Reunion 2009: “Absolutely Excellent” – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Reunion 2009: “Absolutely Excellent”

Alums, bands, classes, dancing, excitement, fireworks…From A to Z, Reunion 2009 had everything to offer the 700-plus alumni and alumnae and their families. 

The weekend kicked off on Thursday with the 50th PLUS Reunion, which meets every three years and includes all alumni and alumnae who have already celebrated a 50th Reunion. “I came back for the first 50th PLUS Reunion,” said Nancy Stone Wilson ’50, P’74.  “We worked really hard to get people back last time, but now it’s easy to get them back. We enjoy catching up with everyone here.”

On Friday, the rest of the retuning classes arrived and had their choice of activities-from campus tours and Seneca Lake excursions aboard The William Scandling research vessel, to poetry readings or just catching up with old friends, there was something for everyone.

“I came back to check out what was going on, and to see some old friends,” said Edward S. Lansing ’43, of Florida, at the Deans’ Welcome Luncheon on Friday afternoon.

Brandon Kotler ’04, who traveled from California, agreed. “The most significant aspect of the Hobart experience is the relationships I made when I was here. It is great to be back.”  

Friday evening, after happy hour at the Oaks Tent, President Mark Gearan and his family hosted the 50th reunion class of 1959, while the remaining classes gathered on the Quad for the International Buffet Dinner, to eat, drink, laugh and remember their fondest times at HWS.

“We used to have art in a little building on Pulteney Street,” said Dorothy Chastney Emer ’53. “We would have simple drawing classes with charcoal. Now there are amazing workshops with all the sophisticated equipment for art students. We never had any of that.”

After dinner, alums gathered in Houghton House, where, in addition to jazz from renowned musicians and alums Bob Masteller ’60, Al Scheeren ’60 and Steve Venuti ’61, the Clarence “Dave” Davis ’48 gallery was dedicated.

“I’m a very proud alumnus,” Davis said during the dedication. “I’m proud of what the Colleges have done for me and proud of what they’re going to do for students. I want to see more of this–more support of the fine arts.” 

Saturday morning was chock full of activities, including Alumni/ae College sessions such as “Extinction 101” and “The Economics of Baseball,” before the annual alum parade, which took alums up Pulteney, down St. Clair and through to the Quad for lunch and the President’s Reunion Forum.  

At the Forum, representatives from the 10 returning “milestone” classes, the 50th PLUS-ers and the new graduates of the Classes of 2009 gathered on the Quad before alums to present Gearan with checks for gifts to the Colleges totaling more than $14.5 million. Alumni/ae citations were also awarded, as were the Young Alum Awards and a Lifetime Service Award, which was presented to Eric Hall Anderson ’59.

After lunch, alums enjoyed open houses at the Finger Lakes Institute, the Salisbury Center for Career Services and the new Centennial Center for Leadership and served as admissions officers for a day.  By 2 p.m., hundreds of alums made their way to the Quad, the heart of Reunion 2009, where Family Festival, the Finger Lakes Wine Festival and other activities were in full swing.

“My husband and I have a big history with this school,” said Victoria L.H. Thompson ’04, of New Jersey.   “We signed up for ESSYI in high school and came up here for the summer; we both ended up here for college; we got married here in 2007.  It’s always great being back.”

By the time the sun had gone down over the Quad, fireworks were coming up, bursting in full color above Coxe Hall. The fireworks finale kicked off a set of rocking tunes from Brass Taxi. The group performed covers from across decades, everything from “Superstition” to Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love.”  Sporting neon glow sticks, alums danced the last night of Reunion away together.

In the morning, a few brave alums met up on the steps of Scandling Campus Center for an early morning run, and later, everyone said farewells over breakfast on the Quad and recalled some of their favorite memories during the weekend.

“I have a bunch of friends who always ask me how the reunions are,” said Anderson ’59, of Massachusetts. “Every time I say, ‘This one was the best,’ and they say, ‘You said that last year.’ This reunion however, really outdid every other-it was excellent, absolutely excellent.”

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