First Bellarmine grads recall their experiences


Fourteen members of Bellarmine University’s first graduating class — the class of 1954 — gathered on June 4 to remember their years at the then-new Catholic college.

In honor of its 60th anniversary, Bellarmine staff members conducted and recorded video interviews with the graduates — dubbed the “pioneer class” — during the reunion about their memories of the school.

Dr. Earl Schlegel explained during an interview that 42 men graduated in 1954, but that number only represented a portion of those who registered in 1950. Some members of the class, he explained, were called to serve in the Korean War during their college years.

“Forty-two graduated, but the war was going on. You had to be in the top three quarters (of the class to avoid the draft) and they took them and the next year you had to be in the top half. And so there was 42 of us left. And there’s 21 left” now, he said.

Theodore Wade Jr. explains in the video that he chose Bellarmine because it was “home” and said “it was the greatest experience of my life.”

Another alumnus, Donald Bobzien, noted that Bellarmine’s tuition at the time was $150 per semester. Laughing, he said, “Now you know one of the reasons that I went.”

During the gathering, Bellarmine’s president, Dr. Joseph J. McGowan thanked the alumni for choosing Bellarmine.

“The confidence that you and your families had to come to this brand new school just has to be applauded as well. We wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t come here,” he said.

The complete interviews and photos of the class can be viewed on Bellarmine’s YouTube channel at

The Record
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