Betsy “Seth” Cochran Metzgar ’74
Betsy “Seth” Cochran Metzgar ’74
Hometown: Camarillo, CA
Major at Earlham: Sociology (Theatre minor)
Current title: Retired administrator, University of California (Los Angeles)
“Volunteer to help Earlham continue to thrive because it is truly a very special place.“
Tell us a bit about how you discovered Earlham when you enrolled here.
My high school was very large and had a traditional curriculum so I wanted to attend a small college with an innovative approach to learning. Earlham offered the intimate, creative learning environment I sought. When I visited the campus I felt the sense of community right away. And when I heard everyone addressing each other by their first names, including President Landrum Bolling, I knew Earlham was the place for me!
Share some memories from your Earlham undergraduate experience.
I have so many fond memories: making lifelong friends, taking classes with my cadre of sociology majors, minoring in theater and being in plays, studying theater in London for a term. A very fond memory is a class with drama professor Arthur Little that I consider the ultimate learning experience. By the last term of senior year, there were three of us students who had taken all the theater classes offered so Arthur created a new class just for us. We read various plays and a book of letters in which actress Athene Seyler gave insightful acting advice to an aspiring actor named Stephen. Each week our little class met in Arthur’s living room to discuss the readings and, in the manner of Athene and Stephen, exchange letters about our own ideas on acting and directing. For our final project, we students directed each other in one-act plays, applying everything we had learned about theater at Earlham. After we performed the plays for the campus, Arthur gave us one last letter that I‘ve kept and still cherish. We students considered ourselves the fortunate ones to participate in this extraordinary class so imagine our surprise when Arthur wrote in his letter, “Thank you three for what has been the most enjoyable class in my whole teaching career of more than a quarter of a century.”
Do you give to Earlham? Why or why not? If you give, do you support anything in particular?
I’ve always supported the College simply because I want it to thrive so others can have the Earlham education I had. Everyday I continue to call upon the skills and values I learned at Earlham.
Why did you decide to become an Earlham volunteer, and what specifically did you volunteer to do?
At the time, I had the expense of sending my two daughters to college (in their home state of California – Earlham was too for away for them!). I was unable to make a financial donation to Earlham so I was looking for another way to “give.” When the call went out for a 1974 Class Chair, I knew that volunteering as Chair would be the perfect “in kind” gift.
Share some details from your volunteer experience(s).
I love that being Class Chair keeps me connected to my classmates, near and far. When I send email reminders to my classmates to submit their Class Notes, they respond with their wonderful stories for the Earlhamite as well as personal messages for me. As Chair, I’ve been on the organizing committee for our last two reunions. Our committee communicated by email but often had trouble staying on task because we had so much fun trading stories about our Earlham days. Our Earlham Alumni Office representative always patiently steered us back to deciding the entrée for the class dinner or other reunion logistics!
In what ways do you feel you have made a difference as a volunteer?
By encouraging my classmates to write Class Notes and attend the reunions, I believe I’ve helped them stay connected to Earlham and want to give their support. Between us, our reunion committee members made a personal call to every classmate about the last reunion. I had the most wonderful conversations when making these calls. Through this contact, even those who could not attend the reunion had a moment of reconnection with Earlham.
What would you say to others to encourage more alumni to volunteer?
Volunteer to help Earlham continue to thrive because it is truly a very special place. My husband Eric visited the campus for the first time during our last reunion. I worried that after 35 years of my singing Earlham’s praises, the College would not meet Eric’s expectations. It did, and more. When he met my classmates, he was impressed by how Earlham’s tradition of service was very much a part of their lives. And Eric remarked about the rare quality of the conversations he had with my fellow Earlhamites. He said, “They listened.”