Cheyney Class of 1967 is Honored on 50th Anniversary of Graduation
May 14, 2017
When meteorologists started calling for torrential pouring, winds and temperatures only in the mid-50s for graduation day, some members of the Cheyney University of Pennsylvania Class of 1967 re-grouped and stayed home--others stood firm, anxious to lead the Commencement processional yesterday in true Cheyney tradition. In the end, about 20 class members, holding umbrellas and navigating huge puddles, led the way on the university's historic quadrangle. Those who braved the elements carried their heads with pride and some shed tears of joy and gratitude.
“It feels wonderful to say that I’ve lived long enough to say that I graduated 50 years ago," marveled Sandra Merritt Countley ('67). "As we were walking in with the students, I got a bit filled up. And I said to myself, ‘why am I crying?’ I guess it’s because I was just honored at the thought of being honored.”
The women, wearing white, and the men, dressed in dark suits, all took time to reminisce before and after the ceremony when they gathered in Carnegie Hall's Great Room for a luncheon that took them back down memory lane.
Dianne Lee Michael ('67), who graduated with an Elementary Education degree 50 years ago from Cheyney, fondly recalled her college days. "I was a commuter student and I had wonderful years here. Today is a special day for me. It reminds me of my mother and why she instilled it in me to do my best. I’m blessed and honored to celebrate 50 years."
Serving as the luncheon Mistress of Ceremonies, Countley recalled her class being the largest freshman class at Cheyney. She also remembers a total student body of 1600 and different times.
"Students were never allowed to walk across the Quad and women were not allowed to wear pants, (except) on Saturdays. We were told to dress in business attire." She also recalls that all freshman had to learn the poem, “The Teacher”, by Former Cheyney President Leslie Pinckney Hill and stand outside and recite it.
Dr. Frank G. Pogue, Interim President of Cheyney University, took to the podium to welcome the class back home and to thank the alumni for all of their efforts to help increase the number of students (just over 700 students this past Academic Year) at Cheyney. Thanks to a Spring phone-a-thon that had alumni calling prospective students over a two week span, more than 700 students attended Cheyney's April Open House, packing the auditorium to overflow. Despite declining enrollment at most of the PA State System colleges and many universities nationwide, he predicted better days ahead for their alma mater.
The class of 1967 presented Dr. Pogue with a check for $10,500 that they raised for scholarships for Cheyney students. The class vowed to continue to raise funds and make another donation to the university during Cheyney's October Homecoming Weekend.
“Despite the rain, it’s been an exciting day for Cheyney University as we welcomed a new group of alumni. Every year, as Alumni Director, I am excited to meet a new group of Cheyney alum and this year it has been an honor to meet the 50th anniversary class, the Class of 1967," said Gregory Benjamin ('81). "Listening to their memories gives me more insight into the glory days of Cheyney.”