With mini-reunions popping up from coast to coast, it seems that alumnae/i don’t want to wait for Reunion to get together. Nearly 20 mini-reunions have been held in the past 18 months, from San Francisco to Minneapolis to Boston, with some classes organizing multiple events.
Members of the Class of 1966 began working three years ago to get alumnae/i motivated in advance of their 50th Reunion. Class Vice President Barbara Weinstein LeWinter ’66 helped plan and organize a string of reunions with the theme ’66 Travels Route 66. Weekend-long events took place in Chicago, Albuquerque, and Santa Monica in 2014 and included dinners, museum trips, lectures, historic tours, and live performances. It was important to have substance—and a learning experience—at the minis because her class witnessed many historically significant events, LeWinter says.
“We kind of view our class as straddling the end of the Eisenhower era, the Kennedy era, and the Vietnam War. [There were some] really radical changes for women and African Americans,” she says.
The interest seems to be growing. While about a dozen alumnae/i attended the Chicago mini-reunion in 2014, more than 40 attended the following two. So far this year, other popular Class of 1966 regional mini-reunions have taken place in Boston, Washington, D.C., New York City, Houston, and Williamstown, with another in San Francisco scheduled for February.
Mini-reunions from ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s classes, as well as a few others, have been held, too.
The Class of 1949 has enjoyed several mini-reunions since its 50th Reunion, the most recent being in Philadelphia in October, says June Ross Marks ’49. Thirteen members of the class spent two days visiting historic locations—including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell—touring museums, and attending a live performance.
“We’re hoping to do another one next year in New Orleans,” Marks says.
Like others planning mini-reunions, organizers rely on the Office of Alumnae/i Affairs and Development to help with communication and logistics, she says. For the Philadelphia mini-reunion, they used Road Scholars, a company that offers all-inclusive packages to make it easier on alumnae/i organizing the event. The trip was amazing, Marks says, and their ages—all are in their late 80s—don’t diminish the enjoyment of gathering together to have fun and reminisce.
“Although we’re way out in terms of years, people met other people they had never met before. Bonds were created and it was an incredible experience,” she says.
Catherine Lunn, director of alumnae/i engagement, and other staff members in the Office of Alumnae/i Affairs and Development attend the mini-reunions, which recently have included a behind-the-scenes tour of the Cleveland Museum of Art with members of the Class of 1963 and a private reception and talk with a Minnesota orchestra member—followed by a concert—with members of the Class of 1957.
“These mini-reunions give the class a chance to bond with each other and give me and other staff the incredible opportunity to meet them,” Lunn says.
Some regions, like New York City, have active Vassar Clubs with regularly scheduled events and active members that help keep alumnae/i acquainted with each other. For others, however, the mini-reunions have given them awelcome chance to get to know Vassar classmates with whom they share a bond, LeWinter says.
“It really shows our similarities and that we’ve really dealt with so many of the same issues in this 50-year span. You’re dealing with mortality, you’ve lost a number of classmates, and you suddenly realize the value of friendships and similarities. You realize nobody has gone through life unscathed by life’s challenges,” she says. “There are many themes that make us similar. You realize these are lovely people and you share an alliance and a history.”
--Photos courtesy of subjects