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Celebrating 50 Years

The Northwestern Alumni Association’s 2006 Spring Reunion and Commencement Weekend brought more than 300 alumni and guests back to campus.


“We’re in the lake!” cried amazed members of the class of 1956 on an Evanston campus bus tour during the NAA’s Spring Reunion Weekend June 16–18.

The lakefront expansion on the Evanston campus was a completely new sight for some alumni who hadn’t been on campus since the class’s graduation 50 years ago. This “new” section of campus, including the Norris University Center and the Arts Circle, didn’t exist when they were students — it literally was Lake Michigan. And there was plenty more for returning alumni to marvel at as they celebrated with their classmates — from the changes in student life, to the University’s advances in life sciences and nanofabrication, to the lives and professions they pursued after graduation.

Led by reunion co-chairs Garry Marshall (J56), Phyllis Elliott Oakley (WCAS56) and Sanford Sacks (EB56) — the gift chair who helped the class raise $555,152 for its 50th reunion class gift — the class of 1956 kicked off the weekend by joining the class of 2006 at Northwestern’s Commencement at Ryan Field. After the ceremony reunion alumni got reacquainted at a dinner at the N Club.

The following day the 50-year class members were inducted into the NAA’s Half Century Club, joining alumni from earlier classes at a luncheon, a lecture about the U.S. role in Iraq by President Henry S. Bienen and a panel discussion, “50 Years of Change: Law, Journalism, Diplomacy and Science.”

The highlight of the weekend was the 50th reunion party at the Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette, Ill., where famed Hollywood director and actor Marshall kept the crowd in stitches by polling them about their various replacement surgeries and recalling hilarious memories of his own campus and career experiences.

Alumni wrapped up the weekend on Sunday with a farewell brunch at the John Evans Alumni Center and an architectural river cruise in Chicago. Perhaps they felt the same way about the weekend as Max Nathan (WCAS56) did about his undergraduate experience. “I felt like the four years that I had here were the way a flower must feel when the bud opens and it begins to bloom,” he said. “It was intellectually exciting and it was emotionally very rewarding. I loved every minute of it.”

Reunions - Sidebar Photo
Photo by Jasper Chen (McC04)