Brian Lamb '63

Bush awards Purdue graduate nation’s highest civilian honor

Purdue graduate and C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb, a native of Lafayette, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush for his “dedication to a transparent political system and to the free flow of ideas.”

Lamb, 66, graduated from Purdue in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in communication and spent years working for Lafayette radio and television stations before debuting C-SPAN on March 19, 1979. The network records daily congressional proceedings and other public affairs activities for public viewing on cable or the internet.

“It is a tool that enlivens democracy, and informs and educated citizens of all ages, at all hours,” Bush said at a White House ceremony to honor Lamb and other Presidential Medal recipients.

Today, more than 52 million people watch C-SPAN, yet Lamb has always made it clear that the success of the political network comes from a team effort. During a speech in 2004, at the network’s 25th anniversary Lamb said, “The great story of C-SPAN is that it’s not me. The strength of it comes from American citizens who believe that openness and communication is absolutely necessary of society.”

Lamb is one of eight winners of the medal, among them; author Harper Lee and civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks. The medal was established in 1963 to be awarded by the president “to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural, or other significant public or private endeavors.”

For his enormous achievement and his personal modesty; for his high standards and his contribution to our democracy, America is grateful to Mr. Brian Lamb,” Bush said.

Lamb has already received the National Humanities Medal in 2003, was inducted into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2005, and named one of the country’s “25 best leaders” by U.S. News & World Report.

Article appeared in the Purdue Alumnus magazine.

Read more about Brian Lamb’s Medal of Freedom from USA Today!

Dave Alexander ’62

Alumnus takes pride in the success of fellow Fijis
Thanks to Dave Alexander ’62 for participating in this Q&A

Why did you join Fiji as an undergraduate?
I rushed multiple fraternities on campus and knew that I wanted to be a member of a fraternity.  Rush kind of gave me an idea of the makeup of the fraternity and the pledge class.  I had a better feeling with the pledge class and upper classmen at the Fiji house than I did other fraternities.

What is your favorite memory from your Fiji days?
Being in a fraternity allows you to become close with people of many different interests than you.  We had brothers with different academic interests and backgrounds.  The house was made up of athletes, non athletes, musicians, Glee Club members and others with a wide variety of interests.

What is the single fondest memory you have shared/will share with your children and grandchildren?
The brotherhood and being a part of the fraternity is my fondest memory.  I had a great time for four years, there are many fond memories.  

How do you stay connected with your brothers as an alumnus?
The class of 1962 stays in touch by email and word of mouth.  I have lived in Lafayette since 1977.  I came back to Purdue as baseball coach until 1991.  I became an administrative assistant to the Athletic Director in 1991.  I was Purple Legionnaire and served as the president of the Fiji Graduate Chapter a number of years.  

What about your membership in Fiji makes you the most proud?
The success some of my fraternity and pledge brothers have had makes me proud; all have been successful.
How would your life be different today if you had never joined Fiji?
Tough question, I would have missed out on a lot.  I was a graduate student in 1963 and 64 and ate meals at house even though I didn’t live there, which allowed me to stay connected longer.  

If you could go back and relive one moment from your Fiji years, what would it be and why?
I can’t pick one moment, it was a great four years.

 Where has life taken you since graduation? What's new in your life today?
I coached basketball and baseball and taught U.S. History for 13 years at Bishop Chatard in Indianapolis.  In 1977 I came back to Purdue as baseball coach for 14 years.  In 1991 I became an Administrative Assistant to the Athletic Director.  I left Purdue in 1994 to become a scout for the Seattle Mariners, which I am currently doing part time.

Who do you stay connected with in your alumni years? Are there any brothers you've lost touch with whom you'd like to reconnect?
I’ve managed to stay in touch with my pledge brothers and other guys around my graduating class.  In fact, my pledge class is celebrating our 50th year this fall for the Illinois game on October 22nd.  Our entire pledge class will be attending minus the five that are deceased; however their widows will be there!  Email makes it easy to stay in touch and easy to locate people.  I’d like to reconnect with C. Lamar Gemberling ’61, I haven’t heard from him in a long time.

