When asked what he recalls most vividly about his days at USD, James Freed ‘56 doesn’t hesitate before invoking the name of Bishop Charles F. Buddy. “He really was our buddy,” Freed recalls. “He said Mass for us every morning. His office was at the chancery, and he lived on campus. He was always there if you needed him.”
As first graduate of the College for Men, Freed holds a special place in the history of the university — especially this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of his graduation.
Transferring from St. Columban’s Seminary in Milton, Mass., Freed came to campus as a senior in 1954. At that time, there were about 40 undergraduate men enrolled at USD, along with another 60 in the School of Law. “We were the stepchildren,” he says with a laugh. “We went to class across Linda Vista Road, where the University of San Diego High School used to be.”
When looking back, he fondly recalls mingling with students at the College for Women.
“I minored in bridge,” he quips. “We’d always meet in the women’s lounge and play cards.” He’s well aware that times have changed since those early days. “We weren’t the Toreros then,” he recalls. “We were the Pioneers.” Though an actual graduation ceremony wasn’t held for the men until 1959, Freed returned to campus to formally receive his diploma. “They called us old-timers back, and we went through the whole ceremony,” he says. “It was a big celebration.”
After earning his undergraduate degree in philosophy, Freed was drafted and did his military service in Germany before returning to San Diego, where he’d lived since 1941. “I worked at Teledyne Ryan for 36 years,” he explains. “Back then, the aerospace industry was San Diego’s bread and butter.”
He’ll be 76 years old when his birthday comes this September, and Freed feels great. “I’m hale, fit and hearty!”
He looks back on his place in USD’s history with a hint of solemnity: “The men’s college blossomed and grew from humble beginnings to the great university we became. Bishop Buddy was a visionary.”
As the Class of 2006 prepares to say good-bye to their undergraduate experiences, they have an opportunity to lend a hand to those remaining behind. For nearly two decades, seniors have pitched in toward their own Senior Class Legacy, a scholarship program “by students, for students.”
Since 1989 each outgoing class has raised funds to benefit students who are still in the midst of their undergraduate years. This year, the Class of 2006 has a $25,000 goal, with the funds intended to sponsor a scholarship for the incoming class of 2010. Ideally, at least 250 seniors will pledge a gift of $100 to the project over a four-year period.
Sam Attisha has a vested interest in the program’s success; as president of the Associated Students in 1989, he was a member of the core group that started it all. “We wanted to keep our connection to USD,” he explains. “Since we knew we couldn’t give a lot, we came up with this idea of making gifts that would be payable over a certain number of years. We all came from different majors, and were heading off to different futures, but at the end of the day, we were all students at USD.”