ReUnion 2014 hits all the right notes

Publication Date

It didn’t take long for Trustee Kelly Williams ’86 to understand how special the gift of a Steinway grand piano she and her husband, Andrew Forsyth, donated to the College.

“The light in her eyes, the smile on her face, when she talked to me about the piano was extraordinary,” Williams said of meeting with Diane McMullen, professor and chair of the Music Department. “The longevity of a gift like this and the number of people it touches…it’s really such a blessing to give this gift.”

The dedication of the remarkable instrument was one of the highlights at ReUnion, the annual celebration of the College’s graduates. More than 1,500 visitors were on campus this weekend to enjoy traditional activities such as the Alumni Parade, the fireworks display and the Gala Dinner.

It was chance for recent graduates Jeremy Fritzhand ’10 and older alumni like Len Humphrey ’49 to bask in their Union experience.

“It's good to see my old classmates, it's a big thing, seeing my old friends," said Humphrey, who attended with his daughter, Elizabeth Cornell. "And, I'm looking forward to showing Elizabeth the gardens."

This year’s Family Picnic and Kids Carnival also featured members of the NCAA Division I National Champion men’s hockey team, who greeted visitors and posed for pictures with the championship trophy.

ReUnion was also an opportunity for Drew Ivarson ’15 to showcase the value of Union education. Ivarson delighted the crowd in Memorial Chapel with a performance of Etude in A-flat major, Op. 25, No. 1, “Aeolian Harp” by Frederic Chopin on the new Steinway.

“That’s what this piano represents,” said President Stephen C. Ainlay. “This is the best of all possible spaces. This is the best of all possible instruments. And people like Drew are the best that one can hope for, students with remarkable talents. Without the support of Kelly and Andrew, none of this would be possible.”

On Friday, Engineering Alumni Awards were presented to alumni who are working as dynamic leaders and who show a commitment to their profession and community:

Thomas Welles (Gold Award – Electrical Engineering)
Carla Jimenez ‘04 (Silver Award - Electrical Engineering)
Andrew Vesey ‘78 (Gold Award – Mechanical Engineering)
Malysa Cheng ‘09 (Silver Award – Mechanical Engineering)
Daniel Feldman ‘99 (Gold Award - Computer Engineering)
Nickolas Potvin ’09 (Silver Award – Computer Engineering)

At Alumni Convocation, the Alumni Council presented Alumni Gold Medals to Dr. Donald Bentrovato ’69, a retired genitourinary surgeon; Robert Danziger ’89, managing director of Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.; and Dr. Seymour Thickman ’44, a physician who worked for the Veteran’s Administration Hospital at Fort McKenzie (Wyoming). Clifford Brown, the Robert Porter Patterson Professor of Government, received the Faculty Meritorious Service Award.

In his welcoming remarks at Convocation, Mark Walsh ’76, chairman of the Board of Trustees, told alumni gathered in Memorial Chapel:

“You truly are Union. Your generosity, your commitment, your outreach to prospective students … it all matters.”

Quoting the College motto, with an adjustment for co-education, Walsh concluded: “Sous les lois de Minerve nous devonons tous soeurs et frères.” (Under the laws of Minerva we are all sisters and brothers.)

Ainlay drew symbolism from members of the men’s hockey team who touch a sign before every game that reads simply, “Believe.”

“The genius of that team is that getting them all to believe in themselves is what made them successful,” Ainlay said. “And there’s a lesson in that for all of us.

“Union College is not about to arrive. Union College has arrived. Union College … offers something that is so distinctive, so special, that I will put it up against any other institution in the U.S. in terms of quality. We have to believe that as an institution.”

Visit the College's Facebook for a photo gallery from ReUnion.