In celebration of the sesquicentennial, Clarion University collected fondest memories from its alumni, who reminisced about a variety of topics from residence halls to the professors who changed their futures.
For many, life and friendships began inside the residence halls.
"I can't think of anything better than the two years that I spent in Ballentine Hall," said Anthony Deter (2017, B.S. liberal studies, minor in history). "I will never forget anything from my freshman year. There was only one floor of people so we practically did everything together. Game nights in the basement will be forever some of my best memories. I also loved my time being a Community Assistant there up until the dorm's closing."
Deter wasn't the only one to remember Ballentine Hall.
"My fondest memory was the comradery established in the final semester that Ballentine Hall was open," said Jared Milligan ('16, B.S. communication). "The building may be closed but the memories will always be there."
Others couldn't help but think of Wilkinson and Nair Halls, the residence halls that used to be located along Main Street.
"My fondest memories are playing hide in go seek in the dark basement of Nair with my friends on the floor or having many rounds of Cards Against Humanity in a common room at Campus View," said Audrey Platz, ('17, B.S. rehabilitative sciences).
"There are so many but one that students now will not experience is the echo chant battles between Wilk and Nair," said Annamarie Mellett, ('80, B.S. education with a major in rehabilitation sciences). "Especially when the sorority and fraternities would come for pledge pick-up they would do their cheer and then another would do their cheer louder."
Another alum remembered a time when student housing wasn't as conveniently located as it is now.
"The majority of the freshman class in 1968 were housed in Forest Manor," said Elizabeth Compelio ('72, B.S. elementary education). "We formed many friendships and lifelong bonds because we were a mile from campus and had to make our own entertainment."
Others found their residence hall location to be just right.
"One of my fondest memories was watching the Budweiser Horses being unloaded and set up for the ALF parade from my Becht Hall dorm room window," said Natalie Kidwell ('00, B.S. elementary education).
Becht Hall, located in the center of campus across from Carlson Library, now contains the primary services and resources that every student needs.
In order to make changes on campus, sometimes older buildings have had to go and one particular building was Seminary Hall. Lorraine (Martin) Siegel ('70, B.S. music education) remembers the day it was demolished as well as her time spent in the building
"I will never forget the day of the demolition of our beloved Seminary Hall. It sat in the center of campus and at that time was the home of the music department. I took piano lessons from the brilliant Annette Rousseau Pesche on the top floor of this historic structure. The choir rehearsed on the ground floor under the direction of Bill McDonald and the beautiful sounds filled the center of campus. On the day of the scheduled demolition many students sat in protest across from the building to watch the process. The 'headache ball' began to pound against the building but not a brick moved. We began to cheer! Over and over it hit that old building and it just bounced off like it was hitting rubber! We kept cheering.
"Our beloved historic building did not want to leave this campus without a fight! Eventually the bricks began to fall and the inevitable occurred. Our beloved Seminary Hall was demolished to make way for a new library. I will not forget the smell of the building, the sound of the music or the old floors beneath my feet as I ran up to my piano lessons."
No matter what building alumni spent the most time, it turns out the people are what made experiences worthwhile.
"My fondest memories are of the personal connections I made," said Kathy Hoffman, ('92, B.A. English). "I loved hanging out in front of Carlson between classes with my sorority sisters. My professors were brilliant and caring. It gave me confidence to walk across campus and regularly see familiar faces. That is something that does not happen at larger universities."
Others bonded over shared experiences.
"We had a scrappy little team of ex-Venango students who won the intramural basketball tournament, '70 or '71," remembers Mike Lindow ('72, B.S. in history).
Others found more than friendship.
"A month into dating, we participated in a Saint Patty's Day UAB event where we had to practice the art of kissing with other couples on stage in front of an audience of peers," said Kelsi Boyles, ('07, B.S. in secondary education). "Twelve years together, seven years of marriage, and one beautiful son later, we are still together and reminisce often of our time as students at Clarion University and give back our time and money to the university as participants of the ALF festivities, Alumni Pirates games, volunteering countless hours as the chapter advisor for Sigma Sigma Sigma, partnering with the university for educational/work events, and going back to obtain two more college degrees from CU."
