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F&M Alumni Celebrate, Reminisce at Reunion Weekend

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  • Roy Lightner '42 proudly displays his class year during F&M's Reunion Class Parade on June 2. (Photo by Nick Gould)

They are stories of American history, society and culture. And for Franklin & Marshall College alumni, they are memories that have lasted a lifetime:

The civil rights movement.

The O.J. Simpson murder trial.

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Graduates of Franklin & Marshall recounted those events and many others in F&M’s Barshinger Center for Musical Arts on June 2 during the Alumni Celebration of F&M’s Reunion Weekend 2012, painting a picture of life at F&M across generations. Although the cost of tuition and gasoline has changed through the years, alumni said the education they received at F&M is the tie that binds.

“A common thread at the Alumni Celebration was that F&M taught us to think and that an F&M education is a gift,” said Amy Rose Francek ’97. “Alumni from all generations share this common thread, and it’s remarkable to see so many alumni come back and celebrate as a community.” Francek was on campus in a dual role as chair of the F&M Alumni Association and a member of the 15th reunion class.

The Alumni Celebration was one highlight of F&M’s Reunion Weekend, which took place under brilliant sunshine on June 2 and 3 following a stormy opening to the festivities—including a tornado warning—on June 1. Alumni from class years ending in “2” and “7” returned to campus and attended dinners, presentations and special events as they reconnected with classmates and learned about present-day life at their alma mater.

Images from events throughout the weekend are available in the Reunion Weekend gallery on Flickr.

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  • Franklin & Marshall College alumni dance to the sounds of the band Clockwork on Hartman Green during Reunion Weekend 2012's Party on the Green event June 2. (Photo by Nick Gould)

Dozens of events turned the campus into a beehive of activity throughout the weekend, from the traditional Reunion Class Parade, to lectures by F&M faculty members, to a dance party on Hartman Green. A series of alumni forums allowed guests to learn about the lives and careers of some of their classmates, including Gen. Richard Mills ’72; Robert Meier, M.D., ’62; Paula T. Dow, Esq., ’77; P. William Hutchinson, Ph.D., ’57; and Ron Sirak ’72.

The weekend also gave F&M graduates a chance to retrace the paths they walked as students. Changes to the physical campus sparked interest in many alumni, from the addition of the Barshinger Life Sciences & Philosophy Building (dedicated on the northern side of campus in 2008) to the renovation of Fackenthal Laboratories into the Patricia Harris Center for Business, Government & Public Policy (the project wrapped up in summer 2009).

Sitting on Hartman Green before his class dinner on June 2, Dave Abbott, M.D., ’67 reflected on a building that holds great meaning for him: Shadek-Fackenthal Library.

“Fackenthal Library, as it was called then, had a music listening room,” said Abbott, who celebrated his 45th Reunion. “In that room, I taught myself about classical music by listening to Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. It was a great experience to have this rich side to my education at F&M.”

Abbott, who said the most valuable thing he learned at F&M was how to write, also recounted the Kaufman scholarship that allowed him to attend the College. “If not for this school, maybe I wouldn’t have gone to college. Not only did I go to school, I went to an incredible one,” he said.

Individual class dinners highlighted the evening of June 2, bringing classmates and their families together in the living rooms of the College Houses and other locations on campus. Special guests, including F&M professors, athletic coaches and members of the professional staff, attended the dinners by invitation from the classes.

Alison Welski ’02, chair of the 2002 Reunion Committee, smiled as she looked around the room at her class dinner in Bonchek College House. Professor of Anthropology Misty Bastian and Professor of Economics Sean Flaherty ’73 were special guests at the dinner.

“It’s been wonderful to reconnect with Misty Bastian tonight,” said Welski, an anthropology major at F&M. “I remember giving a presentation in class the day she received tenure.”

The dinner gave Welski and others a chance to reflect on their time together at F&M, and their lives and careers today.

“Being chair of our reunion committee is like connecting the past to the future in one conversation,” Welski said. “Our classmates now have kids, and are productive members of society. It’s exciting to have everyone together.”

One feature of the weekend that allowed alumni to celebrate the ways in which their peers have contributed to society was through the presentation of awards that honored several alumni:

  • Sidney Dickstein, Esq., ’47 received the Nevonian Medal, presented annually to a member of the Nevonian Society who has demonstrated extraordinary and sustained dedication to the College.
  • Catherine Jasons, Esq., ’76 and Charles “Chiz” Patterson ’54, P’79 received the Alumni Medal, presented annually to an alumna or alumnus in recognition of sustained, distinguished and outstanding service to the College.
  • Trustee John F. Burness ’67, Paula T. Dow, Esq., ’77, James R. Stengel ’77 and Allan Tasman, M.D., ’69 received the Alumni Citation, presented annually to an alumna or alumnus who is distinguished in a particular profession, has provided dedicated leadership and service to the community and has established an exemplary record of accomplishment in a specific field of endeavor.
  • Jody Haller Drake, Esq., ’77 and Morris “Maury” L. Garten, Esq., ’89 received the Alumni Development Volunteer Award, which recognizes alumni who have excelled in raising funds and obtaining pledges for the College.
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