The Wild Bunch
Chancellor Kidnapped By Wild Bunch
Vanderbilt Alumnus/Summer 1977/vol. 62 no. 4 / pp. 4-6.
On the afternoon of April 1, Dean Sidney Boutwell waited in his office for an appointment to arrive. The notation marked on his calendar by his secretary did not make clear what the appointment was about, only that it would require an hour and a half. Suddenly he was confronted by a young man in a stocking mask who handed him a note composed of letters cut out of newspaper headlines. THE CHANCELLOR, it announced, HAS BEEN KIDNAPPED. For the protection of the University and to secure the Chancellor's release, Dean Boutwell was required to accompany the visitor and to bring with him a note from Kathleen Matthews, of the College of Arts and Science office, certifying that Boutwell was eligible to graduate.
At the same hour, several other campus administrators, whose calendars had been similarly marked, were facing similar demands. Vice Chancellor Purdy was instructed to bring a misprinted "Vanderbuilt" pennant; Betty King, coordinator of reservations in campus buildings, was required to bring an eight ball from the Sarratt game room; Dean James Sandlin (who was shot with a water pistol during the excitement) was told to bring a beer pitcher and two mugs from the Overcup Oak.
Unhesitatingly the four accompanied the abductors in an effort to rescue Alexander Heard. Only one person declined. Unimpeachable sources report that Dean K. C. Potter told the gang they could keep the Chancellor.
The next step in the drama came when the abductors and their prisoners were loaded into cars and set off in a caravan led by a large black limousine which some remembered having seen at Mrs. Mize's nearby liquor store. Flying from the aerial was a flag emblazoned with the letters W and B.
After a ride out Hillsboro Road, the crowd arrived at the farm of Battle (A'24) and Sarah (A'22) Rodes. There all were unmasked and shared a feast of champagne and hot dogs. Later, with much ceremony, to the sound of humming, and wearing "mystic robes," breastplates made from a Tolkien calendar, and their high peaked "wizards' hats," they inducted Dean Sandlin and Mrs. King as official members of the Wild Bunch. The other kidnapees already had been initiated earlier in this unusual society.
It was merely the latest escapade of the Wild Bunch, a group who in their four years at Vanderbilt have combined a talent for playing hard with a talent for campus leadership.
The group coalesced freshman year as the campaign committee for Phil Walker, of Miami, the successful candidate for freshman class president. Later that year when the Chancellor posted a notice announcing that if any students would like to have lunch with him they should leave their names, this group of friends signed up. During the course of the lunch, Chancellor Heard, who had heard a few tales of their parties, observed that Walker, Mike Bagot, Cathy Madigan, Julie Caldwell, Margaret Lynch, Bob Courtney and Dave Blum were something of a "wild bunch." They liked that name and adopted it for themselves and have gone all the way through college as the Wild Bunch. They also have been recognized as some of the best citizens on the campus. Mike Bagot, of New Orleans, became president of the Student Government Association; Cathy Madigan, Fort Lauderdale, president of Kappa Delta; Julie Caldwell, Houston, president of Chi Omega; Margaret Lynch, Nashville, business manager of the Hustler; Bob Courtney, Tampa, finance secretary of the Student Government Association; Dave Blum, Wilmette, president of the Young Democrats and Vanderbilt representative to the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature. Phil Walker, after a year as freshman class president, went on to found the Original Cast musical organization and was the organizer of Commodore Capers at Homecoming last fall.
When they became seniors, the Wild Bunch decided their traditions should not die. They have taken in a score of new members. Bagot says to be eligible "you have to be pretty wild, a good partier, and you have to enjoy Vanderbilt and be able and want to contribute something to Vanderbilt." Their first initiation ceremony was held one midnight in Old Science Hall. Afterwards, the party went on until 6 a.m. in A-2 West Side Row.
"They like to do wild things like that," said Dean Boutwell, whose Wild Bunch cognomen is Wizard Waldo. As the Bunch prepared to take final exams before graduation, he organized a farewell luncheon in their honor.