If you’re thinking that Northwestern’s alumni reunions are only about reminiscing about the past, think again. Beyond nostalgia, reunions are also a time of discovery and renewal.
On June 15–17, members of the class of 1957 will be renewing longtime friendships and reacquainting themselves with their alma mater at their 50th reunion. At the same time, alumni from the classes of 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2002 will be reconnecting across the miles to prepare for their upcoming Reunion Celebration, Oct. 12–14. Whether alumni are celebrating their 50th or fifth reunion, the weekends promise fun and fond new memories.
For the 50th reunion class, the festivities begin in grand style as alumni join the class of 2007 on June 15 at Ryan Field to participate in the University’s 149th annual Commencement. Another highlight is the 50th reunion party at the Glen View Club in Golf, Ill. Class members will also be inducted into the Half Century Club, joining alumni from previous classes at Norris University Center for a luncheon and foreign policy presentation by University President Henry S. Bienen.
Northwestern Athletic Hall of Famer Ken Kraft (SESP57, GSESP59), former Northwestern wrestling star and coach, retired senior associate athletic director and co-chair of the 50th reunion committee, says he anticipates his class’s reunion will be a happy mix of rediscovery and emotion. “If this reunion is anything like our 45th five years ago, there won’t be a dry eye in the room when we toast each other and start singing ‘To the Memories.’”
Reconnecting among the rest of this year’s reunion classes is already under way, and reunion committee co-chairs say they’re excited about the buzz that’s been building around the October Reunion Celebration. Alumni regent Fred Brown (WCAS62) says he’s in regular contact with Northwestern alumni in the Scottsdale, Ariz., area, but being a reunion co-chair gives him a head start on renewing contacts with Sigma Chi Fraternity brothers and other class of 1962 members in preparation for the 45th reunion party at Deering Library. “It’s like being in a time warp in a sense,” he says. “Sometimes it’s been many years since we’ve talked, but we connect immediately, like we’ve never been separated.”
Fortieth reunion co-chair, University trustee and San Diego resident Teresa Norton (J67) says the phone calls and e-mail messages have been going out from class reunion committee members “like a purple virus.” She’s encouraging her classmates to return to Evanston this fall to see the tremendous development that’s taken place in downtown Evanston and the lakeside area of campus that was under construction during their time as students.
Norris Center, built in 1972 on the lakeside campus, will serve as reunion central during Reunion Celebration. It will house many Friday activities, including the Gridiron Network Football Luncheon with Athletic Director Mark Murphy, Wildcat football coach Pat Fitzgerald (SESP97) — who will be celebrating his 10th reunion — and team captains; the Classes Without Quizzes presentations by faculty and alumni; and Bienen’s President’s Address. Campus tours will depart from Norris, and throughout the weekend special shuttles will transport reunion visitors from Norris to local hotels and other campus locations.
On Friday, alumni will enjoy the free Reunion Welcome and Cocktail Reception, the Homecoming pep rally at Cahn Auditorium and the parade on Sheridan Road. On Saturday, the fun continues with the All-Class Reunion Tailgate and Homecoming football game against Minnesota at Ryan Field and class parties in Evanston and Chicago.
Wildcat football brings back exciting memories for this year’s 10th reunion class, who were juniors during the 1996 Rose Bowl season.
For co-chairs Heather McConahey Shaffer (C97), Michael Shaffer (WCAS97, KSM03), Bethany Medford Frick (WCAS97) and Charles “Bill” Frick (WCAS97), personal memories of meeting their spouses as undergraduates add to their Northwestern experience.
“Bethany and I actually met when she bought me at a Dance Marathon date auction,” says Bill Frick. “She bought a date with me for $100, which was big money for a couple of sophomores in 1994.”
For some reunion alumni, waiting until October to see each other is too long. Michael Hoffman (WCAS72, G73), 35th reunion co-chair, has been reconnecting from New York City with committee members and classmates all over the country. He says some West Coast class members are already planning a get-together before the actual reunion. He adds that the class of 1972 gift goal, originally set at $400,000, has increased to $1 million in response to the level of current class interest and participation.
For more information about Reunion Celebration, please visit www.alumni.northwestern.edu/reunions.