by Carrol S. Small ’34
When CME was young and life was simple, the 18 alumni/ae of the School decided to form an Alumni Association, complete with officers. Leslie Trott ’15, served as President through 1917. His administrative abilities may be judged by the growth in membership during his three year tenure-from 18 to 41.
The years of World War I were strenuous, and apparently the alumni felt little organizational urge, for no record of Association activities during 1918 to 1922 survives, nor were any officers chosen until a revival in late 1922 when Leslie A. Smart ’22 became president. No more such lapses have occurred. Political competition must have lagged in 1924, for Charles H. Lewis ’20, elected in 1923, served two years. Five others have served two terms:
Emerald Steen ’20
1925 to 1926, 1929 to 1930
Walter E. Macpherson ’24
1931 to 1932, 1938 to 1939
Benton Colver AMMC ’04
1933 to 1934, 1939 to 1940
John E. Affeldt ’44A
1954 to 1955, 1955 to 1956
Floyd E. Wergeland ’32
1968 to 1969, 1970 to 1971
Two presidents were not alumni: George Thomason (1945-1946) and Benton Colver (1933-1934, 1939-1940). Both were graduates of American Medical Missionary College (AMMC), which existed from 1889-1910. Dr. Thomason graduated in 1899, and Dr. Colver graduated in 1904.
The Alumni Association was back in action after the war, especially when Walter Macpherson ’24 realized the Association’s need to be incorporated in order for any of its activities to be legal. Macpherson created a committee to draft bylaws and articles of incorporation, and the Alumni Association came into legal existence in 1932.
Not only were World War I times stressful, but also were those of World War II, when many of our alumni entered military service, some for as much as five years. The added burdens of alumni affairs in 1941 to 1946 fell onto Roy A. Cummings ’30, Paul D. Foster ’33, Donald E. Griggs ’24, R. Theo Bergman ’30, and George Thomason ’99, in that order.
We should not fail to mention the valiant efforts of our executive directors through the years. First on board was Jerry L. Pettis ’77-hon* (1947 to 1951) who really got the Association into high gear. Jerry later became U.S. Congressman from the district that includes Loma Linda, and, after his death in 1975, his equally capable widow, Shirley, succeeded him in Congress. After Jerry Pettis came Walter Crawford (1953 to 1960), Jerre Iverson (1975 to 1982), Gery Friesen (1982 to 1993) and Dennis E. Park ’07-hon* (1993-2011). These leaders have provided managerial skill and stability to an organization which changes elected officials yearly, and needs continuity of administration. Three of them (Jerre Iverson, Jerry Friesen and Dennis Park) also acted as managing editors of the Alumni Journal. Today, the Alumni Association’s Executive Director is Nicole Batten, who started work in 2011. She also serves as editor-in-chief of the Alumni Journal.
Another era of stress and decisions came in the years 1958 to 1962 when the Loma Linda University board of trustees wrestled with the question of consolidating on one campus. This move was first urged as early as 1947, but major decisions in 1953 and 1961 did not result in any action. In late 1962, the decision was made to move all to Loma Linda.
Another difficult decision, to move the whole Alumni Association operation to Loma Linda, fell onto the shoulders of master diplomat Wilfred Snodgrass ’38, in 1975. The deed was done, and success ensued. The Alumni Association’s current conference room is named in honor of Dr. Snodgrass.
Only in 1931 did the Association office secure budget for office space and help, in the person of Mrs. Faye (Reuben ’36) Nelson. (Mrs. Nelson’s pay was $1,024 per year.) A long train of loyal staff have followed. Currently the Alumni Association is staffed by Nicole Batten, executive director; Michelle Ellison, bookkeeper; Daniel Mesa, publications/media; Lory Sanchez, advertising manager/secretary; A.T. Tuot, records manager; and Carolyn Wieder, convention manager.
One of the most notable achievements of the Alumni Association has been the Alumni Fund, which has gathered contributions from alumni totaling over $17 million. Of this, approximately $6 million has gone to support research and endowed professorial chairs, while over $11 million has been devoted to the student loan fund.
*Both Jerry L. Pettis and Dennis E. Park were granted honorary membership to the Alumni Association. In accordance with the bylaws of the Alumni Association, School of Medicine of Loma Linda University, Mr. Pettis was granted honorary membership posthumously in 1977, and Mr. Park was granted honorary membership in 2007.
Editor’s note: Although Carrol S. Small ’34 wrote this history of the Alumni Association just prior to his death on August 23, 1997, facts have been updated and brought current as the years have progressed.