Reunions turn back time
by Netta S. Eisler
When it came in the mail, you set it aside to think about later. Now, it's buried somewhere on your desk. But you know you can't put it off any longer--you have to make a decision now. So you dig through the accumulated bills, advertisements, and a letter telling you that you might have won $10 million, until you find it. It's the moment of truth. You hold it in your hand--the invitation to your class reunion at Virginia Tech.
What will you do? Is it worth making a trip to campus? And if you do go, how will you get the most out of a reunion weekend?
"Nobody should miss a class reunion," says Robin Willet Cormier '82 of Springfield, Va., who recently attended her 10-year reunion. "It's like turning back the hands of time." Cormier's friends are spread out all over the country, and class reunions give them a chance to get together and catch up on each other's lives. When you come to town, she advises, "take the opportunity to walk down old paths, take a campus tour to see what's new, then go to all the places that revive fond memories." To be sure she wouldn't miss out on seeing special friends, Cormier made formal plans to meet with them.
Michael Bealey '82 and his wife Jennifer Ross Bealey '80 took a more casual approach. They traveled from their home in Fairfax without any specific plans to meet anyone. "We mainly wanted to see what had changed and to visit some of our old hang-outs," Michael explains. While some of their favorite places--Greeks II, Top of the Stairs, Spanky's--can only be visited in memory, others, like the Hokie House, are still in business providing memories for today's students.
His 15-year reunion was the first Glenn Valentine had ever attended, even though he lives in Christiansburg and has worked at Virginia Tech since his graduation in 1977. Because he was out recruiting for the admissions office, Valentine missed previous reunions. Now an associate coordinator for academic enrichment at the university, he says it was good to "be able to wear sneakers and dress down, and to be on campus without having to worry about being on call." Valentine says he hopes to see more black reunions and is glad more undergraduate organizations are getting involved.
For Rob Pettus '82 of Richmond, seeing old friends was a highlight. "There were some people I hadn't seen in a long time," he says. He decided to come to his reunion because former classmates told him they were planning to attend. "It's a lot more fun if you have your own group to meet up with once you get to campus," he says.
Debra Zutz '82 of Richmond brought along her husband for her 10-year reunion in November. "If you're taking your husband to a reunion for the first time, warn him about what to expect," she advises. "Tell him to be prepared for a weekend in which his spouse is totally absorbed by Virginia Tech and old friends." Her husband, David Richardson, enjoyed the reunion, she says, even though he didn't know anybody before he came.
Although Zutz has brought her children to campus at various times, she has just one word of advice about bringing them to your reunion: Don't. "It's a great escape from the kids, from work, from your normal routine," she says. "Also, you want to be able to go just a little bit crazy, and having the kids along might drag you back to reality. Plus, it would be hard to enjoy all the special things set up for you if you have the kids in tow." For Zutz, one highlight was eating Carol Lee donuts. Another was seeing how much--or how little--people had changed since she last saw them. "Everyone basically looks the same, " she says, although some have a little less hair or a few more wrinkles. "But nobody really cares how you look, because we're all getting older."
Those who have attended reunions don't necessarily recommend going on a special diet, coloring your hair, or doing extra work-outs to prepare for the big day--although some say planning to hike at the Cascades might be a good motivation for getting in shape.
The most important thing, say members of the Tech reunion group, is to come expecting to have a good time and to be open to whatever the weekend brings. If old friends don't show up, you're sure to find plenty of potential new friends. Be flexible, and ready to change your plans if necessary. For example, last winter's reunion weekend turned bitterly cold, limiting outdoor activity. So instead of hiking mountain trails, most trod on other portions of memory lane. And most agreed it was a path they plan to walk down every chance they get in the future.
The Virginia Tech Alumni Association plans a reunion for each graduating class once every five years. The association mails announcements to class members with information concerning activities and accommodations. This fall, seven classes will hold reunions--'43, '48, '53, '58, '63, '68, and '73.
Reunion announcements were mailed to class members in April. Please call the Alumni Office at (703) 231-6285 if you need reunion registration material.
Fall reunions scheduled
September 25 (Tech vs. Bowling Green football game) The Class of 1973 will hold its fall reunion at the Blacksburg Marriott. Reunion chairman is Rocky Sorrell.
October 16 (Homecoming; Alumni Open House; Tech v. Maryland)
The Donaldson Brown Continuing Education Center will be headquarters for the Class of 1943 reunion, and the Blacksburg Marriott will be official headquarter for the Class of 1968. Joe Thomas Sr. and Ed Robertson are reunion co-chairmen for '43. Glenn Anderson is the '68 reunion chairman.
October 23 (Tech vs. Rutgers) The Class of 1953 reunion will be held at the Donaldson Brown Center for Continuing Education. Harold Hoback is the reunion chairman.
The Class of 1963 will hold a reunion at Mountain Lake Hotel; Joe Love is reunion chairman.
October 30 (Tech vs. East Carolina) Reunion headquarters for the Class of 1948 will be the Donaldson Brown Center, and John Scott is reunion chairman.
The Class of 1958 will hold its reunion at the Blacksburg Marriott, and Ray Powell is chairman.
Young Alumni Awards nominations sought
The Virginia Tech Alumni Association invites alumni to nominate candidates for two awards presented each year to outstanding young alumni. These awards recognize one woman and one man who are leaders in their professions and communities.
Alumni who have graduated in the past 10 years are eligible. For the 1993-94 awards, graduates of the classes of 1983 through 1992 will be considered.
Nominations, which are due by Aug. 15, should be mailed to Outstanding Young Alumni Awards, Virginia Tech Alumni Association, Alumni Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0102. Please include as much biographical information as possible about the person you are nominating.
Alumni Association receives award
The Virginia Tech Alumni Association was recently recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) as the Outstanding Alumni Relations Program in the Southeastern United States in 1993.
The CASE citation commended the association's board of directors and staff for a thorough assessment of its own alumni programs and for researching programs at peer institutions. In recent years, many new programs have been added, the number of alumni chapters has increased, and training programs and publications for volunteers have been enhanced.
The alumni association involves alumni in activities that help them learn more about the university and its achievements. Alumni are encouraged to help Virginia Tech by recruiting qualified students, by acquainting elected officials with the value of the university's programs to the commonwealth, by employing graduates or advising them in job searches, and by providing financial support.
Gifts from alumni designated for alumni programs have helped the association better serve the university and provide assistance to alumni, faculty, and students.
Virginia Tech Magazine Volume 15, Number 4 Summer 1993