In the time leading up to the dedication of Lippman Hall in his honor Saturday, Robert Lippman ’50 said people asked him if he had thought about what he might say.
Not really, he would reply. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to share his affection for Union and the impact the College has had on several generations of Lippmans. His main concern was that he had too much to say about his alma mater.
As he looked out at the dozens of alumni, family and friends who came to celebrate the recently completed renovations of the building that now bears his name, Lippman summed up his feelings for Union in four words.
“I love this place,” said Lippman, who retired as director of marketing for Campus Sportswear.
On a brisk, overcast afternoon, the College formally dedicated Lippman Hall as part of Homecoming and Family Weekend.
A $3 million gift from Robert’s son, Jim Lippman ’79 and his wife, Linda, supported a major renovation of the former Social Sciences building, which opened in 1967. The couple has three children: Alexandra, Matthew ’13 and Daniel. Other Lippmans who are members of the Union family are Jim’s brother, Donald ’82, who majored in history and his niece, Meredith Lippman ’09.
Jim Lippman said the day belonged not only to his father, but to his mother, Barbara, as well. When he was eight, Jim said he remembered tagging along with his father to his 15th reunion at the College and realized how special Union was.
“I knew right then where I wanted to go to college,” said Lippman, the chair and CEO of JRK Property Holdings, a Los Angeles-based commercial real estate firm he founded in 1992. The company has 1,500 employees and manages a portfolio valued at more than $5 billion, with over $450 million in annual revenues.
He spoke of the special relationships forged between faculty and students and his expectation that Lippman Hall will build upon that tradition.
For Aleena Paul ’12, the tradition does, indeed, continue.
“It is in this space that I learned to think critically, to write eloquently and to question the very make up of our societies,” she said. “Lippman Hall has a unique personality that reflects the intellectual pursuits of its students and faculty; its openness and warmth speak to the interdisciplinary nature of the social sciences.”
President Stephen C. Ainlay said Union is “deeply indebted to the Lippmans for their generosity. This family understands the importance of giving back.” He noted the deep friendships the Lippmans formed on campus that continue to this day.
Lippman Hall is home to the departments of Economics, Sociology, Political Science and History. The building features seven modern classrooms, an airy and open entryway, a new first-floor study room, spaces for student/faculty interaction and two specially designed seminar rooms fully equipped with presentation hardware and software. It also contains updated faculty offices.
The dedication of Lippman Hall came as the College celebrated Homecoming and Family Weekend. More than 2,000 people attended this year’s event.
“Homecoming is a special time at Union College,” said Tammy Messercola, director of Alumni Relations. “This year, we are excited to showcase our newest campus additions, the Wold Building and Lippman Hall. The weekend is filled with events for everyone, and we’re happy to welcome more than 2,000 alumni, family and friends to campus.”
The 50th anniversary of Schaffer Library was celebrated throughout the weekend with “Mrs. Perkins’ Union College”, a guided campus tour based on the recent gift to Union of more than 700 letters written between 1896 and 1904 by beloved campus figure Anne Dunbar Potts Perkins. The wife of Chemistry Professor Maurice Perkins, she established Mrs. Perkins’ Garden.
An ongoing exhibit, “Union’s Library: A Home of its Own,” in the Thelma and Kenneth Lally Reading Room, was also open to visitors. The exhibit features a collection of historic photographs, rare books and manuscripts dating to the College’s founding in 1795. Also on display was a print from one of the library’s most prized possessions, John James Audubon’s “Birds of America.”
Another highlight of the weekend was the football team's 38-28 win over RPI in the annual Dutchman Shoes trophy game. Union now leads the oldest collegiate football rivalry in New York State, 80-25-4, and has won 46 of the 62 times the trophy has been presented since the first time in 1950.
Other highlights included an alumni symposium, “Representing and Creating the Human Body.” The two-day symposium engaged aesthetic, ethical and anthropological issues and controversies related to the human body.