By Jill Spotz

Sunshine and blue skies mirrored the energy and excitement on Lafayette’s campus as nearly 1,000 alumni gathered May 31-June 2 for Reunion 2024. Alumni celebrating milestone years as well as classes ending in 4s and 9s returned to honor their common bonds. The weekend’s festivities featured more than 50 events including several new gatherings and receptions. Alumni had the opportunity to board a campus shuttle to sample Easton’s booming dining scene, stroll the nearby Karl Stirner Arts Trail, participate in informative classes hosted by faculty, share their favorite Lafayette memory, and more. Alumni also gathered for Reunion traditions such as singing the alma mater on the steps of Pardee Hall, participating in the parade, and dancing under the Quad tent.

Of the many new signature events, the First Women’s Tea, which took place on May 31, celebrated coeducation, honoring the first women to attend the College. Lafayette admitted its first class of women in fall 1970, with the first transfer students graduating in 1972 and 1973. This historic moment opened doors to a lifetime of possibility and change for women. 

“Coming back for reunions is always special. But the welcome home for my 50-year reunion was truly a spectacular, memorable experience,” said Rhoda Rothkopf ’74. “It was an honor to meet President Hurd at the lovely First Women’s Tea and go to her home for the 50-Plus Garden Party, where I reconnected with many classmates. I will forever cherish the beautiful First Women scarf designed to commemorate coeducation.”

During the event, 11 alumnae were presented with Trailblazer awards by Ernest Jeffries, vice president for inclusion, and President Nicole Farmer Hurd

“In 1970, the first women began their journey at Lafayette, but within that group was a group of Black women whose indomitable spirit, as the first Black women to walk the hallowed halls of Lafayette College, stands as a beacon of courage and resilience,” said Jeffries during his remarks. “The legacy of these extraordinary women is one of inspiration and hope. They paved the way for future cohorts of students from diverse backgrounds, making it possible for others to aspire, achieve, and contribute in spaces that once seemed unreachable.”

The honorees included:

Rhonda L. Anderson ’74
Darlyne Bailey ’74
Beverly J. Brown-Payne ’74
Deborah E. Holley ’74
Linda C. Jackson-Shaw ’74
Denise McCaskill ’74
Phyllis Wardrett Miller ’74
Alma R. Scott-Buczak ’74
Gail Daniels Williams ’74
Sheila Walker Peaco ’74 (posthumously)
Paula Stringer-Crane ’74 (posthumously)

A group of four alumnae are holding glass awards. They are smiling at the camera. Ernest Jeffries, vice president of inclusion is standing behind them.

Trailblazer award recipients Alma Scott-Buczak ’74, Linda Jackson-Shaw ’74, Rhonda Anderson ’74, and Beverly Brown-Payne ’74 are pictured with Ernest Jeffries, vice president for inclusion.

Simon Center for Economics and Business Hard-Hat Tour

A group of alumni view the new Simon Center for Economics during a tour at Reunion.

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

Alumni participated in a hard-hat tour to view the nearly complete William E. Simon Center for Economics and Business, which is located in the former Kunkel Hall. The Simon Center will open this fall and features multiple classrooms, collaboration spaces, student study spaces, faculty offices, a lab featuring Bloomberg terminals, and more.

“We have wanted to come back to campus for a number of years. We live in Kansas so this is only our second time back in 45 years,” said Fred ’79 and Wanda Eilts. “The campus is just spectacular. I can’t believe how much has changed. The College is really thriving. It is exciting to see the new construction. As an economics major, I was looking forward to seeing the new Simon Center for Economics and Business.”

Reunion Rally 

One of the many highlights of Reunion 2024 was the Reunion Rally, a new event that took place at Colton Chapel on June 1. Alumni ended the parade route in Colton, where members of the Class of 1974 were celebrated for their 50th reunion by entering the chapel to a standing ovation and to “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede. Alumni had the opportunity to hear College updates from the chair of the Board of Trustees, Robert E. Sell ’84 H’18, and Lafayette President Nicole Farmer Hurd

“No matter where life has taken you, you remain connected by the shared experiences and values instilled during your time here at Lafayette,” said Sell during the event. “Each of you is a testament to the power of education and the enduring spirit of Lafayette. From the moment you stepped foot on this campus, you were part of something special–a vibrant community bound together by friendship, laughter, and the occasional late-night cram session. And while your paths may have diverged after graduation, this weekend we all come together once again to celebrate what is so special about this place.”

Alumni philanthropy and volunteerism were also celebrated at the rally. Kim Verstandig, interim vice president of development and college relations, unveiled final giving totals for each reunion class to rising cheers from the crowd. Collectively, all reunion classes contributed more than $10.8 million to support the College this fiscal year. In addition, six volunteer awards were presented to the following individuals and groups:

Carol Tarsa ’78 – Hughes Correspondent Award
Kristin Anderson ’14 – Clifton P. Mayfield ’09 Outstanding Young Alumni Award
HelenBeth Vilcek ’79 – George T. Woodring 1919 Service Award
Leslie Ann Howard ’76 – George T. Woodring 1919 Volunteer of the Year Award
Brothers of Lafayette – Alumni Association Special Commendation
(Harrison Bailey ’95 and JoJo Herndon ’95 were present to accept the award on behalf of the group.)
David Stifel, Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics and department head – 
Daniel Golden Faculty Service Award

During the Rally, former Alumni Association Board (AAB) President Tracy Hagert Sutka ’82 P’17 congratulated Michael “Weissy” Weisburger ’82 on completing his tenure as AAB president before he handed the gavel to Fran Della Badia ’91 and officially welcomed her as the next president of the AAB.

“As we think about why we love Lafayette, a million things come to mind,” said Weisburger at the event. “Alumni, best friends made along the way, meeting my wife, Jenny ’82, impactful professors, and long-lasting memories from our Lafayette years are among a few that come to mind. Take some time this weekend to think about why you love Lafayette, enjoy each of those memories and perhaps create some new ones.”

New connections and rekindled memories were evident throughout campus during Reunion. Having graduated five years apart from one another, Karl Sivek ’79 and James Sumpter ’74 had never met before Reunion. A chance encounter on a bench outside Pardee Hall sparked a wonderful connection about their shared experiences at Lafayette.

Two alumni are sitting on a bench outside of Pardee Hall.

Karl Sivek ’79 and James Sumpter ’74

“I saw James sitting here and I wanted to congratulate him on his 50-year reunion,” explained Sivek. “We started talking about our time here as students and realized we had similar memories. I played football, James wrestled. This led to a great conversation about the terrific music performances that were on campus during our time, including Earth, Wind & Fire, cocktail parties, football games, and how much the campus has evolved.”

Returning to College Hill can be an emotional experience. This strong sense of community,  shared connections, and alumni support for Lafayette was evident throughout Reunion weekend. 

“As we get ready for a bicentennial in 2026, it is time to celebrate the accomplishments of this community and prepare for the next 200 years. Lafayette is a special place – it changes lives – and our alumni are a key part of amplifying our story and launching us to even greater heights,” said President Hurd.

Scenes from Reunion 2024 

View additional photos from Reunion on Flickr.

Watch the recap video. 

Watch the video of alumni sharing their favorite Lafayette memories.

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

Quoted on the Quad

Categorized in: Alumni, Class of 1974, Featured News, Giving News, News and Features, Social Hub

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