General College alumni express their appreciation

Derrick Biney

If it weren’t for General College, many University alumni said they wouldn’t be where they are today, a General College official said.

Betsy Taplin, General College associate development officer for the alumni relations department, said the college has produced numerous prominent graduates in society.

These include Norman E. Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who is known as the father of the Green Revolution, and Stanley Hubbard, who formed the United States Satellite Broadcasting Company.

The future of General College is in question since a task force recommended closing it in a plan for the University’s future.

The college, which was established in 1932, admits students who do not meet the competitive standards for other first-year students.

Lutalo Toure, a General College alumnus and current University professor, said he was placed in the college because of test standards.

In summer 1982, Toure said, he participated in a program called a summer institute – which enrolled minority students of all backgrounds.

The program served as a transition point for these students into college life and provided a haven for them in Nicholson Hall, where the college was located before it was moved into Appleby Hall in 1989.

With the aid of faculty members Lou Bellamy and the late Lois Miller, who became his mentors, Toure said, he overcame the feeling of isolation on the predominantly white campus.

“They nurtured my academic interests and found interest in me as a person,” Toure said. “When you left GC, you received an overwhelming sense of isolation.”

Toure said he was very involved in student organizations, which helped him overcome the feeling of isolation.

He said that when he was involved in student politics, he helped save the ethnic studies program.

In 1986, Toure graduated with degrees in African studies and geography. He went on to get a master’s degree in geography at the University of Illinois in 1988. Currently, he is pursuing a doctorate in geography at the University of Minnesota.

“General College was a tremendous help and a great academic anchor,” he said. “Without getting that secure academic anchor, I doubt if I would have made it.”

Tony Odufaye, one of Toure’s mentees and an Institute of Technology junior, said Toure really emphasizes learning.

“He’s very knowledgeable. I’m glad to learn something from him every time I get the chance,” said Odufaye, a former General College student.

Toure and Odufaye first met at the University’s recreation center. Toure gave Odufaye some pointers on bench pressing, and they forged a great relationship, Odufaye said.

“He gives me inspiration. He always tells me to keep persevering,” Odufaye said.

Bob Swoverland, also a General College alumnus, is currently a University printing consultant. He said he is proud of the education he received at the University.

“General College gave me an opportunity to explore different educational opportunities that other colleges were not able to (do),” Swoverland said.

He received a marketing and graphic arts degree in 1972 from General College before it stopped awarding degrees in 1986.

Swoverland said he hopes the decision to close General College is made with the University’s best interest at mind.

“I have an emotional attachment to what General College has done for me personally,” he said.