Thousands of alumni flock to campus for class reunions
By Sharla Grass And Stephanie Mc Feeters , The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Saturday, June 9, 2012
After undergraduates say goodbye to their friends, approximately 2,300 alumni will flock to Hanover to catch up with old classmates, according to Director of Advancement Events Lori Harris. Alumni will take advantage of the hundreds of events planned by representatives of 11 classes and Office of Alumni Relations staff members.
Alumni Relations Communication Director Diana Lawrence said that reunion organizers aimed to add non-traditional elements to reunion events.
“Every year we strive to add some new elements that make it fun to come back, no matter whether you want to sit in a tent with your friends or do white water rafting,” she said.
The Class of 1962 planned several events in celebration of its 50th reunion, according to class reunion chairs Bill Pierce ’62 and Dick Brooks ’62. Over 250 members of the Class of 1962 are participating, representing a large portion of the approximately 600 graduates who are still alive, Brooks said.
The first planned event on Friday, a screening of a film by Paul Burkhart ’62 titled “Many Thousand Sunsets,” kicked off the festivities, Brooks said.
“It’s sort of a synopsis of what’s happened over the past 50 years since we graduated,” Pierce said.
A painted composite of College-related images by a member of the Class of 1962 was donated to the College after the screening, and prints were distributed to alumni who have donated more than five times their normal donation, Pierce said.
Over the weekend, members of the Class of 1962 will also attend a lunch with the Board of Trustees, a gala dinner featuring the rock band The Flames and various golf and hiking activities, according to Pierce. The main goal of these activities is to give alumni opportunities to reconnect with one another.
“The fun part of everyone getting back together is that we have a number of people who are coming back who have never been back before,” Pierce said.
The class also hosted several events with members of the Class of 2012 — their “link class” — including a barbecue at Collis Center and a formal luncheon, Pierce said.
“The highlight of that time is we march in with the Class of 2012 and sit in front of them at graduation,” Brooks said. “It’s always been a tradition.”
Other classes also have a variety of activities — from concerts to presentations — planned for their reunions.
The Class of 1982 will celebrate its 30th reunion from June 14-17 with the theme of “Act Two” to acknowledge the fact that they are entering into the second halves of their lives, according to reunion co-chair Adrienne Lotson ’82.
“The 25th was a celebration of what was and the 30th is a celebration of what is to come and what will be,” she said.
In an attempt to evoke a “Green Key atmosphere,” the Class of 1982 will congregate on Webster Avenue for a block party, according to John Hastings ’82, reunion co-chair for his class. The Class of 1982 broke the attendance record for a class reunion at their 25th reunion and plans to do so again, Lotson said.
“We’re the class that will be partying the hardest and dancing until the sun comes up or until the campus [police] shuts us down,” she said.
College President Jim Yong Kim, an adopted member of the Class of 1982, will also host a cocktail party at his house as part of the class’s 30th reunion, according to Lotson.
The Class of 1972 reunion will feature a presentation from Charles Nearburg ’72, a retired race car driver who has set numerous land speed records, Dave Thurston ’72, chair of his class’s 40th reunion, said. The 20th reunion for the Class of 1992 will feature a performance by Noise Complaint, a band composed largely of members of the class, according to class reunion chair Julie Cillo ’92 said.
A culminating event on June 16 will mark the first time that a reunion event has been aimed at bringing together alumni from different class years, according to Assistant Director for Advancement Events Jen Seiler. Alumni on campus will be able to watch a performance by the off-Broadway performance group Stomp on the Green in the afternoon and performances by the Dartmouth Aires and the Rockapellas at night.
A variety of tours will be available over the reunion period, according to Seiler. Visitors and alumni will be able to visit the underground steam tunnels, the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center, Baker Tower and Bartlett Tower, as well as participate in architectural walking tours of campus.
Since many alumni bring their children to campus during reunions, reunion chairs also planned several family-oriented events, Seiler said. Toddlers can attend a performance featuring Grammy-nominated performer Mister G while younger children can swim or attend magic shows. Teenagers will be invited to a dance party with a DJ, she said.
Undergraduates play an integral part in the reunion activities, Seiler said. Approximately 100 students are hired to work on teams to set up events, act as bartenders and supervise toddlers in the children’s programs, she said.
“It’s a huge success,” Seiler said. We have lots of students whose parents are here for their reunion and they get to help out. It’s a nice reconnection there.”
Class reunions are an opportunity for alumni to rekindle old friendships, according to John Hastings ’82, reunion co-chair for his class.
“As time goes on, everyone gets really entrenched in their lives and it’s harder and harder to maintain all of the friendships you made in college,” he said. “For a lot of people this is the only chance they have to see people they haven’t seen in a long time.”
Reunions also offer alumni a chance to reminisce about their time at the College, Brooks said.
“Someone put beer in the milk dispensers one time — we’ll relive some of those stories,” he said.
Returning to campus after an extended period of time elicits a regained sense of youthfulness, Cillo said.
“There’s something about 20 years that makes it seem like we’ve been out a really long time, but when you get together with your classmates you don’t really feel like it has been that long,” she said. “Reunions are three days that are just devoted to reconnecting with people and places that you loved and helped you become who you are.”