Alumni Life: Keepsakes

What did you save?

UB Windbreaker Jacket

“That UB adviser’s suggestion led me to quite a different life than my high school self would ever have imagined, and the UB windbreaker marked the beginning of it all.”
James Mulvihill (MA ’72, BA ’68, AA ’66)

San Bernardino City Council Member James Mulvihill (MA ’72, BA ’68, AA ’66) explains how the windbreaker he purchased after beginning his studies at UB symbolizes a critical juncture in his life.

“The year 1963 was a watershed in my life, and the windbreaker jacket that I bought that year, during my first month of the fall semester, is a memento of that seminal time.  

“I never expected to go to college. My dad dispatched telephone repair trucks, and my mom was a beautician. In high school, I never took any college prep courses; I was a poor student taking mostly basics, along with all the ‘shop’ classes. Even before I graduated from Amherst Central High School in 1962, I was loading trailers and railcars at a warehouse (long since closed) on East Ferry Street. 

“The initiating factor was my older brother, who at the time had been discharged from the Marine Corps with the GI Bill and was enrolled at UB. When he mentioned me to the veterans’ adviser at UB, the adviser volunteered to give me some direction on my future. So, on a day off, I met with him. He said he realized I didn’t have any college plans, but pointed out that if I took even one course at UB I could always write ‘attended college’ on future job applications. If I were asked what degree I was pursuing, he told me to say ‘associate.’ 

“That made sense to me. So in the fall of 1963, I enrolled in night school at UB’s Millard Fillmore College, and what can I say? It was a turning point. I earned my AA in liberal arts, then went on to get my BA and MA in geography. The master’s degree took four years because I was drafted and served a tour of duty in Vietnam. Afterward, I went on to Michigan State where I received my PhD in 1976. Then I taught for five years at Frostburg (Maryland) State University, and, in 1981, took a tenure-track position at California State University, San Bernardino, retiring as professor emeritus in 2012. I ran for San Bernardino City Council during a 2013 recall election, then won re-election to a full four-year term in November of 2015.

“That UB adviser’s suggestion led me to quite a different life than my high school self would ever have imagined, and the UB windbreaker marked the beginning of it all.”

Share Your Memories

Still holding on to a memento from your UB years? Tell us why, and attach a photo, in an email to keepsakes@buffalo.edu.