Welcome Alumni & Friends
In 2013-14 we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the birth of the School of Humanities, Social Science, and Education (HSSE), the forerunner of the College of Liberal Arts. This historic event marked the moment that liberal arts began in earnest to build its future as Purdue’s center for excellence in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.
Our alumni vividly demonstrate that excellence in many fields and communities across the globe—so we’ve asked 50 of them to tell us more about their careers and lives, via a modified version of the Proust questionnaire. This survey of revealing questions was a popular parlor game in Marcel Proust’s time, made famous by his answers and adapted by Vanity Fair and the show Inside the Actors Studio. We hope you enjoy getting to know these fascinating and inspiring CLA alumni.
BA 1960, Liberal Arts; MS 1970, Naval Postgraduate School
In 1983, Sally Watlington finished 23 years of service in the United States Navy, retiring as a Captain. Her final Navy assignment was Deputy Director, Total Force Planning, Training and Education in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, DC.
But her naval retirement was just the beginning of an entirely new career. Settling near her alma mater, Watlington has dedicated her past 30 years to volunteering across Greater Lafayette—so much so, that it’s hard to imagine a community member her efforts haven’t touched. Her work with the Riggs Community Health Center, YWCA, Community Foundation, United Way, Red Cross, Bauer Family Resource Center, Lafayette Parks Department, Westminster Village, and Purdue Alumni Association (and that’s just a partial list) has earned her statewide accolades. She won the Distinguished Hoosier Award in 2007, and has been named a Sagamore of the Wabash twice.
So it’s no surprise that the career moments she remembers most involve both naval greats and a defining moment in the Washington, DC community.
“From 1966 to 1969, I served as the Social and Appointments Secretary for the Chief of Naval Operations. My office was located such that I could see the Lincoln Memorial all the way to the Capitol,” she recalls. “During that time in the Pentagon, I was privileged to meet many notables in American history such as Admiral Hyman Rickover, the ‘father of our nuclear navy’; all of the living former Chiefs of Naval Operations such as Admiral Arleigh Burke, Admiral James Carney, and Admiral David McDonald; Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin; all of the Navy astronauts who ‘flew’ during that time; and Senator John McCain’s father, Admiral John S. McCain.”
During that time, she also remembers how Washington, DC burned after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. “A curfew of 7 p.m. was called. I departed the Pentagon after 7 p.m., headed up Rock Creek Parkway, and was nearly pulled over by local law enforcement. I was saved by the fact that I was in uniform—and my uniform hat was identical to those worn by women in DC law enforcement. The officers in the patrol car simply waved at me and I continued on, the only vehicle on the Parkway until the Massachusetts Avenue exit.”
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