THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON ALUMNI MAGAZINE
Sometime in the year 2099, an editorial assistant will be combing through the University of Washington database and come across a virtual copy of the UW alumni magazine from the year 1999.
She will download the copy into the microprocessor implanted in her brain and turn the virtual pages of the issue with "100 Alumni of the Century" on the cover. A smile will slowly break on her face as she looks over the list of names. "What an absurd list," she will think. "Who ARE these people? What is NBC?" she will mutter. "They missed some of the most important alumni of their era. How could they be so blind?"
It's not that we didn't try to be comprehensive. For 10 years, as editor of this magazine, I have been compiling files about famous UW alumni with the help of Associate Editor Jon Marmor. When it came to putting together our last issue of the century, it seemed fitting to run a list of 100 famous, influential or fascinating people based on that information.
But the raw data included more than 200 "newsmakers." To keep the list under control, I set some broad criteria. First, the former student had to attend and/or graduate in the 20th century. Second, his/her impact had to be felt beyond the boundaries of the campus. Third, there should be a diversity of alumni from all eras, backgrounds and professions. I didn't want a list of 100 actors and professional athletes, although you'll find a healthy sample of both.
There are many stories I could tell about the process, such as Jon calling NBC and no one at the switchboard recognizing the name "Chet Huntley." Or striking the name of a discoverer of the neutrino when we found out he was an alumnus of Washington University in St. Louis instead of the UW. Or tracking down a photo of the original Brothers Four thanks to the Seattle Times.
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