Class of 1967 celebrates 50 years since graduation
Saint Joseph’s University began inviting the class celebrating its 50th reunion for a weekend celebration during the Commencement weekend. These members receive an induction into the Golden Hawks, a distinguished group of alumni. This year’s members of the Class of 1967 and spouses of deceased class members return to a different Hawk Hill to partake in social activities, such as a golf outing, a tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a discussion
led by Ralph W. Galati, ’70, on his Vietnam POW experience. The weekend culminates with a memorial Mass and an induction ceremony. Finally, the new Golden Hawks walk down the aisle at Commencement in their own caps and gowns.
Rich George, ’67, Ph.D., Student Council president in 1967 and former professor of Food Marketing at St. Joe’s, and Frank Sharp, ’67, MBA, Student Council vice president in 1967 are on the planning committee for this year’s reunion. The two discuss with The Hawk their experience working on this event as well as on the changes they have seen at Hawk Hill.
MD: In coming together and planning this celebration, what have you noticed that has changed the most about St. Joe’s since you graduated, whether it be the size of the campus, any change in focus of ideals, the types of programs and opportunities it offers, or anything else?
Richard George: “First, the size of the campus was small and the size of the student body was about 1500. In addition, in 1967 we were still all male, mostly commuter, confined to a couple of classrooms. Most of today’s majors were in place and food marketing was only one year old when we arrived on campus in 1963. Also, a number of our classes were still taught by some terrific Jesuits who were part of a caring, professional faculty. We were in school at the height of the Vietnam War knowing our education deferment would end at graduation. Student body not as diverse in terms of religion, gender, and location. We hadn’t discovered Manayunk at that time. Most of us graduated with almost 160 credits with 15 credits in philosophy and 15 credits in theology. We were the class responsible for SJU getting rid of the jacket and tie dress requirement for class.”
Frank Sharp: “So many things. Tripling the student body, huge expansion of the campus, and the corresponding expansion of the curriculum are the obvious manifestations. In the 60s, if you were interested in a business career at St. Joe’s the only majors available we’re accounting, econ, and food marketing. No finance, no risk management and insurance, no MBA program. I’m thrilled to see what SJU has done with the HSB [Erivan K. Haub School of Business.]”
I was disconnected from St. Joe’s for decades as my career took me and my family all over the place. When we landed in the D.C. area in 2006, I began to participate in local alumni events, and eventually joined the National Alumni Board [NAB]. I was deeply struck by the focus on community service and outreach that had become woven into the fabric of the culture on Hawk Hill. Bringing the spirit of Ignatius out of the classroom and into the lives of the student body gets my vote for the biggest change.”
MD: Conversely, what about the school has stayed the same or gives off a similar feeling?
RG: “Still terrific faculty. Still pride in being a Hawk. Still following the directive of Ignatius of Loyola to be persons for others.”
FS: “THWND! As St. Joe’s has grown over the decades, it has managed to maintain that special, small college sense of community and commitment to the university. I feel this in my interactions with my young alumni colleagues on the NAB.”
MD: What did you take from your education and experiences at St. Joe’s that you have kept after graduation and perhaps even up to today?
RG: “The term Magis was not in effect 50 years ago, but the concept of striving for something greater was evident in everything we did. We developed life- long friendships including some of the following memories:
1. Freshmen Dink [caps].
2. Sophomore hazing including the freshmen revolt.
3. Supremes concert.
4. NIT and St. Patrick’s weekends in NYC.
5. Top 5 national basketball ranking and NCAA tournaments.
6. Palestra games.
7. Midnight raid on Villanova campus.
8. ‘Donches kills the cat.’
9. No more jackets and ties.”
FS: “Rich and I were big into campus politics. In our senior year, Rich was the student government president, and I was his VP. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but the learnings associated with serving our constituents, mobilizing people to get stuff done, and engaging with the administration were hugely valuable going forward with life beyond St. Joe’s.”
MD: What advice or tips do you have for the graduating Class of 2017 as they leave Hawk Hill?
RG: “Do what you love. Love what you do. Give a little more than you promise. Give back early in your career.”
FS: “I met the love of my life on campus, a few weeks before graduation. Here’s what worked for me: fall in love, stay in love, stay together.”
MD: What response are you hoping to get from your classmates that attend the events that weekend, and especially from walking down the aisle at Commencement?
RG: “Sharing old memories. Learning about their children and grandchildren. Reliving our glorious past, the best four years of our lives, if only for a weekend. I have walked down the aisle as a student and a faculty member. Walking in this commencement represents the perfect trifecta for me.”
FS: “I think for me, walking with the graduates will be a moment of quiet reflection about the lifelong journey that was launched from Hawk Hill.”