As a student, Osaso Ighodaro ’21 was president of the Bobcats Senior Honorary, a group of 13 seniors who help keep the University of Arizona’s traditions alive. After graduating, she moved to New York City to work as an investment banker for Morgan Stanley.
Even though she’s far away from Arizona, Ighodaro maintains a feeling of connection, partly because she’s able to reach out to other alumni in her area. And she wants to offer her support to current and future Bobcats.
“Graduating has given me a lot of perspective on what the Bobcats did for me. I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I would love to be a part of creating that for someone else,” Ighodaro says. As a contributor in a network of about a thousand former Bobcats, Ighodaro is living her vow and the Bobcats’ motto: “Eternal Vigilance.”
The university’s oldest organization, the Bobcats celebrated its 100th anniversary in February. Bobcats serve the university by organizing student efforts for Homecoming, leading campus tours for supporters and special guests, performing community service, and working with other student groups on their service efforts. They also plan and host the Evening of Excellence, an event where student academic and philanthropic achievements are recognized.
Each class of Bobcats selects the members who will succeed them. The Bobcats also choose two or three honorary Bobcats per year, who are announced at Homecoming. Honorary Bobcats are individuals who exemplify service, make significant contributions and bring honor or recognition to the university.
University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins was selected as an honorary Bobcat in 2018.
“I am very proud to be an honorary Bobcat, and it has been a true privilege to work with the Bobcats every year — the new cohort as well as the alumni, who remain dedicated to serving the University of Arizona,” Robbins says. “The Bobcats are an incredible group of people who have done so much to create a positive culture around campus and beyond for the past 100 years. I am grateful for everything they do.”
Another honorary Bobcat, Kent Rollins ’73, served as the group’s co-adviser for 40 years. He also was president of the UArizona Alumni Association and the University Medical Center Foundation. Rollins believes he’s personally known around 700 Bobcats alumni.
“When it comes to supporting the university in many ways — politics, or being a regent, being a donor, supporting a particular college — Bobcats, I think, have the best overall track record of any alumni group,” Rollins says.
Bobcats Reminisce About 100 Years
“Alumni are the only permanent part of the university. Presidents, faculty and buildings come and go. Once you get a degree, you’re part of the university for life.” — Kent Rollins ’73
“Reflecting on 100 years makes me think about all that has changed in the world during that time. Despite those changes, each year 13 students continue to dedicate significant time and energy to their university — definitely a milestone worth acknowledging and celebrating.” — Kira Finkler ’88
“Bobcats is the No. 1 way I’m connected throughout my entire life. The relationships I have are some of the most robust ones I could want. The common bond of the U of A and Bobcats has truly enriched my life.” — Lloyd Fox ’90
“The fact that Bobcats has lasted 100 years speaks to its enduring purpose and impact on campus. It takes a special group to keep growing and inspiring student involvement for a century. — Tripp Twyman ’18
Learn more about the Bobcat experience in this video.
History of the Bobcats
The Bobcats formed in 1922 in response to tensions between students and university administration, according to the group’s historical documentation.
At the time, hazing of first-year students by upperclassmen was popular. School leaders took a strong stand against practices that included cutting students’ hair or painting their heads green; those who took part were expelled. Students fought back by threatening an organized strike.
On Feb. 22, 1922, a small group of students came together to create a leadership community that would help students form consensus and communicate with administrators. The group was originally called the Wildcats, and its members were anonymous and exclusively male. Their stated purpose was “preserving the unity and welfare of the University of Arizona by always being alert to guide in the right direction.”
The name changed to the Bobcats only a few months later. Other changes unfolded over the years. In 1930, the membership was limited to those in their senior year. The number in each Bobcat class varied until 1936 or 1937, when it was set at 13. It wasn’t until 1987 that the group admitted women, following a lawsuit. The first female Bobcat was Kira Finkler ’88.
“I’m very grateful to the four women who applied to Bobcats in 1986. They helped pave the way for me,” Finkler says.
That same year, the group chose two women as honorary Bobcats, Mary Levy Peachin ’63 and Anna Marie Chalk.
Chalk was a staff member of the Alumni Association and co-adviser to the group from 1982-2003, together with Kent Rollins ’73. Chalk passed away in 2020 and is remembered fondly by many Bobcat alumni, including Angie Johnson ’97, who served as the group’s first female president and chaired the 100th anniversary committee.
“She would always tell us to go out in the world and remember who you represent — and to not forget to come home,” Johnson says. “Keeping that connection will take you far in life and make you even prouder to be a Wildcat.”
A fund called the Anna Marie Chalk Memorial Endowment has been established in Chalk’s honor. The funds from the endowment will benefit students through Bobcats and the Hispanic Alumni Club.