Coming home

I am one of the lucky. After years of looking out onto a sea of suburban rooftops, my husband and I have been gifted the opportunity of returning to Cougar Country with our three boys and now watch nature at work as the seasons change the fields of the Palouse from winter gray to roborant green to an elegant and rich gold that glistens as it dances to the tempo set by the winds.

The winds and colors change and so do I. In this return to Pullman, I am learning to appreciate a saying I heard many times from my mother’s deeply rooted Cougar family, “Go Cougs.”

Perhaps we Cougar graduates are much like the fine but hearty grains of the Palouse. Though not the largest of universities, Washington State University does produce graduates of substance that, I believe, possess one very nourishing and unifying thread-a love for authenticity that pulses with a drive to return to our roots amidst the hum of contemporary life.

It doesn’t take much. In the past few months I have watched a WSU coach return to Pullman with his young family to breathe new spirit into Cougar athletics, a sister marry another Cougar graduate-both with families rich in Cougar history and tradition, a dear uncle pass away with the last song at his memorial being the Cougar fight song, a newly married sorority sister return to WSU with her husband so he could lay carpet in the sorority house, a dean of WSU and his wife carefully manage the art of sending children off to college while preparing university graduates for meaningful ventures in the business world, and many other graduates who achieved great successes personally and professionally return to Washington State as supporters in various capacities.

Being a Coug is a gift and it is one that, as I sit watching the sun set upon the fields, I appreciate.

Funny that WSU leaves such a mark on our lives.

I’ve heard it said and have experienced it myself, “College can leave you with the best and worst memories.”

And you know what? For better or for worse, I should hope all of us have a chance to look out onto these fields at various stages of our lives. There is a richness found in the simple phrase of “Go Cougs”… a richness that connects us and allows us to dance as we bend with the winds of life.

Returning to Cougar Country has been an awakening.

Go Cougs!

Lisa Marquart ’95, ’98 M.A.

Cost of college

Thank you for that very frank article about college finances. It was very important that you addressed the issue of spending habits, budgeting, and the loan process; too many of today’s younger “give me” generation could be unprepared for reality. I wish we had that information available to us before I ventured off the farm to attend WSU (1964-68). I was able to survive with a few low-dollar scholarships, the Work-Study program, summer jobs at the library’s Audio Visual Department, and student loans, but it was a struggle. I am passing the article on to my brother and sister, both who have children heading to college, most likely WSU. Again thank you for your work.

Irene Tichelaar Silverman ’68

Last night I read “The Higher Costs of College” in the Fall 2008 issue and was stunned by WSU’s meteoric tuition increases, delivered with such matter-of-fact rhetoric I was wondering if I’d mistakenly received a copy of an Ivy League publication.

“Gone are the days when the in-state school was the affordable alternative …” And, after so many decades, why? Couple this with increasingly-harder-to-get student loans and one might wonder if education is becoming, once again, a privilege of the wealthy.

I thought the material in the article was hard enough to digest, but today I find out that WSU’s President is to receive a 21-percent pay increase. Twenty-one percent? In this economy?

I’m hoping this isn’t what “World Class” has come to mean.

Charles J. Eckard ’84, ’94 M.B.A.

The essay “The High Costs of College” failed to deal with one question: why doesn’t the state legislature fund colleges in the manner they used to? The answer does not revolve around lack of funds so much as the emergence of a right-wing political class. Elect progressive people who will lower tuition costs through taxation, or continue to burden your middle-class graduates with debt.

Russ Huebel ’70 Ph.D. Kingsville, Texas

The properly appointed flagpole

My neighbor (Mark Harmon UW alum) on Whidbey Island, where we have a waterfront cabin, took this picture of an eagle roosting on our flagpole where we fly the U.S. and WSU flag. While there are other flagpoles (this one is a log pole we used that came up on the beach) on the beach that fly UW flags this is the only one that the eagle selects as a perch when the flags are flying.

Mike Brice ’71 B.S. (Class of ’68)