By Constance Yonashiro
Like many BYU graduates have experienced, it was during a typical ward function where a young man happened to look across the room and saw a beautiful young woman standing there and knew instantly she was the one.
The young man, Bob Christiansen, would later become the 1966 student body president of the Associated Students of Brigham Young University, now known as BYUSA.
“Because of my experiences at BYU as president of the student body and experiencing the typical BYU lifestyle, I”ve been all over the world,” Christiansen said. “And it doesn”t matter where I go, I always find someone I knew at BYU. It”s amazing.”
On Feb. 18, 2006, the class of 1966 will be officially inducted into the Emeriti Alumni Association, an association that promotes friendship among its members and allows them to reconnect with each other while engaging in activities that further the mission of the university after graduation.
Forty years have gone by and just like the landscape of the BYU campus has changed, so have the lives of the people in the class of 1966.
“They have emulated BYU”s mission of ”enter to learn, go forth to serve” throughout their lives,” said Robyn Pinegar, BYU”s alumni outreach administrator. “Some have served on national government committees and been educators of elementary, secondary and university-level courses within the United States and China.”
The 1966 alumni experienced the heightening of the war in Vietnam, the excitement of Beatle Mania and the effects of the civil rights movement. Many alumni give back to the university because their experiences, along with BYU”s unique vision of making the world a better place through service, have defined their lives.
“Some of these individual alumni have pioneered BYU”s MBA program, developed universities in Nigeria and Rangoon, started the BYU Travel Study and Study Aboard departments, and have truly exemplified the BYU motto of ”the world is our campus,”” Pinegar said.
In addition, Pinegar said the alumni enjoy being able to reconnect with lost friends and find they have similarities with people they vaguely knew while in school.
“Members love coming back to meet with former classmates to socialize, reminisce and make new friendships,” she said.
Former BYUSA President Christiansen said that memories of BYU often make him nostalgic to return to school, something he never thought he would want to do.
“We did a lot of great things when we were there,” Christiansen said. “Social activities were a really important part of what the student government did. We held so many social events, weekly assemblies and just were a part of most every part of the life on campus.”
The luncheon that will induct the class of 1966 will also be the Emeriti”s Annual meeting of members, and they are expecting around 500 people to come, said Corky Nowotny Weight, president of BYU Emeriti Alumni Association. However, many alumni live outside the Wasatch Front and may have difficultly attending.
“We are hoping for at least 66 members [out of 3,321 alumni] from the class of 1966 to be there,” Weight said. “If we could get that many, that would be great.”
Weight noted that many people do not know they are members of emeriti, which is a free membership and has no annual dues like other alumni associations.
“The only requirement to qualify as an emeriti member is to have attended BYU 40 years ago and have taken at least 27 credits,” Weight said. “So many people who have attended BYU for only a few semesters are emeriti members who can participate in the activities and don”t even know it.”
Along with the luncheon and the induction ceremony of the class of 1966, there will be awards given to certain members of the emeriti.
“The awards go to people who do exemplary service – things people have accomplished that go above and beyond,” Weight said.
Weight noted how much of an impact attending BYU has had on most alumni.
“Most of them graduated from BYU, met their spouses here and got their start here,” she said. “It has directed the course of their lives as they entered the world.”
The Emeriti Awards celebration will be in the WSC Ballroom with Bob Christiansen accepting the induction of the class of 1966 into the Emeriti Association.