Short Stories from a Long Life

Pitzer College Class of 1968 alumna Margreta Klassen publishes stories in a new anthology

Margreta Klassen ’68 has written three of the 20 tales collected in Twenty of Today’s Best Short Stories, an anthology of fiction and nonfiction stories, recently published by Commonwealth Books. Klassen’s stories are titled “The Grand Stand,” “Local Celebrity,” and “A Fishy Tale.”

An internationally recognized clinical psychologist, Klassen has also written a book of poetry and her memoir, Soul Stealing: Abuse of Intimate Power, was published by Black Rose Writing in 2017.

Klassen transferred to Pitzer from Chaffey Community College in 1966. Known then as Maggi Dunn, she had worked as a journalist with the Riverside Press-Enterprise and was in her 30s when she arrived at Pitzer. As her classmate and Pitzer trustee Louise Beaudette Thornton ’68 says, “Maggi was a Pitzer New Resources student before there was a Pitzer New Resources program,” referring to a program for students 23 years of age or older that Pitzer established in 1974.

A member of Pitzer’s charter Class of 1968 (the first four-year class to graduate from the then all-women’s college), Klassen took a class with the folk musician Guy Carawan, then Pitzer’s Folklorist-in-Residence, who is known for introducing the song “We Shall Overcome” to the Civil Rights Movement. She credits Professor Esther Wagner with honing her writing skills. She studied art with Professor Carl Hertel, and Professors Lew Ellenhorn and Alfonso Ortiz inspired her interest in psychology and anthropology. More than 50 years later, she still has a paper, titled “Sacred Clowns of the Southwest,” that she wrote for a class she took with Ortiz.  

Klassen earned her BA at Pitzer in English and planned to become a science writer.  After Pitzer, she received a PhD from Claremont Graduate University in educational studies with a focus on life-span development psychology.

Margreta Klassen Dunn '68 with her daughter Melissa Bundy at the President's Residence reception and dinner for the Class of 1968.
Margreta Klassen ’68 with her daughter Melissa Bundy at the President’s Residence reception and dinner for the Class of 1968 in 2018.

“I especially appreciated the fine faculty and small classes at Pitzer and the graduate university,” Klassen wrote in her submission to the Pitzer College Class of 1968 50th Anniversary Reunion Lookbook.

Over many decades, she has worked as a staff therapist for several colleges, taught courses in human sexuality, and was a program director at a nonprofit agency. Klassen practiced as a clinical, counseling, and adult development psychologist in Newport Beach, CA, retiring a few years ago when she turned 90. She is listed in Who’s Who in American Women, Who’s Who in the World, and on the National Women’s History Museum site, Chronicles of American Women.

Today, Klassen keeps in touch with her Pitzer classmates as an active member of the Pitzer OC Book Gathering—a group of 11 alumnae from the classes of 1968 and 1969 who have been meeting to discuss books and life since the 1980s.   

“Being true to Pitzer’s values, I have been a ‘participant’ throughout my long life,” Klassen wrote in her Class of 1968 Lookbook submission.