Connecticut College Magazine · Winter 2011


Photo by Grace Griffin '14

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Centennial Weekend

Centennial Weekend
Debo Adegbile '91. Photo by Art Durity '84

Alumni and families flocked to campus for a special
fall weekend.

A sea of people surged across campus on a bright October morning, drawn by the traditional sights and sounds of the New London Firefighters Pipes and Drums corps marching toward Palmer Auditorium in the grand lead-up to the “Big Event.”

It was not your usual Fall Weekend.

View a slideshow

Sure, there were proud parents, a cappella concerts, a soccer victory, a vibrant Harvestfest and perfect autumn weather — the key ingredients of any great Fall Weekend.
But it's the Centennial, and that calls for some spice. Fireworks, an original theater production, a Saturday-night gala, and record attendance — by nearly 5,000 alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students — truly made this the culminating event of a year of celebration.

The highlight of the weekend, “100 Years of Great Beginnings,” otherwise known as the Big Event, quickly filled Palmer's 1,300 seats on Saturday morning — and drew an overflow crowd to Evans Hall to watch a live video feed. The multimedia production featured inspiring talks, videos, performances and other theatrical elements by alumni, students, staff and faculty.

“It was such an intriguing way to celebrate our history and our future,” Jane Muddle Funkhouser '53 P'85 GP'15 said of the performance. “I was so proud of the people representing their experiences here.

“I'm just so envious of my grandson, who gets to spend the next four years here,” she added.

More on the Big Event

Nate Cornell '11 agreed that the Big Event did not disappoint. “It was well worth coming back for,” he said. “I expected it to be about the College's history, but it was so much more. It was a story of the impact this place has — it was truly inspiring.”

Cornell said he was most excited to see his classmates. More than 150 of the Class of 2011 returned to campus for the weekend, which included a half-year reunion and the unveiling of their class gift, a series of bronze plaques that shows the evolution of the College seal. Max Sgro '11, who presented the display in Fanning Hall, said the plaques represent their pride as the College's Centennial Class.

The College's newest alumni were joined on campus by its oldest alumna, Gladys Russell Munroe '34, who will turn 100 in February. Munroe majored in physics and graduated with the College's 16th class.

“I remember when the College was starting, so I'm very glad to be here for the 100th,” she said.

Watch a highlight video from the weekend

The theater department brought the history of the College and its people to life with an original play, “Foundations, Dreams and Inspirations.” The performance was created entirely by the student cast members, who used archival material and interviews.

“Students were inspired by the alumni they interviewed,” the show's director, Michael Lerner '89, said. “They were inspired to reflect on how the College has changed them, even, in the case of the freshmen, on how they are different after just a few weeks here.”

Debo Adegbile '91 spoke about that lasting influence at the Alumni of Color luncheon. The College trustee paid tribute to several faculty members, including Professor of Government William Frasure, who helped him prepare for his work as associate director-counsel and director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

When Adegbile argued before the Supreme Court in defense of the Voting Rights Act in 2009, he said he brought the same kind of discipline that he brought to class as a student. “You just get ready to answer the hardest question that could be asked,” he said. “It was Bill Frasure as John Roberts! Frasure prepared me to stand my ground and argue vigorously.”

Special events like an interactive installation in Harkness Chapel, an opportunity to sign steel beams that will be installed in the new Science Center, a jazz clinic with the Mingus Big Band, Centennial Teas in the residence halls, and a spectacular Friday night fireworks display over Tempel Green rounded out the special Fall Weekend schedule.

But traditional favorites remained popular draws, including Harvestfest and the picnic on Tempel Green, soccer and volleyball games, seminars and talks on a broad range of topics — such as the evolution of human development as an academic discipline, women in U.S. politics and service in the age of insecurity — and many, many chances to socialize.

“Fall Weekend is a great opportunity to reconnect, not just with classmates but with professors and the administration,” Jacob Jerome Daniels '08 said. “I'm just so glad I got to be a part of it.”

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