Cornell will celebrate Reunion 2018 June 7-10. Nearly 7,000 alumni, family members and friends are registered to attend, and organizers expect even more to fill the Ithaca campus for four days of events and activities. Through a full slate of Reunion traditions and new offerings, the weekend will offer a chance for Cornellians of all ages to connect with each other and with the university.
Reunion 2018 also offers plenty of opportunities to connect without coming back to Ithaca. Several events will be livestreamed, and alumni around the world are invited to run their own virtual 5K. Alumni and friends far away and those who make it to campus can share their Reunion 2018 social media posts with #CornellReunion.
Coming back and getting together
“Reunion provides a chance for alumni to come back to a place that was important to them – and still is,” said Lisa Bushlow ’91, director of class programs for Alumni Affairs and Development. “Reunion is a time to reunite with friends. It’s also an opportunity for alumni and their families to rediscover the Cornell they didn’t know.”
Reunion 2018 welcomes back undergraduate classes of 3s and 8s. One alumna from the Class of 1938 will return in honor of her 80th Reunion, while the Class of 2013 will make its first appearance at Reunion to celebrate its fifth. Cornell Law School, the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and the College of Veterinary Medicine will bring alumni back, as well.
Receptions, activities and tours throughout the weekend will give Reunion attendees opportunities to spend time with friends old and new, while the annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving in Sage Chapel will honor alumni, faculty, staff and students the Cornell community has lost.
“Good memories of times at Cornell are balanced by the realities of friends and classmates passing,” said Bushlow. “There is a time for reflecting at both this university-sponsored event and at class gatherings.”
This year, four of Cornell’s five diverse alumni associations – Cornell Asian Alumni Association (CAAA), Cornell Black Alumni Association (CBAA), Cornell Latino Alumni Association (CLAA) and Cornell University’s LGBT Alumni Association (CUGALA) – will hold Reunions. This is a step toward holding diverse reunions every three years, said Matt Carcella, director of diversity alumni programs.
“Lots of folks do double- or triple-duty reunions,” he said of those who affiliate with two or three diversity groups, plus their class years. “It also opens the door to a lot of collaborations.”
The diversity groups will hold a joint dinner in Barton Hall on Friday, June 8, with President Martha E. Pollack and Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life.
“The dinner will celebrate our commonalities and focus on the issues we’re facing regarding diversity and inclusion,” said Carcella.
This year’s coordinated diversity group reunions join the classes and Cornell’s colleges and units in bringing a wealth of programming to the Reunion 2018 schedule. Among other events, an Ivy Iron Chef Challenge, sponsored by CAAA, welcomes all to a heated competition in the Stocking Hall test kitchens. And CBAA, with the Class of 1973, is sponsoring a screening and discussion of the film “Agents of Change,” which chronicles black students’ activism at Cornell that led to the Willard Straight Hall occupation in 1969.
Classes also bring a range of thoughtful programs to the schedule, said Bushlow. The Class of 1983 has planned a forum, “A Lifetime Commitment to Public and Private Engagement – From Cornell’s Hill to Capitol Hill, and Beyond” – featuring four distinguished alumni discussing their lives of service. The Class of 1963 will present a symposium, “Cornell in the World: A Look Into the Future,” featuring faculty members.
For a physical challenge, the Class of 2008 is sponsoring Yoga on the Green on North Campus, an hour of yoga open to all Friday and Saturday morning.
Colleges and units have many discussions and lectures planned to showcase current research. At the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), the annual Liberty Hyde Bailey lecture, “The Buzz About Bees,” will focus on research on declining pollinator populations and what’s being done at the college to find solutions.
“Not only have we been on the front line trying to discover the causes of the problem, but we are working with beekeepers across the country to keep hives healthy,” said Scott Pesner ’87, director of engagement at CALS.
The College of Arts and Sciences has planned presentations featuring faculty members on current topics ranging from a planetary spacecraft mission to the history of Mexican immigration to the United States. Every college and unit will offer lectures, discussions, exhibits and tours.
“You can go through the Reunion schedule and come up with a deep, diverse smorgasbord of intellectual and entertaining opportunities,” said Bushlow. “There is something for everyone.”
Traditions, tried and true
No matter what is going on in the world or on the Cornell campuses, some things are always part of Reunion, said Bushlow. One of her favorite events takes place every year on the first evening of Reunion: The “Spirit of ’31 – Passing It Forward” ceremony, when members of the oldest class present members of the youngest with the Reunion banner – this year, emblazoned with “Class of 2013” – they will carry for many Reunions to come.
The Olin Lecture, a mainstay of Reunion weekend, features Justice Debra A. James ’75, J.D. ’78, who was elected to the New York State Supreme Court in 2013.
“My entire law career has been in public service, the past 23 years as a state court trial judge,” she said. “I want to address public service as a key part of the Cornell tradition.”
President Martha E. Pollack will make her annual Reunion appearance Saturday, June 9, in a conversation with Troy Anderson ’19 and Maiquela Richards ’18.
Then, near the end of four days of intellectual events, outdoor sports, receptions, dinners and tent parties, the most traditional of Cornell traditions, Cornelliana Night, will draw all the themes of Reunion 2018 together for an evening of music, memories and celebration.
“There is something about a whole room of red that allows us to pay tribute to Cornell’s traditions,” said Bushlow. “We get to recognize alumni who are gathered for reunions of all years, up to their 70th and 75th and 80th, and that’s magical.”
Kate Klein is a writer for Alumni Affairs and Development.