My View from South Hill
Friday, October 8, 2010
Tours of the former campus downtown and of the current campus on South Hill. Kayaking in the fountains while fishing out rubber ducks to award prizes. Thoughtful conversations with current students about life after IC. A picnic on the Quad under sunny autumn skies. Class-specific reunions in the downtown restaurants that run till late at night. Awards for alumni whose accomplishments and service make us all proud. Sharing a memory or two for IC's "Digital Timecapsule." Cheering the football team to a winning effort in the Homecoming game. Quiet moments with classmates who knew you “back when.” An unexpected appearance by our first president Grant Egbert (who looks great at age 143!) These were a few of our favorite things from the Fall Splash 2010.
Nearly 500 IC alumni and guests returned to campus last weekend for three improbably glorious fall days. Over 48 hours, they shared remembrances of the past, celebrated the accomplishments of the present, and joined with us in imagining the future.
They came from all over to be here. Joan Kosta '62 came to Ithaca from Malaysia, and Carl McElroy ’80 traveled from Guam.
Alumni were present representing the last nine decades of our history – from the 1930s to 2010. Helen Wickstrom ’38, who is also a retired professor in the School of Music, was here to celebrate her 72nd reunion! She edged out Joe Nocco ’40 for the title of oldest alum present. Joe played football when he was at IC and came up from Florida to cheer the team to its Homecoming win. I am not exaggerating when I say Joe looked ready to lace up the cleats and run a few plays!
Alumni from 50 years ago or more, who studied on our downtown campus, gathered in my home for breakfast and spirited renditions by Ithacapella of our former and current alma mater songs. Fountain Place has been the home of IC presidents ever since President Job in 1938. Some alumni were in the house for the first time in a half century, but memories of previous visits made it seem like yesterday. Several recalled that Mrs. Dillingham hosted an annual tea for freshmen women, white gloves required.
Reunions are, of course, an opportunity to renew old friendships. There were several moments when I wished I had a video recorder to capture the look on someone’s face upon realizing they were standing in front of a friend or an old flame from decades ago. There is something unequalled about the human warmth of long-standing friendships, even – or especially! – among people who have been out of touch for years.
Reunions are also a chance to make new friendships. I rejoice in the friendships I made last weekend, including Daniel, a second grader whose mother and father are both alumni. When I first met Daniel on Friday afternoon in the Egbert Campus Center, he regaled me with his mastery of addition, subtraction and multiplication, adding confidently that he would soon get around to learning division. I ran into Daniel and his parents later that evening on Aurora Street while visiting some of the class reunion parties. I said hello and shook Daniel’s hand while he stared back at me, perplexed. Daniel’s father prompted him: “Daniel -- this is the president of Ithaca College, whom you met this afternoon.” “I know,” he replied, continuing to look at me, “But I thought they didn’t let you off campus!”
I didn’t get off campus much during Fall Splash, but that was only because everything one could ever want to do was right there. I heard about the former English professor who smoked cigarettes during class and would say, as he flicked the butts out the window, “On a good day I hit the dean.” I learned about some of the hijinks that took place in the Quonset hut downtown, known as the Shack, that served as the home of the radio station and so much more. I heard repeatedly something that is always music to my ears: “My experience at Ithaca College meant everything to me. It made me who I am today.”
For a great selection of Fall Splash images, click on the IC alumni page and on Facebook below:
Special thanks to the Facebook photographers: Bill Durant '86, Bill Stanwood '71, Mark Dicker '77, and Vilma Morrow '87!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think it is also true that being there is worth a thousand pictures. I am already looking forward to Fall Splash 2011, and hope that IC alumni everywhere are making their plans.
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