Tag Archives: Reunions

Essay: Making a Comeback

Illustration by Ron Barrett

Illustration by Ron Barrett

Amir Parsa ’90 is associate professor and director of academic transdisciplinary initiatives at Pratt Institute. (Photo: Janett Parra)

Amir Parsa ’90 is associate professor and director of academic transdisciplinary initiatives at Pratt Institute.
(Photo: Janett Parra)

By Amir Parsa ’90

My 24th reunion turned out to be my first. I had not planned it so. Not senior year. Not after missing the first, the fifth, or even the 10th. As the years went by, though, a weekend at Reunions began to take on all the weight I’ve come to associate with all sorts of “returns.”

Ever since I can remember, the concept of The Return (capital T and R) has been central to my existence. I emigrated from Iran around the time of the 1979 Revolution, and at gatherings with other Iranians those first years, most conversations focused on returning. All along, the expatriates and the new exiles would profess: “Things will change, and we’ll go back.” That was the anthem. This glorious return, though, was endlessly delayed. Two months turned into two years, then 20. New lives. Settling in the suburbs of America. Children. Grandchildren, even.

What was deeply taking root in me, too, I realized, was the feeling that any return became saddled with anxiety and excessive philosophizing. Any return prompted extensive deliberation and soul-searching. Princeton Reunions would not be spared. Continue reading

The Princetoniana Committee: Keepers of Traditions Old and New

ptoniana-jacketsIf you’ve ever noticed the quotations rendered in large block letters on the walls of Frist Campus Center, watched a freshman Pre-rade and Step Sing, or viewed the Reunion and beer jacket exhibits in Maclean House, then you’ve experienced the handiwork of the Princetoniana Committee.

“The Princetoniana Committee is focused around the history and traditions of Princeton, familiarizing people with those and constructing traditions as they go along,” said former committee chair Gregg Lange ’70. “One reason we do that … is to give people a sense of belonging, a sense of import, and a sense of context to what they’re doing and why.”

More than archivists, members of the Princetoniana Committee are actively contributing to the University’s traditions. Just 11 years ago, the committee inaugurated the Pre-rade as a way to welcome freshmen to the Princeton community. A few years later, the committee added a Step Sing on the steps of Blair Arch after the Pre-rade as a way to ensure that freshmen knew the words to “Old Nassau.”

According to current chair Sev Onyshkevych ’83, the Princetoniana Committee was founded in 1981 after the death of Frederic Fox ’39, who was the University’s recording secretary for 17 years and earned the title “Keeper of Princetoniana.” Fox’s classmate Hugh (“Bud”) Wynne established the committee under the Alumni Council as a way to continue Fox’s work in preserving Princeton traditions.

“What one person did, we now have a committee of 40 doing,” Onyshkevych said. Continue reading

Q&A: Mibs Southerland Mara, the Guru of Reunions

Mibs Southerland Mara (Kaitlin Lutz)

Mibs Southerland Mara (Kaitlin Lutz)

As associate director for Reunions, Mibs Southerland Mara is an authority on the University’s signature event. Coordinating University staff and alumni volunteers, she often begins working with major-reunion classes two years before their celebrations. Mara grew up within walking distance of campus and worked in secondary-school administration before joining the Office of Alumni Affairs in 2005 — making this her 10th Reunions.

You are k’26. Did you go to Reunions as a child?

My grandfather was Class of 1926, and growing up in Princeton, I always looked forward to Reunions, especially the P-rade. One of my favorite photos (below) is from 1966, when my grandfather carried me in the P-rade. Seeing the Clydesdale horses clomp down Prospect Street was always a highlight.

How has Reunions changed in the past 10 years?

