Although they grew up in Logan, Utah—home of Utah State—Ralph Wanlass ’91 and his sister Megan Wanlass ’94 looked almost exclusively at liberal arts colleges when the time came.
“Dad was really our college counselor, and he went to Amherst,” Ralph explains. Both had plenty of college choices, and both chose Oxy. After considering majors in psychology (Megan) and biology (Ralph), the two found their true calling in the arts.
For Megan, it was an epiphany experienced while ushering at Keck Theater. “It was that moment of your life where everything just falls into place,” she says. For Ralph, it was a more gradual process, taking art classes and finding the creative atmosphere in the Art Barn (today’s Samuelson Pavilion) an attractive one. Both credit faculty mentors—Susan Gratch and Alan Freeman P’66, M’67 in theater, sculptor George Baker in art—for playing key roles in shaping their careers, Ralph as co-founder of Knack Studio, an art engineering and fabrication firm, and Megan as an arts administrator, currently as managing director of L.A.’s Cornerstone Theater Co.
Through the Kathryn Caine Wanlass Charitable Foundation, Ralph, Megan and their father, George, have become major supporters of the arts at Oxy, funding visiting artists and directors, community facing arts programming, and construction of the Oxy Arts building.
“We believe in arts education for young people, and Oxy seemed like a good place to make that happen,” Ralph says. “For more than 20 years I’ve taken what I learned here and expanded on it,” adds Megan. “Oxy was a foundational place for me.”