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Three Kianu alumnae from the 1970s (August/September 2006)
Margo (Makholm) Toth ‘72
Jan (Stevenson) Milazzotto ‘75
Lynn Lilly ‘77


The decade of the 1970s is best known for disco and protests against the Vietnam War. In 1970, at Kent State, the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four students involved in protest. Muskingum College was a microcosm of that culture, but perhaps more protected from the outside world than urban campuses. The 1972 Muskingum College yearbook shows that some M.C. students were politically and civically involved. A picture shows a campus building spray-painted with the phrase, "Stop the Bombing", and photo montage shows students involved with a music marathon to raise money for UNICEF.

In 1972, William P. Miller was Muskingum's president. In a 1972 interview with the Muscoljuan yearbook, he talked about what he hoped for the future of Muskingum College. He spoke of the need to improve college facilities, especially the need for an arts center and a library addition. Miller also spoke about his concern with the survival of the college. At that time, private colleges were closing rapidly, and Miller quoted a statistic that 50% of (private) colleges were not going to make it. "At the rate our costs have gone up in the 60s, we will reach $5,000 per year (for tuition) before 1980... How many people can afford private schools that are going to cost $20,000 or more for education?" Considering the annual cost of a Muskingum education for the 2005/2006 school year was $15,700* without financial aid, $5,000 per year now seems like a bargain. One of Miller's plans to help M.C. survive was the implementation of what he called, "continuous education", in which students would have a financial incentive to graduate with three years of study, including summers. He also stressed the importance of marketing Muskingum, and not "just sitting back and seeing what will happen to M.C.".

Regardless of what is happening in the outside world and in the realm of higher education, alumni tend to remember their friends and the social interaction they had in college, and the Kianu alumnae interviewed here are no exception.

Margo (Makholm) Toth ‘72

Margo's senior picture
Margo's M.C. senior picture

In the late 1960s, Margo Makholm was a high school student living in New Jersey. Her next door neighbor, Dr. Warren Davis, was the superintendent of her school district. Dr. Davis was a Muskingum alumna, and he highly recommended the college. Margo recalls, "Many New Jersey students go out of state-- we didn't have many small colleges like Ohio does." When she visited M.C., she was sold. She ended up majoring in English. Margo credits Muskingum with playing a huge part in who she is today. "I loved (Muskingum). I got a strong foundation academically, and I grew as a person. We had a policy then, you never walked by anyone on the quad without saying hello; and after four years, it became inherent. I am now known for being friendly and open; I believe I learned that at Muskingum."

Pledge day 1971

Pledge Day: September 1971

One of the wonderful things about college is the opportunity to develop friendships that will last a lifetime. During her first day at Muskingum, Margo met Linda Dishon, and the two became inseparable. By this time, Margo's family had moved from New Jersey to California, and because of the distance, she could not go home for most holidays and spent many of them with Linda's family in Newark, Ohio.

Groupshot: having fun
Top: Susie Hughes, Ginny Zombro, Susie Graeler
Bottom: Lori Whitenack, Gayle Lavelle, Margo Makholm

In the spring, when it was time for rush and pledging, the two friends were not eligible. Margo remembers, "I had a little trouble with science that first semester!", and the two were devastated to be left out. Margo had known that she wanted to pledge from the beginning, as both her parents had been in Greek organizations and she knew how important it had been for them. She also knew right away that she wanted to pledge Kianu because of the members. They were "nice, wholesome, clean-cut, bubbly, and happy girls." However, she had to sit out the opportunity to join that spring semester.


At that time, fall rush was offered for upperclassmen, and Margo and Linda were eligible during the fall semester and went through the process and both pledged Kianu. Although Margo knew she wanted to become a Kianu, she recalls, "I had a great freshman roommate who was a Delt-- and that made it a tiny bit difficult-- but I made the right choice!" There were seven girls in her pledge class (the spring classes were larger, with about 20 girls).

Mae-Ning and Margo
At the Kianu house. Mae-Ning has on her mom's old shirt, and Margo has on one of Mae-Ning's.

Margo remembers pledging fondly. On pledge morning she, with her new pledge sisters, ran to the house to get their sweatshirts. "Pledging was great. I loved the parties, songs, and friendships formed." The year before, there had been a tragic death at the Stag house with a pledge dying during a hazing incident. Because of this, all of the campus Greek organizations were very careful not to participate in anything that could be construed as hazing.

When asked for her favorite memory as a Kianu, Margo responded, "that is impossible, I have way too many. Perhaps it was living in the house with Linda, we were lucky and lived there both junior and senior years." As she recalls, Kianu had one formal in the spring, but no other parties. Members mostly went to parties at the boys clubs or went "out the road" to Cambridge or Zanesville.