I started working in the Office of Alumni Affairs in 2005, and Reunions have definitely changed since. There has been significant growth in attendance and events for Reunions weekend. We are always trying to enhance the Reunions experience — from adding water stations and portable restrooms along the P-rade route to adding food trucks on campus last year. We rolled out Reunions Mobile in 2009, and last year we introduced Reunions Rover — a student-driven golf-cart service for people with mobility issues. And there is the Battle of the Bands Friday afternoon. Continue reading

A century after their debut, beer jackets are still in style

An array of post-World War II beer jackets, circa 1950. (Princeton University Archives)
The following is an excerpt from the 2012 PAW Reunions Guide. To download a PDF of the full guide, click here.
One spring day, a group of seniors from the Class of 1912 were drinking beers around a table at the old Nassau Inn. The more they drank, the more foam spilled out of the sides of their mugs — and the more stains they got on their clothes. One member of the tipsy crew had a novel idea: What if they could design something to wear that was expressly for drinking beer? And with this idea, the beer jacket was born.
The beer jacket celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, though in fact it didn’t start out as just a jacket. The 1912 crew decided to don full suits — denim overalls with a workman’s jacket — when it came time to guzzle their favorite brews. Denim was phased out in 1914 when members of the senior class decided to make their suits in white canvas instead, which would remain the fabric of choice until recent years. After World War II, the beer suit was downsized to just a jacket, without overalls, to accommodate the seniors who still were wearing military attire.
When the Class of 2012 debuts its jackets at the P-rade this year, it will join 100 years of Princeton alumni who have worn their jackets not only as a way to protect their clothes from spills, but as a means of identifying and uniting the senior class. As Michael Jimenez ’12, the designer of this year’s jacket, puts it: “The jackets add a resounding sense of camaraderie.”
The jacket of each class carries a distinctive logo, which comes to serve as the unofficial emblem of the class. The designs, which originally were stenciled on the back shoulder of the jacket, often reference events from campus or national news that affects the graduating class. The black armbands on the Class of 1920 jacket, for instance, mourned the disappearance of beer drinking due to Prohibition, while the ’26 jacket celebrated the class’s narrow escape from the University ban of automobiles on campus.

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Princeton Reunions Guide 2012 – Download the PDF

Click image to download a PDF of the 2012 Reunions Guide.
PAW’s 2012 Reunions Guide celebrates a century of beer jackets and covers the plans for this year’s major-reunion classes, from ’47 to ’07. Read an interview with author Liza Mundy ’82, browse the menu of on-campus exhibits and performances, and “clear the track” with a special crossword puzzle by Graham Meyer ’01.
Look for the Reunions Guide at headquarters sites on campus or download a tablet-friendly version by clicking the cover image at right.

Princeton Reunions photos: Reader submissions, part III

After the July 6 Reunions and Commencement issue reached mailboxes, PAW readers began sending a second batch of photos from reunion events. Below is our third gallery of reader photos, selected from the recent arrivals. Click the images for a larger view of the photos, as well as captions and credits. The larger photos also can be viewed as a slide show; advance to the next photo by clicking on the right side of the image.

Click here to see all of the Reunions 2011 photos posted on The Weekly Blog, and visit our Web bonus slide shows and videos at PAW Online.

Princeton Reunions photos: More reader submissions

Since Reunions, PAW readers have passed along some of their photos from the weekend. Below is another gallery of our favorites. Click the images for a larger view of the photos, as well as captions and credits. The larger photos also can be viewed as a slide show; advance to the next photo by clicking on the right side of the image.
Keep sending your short video clips and must-see pictures from Reunions to pawvideo@princeton.edu. Alumni photos may appear in the July 7 issue of PAW or at PAW Online.
See more reader photos on PAW’s Facebook page.

Princeton Reunions photos: Never an off year

Photographer T. Kevin Birch, shooting for the 2012 PAW Reunions Guide, captured these images of reuners who haven’t restricted their visits to five-year intervals.
Send your short video clips and must-see photos from Reunions to pawvideo@princeton.edu. Your photos may appear in the July 7 issue of PAW or at PAW Online.
(Click any image to view as a slide show.)

