50-Year Reunion: Class of 1966
Oct. 14, 2016
Thank you. It’s great to have Jerry Rutledge here with us. Jerry was a regent for the university for 12 years and has been a friend, supporter and board member in varying capacities for the university for many years. Thank you Jerry for all your work and devotion.
Welcome to all. It’s great to have all of you back on campus. Like many college graduates, I bet most of you weren’t certain where your lives would take you. Fifty years ago, you may not have pictured yourselves sitting here, among your classmates, looking out across the campus.
Much of the campus is surely familiar. We’re still the Buffaloes, we’re still sporting the black, silver and gold, and we’ve still got the best view in the nation. Despite these key similarities, a lot has changed.
Fifty years ago, you were one of roughly 15,000 students on campus. Today, enrollment is nearly 32,000. Today students turn in their assignments on a computer. Today you might do your homework in class and get your lectures at home on the Internet. Our students on campus today have not known life without email or Google.
Many of these great developments were set in motion by our generation. In fact, the class of 1966 created one of CU-Boulder’s most cherished traditions—the Ralphie Run. In the early years, the University of Colorado used a dog, a goat and even a donkey as impromptu mascots.
In 1934 the university chose a more imposing animal to represent our school—the buffalo. Over the next few decades, different buffaloes ran at football games but there was no official name for these mascots.
Then, in 1966, a student’s father donated a 5-month-old bison to the University of Colorado, and your class named it Ralph. As you may remember, an observant fan noticed the bison was female, so the name was quickly modified to Ralphie.
The state of Colorado fell in love with Ralphie, and it’s a love affair that continues to this day. She was even featured on the front page of the newspaper when she was thought to be pregnant in 1970. News about the football team itself was pushed to the back of the paper that day.
Today, the fifth generation of Ralphie runs across Folsom Field before each football game. The Ralphie Run is known to be one of the most exclusive sights in college or professional sports. Even our opponents are excited to watch Ralphie race around the end zone.
We have the class of 1966 to thank for this prized tradition. Your generation possessed great foresight. Some of the best parts of Boulder are here today because of your generation.
The National Historic Preservation Act was passed in 1966 in order to preserve historical and archeological landmarks so generations of people could enjoy our country’s most unique sites.
Because of this act, Chautauqua Park became a National Historic Landmark and our own Norlin Quadrangle became a National Historic District. I don’t think Boulder would truly be Boulder without families hiking in Chautauqua or students lounging on Norlin Quad.
In 1966, people were creative, determined and most importantly, curious. This curiosity lead to revolutionary ideas and discoveries that forever changed how we think about our universe. It was 1966 when the first Star Trek episode aired on NBC. In the late 1960s, traveling around Pluto was something that only Captain Kirk could do.
Today, students at CU-Boulder are deeply involved in the first-ever exploration of Pluto, more than 3 billion miles away in the outer reaches of our solar system. A revolving group of CU students built, and are operating, a key instrument on the history-making New Horizons spacecraft that hurtled by Pluto last year following a 9½-year journey to the frontier of our solar system – traveling 750,000 miles a day.
While much has changed since 1966, I’m proud that CU-Boulder is still a place for students to indulge their curiosities and push the boundaries of art, technology, science and exploration.
Today, the campus is working together to ensure our students receive a world-class education. I have three major goals for the university.
Alumni are our best ambassadors, and you are part of our story and part of our legacy. I thank you for your support and for joining us on campus today. I now want to take some time to answer any questions you may have.