A few years ago, things came full circle for Margo Makholm, now Margo Toth. Her daughter, Mae-Ning Toth, became a Muskingum student in 2000, and ended up rooming with the daughter of Margo's good friend Linda (Dishon) Schuler. Linda's daughter was injured and had to leave Muskingum, but Mae-Ning stayed and ended up going through rush. Margo did talk to Mae-Ning about Kianu before rush, but told her that she could pledge any sorority she wanted, "but secretly we were thrilled when she chose XAN... Being a Kianu was so very special to me. When my daughter got to Muskingum, I was very upset to hear the college question having sororities and fraternities. It doesn't hinder your studies-- or cause students to drink or party more. Kids will do that anyway, if that is their choice. It DOES promote strong friendships that last a lifetime. It DOES give you a support system when you are away from home for the first time (not everyone is from Ohio!). It DOES give you something to work for-- a reason to want to make grades and stay in school. It DOES give you memories for a lifetime."

Pledge Day circa 1972
Pledge Day circa 1972


Margo's wedding
Kianus sing to Margo at her wedding (1974)

Margo's kids
Muskie babies: future Kianu Mae-Ning and brother Brian Toth (Brian did not go to M.C.)

The Toths and Dishons
Margo and daughter Mae-Ning Toth, with Margo's former roommate Linda (Schuler) Dishon and her daughter Caroline. Mae-Ning and Caroline became roommates just like their mothers. (fall '00)

Toth family
The Toth family at Mae-Ning's 2004 M.C. graduation

Jan (Stevenson) Milazzotto ‘75

When Jan Stevenson arrived on Muskingum's campus as a freshman in 1971, she was already very familiar with the school. Both of her parents had graduated from M.C., and she had attended many homecomings with them as a child. In fact, Jan's mom is Kianu Pat (Lewis) Stevenson '52 (profiled in the July 2004 GWTA). Jan grew up thinking that she would go to Muskingum, and she did.

Despite the fact that her mother is a Kianu, Jan did not decide that she wanted to pledge Kianu until she went through rush. She recalls that her mom did not really talk to her about being a Kianu while she was growing up, although she saw her mom’s Kianu friends on a regular basis, and got to see what the girls and alumnae were like every year at homecoming. She says that her mom is not the reason she pledged Kianu: “I wanted to go where my friends went and we all went together. It’s where I thought I belonged. I knew so many (XAN) alumnae and actives too.”

In terms of Muskingum College fraternity names, nothing has changed since the 1970s. At that time, as today, the following fraternities existed on campus: Stag, Ulster, Phi Kappa Tau, Kappa Sigma, and Mace. Jan recalls that the Mace and Stags were the main rivals, with Ulster thrown in there a bit too. The sororities have gone through more upheaval than the fraternities. Only three of the six sororities from the 1970s are still around today: Kianu, Delta Gamma Theta (which did not have pink as one of their colors back then), and FAD. In addition, the following sororities, now closed, were around: Beta Chi, Kona (disbanded in 1973**), and Phi Kappa Pi (Phi Kapps). The main rivalry was between the Deltas and Kianus, with a little FAD.

The Stag hazing death from the late 1960s that Margo mentioned was still being felt on Muskingum’s campus by the time Jan came to school. Jan is three years younger than Margo, and so her recollection of the situation was more removed, but she recalls, “One of the frats had just come back after a pledge had either gotten badly hurt or maybe died, I don’t remember which. So pledging had no hazing involved, at least not with the Kianus.”

Jan Stevenson Milazzotto

Jan remembers pledging as one of her favorite Kianu memories. Rush started after Interim, and all the rushees attended a progressive dinner to meet all the sororities. Then they received bids to attend informal parties, and after those parties another set of bids to attend the formal parties at the end of February. Just like today, the morning after the formal party was pledge day. The rushees would walk to McCall’s for breakfast and then the Stags would pick them up and take them back to Finney. At this point, they had to wait in their rooms for the R.A.s to put their bids under their doors. Upon receiving their bids, Kianu pledges would run to the house, and then back to Kelley hill where the actives surrounded the pledge sisters and sang Kianu songs.

There were 19 pledge sisters in Jan’s class. She recalls that they had weekly meetings and ran errands for the actives. She also remembers being ambushed by the Ulsters who “sprayed shaving cream in our hair”. The Mace men were a bit nicer; they came to the dorm and serenaded the pledge sisters. Another favorite pledging activity involved upperclassmen coming into the pledges rooms to ‘steal’ stuff, and then the pledge sisters had to go to the men’s houses to retrieve their items.

Besides her mother, Jan says that the Kianu sister who has had the biggest impact on her is Sue Sexton, her college roommate of three years. They still keep in touch 30 plus years later.

The Muskingum tradition continues for the family of Jan Stevenson, now Jan Milazotto. Her son, Adam Milazotto, graduated from MC in 2006. Although she has no Kianu children, she says that when Adam was at Muskingum, the Kianu girls called him their legacy.

1971 Group Photo
Kianu Group Photo from 1971

Lynn Lilly ‘77

Lynn Lilly came to Muskingum College in 1973 as a commuter student living in Zanesville. She occasionally slept on the couches of friends in Finney Hall, but usually commuted back and forth. She came to Muskingum because it was close, but stayed for a different reason. The “people really cared about me—my advisors, professors, and the people around me.”

