The man behind the infamous beard was once a normal undergraduate freshman just like anyone else.
In 1978, CSU’s President Tony Frank was 18 years old and was heading off to start his college education. Like many, he had experienced cold feet before moving away.
Halfway through his senior year of high school, Frank said he decided he didn’t want to go to college but quickly changed his mind when his parents said that if that were the case, he would still have to move out.
Frank decided to attend Wartburg College, a private liberal arts school in Iowa. He said he had wanted to attend a big school such as the University of Illinois, but due to scholarships he received, it ended up being cheaper for him to get his education at the private university.
“I had a pretty bad attitude because I was essentially going to a college that I thought was too small. I wanted to go to a bigger one,” Frank said. “I got a great education there but I fought it every step of the way.”
At Wartburg everyone lived on campus no matter what year they were, which Frank said made it easy to get to know the upperclassmen. Frank lived in a triple at the end of the hall with two other freshmen, Dave and Denis.
Frank said they got along well despite coming from different backgrounds. The only complaint he said he could think of was when Dave decided to try an experiment in their room.
“He was taking Greek that semester and as part of his interest in Greek culture, he decided to make his own yogurt in the dorm room. That had a really fascinating aroma about it,” Frank said. “After about a week of that, my other roommate and I decided that that was an experiment that was better taken outside.”
Like many other freshmen, Frank wasn’t quite sure how to do laundry. He said that when he put the detergent in the washer, he just poured until he couldn’t see his clothes anymore. When his mom found out about this, she asked him whether his clothes foamed when it rained.
Some freshmen start their college education with an undeclared major, and others start right off the bat knowing what they want to study. Frank was part of the latter – he majored in biology and wanted to be a doctor or veterinarian.
Frank said he did well his freshman year as far as grades go. Despite getting all A’s, he said his first exam was a wake up call.
“I remember coming in prepared for multiple choice questions and the entire exam was one question,” Frank said. “I remember looking at it and thinking, B is not going to be the right answer for this.”
After his first semester, Frank said he came away having learned good study habits because, like most freshmen, it was the first place he had to learn them.
“I always told my daughters that it’s not whether or not you’re going to cross an exam or a course that you struggle with, the issue is how you are going to respond to that,” Frank said. “That teaches you self-discipline and how to go and ask for help – how to keep perseverance and how to keep plugging through something despite the challenges that are out there. Not only in academics, but life in general too.”
Frank said that he was always extremely bitter about the core classes that are required for an undergraduate but now, looking back, what he learned from those classes are the only things he uses in his day-to-day life.
“They prepare you to be a better human being,” Frank said.
Collegian Senior Reporter Corrie Sahling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.