As the more than 800 Hobart and William Smith community members cheered on the fireworks over the Quad Saturday evening, another successful Reunion Weekend drew to a close.
“I love coming back to campus – it really stirs the nostalgia bucket,” said Sharlene Schmidt Vichness ’66, who made the journey to campus from Roseland, N.J. with her husband Paul Vichness’65. “I met my husband on my third day on campus!”
As alums continued to arrive throughout Friday, many enjoyed the sun while taking historic tours of Geneva, joining their classmates on Seneca Lake aboard the William Scandling and touring the campus with current students to see the latest additions such as the Caird Center for Sports and Recreation. Jazz filled the Scandling Campus Center Patio in the evening, thanks to alums Brian Masteller ’60 and Steve Venuti ’71, following a happy hour at The Oaks Tent and an international dinner on the Quad.
After a busy Friday, Saturday morning provided alums with a chance to catch up with the current state of HWS affairs during President Mark D. Gearan’s “State of the Colleges” address and breakfast, followed by the traditional Alums on Parade procession down Pulteney Street and through the Quad – complete with banners and a marching band.
Alums were also afforded the opportunity to truly go back to school during two Alumni College sessions. Taught by HWS faculty and returning alum, attendees had nearly a dozen courses to choose from, ranging from classes on foreign and domestic policy to creative writing and modern dance. “Choosing a session is a hard choice to make because there are so many good topics,” said Sharon Peckham Best ’62 P’84.
The sessions also provided a bit of role reversal for a few faculty members. Professor of Religious Studies Emerita Mary Gearhart, who was also the recipient of one of this year’s Distinguished Faculty Awards, was thrilled to attend a session led by her former student – and current Executive Editor of The New Yorker – Dorothy Wickenden ’76. “I don’t want to be late to class!” smiled Gearhart as she joined in the discussion about Wickenden’s upcoming book.
The President’s Reunion Forum allowed attendees to join together for lunch to celebrate the contributions of the returning classes to the Annual Fund. This year, many of the classes broke records with their generous gifts, and the efforts of committed alums were applauded with citations from the Alumni and Alumnae Associations.
The Distinguished Faculty Awards, which are annually awarded to professors who have proved to be influential on campus and in the lives of their students, were presented on the Scandling Campus Center Patio.
Others took a moment to thank Ray Demuth during a reception for the Statesmen soccer coach in the Gilman Room. With letters strewn across the table from alums who had been affected by Demuth’s spirit and commitment to Hobart athletics and students, the event highlighted the importance of Demuth’s successful career leading the soccer team from 1953 to 1975.
Fraternities welcomed their brothers back to campus with open house tours of each of the buildings. “It feels amazing to be here,” remarked Pete Hammond ’06 of Ventura, Calif., a member of Delta Chi. “It’s great to see all my friends and make new connections.”
Saturday night, the Quad was alive with all alums gathered for an evening of fine food, dancing and reminiscing. Brass Taxi sang versions of everyone’s favorite songs and forced even the most bashful alum to let loose and break out their best moves. The night’s entertainment was highlighted by the annual fireworks display that even the weather couldn’t stop – concluding another successful reunion, leaving alums just waiting for next year’s festivities.