Sun splashed through afternoon clouds June 4 as alumni, friends and families gathered on the campus lawns of Franklin & Marshall College to re-engage and reunite for Alumni Weekend.
"We reconnected with a girl that lived in my hall," said Jennifer Williams '06 of New Jersey, who was with her husband, Paul '06, and their 1-year-old daughter, Sophia.
They joined more than 1,000 alumni Saturday who lunched under the big tent on Hartman Green, mingled with President Daniel R. Porterfield at an afternoon reception, and dined and danced at the evening's Blue & White Bash in the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center.
All alumni were invited to attend the June 2-5 weekend along with those celebrating their 5th, 25th and 50th reunions – graduates from 2011, 1991 and 1966, respectively.
The weekend began a half-day earlier on Thursday afternoon for Alumni College presentations by faculty and alumni, but the main celebrations filled a busy Saturday, starting in the morning with Flapjack Fest on the Distler House patio and the Nevonian Society breakfast, where the Class of 1966, as with every class that celebrates its 50th reunion, was inducted into the society.
The Nevonian Medal was awarded to James Hoeschele '59 for his distinguished work as a chemist.
"F&M has played a huge role in my background development for basically every major move that I made as a postgraduate," Hoeschele said.
F&M mascots Ben and John rallied the reunion classes in front of Old Main before they led them on the Reunion Alumni March Through the Arch. The paraded ended at the Ann & Richard Barshinger Center for Musical Arts in Hensel Hall, where Porterfield welcomed alumni to the Alumni Celebration event.
"Even as you mark the anniversary of your graduation, anywhere from five to 65 years ago, Franklin & Marshall celebrates nearly 230 years as an iconic American institution," Porterfield said. "[T]hat national strength requires intellectual strength, that economic growth requires academic growth, that upward mobility requires equal educational opportunity, and that global peace requires the broad sharing of knowledge. These ideas are very American – and very F&M."
The President's Cup, awarded to the class with the most participants giving, went to the Class of 1966, whose 119 members gave $1.6 million to the College. From that amount the Franklin & Marshall Fund received $305,750. It was a record-breaking gift to the fund for a third consecutive year.
It was a big day for the class. Three of its members were Founders Medal recipients: Ronald Druker ’66 and trustees Bob Brooks ’66 and Tony Kreisel ’66.
"Now that's world domination," said Katie Rouff-Ward '99, board president of the Franklin & Marshall Alumni Association.
Alumni took a moment to reflect on Sydney Bridgett ’51, who recently died at 90. A Nevonian Medal winner, Bridgett was the second African-American student to graduate F&M and a founding member of F&M’s African-American Alumni Council. In 2012, Porterfield and Tony Ross '91 developed the Sydney Bridgett ’51 Award.
"He was just a calm, quiet presence of strength for the African-American students," Ross said.