Princeton Reunions photos: Reader submissions

Since Saturday, PAW readers have passed along some of their photos from the weekend. Below is a selection of our favorites. Click the images for a larger view of the photos, as well as captions and credits. And send your short video clips and must-see pictures from Reunions to pawvideo@princeton.edu. Alumni photos may appear in the July 7 issue of PAW or at PAW Online.
See more reader photos on PAW’s Facebook page.

VIDEO: Princeton’s Class of 2006 brings “Thriller” to the P-rade

Great P-rading takes practice, as the Class of 2006 learned last weekend. On Friday afternoon, classmates tried out their “Thriller” moves under the tent. (Video courtesy of Saahill Desai ’06)


And in the P-rade, they put their lessons to work, with help from a Michael Jackson impersonator. (Video courtesy of of Margaret McGlynn ’86)


Send your short video clips and must-see photos from Reunions to pawvideo@princeton.edu. Your photos may appear in the July 7 issue of PAW or at PAW Online.

Princeton Reunions photos: P-rade potpourri

Our final Saturday gallery spans from the Old Guard to the 2000s, showing the full range of Reunions. PAW hopes you’ve enjoyed these photos, and we invite you to share your own. Send your short video clips and must-see photos from Reunions to pawvideo@princeton.edu. Your photos may appear in the July 7 issue of PAW or at PAW Online.
(All photos by John O’Neill ’13. Click any image to view as a slide show.)

Princeton Reunions photos: Classes of the 1990s

Our third gallery of P-rade photos from photographer John O’Neill ’13 shows the classes of the 1990s, including the Class of 1991’s road warriors and the Class of 1996’s mad scientists.
Send your short video clips and must-see photos from Reunions to pawvideo@princeton.edu. Your photos may appear in the July 7 issue of PAW or at PAW Online.
(Click any image to view as a slide show.)

Princeton Reunions photos: Class of 2011

Our second gallery of P-rade photos from photographer John O’Neill ’13 features the event’s finale as the Class of 2011 makes its dash onto Poe Field (and into alumni-hood).
Send your short video clips and must-see photos from Reunions to pawvideo@princeton.edu. Your photos may appear in the July 7 issue of PAW or at PAW Online.
(Click any image to view as a slide show.)

EcoReps aim for a cleaner, greener Reunions

EcoReps at Reunions 2010. (Courtesy EcoReps)

Decked out in neon green T-shirts and carrying placards to match, the handful of undergraduate EcoReps roving around the P-rade last year did not exactly blend into the crowd – and that was the point. By drawing attention, they were able to spread the word about their goal of increasing recycling at Reunions tents and along the P-rade route.

“We’re not crashing the party,” EcoReps leader Jennifer Yeh ’12 insisted, with a laugh, when she talked about the glowing shirts and signs. The students work closely with the University’s Office of Sustainability throughout the year, and reducing and recycling waste has been a primary focus of their efforts.

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UPDATE: The road to Reunions, 540 miles by bicycle


Don Carey ’51, left, and Dennis Markatos-Soriano *08 on the East Coast Greenway May 26. Carey and his wife, Barbara, completed their 540-mile ride to Reunions. (Brett Tomlinson/PAW)

In the 2011 Reunions Guide, we told the story of Don Carey ’51 and his wife, Barbara, who were planning to ride their bikes from New Hampshire to Princeton for Reunions in May. This afternoon, just after 2 p.m., the Careys were all smiles when they arrived on campus with a few riding friends: Margaret McGlynn ’86 and her husband, Stoney Emshwiller, who flew in from California and rode to campus from New Brunswick, N.J.; Dennis Markatos-Soriano *08, executive director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance; and Andrew Besold, an East Coast Greenway volunteer.

The Careys averaged about 40 miles per day on their trip, which included a well-timed break to visit their daughter’s family in New York City. By stopping in New York, they ducked a stretch of rainy weather and made the final three days of their journey under mostly clear skies.
Below, more photos from today’s ride. (Click images to see captions and view as a slide show.)

Things to see and do: Reunions exhibits and performances


During Reunions, the Princeton University Art Museum continues its three-month exhibition of sculptures, collages, and other assemblages from German avant-garde artist Kurt Schwitters. It is the first overview of his work in the United States since his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1985.

