Class of 1972 poses for a photo Oct 14, 2022 at University Museum in Carbondale, IL. (@DEJaniyah)
Class of 1972 poses for a photo Oct 14, 2022 at University Museum in Carbondale, IL.

@DEJaniyah

Alumni Associations honors graduates of 1972 with annual Medallion Awards

October 24, 2022

In honor of the Southern Illinois University (SIU) class of 1972 turning 50, the Alumni Association hosted an awards ceremony at the University Museum on Friday, October 14

Caleb Hale, the SIU director of communication, and Cathie Mieldezis, the director of constituent college relations, said having these types of events for alumni keeps them connected to the Saluki community.

“We have a number of programs that allow alumni to network, mentor students if that’s their wish, or they can give back through scholarships or they can just come back through events. We had a good time, but we also offer a way to stay connected back to someone’s specific college as well,” Mieldezis said.

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Hale said the time alums spend away from the university and then come back for events such as homecoming and class anniversaries, can bring back a lot of memories.

“Distance plus time can really build alumni sentimentality about their days in college and likewise about this place,” he said. “So we see that a lot, not necessarily with people who have just finished college, but for people who are several years out. Perhaps they’re on solid footing with their career in life. They’re ready to re-engage with the university, find out what’s going on and how they can help.”

Alums Marilyn Ayward, who majored in social welfare, and Jean Cairns, who majored in accounting, said one of the things they remember was the riots due to the Vietnam War and Old Main burning down. 

Cairns said she remembers the National Guard surrounding the East Campus Towers and seeing tear gas and smoke come out of the buildings.

Ayward said, due to the riots, the schools had to close down about six weeks before summer break and the administration had to institute pass/fail for students.

Kathleen Herrera-Ondera, who majored in education, said during the time of the riots, it was very noticeable that the atmosphere on the campus had changed.

“When SIU was closed because we had mini riots and we had the National Guard out here, and stuff, so that probably was the scariest time ever for me to be on the campus because I used to walk around to Thompson woods […] and here on the corner, they were people with guns in full uniform, and couldn’t walk any more than three people,” she said.

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Not all the memories of SIU were that hectic. Ayward said she remembers how students would go and hangout around the strip of Carbondale.

“I enjoyed doing it and going downtown to the bars. Going to the strip thing and hearing the bands,” she said” “ […] next to Dairy Queen there used to be a hill and it was an old hospital. It was up a little bit of a hill, but then people, on Sundays when there were no classes or anything; some of us would go down there and sit on the hill and then like get some Dairy Queen and get some coffee and just sort of hangout.”

Herrera-Ondera said the Alumni Association really makes an effort to reach out to alums and keep them updated on what is going on with the campus.

“They always include me [in] everything and that’s half the battle, I think. So I think they do a really great job down here,” Herrera-Ondera said. “Whenever I have a question about homecoming or anything I can text the alumni center and they always respond and if not that same day, then the next couple of days.”

At the end of the ceremony, Mike Blumhorst, the Alumni Associate Board president, handed each of the alums a medallion marking the 50th anniversary of their graduation.

Staff reporter Janiyah Gaston can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @DEJaniyah. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois News follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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