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Reunion brings Colgate faithful back to campus

By Mark Walden on June 2, 2014

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Einstein’s theory of relativity tells us that what you see depends on where you’re standing. There’s no proof, but the genius could have based his legendary thought experiments on a trip to reunion at Colgate.

More than 2,100 alumni and friends flocked to campus for Reunion 2014, May 29–June 1, and each one had a unique experience tailored to personality and interest.

For those with an academic bent, there were more than 50 Reunion College lectures, including talks by Jim Young ’64 on working with clay, CNBC’s Eamon Javers ’94 on corporate espionage, and Carrie Blackmore ’08 on entrepreneurship and craft brewing. Maura Lofaro ’89 and Jason Barto ’89 talked environmental conservation while, on the other side of the Quad, Dr. Edward “Biff” Jones ’64 discussed medical ethics.

By night, astronomy professor Tom Balonek conducted a tour of the stars over Colgate. By day, English professors Jane Pinchin and Jennifer Brice held an information session on this fall’s online Living Writers course, powered by ColgateX. With a full slate of international authors and a new relationship with the online learning company edX, the class promises to provide yet another way for alumni to come home to Colgate in mind, body, and spirit.

Associate vice presidents Michael Sciola and Timothy Mansfield spoke on the value of Colgate’s new professional networks. President Jeffrey Herbst, Dean of the College Suzy Nelson, and admission vice president Gary Ross ’77 met with visitors to discuss the state of the campus and elements of the new strategic plan, which puts heavy emphasis on financial aid and the university community’s commitment to living the liberal arts.

Aficionados of university history would have noted that this spring marked the 40th year since Colgate graduated its first coeducational class and founded the Swinging ’Gates a cappella group. It’s also the 95th anniversary of the Alumni Council, and the 80th anniversary for Konosioni. To highlight the moments, the schedule included a special Swinging ’Gates concert on Saturday night as well as an anniversary luncheon for council members — past and present.

“This Alumni Council reunion was an idea I had two years ago, and we are so grateful to the staff for making it happen,” said Dr. Bob Raiber ’68.

Current council president Terry Egler ’77 expressed her own gratitude, saying, “It was truly wonderful to celebrate with former and current alumni council members at Reunion 2014 — they are an amazing group of volunteers who are passionate and devoted to Colgate.”

Throughout the weekend, a festival-like atmosphere pervaded Whitnall Field, allowing alumni to reconnect with friends and classmates. Saturday night, after class banquets, they gathered outside their tents to hear tunes from Gent Treadly and the Skycoasters, songs and sounds of the crowd eliding as the clock struck midnight.

“I came all the way from California to see my classmates,” said Bill Williams ’59. “Classes become close — we’ve stayed in touch, and this a great place to come together and reminisce. It’s a wonderful experience.”

While the alumni office’s professional staff oversaw many of the weekend’s logistics, an additional 55 student workers were on hand to offer guests a ride up the hill, directions, program updates, and more.

“Colgate is experienced and celebrated in so many different ways by our alumni,” said Mansfield. “The alumni relations staff, led by Jenna Webb ’02, takes a lot of pride in shaping the weekend to meet everyone’s needs — along with ideal weather conditions, they pulled it off!”

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