Reunion 2019: a time to treasure Cornell

By: Linda Copman,  Cornell Chronicle
Wed, 05/29/2019

Just two weeks after classes end and students disperse for the summer, alumni and their families will return to campus for Reunion 2019. This year’s event – from Thursday, June 6, through Sunday, June 9 – is on track to set a new record for attendance, with more than 7,000 alumni and their guests registered.

Alumni from class years ending in 4s and 9 – who’ll be celebrating their fifth through their 75th reunions – will converge on the Ithaca campus for four days of inspiring conversations, learning opportunities, music, art and social gatherings. This year’s Reunion schedule includes signature events with world-renowned scholars and the chance to spend time with fellow Cornell alumni. The registrants – some of whom are children of alumni– span more than 90 years in age.

“Reunion is the one time each year when thousands of diverse Cornell alumni and their families and friends gather – to live on campus, celebrate and learn together,” said Lisa Bushlow ’91, senior director of class and reunion programs in the Division of Alumni Affairs and Development.

Inspiring conversations

Bushlow hopes that, with 393 events to choose from, this year’s Reunion will offer many opportunities for alumni and students to engage in intergenerational conversations. “To me, Reunion is about bringing together a very diverse group of people so that they can learn from one another,” she said.

On June 7, members of the classes of 1969, 1974 and 2014 will discuss their experiences as student activists, following a screening of “Agents of Change,” a film about the ’69 Willard Straight Hall occupation. On June 8, President Martha E. Pollack will convene a conversation with current students to share what inspires them about Cornell and to reflect on the challenges they face. Both of these events are open to the entire Cornell community.

At Reunion, alumni come together to share long-standing Cornell traditions. Reunion planners hope that by the time they leave, attendees will also have a deeper appreciation for one another’s differences, as Cornellians spanning continents and generations. “Reunion is a great place for Cornellians to build community,” said Michelle J. Vaeth ’98, associate vice president for alumni affairs.

Learning opportunities

This year’s Liberty Hyde Bailey Lecture will highlight some of the state’s burgeoning agriculture-based industries. “Beer, Wine and Hard Cider: How CALS Is Helping Grow Business for New York Entrepreneurs and Farmers” is June 7 in Call Auditorium.

Later that day, the Olin Lecture features former National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley ’69. Hadley will join in a conversation with former U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., director of Cornell’s new Institute of Politics and Global Affairs.

Both of these lectures will be livestreamed and posted to live.alumni.cornell.edu/.

Also on June 7, a panel of Law School professors – including Stephen Yale-Loehr ’77, J.D. ’81 – will join Jordan Calazan Manalastas, J.D. ’15, staff attorney at the Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic, to unpack the implications of immigration changes under the Trump administration and what Cornell Law faculty, students and alumni are doing in response.

On June 8, a panel of faculty and alumni – including Rafe Pomerance ’68, chairman of Arctic 21 – will consider the challenges of climate change and opportunities for innovative responses.

Reunion attendees can choose from a full menu of talks, panel discussions and interactive sessions ranging from building a bee “hotel” in the Makerspace at Mann Library to gleaning entrepreneurial advice at “Startup Sages: Experienced Entrepreneurs Share Tips with Future Founders” at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Music, art and fun

The Cornell Glee Club marks its 150th anniversary this year, and more than 300 Glee Club alumni are registered for Reunion. Friday night’s Chorus and Glee Club concert, directed by Scott Tucker and Robert Isaacs, is a tribute to former Glee Club director Thomas Sokol, who died in April.

At Saturday’s Cornelliana Night, the singers will fill the Bailey Hall stage and overflow into the audience. This popular event will again feature favorite Cornell songs, with the audience encouraged to sing along. New this year, tickets will be required for both of these events and can be picked up at the Statler Hall Tsai Family Atrium until they are gone.

Peter Yarrow ’59 – of the legendary folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary – will return to campus for his 60th Reunion. Yarrow, who will turn 81 years old May 31, will perform a free concert June 7 at 11 a.m. in Call Auditorium.

Reunion also features “tons and tons” of exhibits, Bushlow said. Alumni can view “Revolution and Restraint: Reconstructing Masculinity Through Menswear” at the College of Human Ecology, or take in the “Wall of Birds” mural at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. On June 8, the Class of 1969 will dedicate a new outdoor sculpture in the Cornell Botanic Gardens. The installation “Double Allium” is more than 11 feet tall and 11 feet wide, with a steel stalk and glass flower heads.

This story also appeared in the Cornell Chroinicle.