Reunion 2016, June 9-12, will likely approach last year’s record attendance of nearly 7,000 participants, and the Class of ’91 is looking to break the 25th reunion attendance record that has been held by the Class of ’59 for the past 32 years.
“For the past several years, the story of Cornell reunions has been about their magnitude,” said Lisa Bushlow ’91, director of class programs for Alumni Affairs and Development. About 500 activities are planned for the four-day event, including 20 exhibits, more than 100 receptions and another 100-plus meals, 18 talks, 50 tours and numerous special events and class forums. “We use almost every available space on campus, including housing, to make sure that everyone who attends has a great time,” she added.
Bushlow attributes the record turnouts to the efforts of the alumni volunteers who shape the itineraries and build peer excitement. The Class of ’41 is expected to break the previous 75th reunion attendance record of eight, with 10 alumni attending this year, including class chair Robert Mueller ’41. Nearly 20 alums will attend the Class of ’46’s 70th reunion; more than 50 alums are expected for the Class of ’51; and more than 100 alums for the Class of 56’s 60th reunion. High turnouts are also expected for the Class of ’66, celebrating its 50th reunion, and the Class of ’91, which expects more than 450 classmates to return to Cornell. The Class of 2011, celebrating its fifth reunion, hopes to welcome nearly 800 classmates to campus.
Additionally, many classes have exceeded their previous fundraising efforts, with some even setting new university records.
Bushlow noted that among those attending this year are Dr. Samuel Bender ’41, who turned 100 on March 10, celebrating his 75th Vet School reunion, and professor James White ’39, who will turn 100 in October, celebrating his 77th reunion.
Kicking off the festivities on Thursday, June 9, at 5:15 p.m. in the Statler Hotel, is “The Spirit of ’31: Passing It Forward” ceremony for the Classes of ’41, ’46, ’51, ’06 and 2011. Since 2011, this ceremony has connected the most senior reunion class with the class celebrating its first reunion. This year, the Class of ’41 will present the Class of 2011 with its first reunion banner, and Jean Pearson ’48 will receive the William “Bill” Vanneman ’31 Outstanding Class Leader Award.
Also on June 9, at 8:30 p.m., is the annual variety Savage Club Show at Alice Statler Auditorium, with classic jazz and swing, rock with classic jazz and swing, rock ’n’ roll, classical and pop vocals, magic and comedy for all. Tickets: $20.
Featured events include:
- The annual Reunion University Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving, Friday, June 10, at 1:30 p.m. in Sage Chapel, with a tribute this year to the late President Elizabeth Garrett.
- The Olin Lecture will feature Christopher G. Oechsli, CEO and president of Atlantic Philanthropies, the foundation created by Chuck Feeney ’56, in conversation with President Emeritus Frank H.T. Rhodes, June 10 at 3 p.m. in Bailey Hall.
- The Cornell University Chorus and Glee Club concert, June 10 at 9:15 p.m. in Bailey Hall. Tickets: $15.
- The annual Reunion 5K, Saturday, June 11, at 8 a.m. at the F.R. Newman Arboretum, Cornell Plantations. Open to alumni and guests of all ages, and the university and Ithaca communities. Pre-register: $15; after June 3: $20.
- Interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III will give the State of the University Address, June 11 at 10:30 a.m. in Bailey Hall.
- Dean Dan Huttenlocher will provide an update on academic programs and the growing Roosevelt Island campus at a Cornell Tech Talk, June 11 at 1 p.m. in Alice Statler Auditorium. His talk will be followed by a panel discussion with Cornell Tech master’s and doctoral program alumni.
- A family-friendly “Fun in the Sun” Festival, sponsored by the 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th and 30th reunion classes, June 11 at 1:30 p.m. on the Arts Quad, featuring Cornell’s raptors, Cornell Outdoor Education activities, Cornell Dairy ice cream and the Big Red Band.
- The family-friendly NY Dueling Pianos, June 11, Alice Statler Auditorium, 4 p.m.
- Tent parties on the Arts Quad, June 10 and 11, featuring Little Joe and the Big Shots, the Stan Colella Orchestra and Brownskin Band, Friday night, and the Destination, Karaoke Joe’s Video Karaoke and the country music of the Beadle Brothers, Saturday night.
- Cornelliana Night: Alumni of the Cornell University Chorus and Glee Club will perform songs celebrating Cornell, June 11 at 9:30 p.m. in Bailey Hall. Live-streamed at the David L. Call Alumni Auditorium, Kennedy Hall.
Numerous class forums, lectures and exhibits to meet a wide variety of interests are also scheduled, including an update on the new Cornell College of Business, June 11 at 4 p.m. in David L. Call Alumni Auditorium, Kennedy Hall.
“Cornell Reunions unite alumni from all over the world,” said Bushlow, “but this annual weekend also provides a unique opportunity for local alumni to reconnect with long-lost friends. Local alumni can purchase Reunion buttons for $50, granting them access to all featured events throughout the weekend.”