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College is bringing together alumni, students in new ways

Connecticut College graduates were front and center at Fall Weekend 2009, giving current students a clear view of the future - and lots of practical advice on how to get there.

Speakers included Jay Lauf '86, vice president and publisher of The Atlantic; Jonathan McBride '92, a White House staff member; Frances Cole Jones '86, a corporate employment coach; and tech entrepreneur Fernando Espuelas '88, named a "Leader for the New Millennium" by Time magazine.

McBride told students and parents at one session that they shouldn't hesitate to contact alumni for career advice and leads. He said he didn't know of anyone who wouldn't return a call or e-mail from a fellow Camel.

View a slideshow from Fall Weekend.

The Alumni Association Board of Directors met Saturday to set goals and plan future activities. Connie Smith Gemmer '80 P'10, president of the Board, emphasized the importance of bringing together alumni, including current students, in different ways and in different settings.

Alumni also headlined panel discussions focusing on current issues, joined students to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Unity House (the campus multicultural center), and helped unveil plaques for the newest members of the Athletic Hall of Fame.

About 90 people crowded into the Chu Room Saturday morning to hear four alumni, all art history majors, share how their education helped them navigate the world of work and graduate studies.

"One skill I learned at Conn was the art of seeing," said Margaret Turner '05. "I use it every day in all my endeavors." She said studying different artists gave her insights into color, composition and presentation. Turner recently authored a book on the art of Belize, a project she started on her funded internship.

Espuelas, who spoke on the topic "Revolution in the Internet Era," described the rapid change brought about by the Internet and the role it can play in mobilizing the public - for good or ill.

From Harvestfest's unique assortment of camel-themed merchandise - who knew Rice Krispie treats could be shaped into the College mascot? - to women's field hockey clinching a NESCAC playoff berth as men's soccer defeated Colby 1-0, the weekend gave the campus community plenty to cheer about.

Close to 1,500 parents, alumni and friends of the College were on campus. Members of the Class of 2009, back for their Half-Year Reunion, got in a game of Frisbee on Tempel Green late Saturday afternoon.

"I miss this place so much," said Dana Zichlin '09. "Luckily, e-mail and Facebook have kept us all close, and we hope to keep that going."

Elizabeth Cooper-Mullin '10 was one of 12 seniors speaking about their experiences with funded internships. She interned at the Summer Law Institute at Fordham University, where she taught public speaking and study skills to eighth-graders. "It was a wonderful way for me to get involved both with law and teaching."

Another popular panel was "All the News That's Fit to View … Online." Lauf, Paul Leavitt P'10, retired reporter and editor of USA Today; and Jim Berrien ´74, president and COO of Mother Nature Network, spoke to a packed room about how technology has changed journalism.

While Leavitt believes that ultimately "truth and good ideas win out," Lauf said that he also embraces the skepticism of younger generations who now question what they read and see. Added Berrien: "Liberal arts colleges exist to teach students to examine and understand the issues."

As James Foley P'13, attended the news panel, his wife, Denise, enjoyed an all-campus lunch and met some of the professors teaching her son, Ryan. Their first Fall Weekend became a family event, with Ryan's sister and aunt also making the trip from Wolcott, Conn.

"Ryan loves it here," Denise said, "and we've had a fun time getting a better look at his experience."

More than 20 alumni participated in panel discussions or spoke at organized events throughout the weekend. They are listed below by name, class year, major (s) and current job title/ occupation.