A selection of visual works by students in the Lewis Center for the Arts are on display at two sites: the Lucas Gallery (185 Nassau Street) and the James S. Hall Memorial Gallery (Butler College, lower level between Building A and Bogle Hall).

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Society of the Claw: An honor revived

When Adam Sorensen ’01 began researching past traditions for the Alumni Council’s Committee on Reunions (COR), he hoped to find a link to the deep history and customs of Princeton that he so admired.
An example of the original gold-mounted tiger claw, left, and the new Society of the Claw pin. (Photos courtesy Adam Sorensen ’01)

Sorensen, who has chaired the COR since fall 2008, was reading William Selden ’34’s book Going Back: The Uniqueness of Reunions and P-rades at Princeton University when he found just what he had in mind: the Society of the Claw, an organization tied to Reunions but lost over time.

Founded by the Class of 1894 around 1912, the Society of the Claw had a short but notable life. Members, who pledged to attend Reunions for one year, five years, or for their lifetimes, received a gold-mounted tiger’s claw (1,000 genuine tiger claws were imported from India) and certificate. Some high-profile honoraries (including Andrew Carnegie and Woodrow Wilson 1879) also were elected to the society for “rendering exceptional service to Princeton.”

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Goin’ back, by bicycle

Don Carey ’51 and his wife, Barbara. (Courtesy Don Carey ’51)

Don Carey ’51 and his wife, Barbara, were not outdoors enthusiasts until they moved to New Hampshire in the early 1970s. But in the last 40 years, they’ve more than made up for lost time.

The Careys discovered a healthy appetite for adventure, climbing all of the 4,000-foot peaks in New England, hiking trails in England and Africa, running the New York City Marathon together at age 70, and biking back to Princeton Reunions three times, most recently in 2001.
The first three rides to Old Nassau drew little fanfare, but when the couple decided to make the trip again this year, the East Coast Greenway Alliance invited all alumni to follow their example. “I guess when you get to be 81 or 82,” Carey said, “people pay more attention.”
It also helps to have an alumni connection: Dennis Markatos-Soriano *08, who studied climate and energy policy at the Woodrow Wilson School, is the executive director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, which is working develop a trail system that links the major cities of the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida.
Markatos-Soriano said that the group encourages people to think of cycling “not only as recreation, but transportation as well.” Longer trips like the journey from New Hampshire to Princeton can help to raise awareness of other cycling options, like biking to work.
The idea of a reunion-themed cycling initiative seems to be generating some interest, said Markatos-Soriano, who plans to ride with a small group of cyclists from New Brunswick, N.J., to Princeton on May 26. “As an alum, I’d love for Princeton to be a pioneer,” he said.

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Inside Princeton’s closet of stripes, patterns, and plaids

Bob Rodgers ’56 has been working to add jackets to the Princetoniana Committee’s collection. (Brett Tomlinson/PAW)

In a Princeton warehouse just across Route 1, behind a doorway marked “Do Not Enter,” a trove of Reunions garb compresses a full P-rade of colors into two neatly arranged coat racks. Stripes, plaids, patterns, and logos represent classes that span more than a century, from 1904’s Reunions blazer to 2010’s beer jacket. It is the archival equivalent of that closet space alumni reserve for their favorite orange-and-black gear.

The collection, managed by Bob Rodgers ’56 and the Alumni Council’s Princetoniana Committee, includes blazers and jackets from nearly 50 classes and the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni. The committee also draws on the personal collection of Kirk Unruh ’70, the University’s recording secretary, to produce an annual exhibit of Reunions costumes in display cases on the 100 level of Frist Campus Center.
This year, John Wriedt ’85, a local architect and Princetoniana fan, is designing the Reunions exhibit. He plans to spotlight some of the collection’s beer jackets, from the days when designs were stenciled on the backs of plain white denim coats. The designs are quite clever, Wriedt says, but “the stories behind the stencil are often very interesting as well.”

