|Nearly 900 Norwich alumni returned to The Hill for Homecoming this month, gathering with longtime friends, cheering on the University's sports teams and celebrating the success of the Norwich Forever! campaign. |
A total of 877 alumni, joined by 800 family members, traveled to the Northfield campus September 19-21, a weekend filled with countless stories and reminiscences.
The weekend was particularly satisfying for Conrad Rowell, who for 50 years has served as Class Agent for the Class of 1958. In addition to joining the Old Guard at Friday afternoon's Corps of Cadets retreat parade, the members of the Class of 1958 provided nearly half of this year's reunion giving.
"Homecoming is important really because of my classmates. We are really close," Rowell said.
Dr. Tony Caprio '60, echoed those sentiments. Caprio, who has attended every Homecoming since his graduation except for his tour in Vietnam and his time in medical school, said the friendships born during his time at Norwich are what bring him back year after year.
"The Norwich of 1960 is gone, but my classmates are forever," Caprio reflected. "Norwich is always evolving. It has to."
Saturday featured most of the weekend's major events, including the Alumni Parade. NU 1934 Classmates Maurice Smith and Dan Fleetham, Sr., led the parade.
"I've got my knees all warmed up," said Fleetham moments before he marched across Sabine Field. The 96-year-old said he has attended nearly every Homecoming since his Navy service during World War II.
Reunion giving this year totaled more than $2.8 million, with $1.3 million of that coming from the Class of 1958.
The Partridge Society Luncheon highlighted the impact of the Norwich Forever! campaign on the University's academic programs. President Richard W. Schneider noted that although Norwich launched the campaign with a goal of raising $6.5 million for academics, the University had already received more than $10 million in gifts and pledges for that portion of the campaign.
Two professors and two students spoke about the value of undergraduate research, which has been given a big boost through the Norwich Forever! campaign. Rick Dunn, Chair of the Department of Geology and Environmental Science, provided an overview of archaeological research that he and junior Greg Miller carried out in Greece this past summer. Alison Fischer, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, spoke about research she and several of her students have conducted on the genetic factors that cause plants to flower in response to the seasons.
"Students who work on research projects with us learn a tremendous amount about their fields of study," Fisher told the 700 luncheon guests. "There is no substitute for conducting original research: asking a question, gathering data and drawing your own conclusions."
Senior Biology major Quinn Conklin spoke about how her work with Fisher allowed her to apply what she had learned in the classroom.
"This will make me a stronger candidate for grad school," Quinn said. "But more importantly, it will help me through life. The critical thinking and perseverance required in this sort of research are skills that will help me forever."
Norwich Forever! campaign Chairman Pierson Mapes '59, concluded the luncheon by announcing that, with the close of the campaign still a year away, donations had already exceeded $71.5 million, adding, "And a consultant told us that we would be lucky to reach $50 million."