• Jim Berrien '74 - French - president/COO of Mother Nature Network

• Angela Campbell '02 - art history, Italian studies - photoarchive associate, The Frick Collection

• Bachman Clem '01 - art history, architectural studies - interior designer, Amy Lau Design

• Glenn Dreyer MA'83 - botany - Charles and Sarah P. Becker '27 Director of the Arboretum, Connecticut College

• Fernando Espuelas '88 - history - chief executive officer of VoxGente, LLC

• Elizabeth Friedman '80 - art history, art - assistant director of Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology, Connecticut College

• Susan Mabrey Gaud '68, P'07 - chemistry - retired director of external technology at Kraft Foods Global

• Estella Johnson '75 - student designed, interdisciplinary - director of economic development, City of Cambridge

• Frances Cole Jones '86 - English - founder, Cole Media Management; corporate coach and author

• Jay Lauf '86 - English, history - publisher of The Atlantic

• Jonathan McBride '92 - economics, history - deputy director of presidential personnel, White House

• Kim Holliday McElderry '97 - psychology-based human relations - director of admission, Landmark of Ridgefield Academy

• Anne Mickle '89 - government, history - director of college counseling at St. Timothy's School

• Christopher Morris '96 - history - director of PricewaterhouseCoopers

• Sarah Pitt-Del Cristo '86 - zoology - physician's assistant, NYU Medical Center

• Lauren Shadford '01 - art history - senior manager/museum services and corporate collections, Sotheby's

• Amelia Gary Simpson '95 - economics - associate at Spencer Stuart

• Rick Stratton '96 - history - owner of Feed.Us

• Margaret Turner '05 - art history - recently published author

• V. David Watkins '78, P'12 - economics - chief executive officer of White Sky Inc.

• Robin Wilson '82 - government - judge, Connecticut Superior Court

Other speakers included faculty, staff, parents, students and guest speakers.

Faculty and Staff

• Joseph Alchermes, associate professor of art history

• Bridget Baird, professor of mathematics and computer science

• Leslie Brown, associate professor of physics and astronomy

• Patricia Carey, vice president of college relations

• María Cruz-Saco, professor of economics

• Ann Devlin, the May Buckley Sadowski '19 Professor of Psychology

• Glenn Dreyer MA'83, Charles and Sarah P. Becker '27 Director of the Arboretum

• Simon Feldman, assistant professor of philosophy

• Elizabeth Friedman '80, assistant director of Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology

• Ted Hendrickson, associate professor of art

• W. Lee Hisle, vice president for information services and college librarian

• Ozgur Izmirli, associate professor of computer science, Judith Ammerman '60 Director of the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology (CAT)

• Stephen Loomis, the Jean C. Tempel '65 Professor of Biology

• Cheryl Miller, assistant vice president for human resources

• Purba Mukerji, assistant professor of economics

• Jason Nier, associate professor of psychology

• Denise Pelletier, associate professor of art

• Fran J. Shields, the Katherine Wenk Christoffers '45 Director of Athletics and chair of the Physical Education Department

• Stuart Vyse, professor of psychology


• David Alpert '10

• Phoebe Bakanas '10

• Elizabeth Cooper-Mullin '10

• Emily Cummings '10

• Alexander Dana '10

• Justin Goot '10

• Sarah Hammond '10

• Emily Hanks '10

• Rita Holak '10

• James Jackson '10

• Catherine Johnson '10

• Jesse Lerch '10

• Blake Marcus '10

• Evan McLean '10

• Jeremy Nakamura '10

• Erin Okabe-Jawdat '10

• Alexander Olt '10

• Nicole Reiff '10

• Mihir Sharma '12

• Arielle Shipper '10

• Daniel Silberberg '10

• Courtney Smith '10

• Owen Stowe '10

• Patrick Troy '10

• Kylee Yam '10

• Alexander Zarecki '12


• Susan Mabrey Gaud '68 P'07, retired director of external technology at Kraft Foods Global

• Paul Leavitt P'10, retired reporter and editor for USA Today

• V. David Watkins '78 P'12, chief executive officer of White Sky Inc.

Additional Panelists

• Thomas Glave, founding member of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays and author of "Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles"

• Alice Fitzpatrick, Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut

• Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University and author of "The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty"

-Lisa Brownell, Phoebe Hall, Rachel Harrington, Amy Martin and Barb Nagy contributed to this story.

November 13, 2009