This past weekend Union hosted alumni from various years as part of its yearly Alumni ReUnion weekend. A two-day event hosted alumni from the classes of 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2015.
The weekend highlighted what students achieved over the year. The SAE Baja team exhibited their car at the alumni picnic on Saturday. The car, made by Union students from scratch, is the first car of its kind to be made on campus and is expected to take part in a competition this coming fall.
As part of the ReUnion speaker series, Barry Newman ’67, Mathew Futterman ’91 and Joanna Stern ’06 talked about their time at the Wall Street Journal and discussed their experiences at the nation’s largest newspaper, highlighting the changing dynamics of journalism.
Newman joined the Wall Street Journal in 1970 after a few years as a copy boy and news clerk at the New York Times. In his 43 years at the Journal, he wrote more than 400 features for the front page from more than 65 countries and most states in the U.S. He won the Overseas Press Club’s award for explanatory journalism and the National Press Club’s award for humor writing. His stories have been collected in several books, including “East of the Equator.”
Futterman currently serves as the senior special writer for sports with the Wall Street Journal. He previously worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, where he was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for breaking news reporting.
His recent book, “Players,” chronicles the transformation of sports that brought athletes to the top of the financial pyramid in the span of a single generation.
Stern currently serves as a personal technology columnist at The Wall Street Journal. Her weekly columns emphasize smarter tech decisions. She has spent several years of the past decade on the gadget beat and has previously served as the technology editor at ABC News and a reviewer and editor at The Verge and Engadget.
Samantha Kruzshak ’19, an attendee, regarded the talk as “inspirational.” She noted, “Being a writer and interested in following a career in journalism myself, I was curious to hear success stories of our own alumni who ended up being prominent names in the world of journalism. One point that all three of the speakers highlighted was how they ended up being journalists without prior planning in college. That, I think, was useful information to all students attending the talk.” A current News Editor for the Concordiensis, Kruzshak ‘19 hopes to follow a career in journalism one day.
The Alumni Council also presented Alumni Gold Medals to James Taylor ’66, president and CEO of Taylor Made Group; Kelly Williams ’86, senior advisor to GCM Grosevnor; and John Sciortino ’81 (posthumously), founding partner of law firm Segar & Sciortino. Ann Fleming Brown, Director of Admissions, received the Faculty Meritorious Service Award as well. The event was held in Memorial Chapel.
Talking about his prior and current experiences, President Stephen C. Ainlay shared his thoughts about the weekend. He said, “ReUnion weekend is always a busy one for us as it also coincides with the May meeting of the Board of Trustees. I am always energized by the work of our volunteer Board and the love our alumni have for Union. Returning graduates all talked to me about the many ways in which our campus and community has improved and strengthened but they are quick to say they also feel the essence of Union has been preserved. The Alumni Convocation on Saturday morning captured the overall spirit of the weekend and the handshakes between the 50 years class (1966) and the graduating class of 2016 was particularly moving to me. I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend as much as Mrs. Ainlay and I did.”
Many alumni talked about their experiences while their time here at Union in retrospect. Erica Fugger ’12, who works in the Oral History Department at Columbia University, emphasized how she has matured over the years since her first arrival on campus. She also noted how there was a sense of accomplishment amongst both alumni and current students. Many other alumni highlighted the historical significance of the college for New York state as well.
Naomi Robbins ’76 shared her experiences of her time here at the college and said the most important things about her college experience were “the people she met and the ever-lasting connections she made.”
David Handler ’81 and Neil Rosenbaum ’81 noted that “Professor Stephen M. Berk’s Holocaust class was the best class they ever took at their time here at Union” and that they still talked to him on a regularly basis.
Professor Berk is the Henry and Sally Schaffer Professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies Director and also serves as the Director of Russian and Eastern European studies program.
Grace Cartwright ’16 and Dana Donati ’16 also shared their thoughts regarding the weekend. They said, “It was great to learn about previous union graduates’ experiences before, during and after college, and hear their thoughts on being back on campus. It was particularly special to interview these alumni towards the end of our senior year. It was bittersweet to hear them relive their college memories, and we were very appreciative to have had the opportunity to connect with more members of the Union family. It was also nice to have met alumni from the Class of ’66 because we were able to speak to them again during the Senior Handshake at the ReUnion Convocation on Saturday morning.”
On Saturday evening, an extravagant firework display was held in front of the Nott to celebrate the return of alumni on campus and to conclude Alumni ReUnion Weekend. The 30-minute long firework display was attended by current students, faculty, staff members and alumni from various years.