Logo: University of Southern California

Half Century Trojan Engineers Return to USC

Viterbi School alumni come back for an update and lunch with the dean

February 23, 2009 —

Half Century Trojan Day was a homecoming of sorts for 16 silver-haired Trojans, all of whom graduated from USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering 50 years ago or more.

Half Century Group Shot
Half Century Trojan engineers returned to campus for a special luncheon and presentation by the dean.

Over lunch, Viterbi School Dean Yannis C. Yorstos welcomed the guests and spoke briefly about the school’s recent successes.  Once the sandwiches and cookies had been washed down with Coke, the dean gave a power point presentation of milestone events over the past year.  

Yortsos said that the USC Viterbi School of Engineering -- which was ranked eighth this year by US News and World Report among engineering schools in the nation -- is constantly innovating, and cited as an example the school's recent effort to develop new research and education programs in the interdisciplinary areas of engineering and health. He also pointed out the increasing diversity of the undergraduate student body, where one-third of the freshman class is female and 15 percent under-represented minority students;  he added that with all the innovations made, the school has raised its graduation rate to 87 percent, which is the highest ever. 

Walter Babchuk, CEE 1951.
Bob Clauser 50 Electrical Eng
Bob Clauser, EE 1950.
Another of the school's recent accomplishments was the completion of a $300-million fundraising campaign - "Destination: The Future" -- three months ahead of schedule. Yortsos also thanked Mary Lane, whose son, David Lane, endowed an early career chair to honor his parents, Mary. G. and Robert G. Lane. 

The guests were excited to be returning to their alma mater.

“I really appreciate coming back here. This has always been a great school, offering top class education,” said Bill Stone, an industrial engineering graduate from the class of 1950.

Stone had fond memories of his student days, especially of going to football games on Saturdays at the Coliseum.

“We used slide rules for multiplication and division, as there were no computers at the time,” he remembered.  

Another guest, Ethel Pattison, recalled not being allowed by her sorority to stay out past 10 p.m. on weekends or past midnight on weekends.  “Things have changed, huh?” she joked.

Pattison remembers her classmates leaving during the middle of the semester when World War II broke out, and how, as an advertising major, she helped put together some entertainment for the troops – the same troops that had been her classmates.

Ethel Pattison 47Calvin Lee 49 Civil Eng
Ethel Pattison, above left, class of 1947, and Calvin Lee, right, who graduated in 1949 with a degree in civil engineering, were among those attending the Viterbi School's Half Century Trojan luncheon.
Half Century Lecture
Lunch was held in the Ming Hsieh Boardroom in Tutor Hall.

“All of the men in the service came back to school under the GI Bill, it was an interesting time,” she said.

Frank Crowhurst, a 1945 graduate of chemical engineering, said he was in the armed forces when the United States conducted nuclear testing in the Micronesian island of Bikini Atoll.  He said his class has held reunions every five years right up to 1990.  Later, he became involved with the Half Century Trojans and was named president one year.


Fredrick Hoeptner, from the class of 1955, remembered attending classes held in some broken-down barracks.  

“They weren’t very comfortable, especially in hot weather,” he said, adding, “It’s a delight to come back and see the success of the school.”