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Reunions 2011: Highlights for this year’s major reunion classes

Compiled by Briana N. Wilkins ’12
Click the numbers to skip down to your class:
1946195119561961196619711976198119861991199620012006Graduate alumni 

Class of 1946

The Class of 1946 is looking forward to reuniting and celebrating its 65th reunion with a theme of “Thanks for the Memories.” The costume will be the traditional reunion jacket from previous reunions, khaki pants, white bucks, white shirt, and 1946 reunion tie. Thursday dinner will be a buffet held at the Nassau Club, with Friday dinner at Springdale Golf Club. The Blawenburg Brass Band will accompany the class during the P-rade. Dinner on Saturday will be at Forbes College and feature a musical jam session—any musicians are welcome to bring their instruments.

Class of 1951

The class theme is “Going Back … Old Friends, New Vistas,” based on the premise that classmates come back to see old friends, the alumni-faculty forums, and what is going on at the University, and their conversations with friends open new vistas. Headquartered at Forbes with ’46 and the Old Guard, ’51 will be wearing its traditional orange-and-white seersucker jackets embellished this year with new black ’51 baseball caps and orange ties.
The well-known New York musician Dan Levinson will bring his jazz group to Forbes Thursday evening for a night of Dixieland and New Orleans jazz and his swing band on Friday night to play danceable music of the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s. On Saturday evening the class will have cocktails at the Lewis Library followed by dinner at Cap and Gown’s new dining facility that will provide a grandstand view of the fireworks.

Class of 1956

The Class of 1956 celebrates “The Fullness of Time” with an extremely full schedule. On Thursday afternoon, the class will host “A Conversation on China,” between Stape Roy ’56, a former U.S. ambassador and assistant secretary of state, and Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80, who served as director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department in the first two years of the Obama administration. That night, there will be a buffet dinner and music provided by the Freund Family Trio. A class memorial service will be held Friday morning at the University Chapel, and a tour of Princeton Battlefield and a forum on Reach Out ’56-’81-’06 will take place in the afternoon.
Friday evening there will be a class reception at the Art Museum, with a welcome by director James Steward and greetings from President Tilghman. Dinner on Friday night will feature the introduction of new class officers and music by Stan Rubin ’55’s big band. On Saturday morning, there will be a reception for the artists who are part of the class art exhibit, which will run all weekend. Saturday night will feature a buffet dinner, accompanied by the Boilermaker Jazz Band and culminating with fireworks. Rounding out the schedule is a farewell Sunday brunch at the Class of 1956 Lounge in Princeton Stadium.

Class of 1961

The 50th reunion for the Class of 1961 begins Thursday with a reception and dinner, followed by entertainment from the Neil Wright Trio. Friday is full of forums — those in the morning include the future of health care, civil rights and liberties, and the role of American power, while those in the afternoon will look at the new India, college admissions, and chemistry in action. In the evening, there will be a reception with the Footnotes, followed by dinner and entertainment. On Saturday, the class will participate in the P-rade, and the class memorial service will follow. The evening will feature a reception with the J.J. Keyser Trio, dinner, and the Party Dolls, followed by fireworks. The weekend will culminate in style, with Sunday brunch at Drumthwacket, the New Jersey governor’s residence, down the road from campus.

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Save the date: Funny Princeton Live, May 27, 2 p.m.


The Princeton Alumni Weekly’s 2011 Reunions event, “Funny Princeton Live,” is an afternoon of humor featuring alumni comedians. The show, inspired by PAW’s January 19 special issue, will be held Friday, May 27 at 2 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium, with a laugh-packed lineup that includes Jeff Kreisler ’95, Joe Hernandez-Kolski ’96, Adam Ruben ’01, Jason Gilbert ’09, and Peter Wicks *02.

UPDATE: One addition to the Funny Princeton Live lineup: Matt Iseman ’93, stand-up comedian and star of the Style Network’s Clean House, also will perform.

