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Hove, Arthur (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 62, Number 14 (June 1961)

Berge, John
Keeping in touch with Wisconsin,   pp. 7-[8]


Page 7


0 N JUNE 26 the Wisconsin Alumni Association will be
     one hundred years old.
   This important anniversary was commemorated at the Cen-
tennial Dinner in Great Hall in the Memorial Union on
Saturday evening, June third. Four well known Badgers
spoke at this Centennial Dinner:
   1. President Conrad A. Elvehjem.
   2. Mrs. Mary I. Bunting, President of Radcliffe College.
   3. Louis P. Lochner, first executive secretary of the Wis-
     consin Alumni Association.
  4. Carl E. Steiger, president, Board of Regents.
  Unfortunately, information about the early history of the
Wisconsin Alumni Association is very limited. Among the
association's invaluable possessions is a massive leather-bound
record book with 480 pages. This is the only record book
of early Association activities, and unfortunately it includes
very little information about WAA activities during the
sixties and seventies.
  The first page in this book records the "Minutes of An-
nual Meeting-June 18th, 1879." The next hundred pages
include fairly complete minutes of meetings to 1911. Most of
the remaining pages in this book are blank. A few pages list
the members of various classes. These lists, however, are very
brief, suggesting that this book was used to register the
names of alumni coming back for class reunions.
  On page 450 of this priceless volume is one of the rare
records available on the organization of our Association. (See
cut.) Other files show that the Association's founders out-
Wisconsin Alumnus, June, 1961
lined its primary objective in these words: To promote, by
organized effort, the best interests of the University of Wis-
consin. These founders placed considerable emphasis on
.organized effort." They recognized the importance of team-
work in getting things done for our Alma Mater. This team-
work idea still is a dominant factor in all alumni activities.
It is also the key to successful work in alumni club projects.
Alumni club presidents who try to carry the ball alone rarely
accomplish much.
   The Association's first president was Charles T. Wakeley.
He received the second diploma awarded by the University
of Wisconsin. The first diploma went to Levi Booth. His
diploma now is on display in President Elvehjem's office
in Bascom Hall.
   At the Association's first meeting on June 26, 1861, it
was agreed "That the Association should be annually ad-
dressed by an orator and a poet, in connection with the com-
mencement exercises of the University." Charles Wakeley,
'54, was the first orator and R. W. Hubbell, '58, was chosen
as the first poet. This procedure was continued for twenty
years. The list of orators for these two decades includes many
distinguished alumni. John C. Spooner was chosen as orator
at three commencements-1867, 1870 and 1888. The Vilas
name appears five times: Levi M. Vilas in 1872 and 1886;
Charles H. Vilas in 1873; William F. Vilas in 1885; and
Edward P. Vilas, 1890. Another repeater was Samuel Fal-
lows, 1869 and 1884.
   The first alumni dinner was held at the Capitol House on
June 25, 1862. Seventeen speakers were listed on the official
program. Not all meetings were serious, as indicated by the
following quotation from Thwaites' history of the University,
published in 1900: "While the records are silent on this
subject, the recollections of the alumni who attended the
social gatherings of the Association in its early days are rife
with thoughts of the flowing bowl, the witty speeches and
rich stories. This was before the tempering influence of
womankind was felt at these gatherings. Not infrequently
did the alumni hie themselves to Picnic Point and there vie
with each other in telling stories and drinking bad beer."
   The July issue of the Wisconsin Alumnus will be our Cen-
tennial issue. For months, our editor, Arthur Hove, has been
digging up facts that should make this a great issue. This
issue also will include a complete story of commencement
and reunion activities. To make sure that we have complete
coverage on all these events, this July issue will come off the
press later in the month than usual.-JoHN BERGE, Execa-
tive Director
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