Lynn feels strongly about the quality of the education she received at M.C. “Muskingum taught me the joy of curiosity. A liberal arts education is so valuable for that reason -- you learn to appreciate so many different kinds of learning -- from The Arts...the art appreciation class EVERYONE had to religion to science and humanities. You were encouraged to try different things in your classes and extracurricular activities. I'm an advertising and marketing writer now, and that baseline of general knowledge and the fascination with new knowledge has been invaluable.”

As an English major, Lynn loved rambling around Montgomery Hall. “If you blindfolded me and airdropped me into those stairwells, I’d know exactly where I was.” Despite the fact that Lynn loved wandering the halls in Montgomery, she did not always appreciate sitting through class in Montgomery. “I had a modern poetry class with just 3 people in it. Two of us were seniors and slightly prone to skipping class -- we had to arrange not to skip on the same days or we left that poor third girl hanging.”

One of Lynn’s favorite Muskingum memories was being an R.A. and then a dorm director. “You get really close to the girls on your floor, and the other residence hall staff. You learn to keep an open door and an open heart.” Dorm work was not all fun though, as she recalls. “We had ‘jumpers’. They locked up the dorms at 11 on school nights, midnight on weekends. A girl slept behind the front desk and "jumped" up to open the door for any girl out past lock-up. They got paid $15 a night for that job, I think. What a tough way to make some cash.”

Lynn had an unusual rush/pledging experience. She was a member of the first ‘open pledge’ class in many years. Muskingum still had both fall and spring pledging at that time, but this class pledged at a separate time than either of those classes. There were five girls in her class; some were late transfers. Lynn had been sick on pledge day and her class consisted of others who had not pledged at the regular time. She recalls that her class was a little less active than a regular pledge class. She remembers planning a pledge party, making paddles, and wearing a bright yellow pledge t-shirt. Just like today, pledges received arrow pillows.

Because she was a commuter student, Lynn says that she was not as aware of the Greek clubs as freshman who lived on campus. When she went through rush, she realized that most of the people she already liked from other interactions were Kianus, and that was when she decided to pledge. She recalls that she pledged Kianu because of the members. “They were the women always accomplishing things on campus. They wanted challenges and responsibilities and worked hard to achieve success. They were also friendly and true -- not catty -- even with people outside the club. A pretty good-looking bunch, too.”

The 1970s was the last decade in which Kianu had a house mother. Margo Makholm recalls that Finney Hall also had a housemother when she was in school, Kianu alumna Mrs. Margaret Richert. During Margo’s tenure, the Kianu house had two housemothers. The first was Mrs. Martin, a “little old lady whom we all loved”, and then “the Ram”, the less popular Mrs. Ramsey. After Mrs. Ramsey, recent Kianu alumna Kerry Townsend ’74 served as the housemother for several years. Reflecting back, Lynn says, “Wow, I think we saw the last housemother go. I can't remember her name, but she was a XAN alumni (based on the second article on this page, probably Cindy Wilday). Was that 1975 or 76? And unless they reinstated them later, she was the last.”

Because Lynn served as an R.A. and a dorm director, she did not live in the house. However, she has many other fond Kianu memories. “I really used to love club meeting nights, all of us sitting in the living room, a thousand conversations going on, but all sisters… We had pledge parties and formals of course. Formals were usually in New Philly at one of the hotels... dinner, dancing. I still have a Kianu blanket from a spring formal. Freshman year we all bought dresses. By junior year, we were all trading dresses instead of buying new. We also had keggers… we'd buy a couple of kegs of beer and take them out to one of the nearby farms just outside the "dry" township. Sometimes we were in barns, sometimes just in an open field. Sometimes we had dates, other times they were joint events with one of the fraternities. My friend and fellow R.A. Peg Peterson would often smoke a Swisher Sweet cigar for the occasion.”

Lynn mentioned that most Kianus dated Mace men while she was in school, but that she dated (and later married and divorced) a Stag, and this dynamic made for interesting formals.

When asked which Kianu sister had the biggest impact on her, Lynn responded that it would have to be her big sis, Linda (Bozzo) Toops ‘76. “She was so full of energy and joy and love. She spent a year as an exchange student in Italy. She brought me back a small red velvet treasure chest which I still have today. She also gave me advice that I remember when I travel: go to the highest point you can find in the city, and memorize the view from there. She also used to worry when we went home for vacations that someone might not come back, which made her extraordinarily kind to people because she tried to live in the present.”

Thanks to Margo, Jan, and Lynn for participating in this look back at Kianu and Muskingum life in the 1970s. Although some things have changed, their stories show that much remains the same.

*Information from M.C. 2005-2006 Course Catalog. Excludes room, board and other fees ($22,970 with fees included).

** Information from M.C. Alumni Magazine, Spring 2003, page 16.

If you would like to nominate someone for this profile (active or alumna), please e-mail ruthcseaman(at)gmail(dot)com with your selection. Changes are made as nominations are received.

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Last Update: August 2006