Over 6,000 Stanford alumni returned to campus this past weekend to celebrate their fifth through 70th class reunions.
Nearly 10,000 individuals, including alumni and their guests, gathered Thursday to reacquaint themselves with former classmates and developments on campus. After commencing with a formal dinner on the Quad Thursday evening, this year’s Homecoming featured alumni traditions such as class panels and the sixth annual Roundtable discussion, themed this year on education.
The weekend also incorporated new events such as a singles’ mixer and an “Amazing Race” scavenger hunt for alums with kids. Special guests and honorees included Susan Rice ’86, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Cory Booker B.A. ’91 M.S. ’92, mayor of Newark, N.J.
“The mission of the Alumni Association is to serve and engage all the alumni in an attempt to create lifelong intellectual and emotional connections between the University and its graduates,” said Howard Wolf ’80, president of the Stanford Alumni Association. “Nothing comes close to doing that better than Reunion Homecoming. It nourishes them both intellectually and emotionally. It’s just a wonderful way to reconnect with each other and the institution.”
Reunion Homecoming attracted a range of guests, from months-old babies traveling with their parents to alums celebrating their 77th reunions, such as Marcus Krupp ’34. Returnees came from 37 states and countries such as Australia, Singapore and Peru.
“I just look forward to reconnecting with old friends, reacquainting myself and just enjoying Stanford as a significant part of my life once again,” said Ben Stolpa ’66.
Alumni found a vareity of the 400 events to be worthwhile.
“I’ll never miss the Saturday morning Roundtable…whatever the topic, I [am] just flabbergasted by some of the issues I hadn’t even thought about,” Stolpa said.
Valerie Seymour ’01, M.S. ’03 cited “the class parties, for sure, and some of the classes without quizzes, maybe.”
Meanwhile, Hilary Link ’91 highlighted Saturday’s football game against the University of Washington.
Saturday night’s game against Washington drew over 4,500 alumni, seated together by class.
“The classes of ’66 to ’86 are in the northwest corner, and the classes of ’91 to ’06 are in the southeast corner,” said Richard Muschell, assistant director of athletics and director of ticket sales. “It carves out about a quarter of the [general] seating, the older classes.”
An estimated 9,000 people attended the tailgates on Saturday, according to Leslie Winick, director of alumni class outreach and one of the architects of Homecoming Reunion. “And you will see two people who haven’t seen each other in five or 15 or 40 years, and they’ll go running towards each other screaming, ‘I know you; you know me!’ even though they haven’t seen each other in 20 years. It’s my favorite thing.”
Each Homecoming Reunion operation takes a full year to plan and relies upon hundreds of people.
“We have a team of 30 people who work on this all year long, an extended team of 400 staff across campus who volunteer: faculty, staff, athletics, ethnic community centers–there are so many partnerships,” Winick said. “The secret is that we all move in the same direction. It’s about connecting [the alumni] back to each other. I see people who are celebrating their 70th reunion, and they’re still talking about when they were freshmen. It’s amazing.”
“I’m most proud that there is momentum,” she said. “The fifth, 10th, 15th and 20th reunions [are] growing every year. Even with Facebook, people are coming across the country, leaving early from their jobs and coming to Stanford.”
Wolf commented on what continues to draw years “of Stanford history” back to the Farm.
“We all have something in common,” he said. “We’re all a part of Stanford, and we always will be.”