Talking gargoyles, ‘weretigers,’ and a magical side of Princeton

Sarah Beth Durst ’96’s latest work of fantasy fiction for teens is set at Princeton Reunions. (Adam Durst ’96)

A Princeton connection turned out to be key to launching Sarah Beth Durst ’96’s writing career. She had penned drafts of novels and shopped them around for about 10 years, collecting a slew of rejection letters. But her luck changed when she connected with Andrea Somberg ’01, a literary agent, in 2006. Within weeks of signing with Somberg, Durst had secured offers from several publishers for Into the Wild, a novel about a girl who must battle witches and fly griffins to rescue her mother and save her town from becoming a fairy tale kingdom. They got the news of the offers the week before Reunions.

Since then, Durst has written three other novels — all fantasy fiction for teenagers. Her latest, Enchanted Ivy, published last fall by Margaret K. McElderry Books, is set at Princeton during Reunions.
The coming-of-age novel follows Lily Carter, an eleventh-grader who attends her grandfather’s 50th reunion. His friends tell her that if she passes a secret legacy test, she will win automatic admission to the University. Lily takes on the challenge and quickly stumbles on an alternate Princeton — a magical and dangerous place where gargoyles come to life and “weretigers” and dragons roam.

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Fall fashions, Princeton style


It all started in October, the month of playoff baseball. Selden Edwards ’63 was watching a National League Championship Series game between the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants on TV when he spotted a familiar striped pattern in the front row at AT&T Park, right behind the dugout. Could it be? A Class of 1962 Princeton Reunions jacket? Edwards hit rewind on the broadcast, snapped a photo with his phone, and sent it off to his friend and classmate Bill Hardt ’63, a longtime Princeton volunteer.

Hardt passed the picture along to friends via e-mail. In December, after several weeks and some unsuccessful queries, Bruce Dunning ’62 cracked the case, confirming that the mystery fan was Andy Hall ’62 *66, a Bay Area engineer and consultant.
Hall explained in an e-mail reply that he’d worn the jacket twice during the Giants’ playoff run – once in the Philadelphia series and once in the World Series. Fellow fans told him that they loved the jacket’s orange, black, and white stripes, a perfect match for the Giants’ colors. “One person, a row behind us, was seriously interested in buying one,” Hall said. “I told him it was a special edition and not available. I think I saved him from a lot of grief.”   

Coming back in orange and black


At left, the Class of 1960 gathered at Nassau Hall Friday morning for the dedication of its class Ivy. Reunions festivities kicked off May 27 and will continue through May 30, followed by Baccalaureate, Class Day, and Commencement for the Class of 2010.

Check The Weekly Blog next week for highlights from Reunions and Commencement.

(Photo by Brett Tomlinson)

Reunions 2010: Complete guide available


PAW’s 2010 Reunions Guide is now available in PDF format.

Several stories also can be viewed on The Weekly Blog, and printed copies of the guide will be available at class reunion registration areas.

For up-to-date information about all Reunions events, including the alumni-faculty forums, visit the Alumni Association website. The Alumni Association’s Reunions Mobile site is available at http://m.princeton.edu/reunions/.


The cover of the 2010 Reunions Guide was created with AndreaMosaic. The tiger image is from iStockPhoto.com, and the individual tiles are Reunions photos by T. Kevin Birch.

Reunions 2010: Five things to love about Reunions

The following story is included in PAW’s 2010 Reunions Guide, available on campus May 27.


DEDICATION For Bob Tritsch ’47, above, there’s “an element of habit” that goes along with Reunions. He and classmate Koke Kokatnur both have perfect attendance since graduation and plan to be back for number 63 this year. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)


EDUCATION Whether delving into Dante or listening to foreign-policy debates, each May brings engaging programs that fill the seats at Alexander Hall and elsewhere. And the best part: No exams. (Photo courtesy flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik)


CREATIVITY Reunions committees continue to surprise with new themes and costumes, but the outfits that turn heads often are one-of-a-kind — homemade headwear, Tiger-striped dog sweaters, or a pair of custom cowboy boots. (Photo by T. Kevin Birch)

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