Union pride takes center stage at Homecoming and Family Weekend

Publication Date

Union’s Homecoming and Family Weekend traces its origins to 1923, when it hosted a mid-year alumni gathering called College Day to coincide with the football game against Hobart. Renamed Homecoming in 1946, the event has grown over the decades to include a potpourri of athletic contests and other events, from pumpkin carving to class visits to trivia contests.

This year, a steady downpour forced organizers to cancel or shift a few events Saturday, but more than 2,000 visitors turned out to participate in activities geared toward parents, students and alumni.

Among the highlights was the dedication of the Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts. The 37,000-square-foot building recently reopened following a major year-long renovation. The project was supported in part by an $11 million gift from the Feigenbaum Foundation.

The foundation was created by the late brothers Armand V. Feigenbaum ’42 and Donald S. Feigenbaum ‘46, longtime benefactors to Union.

Home to art history and studio arts programs (drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture and digital art), the center completes a vibrant arts corridor on the College’s historic campus.

“This is a building that represents everything that makes Union special - innovation, creativity and a deep understanding of the world that surrounds us,” said John E. Kelly III ’76, chair of the board of trustees.

Acknowledged world leaders in systems engineering and total quality control, the Feigenbaum brothers founded General Systems Co., the Pittsfield, Mass.-based international systems engineering firm that designs and helps implement operational systems for corporations and governments worldwide.

President Stephen C. Ainlay reminded the audience at the dedication of how much Armand and Donald appreciated the value of convergence learned at Union, blending traditional science and engineering with the liberal arts.
“This was them,” Ainlay said of what the Visual Arts center’s expanded opportunities now offer. “This is exactly what they meant to be able to understand the world. I hope this building stands as a beacon for the Feigenbaum brothers, but also how important the visual arts are in the curriculum of Union College.”

Highlights of the renovation include a three-story addition featuring a sculpture and design studio for metalworking alongside an outdoor sculpture space, an expanded public gallery, a traditional darkroom, a drawing/2D design studio, a 3D design studio, media lab and a suite of working artists’ studios.

David Ogawa, associate professor and chair of the Visual Arts Department, said the renovation culminates more than a century of work to integrate the arts fully into Union’s curriculum.

“I’d like to think of this as the new epicenter between the academic and the cultural life of campus,” he said.

In explaining the genesis of the gift, Emil J. George, president of the Feigenbaum Foundation, said simply: “Armand and Donald loved Union College.”

A number of alumni were honored over the weekend, including Gerald Ente ’51, who received the Distinguished Service Award for his steadfast commitment and strong leadership; Jennifer Brandwein ’91, who received the Alumni Special Appreciation Award for her service and unwavering loyalty to the College; and Tess Skoller ’13, who received the Alumni Rising Star Award for exemplary volunteerism and enthusiastic dedication to Union. The club award went to the D.C. Alumni Club for its holiday party.

“Despite the weather, it was a memorable weekend for our guests,” said Marna Redding, director of Alumni and Parent Engagement. “Homecoming is a special time, and we look forward to welcoming our alumni, friends and family back to Union.”

Homecoming and Family Weekend 2017 is set for Oct. 27-29.