The hill is alive: The sounds and sights of Reunion 2017

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After a dreary week of rain, nearly 2,400 Colgate alumni and friends brought sunshine to the Chenango Valley for a reunion weekend full of nostalgia. The energy was palpable and the smiles infectious as reuniongoers from the 2s and 7s revisited old stomping grounds — and visited with each other — on their beloved hill.

On Friday evening, alumni and guests gathered in Memorial Chapel for the Alumni Corporation’s annual awards ceremony. In his first remarks to a reunion crowd, President Brian W. Casey noted the longevity of the Colgate experience.

“Four years at Colgate do last forever,” he said. “It isn’t just the memories; it’s recognizing that — not only do these four years that you spend on this hill forever echo in your heart — but that there have been decades of associations with each other, when you thought your last day at Colgate had passed.”

Following the ceremony, a torchlight procession led alumni from the Academic Quad to Whitnall Field, where a bonfire and fireworks display kept the celebrations going into the night.

This year’s Reunion College showcased the diverse expertise and accomplishments of alumni and faculty. Topics included “Color Wars: How a Female Entrepreneur Set Out to Create Her Own Fashion Brand by Working for Her Competitors” with Alexandra Thompson ’02 (sponsored by the Colgate Professional Networks) and “A Conversation with Mark Murphy ’77: From Colgate to the NFL.” Alumni packed a Lawrence Hall classroom — some sat on the floor and others even in the hallway — to listen to political science professor Robert Kraynak discuss the recent surge of interest in America’s founding fathers, thanks to the popular musical Hamilton.

Also of note this weekend was the Colgate Thirteen 75th Reunion Concert, which featured a Saturday-evening performance by Thirteeners across the decades. The concert included a special memorial service for founding member Bill MacIntosh ’44, who passed away just two weeks before he could be honored for his contributions to a cappella at Colgate.

Two more anniversaries added to the weekend celebration: the 50th of men’s rugby and the 50th of the Class of 1967.

“This is my first time back on campus in 50 years,” said Richard Steinberg ’67. “It’s kind of like going back to the future. You discover that you really have a great deal of connection with people, and you see the future in the current students and the later classes.”

One group of alumnae was proud to say that they had never missed a five-year reunion since their graduation. Though the five of them come back for the camaraderie of reunion, their time at Colgate is special to them for another reason.

“We were part of the first incoming class that saw women in all four class years,” said Lauri Curtis Hadobas ’77. “Colgate is my happy place,” added Liz Buchbinder ’77. “It’s just one of the places I go, and I automatically become lighthearted.”

Two attendees set records for this year’s festivities. Howard Steel ’42 was the oldest alumnus in attendance by seven years, celebrating his 75th reunion, and Andrew Greene ’12 traversed the farthest distance to campus of any attendee — from Singapore to Hamilton.

Returning alumni weren’t the only ones who benefitted from reunion. Ben Hunt ’19 was surprised by the networking opportunities he encountered while working as a student volunteer during the weekend. “It’s great to see firsthand how successful alumni have been and to see them come back because of how much they love Colgate,” he said.

Regardless of life after graduation, it’s clear that Colgate alumni share one thing in common: an unwavering devotion to a place they can always call home.

“I loved this place from the day I got here until the day I left,” said Dennis Markusson ’62. “I still love it. We’re all back chasing time.”