What is the best thing about your alumni experience?
When you meet brothers like astronaut Gene Cernan ’56, who is the last man to walk on the moon you realize that you both have something in common.  I remember when President Kennedy was assassinated, pledge brother Jim Poole ’62 and I went with Brian Lamb ‘63 of CSPAN fame to listen to wire reports at WASK.  Brian is going to have the School of Communications name in his honor.
Reconnect with Dave at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (765) 742-1639.

Parker Wayland '59

November 2006
1) Why did you join?
As a NROTC Midshipman, I was impressed by seniors Gene Cernan (later an astronaut who went to the moon) and Joe Showalter. There were several Fiji pledges in my NROTC classes, and they all seemed like nice, sharp guys. I had to ask to be invited to the house as a rushee, but the invitation was quickly forthcoming and I was even more impressed when I met the rest of the guys.

2) Tell us about your favorite memory of the fraternity.
There are so many, but perhaps the best story is the night Dick Marshall and I double-dated by taking our gals to a movie in Lafayette. This was about 1958, but Dick's car was a bright red(1929?)Ford Model A roadster. Dick and his date were in the cab while my date and I were in the rumble seat. As we were coming up the Levee Hill on the way back, the car started slowing down, the engine racing, and finally we were moving backward down the hill. It seems the bands of the transmission were slipping and totally failed. We wound up walking our dates back home, but the adventure far outweighed any inconvenience.

3) What kind of influence has the fraternity had on your life since graduation? The biggest influences were the improved confidence and social graces (hospitality, fellowship, etc.) that became a part of me in those years.

4) With whom do you still stay in contact? Who would you most like to find? Our class of 1959 meets regularly every five years, and I make it a point to be there. Our 50th is coming up. Since my Tennessee home is not near any of the brothers, I seldom see them except at those times.

5) Tell us about your family: Have you married? Do you have children? I met my wife Betsy when she was a student at Connecticut College for Women, New London, and we were married in 1963. We have four grown children, Becky, Hank, Kent and Judi, and four grandchildren, Kiran and Nikhil (Hank) and Alex and Erica (Kent).

6) What other activities or organizations were you involved with during your college days? The Office of Student Services was my primary activity. That led to a place on the Student Senate my senior year. I was also a member of Gimlet and Iron Key.

7) Did you live in the house? If so, who were your roommates? Tell us about a memorable time with them. My junior year I roomed with Dick Reed, '58. Dick had the campus concession for distribution of sample cigarettes for Winston, and there were always many boxes of sample cigarettes in the corner of the room. I had just been experimenting with smoking, and I got thoroughly hooked that year. Winston certainly came out in the black on that deal. (I finally did quit about 20 years ago.)

8) What do you do for a living?
I retired in '04. I served 7 years in the Navy, including 4 years on USS Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine. When I left active duty in 1966, I moved to Tennessee to do process development work in the AEC/Department of Energy weapons plant in Oak Ridge. I stayed in the Naval Reserve and retired as a Captain in 1989. At the plant I later did procurement and engineering project management work.

9) What affiliations do you currently have and/or public service do you participate in?
I am active in Beaver Ridge United Methodist Church and in Aldersgate Renewal Ministries (ARM), an affiliate organization of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

10) What hobbies do you enjoy?
I enjoy being part of ARM local church ministry teams that do weekend "Lay Witness Missions" and "Life in the Spirit Seminars". Since 1997 I have been going on evangelistic mission trips to Ghana and Nigeria to preach crusades and plant new churches. Recently I have also done teaching missions to Tanzania, Slovakia, Russia and Brazil. (The picture was taken in Kemerovo, Siberia, Russian Federation.)

11) What are your goals for the next few years?
Assuming the invitations continue to come, I expect to be doing foreign mission work as indicated above. At other times, enjoy my wife and my grandchildren. Life is GOOD.

Photo Gallery