James Downs, associate professor of history and American studies, will spend the 2015-16 academic year studying medical anthropology at Harvard University.
They raved about the "absolutely beautiful" campus, student hosts who seemed to produce lamps and blankets out of thin air and how wonderful it was to see old friends. Reunions, they said, renew their energy.
Alumni returning to campus for Reunion May 29-31 said the campus has changed immensely over the decades. But what mattered most was how much it – and they – have stayed the same.
"It feels very comfortable — like it always does," said Barry Gold '79, of Sharon, Mass., who was standing in line for the Saturday picnic with his old friends, Eric Ostroff '79 and former trustee Dan Hirschhorn '79.
"There's a great bond with our friends," added Ostroff, of Needham, Mass. "This has been a great magnet for us."
Several alumni, especially from the classes of 1959 and 1979, said it was their best reunion ever.
"It very well could have been 1979 all over again," one member of the Class of 1979 said afterward in an e-mail to the Office of Alumni Relations. "Catching up with friends after all these years truly reinforces how special our class was and how important Conn still is in our lives." Another said, "It was fun sharing pictures of our children, talking about their current and/or upcoming college plans, or changes in our jobs – it is obvious that we have truly become our parents. (But that's okay)."
Kim Trudeau '94 of Waltham, Mass., said she also feels the draw. She still feels connected by staying in touch with professors like Joan Chrisler and Ann Devlin as well as friends. "I just love Connecticut College and going back," she said.
Alumni traveled from as far away as France, Colombia and even New Zealand to see their alma mater again and, of course, their classmates. Helen Bird '89, who lives in Paris and is studying at the Sorbonne, said the miles haven't kept her away. "This is my third reunion back here," she said.
Anne Earnshaw Roche '59 of Auckland, New Zealand, who was last on campus for her 40th Reunion, enjoyed visiting new and renovated buildings, walking to the riverfront, and listening to talks by Professor Emeritus Michael Burlingame and President Higdon. "It was just wonderful to see what good hands the College is in," she said.
One member of the Class of 1979 returned to her sophomore dorm, Jane Addams.
"I climbed to the fourth floor where my fabulous sophomore room was, under the eaves with a gabled window, and it was actually open; I went in and let the door close behind me and allowed a little time travel to happen," she wrote in an e-mail to classmates. "Looking out the window, down onto Winged Victory (still sans her head) in her little landscaped park between JA and Harkness, craning my head sideways to watch the pick-up games of soccer and Frisbee on the lawn, closing my eyes for a few minutes and just listening, well … it took no time at all … to feel like I was back in college hanging out with everyone."
Gladys Russell Munroe '34 traveled from Orlando, Fla., with her daughter, Jean Smith, for her 75th Reunion. "I've been to a lot of reunions," Munroe said. "I've always been enamored with this area. I love coming back."
The Class of 1969 was impressed by its student hosts – and entertained them with stories about the days of single-sex education. The women could smoke in their rooms but not have male visitors. Now, the students noted, it's just the opposite.
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