“What’s not to like – I’m here!” said renowned author Eric Lax ’66, who was among the many accomplished alums who returned to Hobart and William Smith for a record-breaking Reunion 2016.
Framed by beautiful weather, this year’s celebration had unprecedented attendance with more than 1,200 members of the HWS community, including alums representing 50 class years and returning from as far away as Italy, Russia, Guatemala and England to enjoy the popular lineup of events. Reunion also saw record giving, including from the 50th Reunion Classes of 1966 who raised more than $10.5 million since their last milestone Reunion.
“It’s been wonderful touching base with some old classmates, enjoying campus and seeing how it’s changed, and going to some of the programs,” said Jane Gray Daniels ’66.
Throughout the weekend, Reunion served as a significant institutional moment, giving alums the chance to rekindle and renew, while getting a better sense of today’s HWS.
Peter Caldwell ’61 said: “I came back to my 25th and 50th Reunions and every one since the 50th. It’s always a good time to see what the faculty, students and staff have been up to. I love this campus.”
While alums gathered for events ranging from Alums on Parade and the Reunion Forum to Reunion College Classes, HWS Classic and the Quad Party, the Reunion Red Shirt crew of students and recent grads was there to assist.
“Everyone is just so happy and enthusiastic. The Colleges really are such a friendly and accommodating place,” said Robyn Kilpatrick ’76, while reconnecting with her first-year roommate Adele Baruch ’77 during the 40th Reunion Dinner at the President’s House.
On Friday, the prestigious Distinguished Faculty Award was presented to three alums turned HWS faculty members – the first time in DFA history that those being honored were also all graduates of the Colleges.
Friday’s lineup also featured several campus and local tours, as well as three Seneca Lake excursions on the William Scandling research vessel. Reunion College sessions were held throughout the afternoon and again on Saturday morning.
“I worked with Professor of Environmental Studies John Halfman doing research for two summers during my time here, so being out on the William Scandling brings back a lot of memories,” said 10th Reunion alumna Kathleen Bush ’06.
Following a Reunion College class, Gerard Holder ’76 said: “I’m so thrilled to see the Political Science Department thriving here. I went to the lecture with Professors Deutchman and Lucas, and was completely blown away. It was fantastic.”
The Classes of 1966 had a special dinner reception at the Katherine D. Elliott Studio Arts Center, which is named for their fellow classmate HWS Trustee Katherine D. Elliott ’66, L.H.D. ’08 whose generosity financed the building.
There also was a live jazz program at Houghton House, which coincided with “Your Year in Art,” a special art exhibit from the Collections of Hobart and William Smith. After dinner, gatherings were held throughout downtown Geneva, connecting alums with a taste of everything local.
On Saturday, alums received campus updates during the President’s State of the Colleges address in the Vandervort Room.
“There is no question in our view – in our vision for Hobart and William Smith – that a liberal arts education is the best preparation for the 21st century,” Gearan said. “We speak quite a bit here about our mission to prepare students for lives of consequence. It is a phrase you will see on our website and materials, but more significantly it is a phrase you will hear from our students, from our faculty and staff.”
Following the event, hundreds convened in front of the Scandling Campus Center and marched down Pulteney Street for the annual reunion parade, led this year by Virginia Lindberg Miller ’46.
At the Forum, alums were recognized for their dedication and support across class years. In addition to their record-setting $10.5 million in gifts, the Classes of 1966 had the highest attendance percentages this year. The Classes of 1991 set an all-time record for attendance at a 25th Reunion, and the largest Annual Giving total for those celebrating a 25th. The Classes of 2011 had the largest number of alums return at more than 150. For the Classes of 1966, this year’s celebration was particularly special, as they were collectively bestowed the prestigious President’s Medal.
Saturday afternoon also featured several events across campus, including a special Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dedication.
In addition, there was an alum book signing at the College Store, Family Festival on the Quad, the LGBT, Allies and Friends Affinity Group gathering, and several open houses. The Classes of 1991 and the Classes of 1981 each also held memorial gatherings at Bozzuto Boathouse to pay tribute to classmates who have passed.
Scott Mason ’81 said: “If I wasn’t friends with someone, I more than likely knew their name and face regardless. It’s sad to hear who of my classmates have left too soon, but it makes me appreciate my time at Hobart more.”
As part of Saturday’s lineup of events, alums also enjoyed the Reunion Chorale Performance held in Froelich Hall of the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts.
“I got into things that were not credit related like Little Theatre. It’s interesting how things have changed and now the Colleges have a performing arts center,” said Edward Adcock ’71, who was back at HWS for the first time since graduating.
“Everything is different from when I was here,” said Sally Skinner ’86. “I loved the liberal arts education from William Smith. It was amazing and I wouldn’t switch it for anything else.”
Saturday concluded with more special dinners, including the 25th Reunion Clambake at the President’s House, as well as the Reunion Quad party featuring music by Nik and the Nice Guys, the Oaks Tent, the always popular photo booth and fireworks over campus.
HWS Trustee Craig Stine ’81, P’17 summed up the reason he – and many – decided to return to their beloved alma maters, “One word: friends.”