"I was an RA and I was there the week before the residents moved in August of 2001. I was doing room checks, and our friend was doing a campus safety walk for public safety," said Susan Kaschak Donahue ('02, B.S. in communication and speech communication). "He was down by Wilkinson with his friend. He called and said he wanted to say hi. When I got to the front of the building, there was his friend with his beautiful blue eyes and nice smile complete with one dimple. As soon as I said hi, I knew I was going to at least date him never imagining I would marry him and have four beautiful children!"
"My husband and I met through the marching band and we had a daughter while attending
there," said Holly (Pressler) Booth ('99, B.S. communication). "My daughter whom I
had while attending CU, was a student there last year and in the band as well. She
had the same instructor as both my husband and I."
"I started attending Clarion in the fall of 1982. I joined Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed fraternity. To this day, I am the only person I know who can say 'I married my Big Brother.' We're still together, thanks to CU," said Darryl Duerr, ('86, B.A. German).
Greek life is another strong memory of alumni experiences.
Ron Arnold ('88, B.S. psychology) remembers "the first warm days of spring sitting on the roof of the OX (Theta Chi) house, having an ice cold beverage."
"Having good, clean, honest fun with my Theta Chi fraternity chums at the OX House," Jack Schrader ('89, B.S. communication) said. "We used to mix Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper together during our many study sessions so that we could cram all night. Good Times!"
Others found a little bit of home at Clarion.
"I worked in the Alumni House as a student worker from 1993-1997. Lola Champion was my boss and mom away from home," said Traci Meeker ('97, B.S. elementary education). "I met my husband, AJ, there where he was a grad assistant for Rich Herman."
"I was a resident assistant on wing 5B of Campbell Hall from 1996-1997," said Teresa Hamilton ('98, B.S. elementary education). "We had some great late-night fun with Mrs. Ed, the Campbell Hall overnight housemother. She was the kindest, sweetest person and gave my fellow RAs and myself some great life advice."
Others had professors who mentored them and helped them find their field of study.
"I went to Clarion from 2007-2011 and loved every moment of my time there," said Stephanie Cooper ('11, B.S. rehabilitation sciences and a minor in psychology). "Yes, I changed my major four times, but I ended with rehabilitation sciences with a minor in psychology. My advisor was Dr. Feroz and I could not have been more blessed to have him."
"The late Dr. Richard Couch was my professor for two classes through my time at good ole CU," said April Wathen ('00, B.S. elementary education). "I had a dream from kindergarten to be a teacher. Dr. Couch not only pushed me to think more deeply and look at issues through a different lens but he complimented me on my emotional intelligence and told me to read Goleman to know more. I will forever be grateful for that man choosing to share his love of education with 18-22 year olds. I have earned a county, state and national award in education and it all began at Clarion."
One student remembered a poignant moment with Dr. James Gemmell, former president.
"I had gone to the (Hart) Chapel theater to see a play of some sort one evening by myself. I happened to get a great seat near the stage. I was dressed in my usual shabby, I-don't-care-what-I-look-like manner feeling pretty comfortable," said Ralph Zema ('76, B.S. geography). "A bit later, the college president and some of his family and colleagues were seated all around me. I sort of wanted to leave ASAP because I felt so out-of-place. The group started introducing themselves and giving their titles within the college. When asked who I was, I told them my name and that I was 'just a student.' The college president immediately remarked, 'No, no you are not just a student: You are the reason why we have this institution and why all of us here have a job.' We all laughed a bit and, even though I still felt uncomfortable being there, it gave me a whole new perspective on Clarion, its administration, and its role in my life. I can't possibly remember the play or musical being performed that evening but, I will never forget the impact of the college president's words."