Harvey B. Schechter, class of 1947, recounts a few of his experiences attending Santa Barbara State College — the predecessor to UCSB. Schechter gives current Gauchos a look into what life was like back when tuition cost just pennies on the dollar and a football field still graced the grounds of our fine institution. Those were the days of rotary dials and men’s short-shorts, when vinyl records were the latest trend and when the Daily Nexus went by a different name — El Gaucho — which it would abandon after the infamous Bank of America burning in 1970.
By graduating from UC Santa Barbara, a world-class university, you are entering a tiny group of very special people on the face of the earth and this 89-year-old Gaucho congratulates you, your parents and all the people who helped you on your road to success.
Which blessings should you count? With apologies to Sonnet 43 written by renowned poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “let me count the ways.”
(1) You are starting out on the great adventure of life as well-educated, mature, young adults.
(2) You live in the most wonderful country in the world. Yes, I said “the most wonderful country in the world,” even with all our problems.
(3) Millions of people throughout the world risk their lives, and the lives of their children, to come to the United States whereas most of you were lucky enough to be born here.
(4) Billions of people throughout the world, yes billions of people, would change places with you in a nanosecond if given the chance.
(5) You spent years on the only university campus adjacent to the beautiful Pacific Ocean, in magnificent Santa Barbara where the year-round weather is near perfect.
I know you are thrilled and delighted beyond words at not having to worry about exams, term papers and suffering through all-night study sessions. I know this because in June 1947, 66 years ago this very month, I was where you are right now.
While we were only a handful of Gaucho graduates at that time, not like the thousands of you who are graduating now, and while we were on only a 14-acre campus, not like today’s campus of more than 2,000 acres, we were nevertheless very proud Gaucho graduates.
Please don’t worry about all the talk concerning the economy and the job market. I am confident you will do just fine even if it takes a little longer than you expected it to. Will you live with a bit of anxiety? Of course, because anxiety comes with life. Every animal on the face of the earth, except those in cages and those who are pets, wake up every morning not knowing where its next meal is coming from.
Consider the birds all around us. They search daily for their food while being careful to avoid the predators that are their enemies.
Be sure to thank all the people who helped you get where you are. Then when you are financially able, please reach back and help those campus Gauchos who probably haven’t been born yet but who will need your help. Because others paid for my education at UC Santa Barbara, my wife, Hope, and I have written our trusts and wills so that the lion’s share of what we leave will go to the UC Santa Barbara Foundation to help needy students on the campus in the future.
Finally, Hope and I want to say a very big THANK YOU to Chancellor Henry T. Yang and to Mrs. Dilling Yang who have worked tirelessly for so many years to make the university Hope and I love a world class university. Thank you, Henry. Thank you, Dilling. We thank both of you very much and be well.