Nearly 2,000 visitors descended upon campus this past weekend for ReUnion, the annual celebration of the College’s graduates.
Guests enjoyed a host of traditional activities such as the Alumni Parade, the fireworks display and the Gala Dinner.
There were also a number of special events, including the 200th anniversary of North and South Colleges and a display marking the 25th anniversary of the Steinmetz Symposium, which was created in 1991 to celebrate student research.
Among the highlights was the official dedication of Karp Hall on Saturday. Built in 1965, the former Humanities building – one of the most heavily-used academic spaces – recently underwent a transformative year-long renovation. Supported by a lead gift from the Karp Family Foundation, the building boasts 37 offices, 10 classrooms, a lobby, a faculty lounge and a cluster of student alcoves.
President Stephen C. Ainlay praised the family’s “admirable humility” for their initial reluctance in putting their name on the building.
“The fact that the Karp name will be part of our history going forward in this very conspicuous way is hugely important to the College and its well-being as we look off into the future,” Ainlay told an audience gathered outside the building, which reopened in January. “I’m so thankful not only for your generosity, but to put one’s name as the permanent association with a place is the ultimate vote of confidence in what that institution is about and what it’s trying to achieve.”
Home to nearly 40 faculty and staff members in the departments of English and Modern Languages and Literatures, Karp Hall is also an interdisciplinary hub of higher learning for the entire campus.
“Every day now, we get to come to work and feel the effects of the artwork, the color, the fabric and the flooring, the tables and the technology, on our sense of belonging, community and individual, and even spiritual health and well-being,” said Christine Henseler, professor of Spanish and chair of the Modern Languages Department.
“For our family, it was important that this building respect the past while embracing the future needs of our great students and faculty,” said Douglass Karp ’97, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees. “I’m here to say that we have achieved that goal today. We believe that our investment in Union is a great one and will inspire students for years to come.”
His sister, Jana Karp ’99, also spoke. Their parents, Jill and Stephen Karp, also attended.
Alumni convocation celebrated new board leadership, and a proposal to feminize the College’s motto and a status report on Union’s distinctive mission.
John E. Kelly III ’76 was elected Saturday as the next chair of the Board of Trustees, it was announced by Mark L. Walsh ’76, board chair. Kelly, senior vice president and director of research for IBM Corp., assumes the post July 1. He is the current vice chair of the board. David L. Henle ’75 was elected vice chair.
Student trustee Evan Leibovitz ’15 announced a proposed change to the College’s motto to add the French word for “sisters.”
The new motto would read:
Sous les lois de Minerve nous devenons tous freres et sœurs
(“Under the laws of Minerva, we all become brothers and sisters”)
“There is lots to be done before that is official,” Walsh said, “but I’ve done some research and it is worth noting that unlike many peer institutions, which typically did Latin mottos, Union College adopted a motto in French. It is an example of the innovation and sense of daring Union College has had since it was founded.”
Ainlay praised alumni for their part in Union’s success. “All of our success owes to the collective effort of all of us working together,” he said.
He cited an all-time high in Union’s endowment, nearly $440 million; an all-time high, nearly 6,000, in applications and early decision applications, and a record in the Annual Fund, which last year raised $4.5 million, more than double a decade ago.
He pledged that engineering, science and the liberal arts will forever be a vital part of Union College. He cited a recent study that found that a disproportionate number of MacArthur Fellows had come from places like Union that offer an “asynchronous experience that lends to a creativity not found in more traditional curricula.”
“The fact that we have engineering along with humanities and the arts, or physics alongside anthropology and economics, allows our students … to achieve a level of creativity that gives us a singular and enviable position in higher education.”
Also at convocation, the Alumni Council presented Alumni Gold Medals to David L. Henle ’75, president of DLH Capital; Richard Crookes ’65, who spent decades in financial management at GE; and Valerie J. Hoffman ’75, attorney and partner at Seyfarth Shaw. Cheryl Rockwood, head trainer and director of Student-Athlete Programming, received the Faculty Meritorious Service Award.
Alumni Engineering Gold Awards were presented to Richard K. Templeton ’80 (electrical engineering), Cregg Brown ’00 (computer systems engineering) and Brian D. Reh ’95 (mechanical engineering).
ReUnion gifts totaled more than $5.8 million, with the Class of 1940 reaching the highest total at more than $1.5 million.
The Class of 1965 received the Anable Cup for greatest number in the parade, the McClellan Cup for the highest class participation and the Class of 1943 ReUnion Award for overall effort. The Class of 1975 received the Van Voast/Class of 1941 Cup for best costume.
Visit the College's Facebook for a photo gallery from ReUnion.
ReUnion 2016 is scheduled for May 20-22, 2016.