The President's Associates stepped past the haystacks, through a rickety fence and under a sign reading "Howdy Pardner" to reach the reception Sunday at Chapman College. The event, which this year included the college's final performance of "Oklahoma!," is the annual mid-spring get-together for Chapman's major supporters.
In keeping with the play's theme, students in red calico shirts and paisley bandannas offered Dad's root beer to the 150 guests. Signs pointed the way to the "Theayder" and daisies dotted the buffet tables.
College President G. T. (Buck) Smith described the group as the college's--and his own--closest friends.
"The President's Associates are key people to the college, but in another sense they're an enlarged family for (wife) Joni and me," said Smith. "They are among our best friends and supporters."
Associate Pat Elliott, who is also president-elect of the alumni association, explained that the members contribute a minimum of $1,250 annually. Gifts from the group totaled $7.5 million last year.
Mariah Hood, daughter of the group's president, Rusty Hood, said she received her master's degree from Chapman. But many college supporters have not attended Chapman.
Explained former trustee Libby Pankey: "Chapman is supported by many prominent members of the community. It is a college that really cares about its students."
Betty Belden, who attended with William Palmer, serves on the steering committee. Belden said that Chapman has the community's "confidence and credibility."
Smith said members' viewing of the annual musical is a way for contributors to see the dedication of the faculty and students. The school presents just one production a year, but Smith said Chapman plans to expand in its musical theater program, so that by 1988, the college can present three to five musicals annually.
Such a program "requires a strong faculty and strong student talent. We've already got the nucleus here. Now we've got to develop a curriculum to get the program in place," said Smith.
Guests discussing the musical over hors d'oeuvres included Francis and Betty Griset, L. C. and Helen Mosley, Bob and Helga Pralle, Arman Rupelli, Linda Smith, Ed Pankey, Tom Elliott and Minta Sue Jack.