculty emeritus for philosophy; Jeannette Rigsby, faculty emerita for French; and Terry Truitt Whitcomb, first alumna of the College for Women.

“I think this is a brilliant idea as part of the tradition at USD,” says Charles King, a 1962 alumnus and medal recipient. “It’s a great way to get people back to campus, give back to the university and really support what’s going on here.”

Susan Monahan Wachowiak and her husband, Dan, who both graduated in 1962, were on the Golden Toreros committee and were medal recipients. Being part of this first-ever celebration deepens their USD affinity, along with the fact that their four daughters also attended USD.

“I’d recommend to anyone that they send their children here,” says Susan. “It was such a great place to start. We’re happy that our children also wanted to go here. We had such a great experience and wanted them to have the same kind of experience we did.”

Lyons spoke about new developments — the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering inauguration, student veteran education resources, and a partnership with the Franciscan School of Theology — as a reminder that USD continues to evolve and grow.

“The things we’re doing today have their roots in the foundation of our university,” she said. “While there’s a lot that’s changed here, the fundamental values and mission are the same. The things that mattered to you then, still matter now.” —Ryan T. Blystone

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