Caltech Y: Making a World of Difference

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At a Glance

Selected Events from the Caltech Y: First 85 Years

10/1/16 Eleven students of Throop College of Technology petitioned and ultimately received a charter for a YMCA club on campus. This would later be called the Caltech Y.

1918 The Y was primarily a service organization. During WWI, it provided refreshments and other services for the soldiers training on campus and at the Santa Anita Racetrack.

1918-19 Y membership rose from 26 to 150 and the annual budget went from $100 to $2,000.

1920 Throop College became California Institute of Technology

1922 Discussion groups were established from which emerged what is known today as New Student Orientation.

1924 An Advisory Board (composed primarily of faculty, local clergy, and Caltech alumni) was formed to help the students.

1925-34 Many Y programs were initiated--e.g., student counseling, room and board listing service, speakers for assemblies, organized Cosmopolitian Club (to assist foreign students), arranged faculty/student mixers, a freshman handbook ( little t) was begun, and a student loan fund was established.

1937-41 WWII was approaching and the Y met student interests by furnishing speakers on topics such as various peace movements, government reforms, labor issues, and other moral and political questions.

1942-46 The Y filled a huge need by assisting students with their special anxieties brought on during the war years.

1946-76 The program of the Y continued to grow and diversify. Informal weekly student/faculty fireside chat groups were initiated and held at the nearby home of the Executive Secretary. Luncheon clubs were encouraged. Participation with other schools in regional conferences was emphasized.

1949 The Y became incorporated and gained non-profit status.

1951 The Leaders of America program was established to bring renown personalities to the Caltech campus to address and mingle with the students--e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr, Walter Reuther, and Justice William O. Douglas.

1961 The Friends of the Y program was founded to assist in raising needed funds.

1966 Addressing racial issues, the Y's China Institute attracted an unusually large attendance.

1968 A conference on The Ghetto and the City addressed civil rights and Black issues.

1972-73 The Y became coed when female students were admitted to the Caltech undergraduate program. This brought all kinds of new challenges and opportunities.

early 1970's The Y Board of Directors realized that all the Y students were not young, men, or Christian, therefore it voted to withdraw the Caltech organization from the National YMCA. This separation was friendly, and it was decided to retain the name Caltech Y.

1970's The Y Decompression celebrations became a permanent feature of campus life.

1974 Paul Studenski, a student, was killed in an auto accident, and his parents established for the Y a perpetual memorial award in his name.

1980's The Y began a new service by renting event and camping equipment to students. Also, it expanded its program of offering students free of subsidized tickets to a host of cultural events.

1982 Caltech turned over its President's Distinguished Speaker Fund to the Y for administration. Also, Friday noon concerts and Noon Updates featuring faculty and other speakers were established.

1989 As a memorial, the Y lounge was named the Wes Hershey Lounge.

1990 The Y initiated a program of student volunteer work in the Pasadena community.

1996 The first Alternative Spring Break program was established by a trip to the Navajo Nation.

1998 A Memorandum of Understanding was executed to formalize the working relationship between Caltech and the Y.

1999 The first Compression was held, and the Social Activism Speaker Series was established.

2001 The first Make-a-Difference (MAD) Day was established, thereby expanding the Y's community service program.

2006 The Caltech Y celebrated its 90th birthday!!!

Professional Leaders of the Caltech Y

1919-20 Stanley Robson
1920-23 Hal Musselman
1923-25 (volunteers)
1925-34 Charles Schwieso
1934-36 Charles Thomas (part time)
1937-41 John Price
1942-46 Paul Ackerman

Executive Secretary and later Director
1946-76 Wes Hershey

1978-82 Walt Meader
1982-87 Huston Horn
1987-88 Ken McGuire
1988-89 Paul Gibson
1989-92 Lucy Guernsey

Executive Director
1992-00 Sue Borrego
2000-present Athena R. Castro