It is not surprising that Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman is in the Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni. Indeed, he must be one of the most successful graduates of that New Jersey state school.
Can one be a distinguished alum – or even an undistinguished alum, by definition, without actually graduating? According to Merriam Webster’s definition, it seems possible: “a person who has attended or has graduated from a particular school, college, or university.” But is that the common sense understanding of the term? For those readers of ours who attended college but never graduated, do you consider yourself an alum of that school? Is my wife an alum of Harvard University since she took a class there once? When do we get the invites to the alumni reunions (and the awesome networking opportunities)? And what class are you placed in if you never graduate?