Tales from an Aggie:
Eldon Dunn, Class of 1950
by Lisa Streeb Case
published Dec. 19, 2019
In the 150-year history of Colorado State University, William Morgan was one of the institution’s most influential presidents.
Not only did he serve in the role for two decades starting in 1949, but he oversaw the transition of the state’s land-grant university from Colorado A&M to Colorado State in 1957.
He also handed Eldon Dunn both of his degrees.
Dunn, who celebrated his 91st birthday in 2019, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics at Colorado A&M in 1950. A few years later, he returned to campus to pursue his Master of Science in mathematics, the first person ever to be awarded this degree in 1958. This diploma was from CSU.
Aggie life photos
Originally from Kansas, Dunn included a full slate of activities in his time at CSU.
“I was a busy boy at Aggies,” he recalls. “In the band, orchestra, choir, D Club, Haylofters (square dancing), Uncalled Four my senior year, Sigma Chi fraternity. I also studied some – and graduated with high distinction.”
These activities led to unique experiences for Dunn.
“It happens during my senior year at Aggies I had the honor of singing bass in a barbershop quartet called The Uncalled Four,” said Dunn. “We made many trips with Dr. Morgan, then serving as college president, and the school sent us to Denver to make recordings of our repertoire. Those recordings were broadcast all over Colorado for a year or two as a recruiting device for new students.”
Beyond extracurricular activities, Dunn enjoyed innovative learning opportunities. The first computer science classes began in the late 1950s, as part of the mathematics curriculum.
“I knew a bit about high-speed computing and was able to help with the first entrance into digital programming activity at CSU when it came into popularity there,” said Dunn.
When he graduated with his master’s degree, Dunn had the honor of hearing Eleanor Roosevelt speak at his commencement.
Dunn’s sister, Joyce Dunn Shelley, also attended CSU and graduated in 1951 with a degree in physical education. She was elected to the Who’s Who of Colleges and named the student of the year by the Silver Spruce yearbook. Shelly was active in CSU women’s organizations including the Associated Women Students. Shelly died of leukemia in 2001.
Life after Colorado A&M
After graduation, Dunn worked for the U.S. Navy as a mathematician, physicist, and scientist When he retired, he began volunteering at the Homestead Museum in the City of Industry, California, and has accumulated over 7,500 volunteer hours, with more to come.
Dunn also volunteered for many years reading textbooks for the organization Recordings for the Blind.
Among the many interesting events in his long and active life was being on scene for the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Dunn was going to pick his daughter up from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, when the volcano erupted and covered his travel group in ash. His six-day trip turned into nine days and a short story he penned called “Ash Everywhere.”
For the current students of CSU, Dunn gives this advice: “There are so many resources at the modern institutions of higher learning that it is probably a good idea to use spare time checking what is happening at other parts of the institution. Also, it can’t hurt to be social and meet people from different backgrounds.”
Eldon Dunn with his friend, Janet Austen.