Oldest Known SDSU Alum Receives Diploma At 105
Almost nine decades after San Diego State opened its current campus, one of the first students to set foot there finally got his diploma Thursday. Bill Vogt is 105 years old.
He graduated in the winter of 1935, and the first few students who graduated off-season back then did not receive diplomas.
“I’m surprised, is the main thing,” Vogt said. “I never thought I’d see this document anywhere.”
SDSU President Adela de la Torre on Thursday handed Vogt his diploma, dated Feb. 1, 1935, during a ceremony at the SDSU Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.
Vogt was accompanied by his son, Bob Vogt, who said the family realized his dad’s diploma was missing when they wanted to order a commemorative frame for it earlier this year.
“We didn’t have his actual diploma, and the school means so much to him, and I knew from spending time here with my sister and my dad, that the school cared a lot about him, too,” Bob Vogt said.
Bob Vogt and his father toured the much-changed SDSU campus two years ago, along with Bob’s sister, Michelle Moss, who graduated from SDSU in 1969. After discovering the diploma had never been issued, Bob Vogt contacted the SDSU representatives who had taken them on the tour.
“So they went to work to see if they could find his original diploma, which they were able to do somehow,” Bob Vogt said. “It’s just really an important, meaningful thing.”
Bill Vogt’s first semester, more than 80 years ago, was at the original SDSU campus in University Heights, before the current campus opened in 1931. He said tuition was $35 per semester, and only 14 other students graduated with him.
“We were all really kind of anxious to see what the new campus was like. Well, it was really bleak, to say the least,” Bill Vogt said. “But it was new. We had an opportunity to develop the area and we were hoping it was going to be a successful school.”
Bill Vogt got his driver's license when he was 13 and drove a Ford Model T, with a crank to start the engine.
“Having a car made me more important in my fraternity because I was the one who could ferry them from place to place,” he said.
Bill Vogt’s diploma states he studied “commerce” — which would be considered business today. He went on to serve three decades in the Navy — during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
When asked what he will do with the diploma, Bill Vogt said, “I’m going to hang it on the wall with pride. And then I can say, ‘Yes, I graduated from a fine school.’”
In May, Bill Vogt became the oldest living SDSU Alumni Lifetime Member.