Reunion '14: Record Breaking Numbers of Alumni Return to Campus
June 9, 2014
The rain clouds that dotted the Vermont sky on Friday afternoon seemed to vanish with the arrival of Middlebury alumni, friends, and family for Reunion Weekend. A record number of visitors – totaling nearly 2,000 – walked the sunny sidewalks from Gifford to Twilight Hall, and into town.
Saturday morning started with a bang – a literal bang – as runners young and old rushed over the starting line of a 5K Fun Run on the College’s cross-country trail. Across campus, the veterans gathering welcomed alumni who had served in the nation’s armed forces, and honored those who had given their lives in service to their country.
Wilson Hall (formerly known as McCullough Social Space) was a major center of activity, welcoming returning members of the Middlebury Community to attend a host of presentations including the Alumni Achievement Presentations. President Ron Liebowitz engaged alumni in a conversation about the future of the institution, and answered questions regarding the College’s efforts in the liberal arts, its work toward carbon neutrality, and its greatest challenges in the face of a rapidly changing view of higher education.
Many classes, excited at the prospect of once again sharing their thoughts and work with their classmates, arranged their own outings, including a 50th-reunion outing to Texas Falls and a “mini-Moth” storytelling session that was held by the Class of 1979.
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Alumni interested in learning more about the ongoing presidential search attended an information session on the process, while others explored the many changes on campus, including tours of both Solar Decathlon houses. Faculty and alumni writers shared their words and voices in a reading hosted by the New England Review.
Under the shade of Old Chapel lawn, guests dug into servings of Ben and Jerry’s while children donned balloon hats and played tag with newfound friends. Student reunion hosts soon joined the celebration to lead the traditional reunion parade to Mead Chapel for Convocation.
Looking up the hill toward the iconic steeple, a member of the 50th-reunion class smiled, “It’s still beautiful. When I first got here, I still wasn’t sure I’d made the right choice, but I remember thinking: ‘Well, it sure is beautiful.’” After a pause, he was quick to add: “I made the right choice, by the way.”
Canes in hand, the procession was a joyous affair that ended in hoots and hollers resounding through the sanctuary as members of the 50th-reunion class took their seats. President Liebowitz then escorted Gertrude Hewitt Lathrop ’34 who had returned to campus to celebrate her 80th reunion, up the center aisle. Tears in her eyes and a smile on her face, she waved to the crowd of her fellow Middlebury graduates, who rose to their feet in a standing ovation.
Each class recalled the events – great and small – that marked their years as students, causing equal parts laughter and solemn nods. “We are lucky to have an alumni body that gives back so freely,” President Liebowitz remarked. “Thank you for keeping and strengthening the ties that connect you to one another.”
A spirited rendition of the Middlebury alma mater led to the conclusion of Convocation – and the beginning of an evening filled with good food, even better company, and a stunning fireworks display.
Story by Sarah Tompkins, Reunion photography by Todd Balfour, Jennifer Kiewit, May Mantell, and Teddy Anderson 13.5