One of the first things I did after being named director of alumni relations was to read through the Alumni Association bylaws to see how today's association measures up to the original vision. While the official purpose of the Alumni Association is "to promote the interest of Willamette University and to maintain and establish mutually beneficial relations between the University and its alumni," in reality, the association and its board do so much more — because that purpose is carried out by enthusiastic people.
It's the people in the Alumni Association who not only keep the history and tradition of the University alive, they come up with great ideas and create amazing opportunities for alumni to stay involved with dear old WU. They raise money for scholarships, provide leadership, and offer mentoring and career networking opportunities for recent graduates and those about to become graduates.
None of these activities could happen without the leadership and support of the 34 alumni, four current students, and numerous faculty and staff who make up our Alumni Association board. Members of the board are nominated by fellow alumni and members of the University community. They are selected by the executive members of the Alumni Association. If you know someone whose Bearcat pride is as great as Willamette itself, please let us know.
Spend a few minutes with David Audley ’93, new director of alumni and parent relations, and you'll quickly learn he doesn't have a single story about his days at Willamette... he has hundreds.
He'll tell you how he spotted his future wife, Erin (Good) ’93, at their first Glee rehearsal on a Monday at 7 a.m. He was atop a 15' ladder, wearing a sombrero and shaking maracas, singing while directing the marchers — and she walked the other direction. But he'll also tell you he managed to get into her good graces soon thereafter: Their first date was second semester, April 7, 1990.
Willamette is a family tradition for the Audleys. David's parents, Dick ’59 and Judy (Hicks) ’62, met on campus as well. Father and son were both members of Sigma Chi, as were uncles Jim Hicks ’68 and Rob Strasser ’69. "So except for the ’70s, there's been one of us on campus since the 1950s," Audley says.
Some of his fondest memories are of his friendship with the late Buzz Yocom ’49, legendary registrar, teacher, administrator and executive vice president of TIUA. "Buzz was able to keep the past alive while growing toward the future. He did immeasurable good."
Yocom's affinity for storytelling had a great influence on Audley as a student and today as he thinks about the future of alumni programming. "Willamette alumni should be able to look back to their alma mater for the shared experiences and values that offer stability and tradition for them today. We need to tell our stories, bring back traditions and stand on the conviction that a Willamette experience is unique and the next generation deserves to have the same opportunity for learning and service and community. I'm the living embodiment of that tradition, and I have three generations holding me accountable."
Speaking of traditions, how did Audley fare on that Blue Monday after Glee? While he may be mortified at the memory of donning dress and lipstick to serve as executive assistant to Mary Belle Littrell ’92 that day, he'll tell you the whole story with a smile.