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Browse personal recollections and stories from the past 50 years of FAU.

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The Way We Were

In 1968, I entered FAU on the advice of a college counselor who, for some reason, believed in me. She suggested that I pursue my bachelor's degree in a small out-of-the-way college town, relatively free from distractions — a place like Boca Raton.

Now, remember this was in 1968! Since she drove a white Jaguar XKE, I took her recommendation without question.

Steene TR3A My first trip to the campus in 1968 took nearly four grueling hours from DeLand, Florida to Boca Raton in a 1967 Triumph TR4A on the Florida Turnpike, where I reached the car's top speed of 107 MPH.

On short notice, with less than $10 in my pocket, I sold the Triumph and transferred to FAU. By 1971, I began to realize that my sage counselor's advice may have led to the best move in my college and early working career.

In rapid succession, I received a student assistantship, my BS, a fellowship nomination, and a graduate research assistantship, all topped off by a new MBA in 1971. Forty years later, I now sit on the $52 million FAU-Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation Board.

In 1968 it was far more obvious that FAU was built on an abandoned former WWII airstrip and surrounded by aging military T and H buildings. The school had surreal beauty with few trees, white elevated walkways, and relatively large buildings towering over a flat prairie-like landscape dotted with the mounds of burrowing owls.

During my three-year campus tenure, resident students found plenty to keep busy. We pursued rumors of buried military equipment on the old airbase, wild monkeys who had escaped from a lab, and owls that emerged from their burrows at night, repeatedly startling us. At night we even explored FAU's own underground tunnel network. I still have a small scar on my forehead to prove it.

When commuter students left for the evenings and weekends, resident students owned the empty campus. Resident students of the late 60s fantasized that we lived at Sebring, as we burned up FAU's runways and taxiways. When the FAU police weren't around, we made good use those abandoned roads in our Triumphs, MGs, Porches, Austin Healeys, and even in the late Tom Oxley's red XKE.

Along with a good friend in a battered TR-3 with no windshield, we won the FAU Dorm Council Road Rally in 1970. I still have that modest, well-worn trophy sitting on a shelf in my office.

I currently have a 50-year-old 1961 TR3-A, which reminds me of those wonderful carefree days of 40 years ago.

Karl M. Steene '71

Karl Steene may be reached at 772-234-6694



In the summer of 1962, I enrolled at Barry College in Miami and Broward Junior College, the nearest schools offering teacher certification extension classes. One assignment required an interview of a public official. The first president of Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Kenneth Williams, agreed to be interviewed. With no university buildings yet constructed, I met President Williams in his office in one of the old WWII buildings which remained on the school's property. At that time everyone envisioned FAU as a commuter school. I was assured there would be no dorms, sports or social organizations.

During the meeting my husband waited in our car with our two-year-old daughter. The campus was being cleared so that construction of the first buildings could start. They watched a man on a Caterpillar bulldozer, who was removing the scrub palmetto bushes that were dominant on the land. He carried a 12 gauge sawed-off shotgun and a scabbard, and across the front of the tractor was a huge eastern diamondback rattlesnake which he had killed. The area was covered with palmetto bushes and in many clumps lived rattlesnake families. The land clearers had to both remove the vegetation and be on the lookout for many huge, unhappy rattlesnakes.

By the time my husband and I completed our master's degrees at FAU in 1965 and 1968, the school's first buildings had been completed and the threat of rattlesnakes had greatly subsided – from the wasteland a mighty university was growing!

Paula D. Altizer '68



I earned an MEd in 1993, after four years of classes one night a week every semester. FAU provided every class I needed in Fort Pierce, where my home is. I never had to travel a single time! My advisor and the instructors were superb, high-ranking faculty members: Dr. Jack Foley, as an instructor and advisor, was always available and solved every problem that threatened to delay me; Dr. Don McKenzie was helpful to me as an excellent instructor and through his position as department head; Dr. Dan Morris somehow made me believe that I could learn statistics, and that changed my outlook on my entire life.

Many times, I was overwhelmed. I taught high school English full-time, was the first International Baccalaureate Coordinator at Lincoln Park Academy, had two teens and a spouse and a house.

However, the students with whom I shared those four years became friends and associates in the school district and at Indian River State College. I work with several of them still, after 18 years. The network we established and the help of the FAU faculty kept me on the track even though it was not a fast track.

I will always be grateful to FAU.

Sincerely yours,

Elizabeth Heard Mallonee, MEd 1993



Beard My dad, Milton Bigham, became a member of FAU's Lifelong Learning Society in Jupiter at the age of 94 and attended at least eight of the presentations until his death approximately a month ago. He missed his 95th birthday by only two months.

Our son, Brenden Beard, is a fulltime student at FAU.

My dad, ("Papa"), who was a self-made man, never had the opportunity to go to college. He was raised on a farm in California, and his family did not have the resources to send him to college. Regardless, he worked hard and was recognized for his innate abilities and, as a result, was promoted several times throughout his career in the insurance industry until he held the position of President of the Hartford Insurance Company. He never felt that he was really the equal of his fellow executives because they all had had the luxury of attending college and, in many cases, graduate school. Although a smart, affable, friendly, considerate and caring man, my dad always felt that it was just good luck that got him where he was in his career; he never gave himself the credit for who he really was.

Papa had a massive stroke one year ago and spent the entire last year in a nursing home. His body was crippled as a result, but his mind remained fluid, and he was always talking about current events and planning trips and fun occasions that would probably never occur but that helped to keep his happy spirits alive. One day last fall, we asked him if there was anything we could do to help him through this tough time, and he said the only thing he regretted in life was the fact that he had not been able to attend college.

Well, that was all we needed to hear. We registered him in FAU's Lifelong Learning program for several presentations to begin in January 2011. We registered him for the Palmtran, which provides transportation to handicapped people. We all took turns attending the presentations with him and rode on the van with him from Palm Beach Gardens to FAU at Abacoa. He could no longer walk and was limited to traveling by wheelchair, which someone else had to push for him. But he never gave up. He wore his bright red FAU sweatshirt and hat and wanted to get an FAU tattoo!

He was so excited about each of the classes and spent much time after each class discussing the presentation and voicing his opinions. He was especially excited about the fact that he was now going to college with his grandson, Brenden, and that they both were attending the same college.

On the last presentation that he attended and while riding in the van with him to FAU, I saw that he was crying. When I asked him why, he simply said, "My dad would be so proud if he could see me and know that I was finally going to college."

I want to thank all of you so much for giving me this wonderful memory and for fulfilling my dad's lifetime dream.

Debi Beard




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