Alumni return and reminisce about PLU 50 years ago

by Genny Boots, Guest Writer

Pacific Lutheran University welcomed the Class of ‘64 back to campus for homecoming weekend. 50 years after graduation, these alumni came from across the country to reconnect, remember and celebrate their time at PLU.
The event-filled weekend included a reunion reception, formal dinner, lunch with President Krise, chances to sit in on classes and campus tours.

Class of 1964 returns to PLU for 50 year reunion Photo Courtesy of Genny Boots
Class of 1964 returns to PLU for 50 year reunion
Photo Courtesy of Genny Boots

The Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations worked with the Reunion Planning Committee once a month during the summer to organize the weekend.
“It’s been really cool to work with them and give tours of campus,” said Katie Curtis, the administrative assistant for the alumni office. “We get to hear about their experiences at PLU and really get to know them.”
More than 50 people from the Class of ’64 attended the reunion. They’ve all reached their 70s, and most have children and grandchildren. Teachers, pastors, chemists, nurses and doctors, their PLU degrees have put these alums all over the map. One came back to PLU after moving as far away as Tanzania, Africa.
A lot has changed since their days as students. In the 1960s, men and women were kept very far apart. Dan and Judy Selmann laughed as they reminisced about the “dorm mothers”.
“They locked the girls in at 10 p.m. sharp!” Judy Selmann said.
While they were at PLU, chapel was mandatory, dancing wasn’t allowed and studying at the library was just a little desk facing a wall, Linnea Hillesland said.
Another major change was Pacific Lutheran College being renamed Pacific Lutheran University, starting the expansion into the PLU that is known today. They were the first class to live in newly constructed Pflueger, and ten new building sites broke ground. They attended at a critical growing point for the university. It was a different time.
“We only paid $425 a semester,” said Jerry Larson, another returning alumnus.
Despite the physical changes the university has seen over the years, PLU has remained a place for friendship and community. For many of the alums in attendance, both spouses are graduates. This reunion weekend was a time to laugh about budding romance, adventures with friends, and sneaking bottles of wine.
“PLU gave me lifetime friends,” Judy Selmann said.
Even though it has been a half-century since they were students, many of the alumni are still connected to the PLU community. Hillesland had four children graduate from PLU, and recognized much has changed since her time here.
“There are so many more programs, the music in particular, and much more diversity on campus,” Hillesland said.
In honor of their 50 years since graduation, the Class of ‘64 has created an endowment fund. One student will be chosen to receive $50,000 every year. Funds are still being raised for this gift, but this scholarship will join the ranks with endowment from the Class of ‘63.
No matter the time or distance, PLU is very close to their hearts and lives. Hillesland said returning to campus feels like coming home. This years homecoming was truly that: a welcome back home.

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