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Alumni Return to Alma Mater for Reunion Weekend

1953, 1963 and 1973 Classes Honored

June 10, 2013

Looking through their WC yearbooks renewed memories for members of the 40-year reunion Class of 1973 at Friday evening's welcome reception hosted by President Jim and Sue Reynolds.

Looking through their WC yearbooks renewed memories for members of the 40-year reunion Class of 1973 at Friday evening's welcome reception hosted by President Jim and Sue Reynolds.

Scores of Wilmington College alumni relived their college glory days while reconnecting with former classmates, favorite professors and their campus during WC’s annual Alumni Reunion Weekend June 7 and 8.

For early arrivers, President Jim and Sue Reynolds hosted a welcome reception Friday evening at Firbank Fell, the president’s home on the perimeter of campus.

Activities started early Saturday when, after a continental breakfast, the popular Alumni College program got underway.

Alumni heard a spry 91-year-old Larry Gara, emeritus professor of history, share his affinity for classic jazz while Jim Boland, professor of education, spoke of his work in combatting bullying and making schools a safer and more productive environment for student learning.

Martin Giesbrecht, a member of the economics faculty from 1958 to 1987, presented on the economic history of food. Also, Gloria Flaherty, emeritus professor of education, and Michele Beery, professor of education, presented on education-related issues.

In addition, Monte Anderson, professor of agriculture, gave an update on his area, which now constitutes the largest academic major at WC, answered horticultural questions and led alumni in putting together planters of annual flowers to take home.

The College sponsored special reunions for the classes of 1953, 1963 and 1973 and it honored three alumni with special awards.

Robert Russo, Class of 1978, received the Distinguished Alumni Citation for Professional Achievement as a result of his 35 years of coaching success in three NCAA divisions. Michael Birkel ’76, an accomplished author and a professor of religion at Earlham College, and Steve F. Haines ’73, retired local educator and retired founding director of College-Community Summer Theatre, each received Distinguished Alumni Citations for Professional Achievement in Education.

(LEFT) President Jim Reynolds presents Steven F. Haines '73 with a Distinguished Alumni Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Education award.


The newly inaugurated president noted highlights from an “exciting year” that included the College receiving a $20 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural economic development program that will “kick-start” a number of campus projects, some of which are buildings.

“By this time next year, I hope you’ll see a lot of new things on your campus,” he said.

Reynolds said the College anticipates its 18th consecutive balanced budget when the fiscal year ends June 30. Also, the College is undergoing a branding initiative that will fine-tune its marketing messages and, this fall, the Higher Learning Commission will hold a campus site visit as WC endeavors to successfully complete its periodic continuing accreditation process.

He also announced a new initiative that may be known as the Wilmington Institute for Sustainable Engagement, which will be a certificate program in which students will have “intentional encounters” in service and leadership that incorporate a rich experience with some of Wilmington’s distinct offerings.

“We care deeply about what we do for students — that hasn’t changed since you were here,” Reynolds said. “We love having our alumni and friends on campus at gatherings like this. We want you to come home often.”

(RIGHT) Beth Copeland McDonald '73 enjoys renewing ties with a favorite professor, T. Canby Jones, emeritus professor of religion & philosophy.


The weekend culminated with Saturday’s reunion banquet at which members of the 50-year class, 1963, received their Quaker Emeriti medallions.

As Reynolds took the class on a trip down memory lane, he hearkened its senior year, 1962-63, that featured the unnerving Cuban Missile Crisis, James Meredith requiring the assistance of federal troops to enroll at Ole Miss, and bread and gasoline costing 22 and 29 cents, respectively.

(LEFT) Philip Bayless, emeritus professor of chemistry, presents the Quaker Emeriti Medallion,which signifies 50 years since one's graduation from WC, to Sherron Fox Collins.


At WC, the College enjoyed an all-time high enrollment of 780 students, 25 percent of whom worked at the Randall Company to finance their education. Larry Gara was one of 10 new faculty members. Tuition, room and board cost $750 for the school year and, in June 1963, some 150 graduates heard James J. Nance, chair, Central National Bank of Cleveland, offer the commencement address.

“A big part of who we are is who you are because of the indelible impression you left here,” Reynolds told the 50-year reunion class. “You’ve been graduates now for 50 years and we’re grateful for your gifts back to Wilmington College of your time, talents and treasure.”