Oscar Anderson AB'70
Two-time Alumni Club Board member talks about the old days. See the video!
Believe it or not, back in the day, the Alumni Club used to charge everyone member dues. It wasn’t very expensive, and the idea was we were “supporting” the University. There was some wonderful work done then, but it was crazy keeping track of the money and kind of a hassle for the members. And it discouraged a lot of people from joining.
I clearly recall being denied admittance to an event because I didn’t have my Alumni Club membership card on me. Ha. Then in the late 90s or so, the powers that be decided to do away with the bureaucracy and open up membership at no cost to everyone who’s ever attended the University, with significant support from the Alumni Office. It was a much better idea, and it led to the structure we have today.
Now most people know that everyone who ever attended the University is automatically a member of the Alumni Club.
How did you first get involved?
I got involved a bit after that through my good friend and classmate, Leslie Recht, who was the Club President. Leslie and I worked on our Class of 1970 reunion many times, so I knew it would be easy and fun to participate with her. It was in those early years that we developed the event, volunteer, and service activities that have grown exponentially over the years.
Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve served two terms on the board with a two years hiatus in between. I might be the oldest person on the current Board; for sure I’m the longest serving.
What are some event highlights from the early years?
There’ve been so many highlights I can recall, from the first “Meet the Chef” to something we haven’t done in years, which is to attend a Polo game. The first "Meet the Chef,” although I don’t think we called it that, occurred in the late 80s at Cafe Borgia in Lansing, IN. (I think they’ve since moved to Munster.). Their owner was a UChicago alum, and together we started a tradition that continues to this day.
There have been some great faculty presentations, like the talk on the lyrics of Bob Dylan or the lecture/ demonstration on the physics of baseball. On the volunteer side, we were very supportive of the original UChicago Charter School initiative and set up a book-gifting program with Amazon over ten years ago that I think still works! Of course, it doesn’t compare to Charmaine Owens’ volunteer initiatives, which have just exploded in the past several years.
I am still excited about the great people I have met and continue to meet on the Board and in the Club., and about the good work the Alumni Club does in promoting and supporting the University. I totally encourage everyone to participate on the Board. It’s fun.