Events ranged from the fun – the 100th Alumni parade and a family picnic – to the serious – a presentation on the 40th anniversary of co-education at Union - when thousands of alumni and their families returned to campus this weekend for ReUnion.
The highlight of the annual celebration of the College’s graduates was the dedication Saturday afternoon of the Peter Irving Wold Center, a $22 million, three-story, 35,000-square-foot research and education facility.
The Center features state-of-the-art laboratories, electronic classrooms, an advanced computing lab, study spaces and faculty offices. The latest milestone in Union’s long history of integrating engineering with the traditional liberal arts and sciences, the center’s public spaces are designed to facilitate the free flow of people and ideas, to promote collaboration among disciplines and to blur distinctions between teaching and research.
The Center was made possible in large part due to a lead gift from John S. Wold ’38 and his wife, Jane. The Wolds have directed more than $14 million of their original $20 million You are Union Campaign commitment to be a catalyst for the project, which is named after John Wold’s father, Peter, who chaired Union’s Physics Department from 1920 to 1945.
Calling it a historic day for the College, Union President Stephen C. Ainlay said the building’s remarkable features reflected the type of learning atmosphere embraced by Peter Wold during the two-plus decades he spent on campus sharing his thirst for knowledge.
“When you walk into this building, imagine how Peter Irving Wold would feel about it,” Ainlay told an audience on Hull Plaza that included former Union presidents John Morris, Roger Hull and James Underwood. “He would be the first one to run through the door.”
In thanking the Wold family and a host of other donors for their generosity and commitment to the project, Ainlay said the College would use the gravitational pull of the Wold Center to “move Union to new heights.”
John Wold, a geologist and president of Wold Minerals Company in Casper, Wyo., said the opening of the Wold Center signified a new era at Union. He spent several minutes reflecting on his father’s life and the number of students he inspired while at Union. He recalled the words of one, Lee Davenport ’37, an accomplished physicist.
“Peter Wold was a remarkable man,” Davenport said of his mentor. “He was one of the kindest people I've ever met, and very inspirational.”
The official opening of the Wold Center means only "great things ahead for Union College," Wold said.
During the dedication, John E. Kelly III ’76, senior vice president and director of research at IBM, announced that the company is donating one of its Intelligent Cluster computing solutions to the College. When it is installed this summer, Union will have the greatest computing capability of any undergraduate liberal arts college in the nation.
“Union has always played an important role in the intersection of liberal arts and technology,” said Kelly, whose separate gift helped support the Kelly Advanced Computing Lab in the Wold Center.
"The world needs more liberally educated, tech-savvy people."
His travels for IBM take Kelly to some of the top colleges and universities around the world. Yet, said Kelly, a member of the College’s board of trustees, “none of those great universities do what Union does.”
A fireworks display on Hull Plaza was scheduled for Saturday night. ReUnion concludes with a Bon Voyage Brunch in Upper Class Dining Sunday and a service in Memorial Chapel.
“We are honored to welcome more than 2,000 alumni home to Union this weekend to celebrate many milestones in Union history," said Rhonda Engvold, assistant director of alumni relations. "Whether alumni have returned to campus many times or have not returned in many years, we hope they will have an opportunity to rekindle friendships and rediscover the beauty and growth of the Union College Campus of 2011.”
At Alumni Convocation on Saturday at Memorial Chapel, the College hosted a ceremony to present Alumni Gold Medals, the Faculty Meritorious Award, a special appreciation award, parade trophies and class gifts. The ceremony closed with the traditional Senior Handshake between the Class of 2011 and the 50th ReUnion Class, welcoming the senior class into the Alumni body.
The parade trophy results: The Class of 1961 captured three awards: The Anable Cup for the greatest number of classmates in the parade; The Van Voast/Class of 1941 Cup for best costume and The Class of 1943 ReUnion Award for overall effort. The McClellan Cup for the highest percentage of class attendees went to the Class of 1951. John Wold ’38 was honored for representing the oldest class year to appear in the parade.
On Friday at Beuth House the College honored outstanding engineering alumni at the Engineering Awards Reception.