By Jill Spotz

The smiles, energy, and enthusiasm on Lafayette’s campus was palpable June 2-4 as more than 700 alumni returned to celebrate Reunion. Alumni honoring milestone years as well as those classes ending in 3s and 8s returned to campus. There was something for everyone as more than 40 events were offered throughout the weekend. Alumni gathered for class socials, attended open houses and dedications, and participated in reunion traditions such as step singing, the parade, and dancing under the Quad tent.

Ken '63 and Maureen Tator hold an architectural rendering of the named entrance to McCartney North residence with President Nicole Hurd.

Ken ’63 and Maureen Tator with President Nicole Hurd at the Tator North dedication during Reunion.

The festivities kicked off with several events on Friday, including the dedication of Tator North at 211 McCartney Street. The McCartney Street housing complex, which comprises north and south residence halls, opened in August 2020. They have proven to be a popular choice among students. The College is in the process of constructing phase II of this capital project. The gift was made possible by Ken ’63 and Maureen Tator, who were on hand to celebrate the occasion. 

“We are so happy to be here, and appreciate that many of you are here to celebrate with us,” said Ken Tator at the dedication ceremony. “Maureen and I are happy to support Lafayette. As a former student, Lafayette provided me with wonderful opportunities that contributed to my success. I know many of you here today feel the same. I attended a graduate school in New York and actually like Lafayette much better!” The Tators also are supporting an endowed scholarship–the Kenneth B. ’63 and Maureen Tator Scholarship Fund for engineering students.

Dennis Vitrella '73 and Peter Thomas '73 smile at the camera

Dennis Vitrella ’73 and Peter Thomas ’73 enjoyed celebrating their 50th Reunion.

Additional events on Friday included a garden reception at the president’s house for alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago, the Alumni Association-sponsored dinner, and more. One of the original members of the Association of Black Collegians, Peter Thomas ’73 returned to campus for Reunion. Thomas majored in civil engineering and was one of 30 international students to attend Lafayette at the time. “I wore two hats. I was both a Black student and an international student,” explained Thomas. “Coming from Jamaica, I had very little knowledge of what life was going to be like in America and Lafayette.” Thomas spent a great deal of time at the original Portlock Black Cultural Center, and was looking forward to touring the new Center, which opened fall 2022.

Francine Della Badia ’91 was voted vice president of the Alumni Association at the Friday night dinner. Badia graduated with a degree in international affairs and French. She is president of AM Retail Group, which includes DKNY, Donna Karan, and Karl Lagerfeld Paris in its brand portfolio. Alumni Association President Michael Weisburger ’82 introduced Badia to attendees at the dinner and facilitated the approval of her position to a resounding, “Aye!” 

“Fran and I will be working closely together to do the hard work, and we want to encourage you to get involved,” said Weisburger at the dinner. “Coming home is a great step. So please come home often and stay engaged. We have a bicentennial coming up, and we want all of you to be part of that celebration with great pride wherever you may be. Thank you for being here. Cheers to Lafayette!” 

Other highlights included:

Coffee and Conversation with President Nicole Hurd

Alumni joined President Nicole Hurd and trustee Jonathan Ellis ’98, to learn more about the vision for the future of Lafayette. The conversation touched on student accomplishments, campus master plan, strategic plan, the arts, Gateway Career Center, and more. 

“I think an important part of the strategic plan and master plan is to think about not only honoring the history of Lafayette but the next chapter,” said President Hurd during the discussion. “This is all about inclusion. My biggest pledge to all of you is, I really want to hear from you. I want this to be an inclusive process.”

McCartney Phase II Groundbreaking

Robert E. Sell '84, board chair; Jada Peters '24, Andrew Miller, executive vice president, North Star Construction Management, Inc.; Audra Kahr, executive vice president, Finance & Business Administration; and Nicole Hurd, Lafayette president, broke ground for phase two of the McCartney Street housing complex during Reunion. The group is standing outside at the construction site.

Robert E. Sell ’84, board chair; Jada Peters ’24, Andrew Miller, executive vice president, North Star Construction Management, Inc.; Audra Kahr, executive vice president, Finance & Business Administration; and Nicole Hurd, Lafayette president, broke ground for phase two of the McCartney Street housing complex during Reunion.

Alumni attended a groundbreaking to kick off phase II of the McCartney Street Housing complex. The residential complex will accommodate 160 students and will offer retail space on the street level. This project is targeting LEED silver certification and is projected to be open for the fall 2024 semester. Rising senior Jada Peters ’24 spoke at the dedication about college housing facilities and how important they are to the campus experience for students. A student’s physical space, which offers not only a place for respite but an opportunity to embrace community, is one of the most influential aspects of a positive college experience.

Simon Center for Economics and Business tour 

A staff member shares information at a hard hat tour of the new Simon Center for Economics and Business

Lauren Daniels, senior development manager, Aegis Property Group, shares plans for the new William E. Simon Center for Economics and Business during a hard-hat tour.

Alumni participated in a hard-hat tour to view progress on the new William E. Simon Center for Economics and Business, which will be located in the former Kunkel Hall. Projected to open fall 2024, the new center will offer spaces for classes of multiple sizes, collaboration spaces, a library, seminar room, student study spaces, faculty offices, a lab featuring Bloomberg terminals, a data lab, and more.

Whether alumni were attending a class social, reconnecting under the Quad tent, or catching up, a common theme was prevalent. Adam Lemisch ’88 P’23 ’27 summed it up perfectly as he commented to a crowd on Saturday morning: “I want to thank President Hurd, the administration, and alumni for everything that they have done for these kids. Lafayette is the same school that it was when I was here, but it has also changed, and it’s changing for the better. It’s still home. And it will always be home.”

Scenes from Reunion 2023 

View additional photos from Reunion on Flikr.

To learn more about alumni events planned in your area, visit LeopardLink

Quoted on the Quad

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