Washington State Magazine

Winter 2004

Winter 2004

In This Issue...


How Cougar Gold Made the World a Better Place :: Washington may not yet have reached cheese heaven. But we're now well past the purgatory of cheese sameness. And we have the WSU Creamery, and Cougar Gold as a delicious standard, to thank for much of this progress.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: The Cheesemaking Process at WSU :: Photography by Robert Hubner.}

Our Kind of Town :: Spokane is undeniably a beautiful place to live and raise a family. Its downtown is once again vibrant. But it takes more than attitude and livability to drive an economy. That's where higher education comes in.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Story: It's Right Here: An interview with Spokane's economic development officer Tom Reese }

Ideas, Buildings, and Mirrors :: Torn between respect for its natural surroundings and a desire for cosmopolitan sophistication, Spokane lends a unique perspective to the notion that works of architecture reflect what a community thinks of itself.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Ideas, Buildings and Mirrors :: Photographs of Spokane by George Bedirian.}

Seen from the Street: Photographs of Spokane :: One lens. One photographer. A unique perspective on Spokane.

Maughan Brothers :: Following the death of her husband, H. Delight Maughan raised six children-while teaching full-time. Despite the challenge, she clearly did it right. All three of her scientist sons, Paul, David, and Lowell, have been honored with alumni achievement awards.



:: FROM THE PRESIDENT: Opening minds, setting lives on course

:: A SENSE OF PLACE: Plants of the Wild

:: SEASONS|SPORTS: Training Table


Cover: Riverpark Square, downtown Spokane. Read the story. Photograph by Rajah Bose.

Dave Van Curen ('04 Public Affairs) expects to earn his law degree in three year by devoting the same 60 hours a week to studies that he divided between shift work and WSU classes.


Dave Van Curen ('04 Public Affairs) expects to earn his law degree in three year by devoting the same 60 hours a week to studies that he divided between shift work and WSU classes. Bill Wagner

No longer a pipe dream

by | © Washington State University

Dave Van Curen graduated from Kelso High School and followed his father to Longview Fibre Co. in 1965.

"In Kelso, during that time, everybody's father worked in a mill," says Van Curen, who spent most of his years at the paper plant as a pipe fitter. "When you grow up in a community where everybody works in a mill, you don't become aware of the other possibilities."

Now, at an age when many coworkers are gliding toward retirement, he is keenly aware of other possibilities. This year, he earned his bachelor's degree in public affairs at Washington State University Vancouver, quit his job before earning full retirement benefits, and, soon after his 57th birthday in August, started law school at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

"The way I rationalized that choice was, if I'm successful, I'll be a lawyer at 60. If I didn't do it, I would still be pulling on wrenches."

Van Curen comes from a family of Cougars, including wife Joann ('77 Education) and daughters Molly ('00 Public Affairs) and Katie ('03 Communication). Their third daughter, Christy, is a sophomore at WSU.

But he struggled to earn his degree. In the early 1970s, after stints at Longview Fibre and in the Navy, he took classes at Lower Columbia College and longed to transfer to a four-year school. He had trouble keeping on track and finally stayed on at the mill full-time in 1973.

"One reason I didn't continue was I didn't have [career] goals," he says.

In 1990, he signed up for classes at WSU Vancouver, but soon stopped to concentrate on his daughters' schooling and his growing role in his union, the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers.

In 1996, he slowed his union work and returned to the Vancouver campus to give it one final shot. He already had completed about half of his credit requirements, and for the next eight years he chipped away to finally earn his degree.

"Even though [WSU Vancouver] is a very young school and it's not well known, I don't think I could've learned any more at the most famous or prestigious university in the country," says Van Curen.

Van Curen expects to earn his law degree in three years by devoting the same 60 hours a week to studies that he once divided between shift work and WSU classes.

"I'm going to appreciate not doing the hard, physical, sweaty work," he says. "That'll be nice, because your body starts to wear out."

To help, he adopted a motto: "You're never too old to be what you might have been," a paraphrase of a quotation often attributed to English writer George Eliot. Even so, Van Curen is the oldest member of his 181-student law school class-nearly three times the age of his youngest classmate.

"Their advantage is, most of them are probably actually smarter than me," he says with a laugh. His advantage? "The older students are less hormonally or socially distracted."

Van Curen anticipates going into labor law, because "that's where my heart, interest, and experience are."

Categories: Education | Tags: Employment

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