There are many chapters in my life at Chapman University, beginning with when it was still Chapman College, back in 1977, and I drove my orange VW bug up to the campus to see for myself if I’d like to come here. I really loved the campus, and the look of the old buildings – brown with orange trim then. Chapman has always looked like I thought a college should, and it still does. But it is so much more than its architecture, and today was a chance to reflect on that, and to try and share what Chapman means to me. Today was the start of a new Chapman chapter: life as a prospective Chapman parent.
Today I went on the tour with my daughter, Jane, and one of my dearest Chapman friends, Trish Lanier Fidler (’79), and her daughter, Olivia. Fun fact: it was 39 years to the day since Trish and her dad visited Chapman on President’s Day, flying down from San Francisco on P.S.A. (Who remembers P.S.A.?) So much has changed in thirtysomething years since we were students, but because I work at Chapman, and have for awhile, I don’t always notice the differences until I’m seeing it all through new – or less familiar – eyes.
It is the people who make Chapman, Chapman, and Trish and I shared a lot of fond memories of Paul Frizler and the rock and roll shows (and then we ran into his daughter, Karla, and granddaughter, Mia, selling Girl Scout cookies! What are the chances of that?); of Bill Womack and his plain-spoken wisdom; of Ron Thronson and his many productions, including “Mother Earth,” the musical he wrote with Toni Tennille and the early days of American Celebration, just after we graduated; of Donna Cucunato and her dance classes in the Wilkinson Hall Little Theater, of Dick Doetkott whose name graces the studio I work in today.
We compared the old student union with the new student union, the old residence halls with the new ones, the old library (that was new then) with the Leatherby Libraries, the Cheverton Pool with the Masson Family Beach Club Pool.
We confessed to our daughters that we used to drive our cars on the (formerly sunken) lawn in front of Memorial Hall. They asked why, and we gave them the half-baked answer we gave the resident director when she caught us: the grass looked like it needed mowing.
We were all four in awe of the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, certainly because of its world-class facilities, but more importantly, because of the programs it offers its students. Both of our daughters are prospective Dodge students, and were incredibly impressed with the level of professionalism and personalization that Dodge provides. Janell Shearer was an adjunct faculty when we were in college, and Bob Bassett wasn’t hired until after we graduated. In the intervening years, under their leadership, the film school has become one of the best in the nation.
As a student, I was always envious of my “legacy” peers who had alumni parents and siblings, but it’s staggering to be in this position now, with a daughter who is eyeing Chapman while Chapman is eyeing her. Chapman has changed my life – more than once – and I’m proud to be a member of the Chapman Family, but is it a match for Jane? Will she want Chapman as much as I want it for her?
It’s too soon to tell. The actual application and decision process is still months away. But either way, no matter how it goes for Jane and Olivia, it was a remarkable trip down memory lane for Trish and me. As Henry Kemp-Blair used to sing in the Rock & Roll Show, “Let’s do the time warp again…”
- Pamela Ezell, ’81, MFA ’87