Dear Alumni and Friends,
This fall we celebrate 125 years of Nebraska Wesleyan University. I’ve been dipping some more into Professor Emeritus of History David Mickey’s (’39) monumental history of the school because I wanted to see how earlier anniversaries were marked.
Fifty years ago, in the fall of 1962, NWU reached its 75th anniversary. For that year’s celebration, two United States senators were on hand: Carl Curtis (’29) (R-Neb.), and Gale McGee (D-Wyo.), a former member of the faculty in speech. Also present was the beloved, recently retired Professor Ethel Booth (’10).
For the 75th anniversary, Professor Booth had written a splendid, short account of Nebraska Wesleyan’s early years—“Where Sunflowers Grew,” a very personal history, filled with passion and opinion. Here is what she wrote about adversity:
Nebraska Wesleyan was destined to pass through two very difficult periods—one in the 1890s and the other in the 1930s. In both periods there were paralyzing, nation-wide financial depressions; devastating, prolonged drought cycles; and a combination of unfortunate local circumstances.
[A]ll of us who give life to Nebraska Wesleyan have our collective “face turned eagerly to the light.”
In 2012, summer was once again very dry across Nebraska. So it’s natural to think back to those earlier, much more trying epochs in Nebraska Wesleyan’s history. Professor Booth told how this school reshaped and improved itself during the 1890s and again during the 1930s. And then she offered this delightful, encouraging, forward-looking summation:
The important thing is that the living school survived, with its vision undimmed and its sense of mission undisturbed. Its remarkable hold upon life can best be explained by its lasting determination to keep its feet firmly established upon eternal verities and its face turned eagerly to the light of each succeeding day.
That character certainly fits Nebraska Wesleyan in 2012 as well as it did in 1962, 1932, or 1892.
Whether your studies here were a long time ago or a short time ago; whether you are an alumnus or alumna, a friend or a parent; whether your recollections of NWU are about struggling or thriving or perhaps both—in all cases, you’ll know there are still “eternal verities” about this place that transcend any differences of age. You’ll know this too: now as much as before, all of us who give life to Nebraska Wesleyan have our collective “face turned eagerly to the light.”
That’s the light you keep glowing when you support Nebraska Wesleyan with your words, your prayers, and your gifts. For vital support in all of these forms, at the 125th again I thank you.