Despite a challenging economy, numbers are up for Reunion 2009, the College's biggest annual gathering of alumni, as nearly 1,000 alumni and friends are expected to return to campus May 29-31.
"Alumni are looking to reconnect with each other and enjoy our beautiful campus," said Sarah Fournier, assistant director of Reunion. "We think the recession might actually be a driving factor to come back and see each other."
Allison From '94 is planning on catching up with Kim Laboy '94, who is also the godmother of her two boys. Despite living far apart – From lives in Louisville and Laboy is in Brooklyn – the two have stayed close, with Laboy often sending gifts to her godsons.
"We were talking about Reunion right around her birthday, and I decided that it would be a good thing I could give Kim that we could enjoy together," said From, who is covering her friend's expenses.
Alumni whose class years end in '4 or '9 will celebrate Reunions this year. Reunion 2009 will include a traditional New England lobster bake; a performance by Vance Gilbert '79, who has toured with Shawn Colvin; faculty-led discussions; music and dancing with the B Willie Smith Band; and family time on the Green.
The weekend will also feature several College traditions: the Parade of Classes, class dinners, and the Sykes Society Luncheon, which honors alumnae who have celebrated their 50th Reunion.
Two alumnae, Ann "Andy" Crocker Wheeler '34 and Gladys Russell Munroe '34, have registered to celebrate their 75th Reunions.
For some, social networking sites are driving them back to campus. After Mark Howes '89, a reunion planning committee member, started a Facebook group for his class, he was pleasantly surprised by the number of classmates joining. It became a great way to share college memories and get excited about seeing each other again. See if your class has started a Facebook group.
Howes, who looks forward to checking out the refurbished dorms and classrooms and pretending he's a college guy again, will make his way to Reunion from San Francisco. He joins many other alumni making long trips back to New London – some from as far away as New Zealand, Japan and Italy.
Cecily Hamlin Wells '59 admits that she never wants to leave her home in North Carolina during May, but she'll make the exception for her 50th Reunion. Wells and her spouse were convinced to come back after her big sister at Connecticut College, Millie Schmidtman Kendall '58, had a great time with her husband at Reunion last year.
"Their enthusiasm sealed our decision," Wells said.
President Higdon will speak during alumni convocation at 10:45 a.m. Saturday in the College Center at Crozier-Williams. The ceremony will also feature a presentation of this year's alumni awards.
This year's keynote speaker is acclaimed Lincoln biographer, Michael Burlingame, the May Buckley Sadowski '19 Professor Emeritus of History. His new work on America's 16th President has been called "the finest Lincoln biography in more than 60 years." He will speak Friday at 8 p.m. in John C. Evans Hall in Cummings.
Visit the Reunion Web site to register, view class web sites or check out the complete schedule of events.