Meleah Nordquist ’16 loves WSU, and so does her dad, Dan Nordquist. He grew up on the Palouse, has worked at WSU for 26 years, and enjoys listening to his father tell stories about his days as student body president and a Cougar football player in the early ’50s.

With those ties, you’d think that all of the Nordquists are Cougs.  Truth is, Dan is not. He went to the University of Idaho. Despite his silver-and-gold education, Dan bleeds crimson and gray. Meleah knew that her dad was a Coug deep inside. She just needed to find a way to officially acknowledge it.

Meleah and Dan Nordquist
Meleah Nordquist ’16 and her dad Dan,
an Adopted Cougar

This is when the WSU Alumni Association enters the story along with its Adopted Cougar program.

When Meleah learned it was possible to make someone an Adopted Cougar, she knew it was the perfect way to recognize her dad’s love of WSU. She contacted the WSUAA and arranged to make her dad an officially Adopted Cougar. “My dad is a Coug in his heart and soul, and now he has the paper to prove it,” Meleah says.

She waited until Father’s Day and surprised him with the gift in front of their family. “He was so excited and so touched. It was such a special way to salute his heartfelt connection to WSU and acknowledge his enthusiasm for the University.”

Taylor Eylar ’11, who runs the Adopted Cougar program, says “the program is based on the belief that not everyone can attend WSU, but everyone who loves WSU can be a member of the Cougar Family.”

“If you know someone – spouse, friend, family member, co-worker – who exhibits genuine passion for and commitment to WSU but didn’t attend WSU, you can adopt them,” Taylor says.

Some adopters, like Larry Arcia ’89, have been especially prolific over the years. At last count, Larry has made it possible for almost a dozen of his friends to become Adopted Cougars. “When I meet a person like Mary Ellen Hundley, who went to Penn State but has been involved with WSU for over a half century, I know I need to get them adopted,” says Larry. He says adoptees feel appreciated and have a greater sense of belonging to the WSU community.

Mary Hundley with Larry Arcia
Mary Ellen Hundley (left) presented with an Adopted Cougar certificate by Larry Arcia ’89

“They already feel like they are a part of the Cougar family; the Adopted Cougar program just makes it official,” he adds.

When an individual is adopted, they receive a WSUAA membership, a framed Adopted Cougar certificate, and a special lapel pin. “The certificate is signed by the WSUAA president and executive director,” says Taylor. “We work with the adopter to personalize the message. We really want to help make this a special moment for them.”

For more information on the Adopted Cougar program, please visit