Friendship and Compassion Mark Homecoming 2001
September 20, 2001
The shadow of terrorism dampened, but did not extinguish, the joyous spirit of Homecoming 2001 at Davidson. Scheduled to occur just four days after the suicide hijackers claimed their victims, the college decided to proceed with plans to bring the Classes of 1936, 1941, 1991, and 1996 together on campus. As Alumni Director Matt Merrell '84 explained, "In doing so, we wanted to offer a haven for those who wanted the safety of a familiar place and the opportunity to reunite with friends and classmates." The college did postpone plans to dedicate the Alvarez College Union that week. Flowers which were to have served as table decorations for that event had already arrived. Instead of wasting them, they were offered to alumni and others in the community in exchange for a donation to the American Red Cross. Many alumni expressed their sympathy for victims and their families by leaving flowers at the base of the campus flagpole.
Airline flight cancellations foiled some alumni who had planned to attend, and altered plans for others. Class of '41 reunion chair (r) Hank Bahnson, ended up driving eight hours from Pittsburgh, and missed Friday night's reception. About 20 of his classmates, and many of their spouses, showed up for the late afternoon social hour in the Alvarez College Union Sprinkle Room. They greeted each other warmly. Stuart Gibbs of Gastonia shared a smile with a friend, (l-r) George McDonald and Boyce Rhyne got reacquainted, and (l-r) Jean Marshall, Charlie Marshall '41, Jean Howie, and Carl Howie '41 pulled up chairs for some extended conversation.
On their way to the C. Shaw Smith 900 Room for an elegant dinner, members of the class took a detour to the Baker Terrace, where (c) Houghton Pardee '41 and classmates lit candles in an impromptu memorial service to honor terror's latest casualties. Gene Vereen '41 led his classmates with some brief remarks. (l-r) Paul Crane '41, John McLucas '41 and friends concluded their gathering by singing "America the Beautiful."
Saturday dawned crisp and crystal clear, a perfect day for the multitudes who signed up for an alumni 5-k run on the cross-country course. Adam Engell, spouse of Miles Dean Engell '91, was the first finisher, followed closely by Jamie Kiser '86. Third place in the men's division went to Bill Smith '91. The women's division was also won by an alumni spouse, Stacey Curnow. She and her husband, Doug Gibson '91, posed with the t-shirt that was reward for her achievement. The second place woman was Gigi Cooke Tysinger '91, who posed with husband, Andy '90, who finished back in the pack while pushing a stroller full of their children around the course! Third place in the women's division was Ellen Runnels '99. The alumni office made sure there were plenty of refreshments for Grier Martin '91 and other finishers.
Following the race, many alumni enjoyed a panel discussion of "Davidson Today and Yesterday" staged in the C. Shaw Smith 900 Room. Sam Maloney '48, professor of religion emeritus, recalled the history of the humanities program for the audience and panelists (l-r) Cole Barton of the psychology department, Amber Hartman '02, Hilary Dack '02, Vivien Dietz of the history department, and Annie Ingram of the English department.
That program was followed immediately in the Visual Arts Center with a presentation on "Faith and Work" by Elizabeth Kiss '83, Rhodes Scholar, college trustee, and director of the Kenan Ethics Center at Duke University. Her talk was the kickoff event for a Charlotte alumni seminar series sponsored by the college's new Lilly Program for the Theological Exploration of Vocation. The program's director (l) Tim Beach-Verhey, was on hand to greet Kiss and explain the series to interested parties.
The beautiful day was perfect for an alumni luncheon on Richardson Plaza. Catering assistant Megan Grant presided over a bounteous supply of chicken and biscuits. Dave Grant, professor of biology, circulated through the crowd to find friends who accompanied him on his many marine biology semester study programs at Beaufort.
In the meantime, the Class of 1941 dined in Chambers Gallery, where Auburn Lambeth '51 presided over the program. Members of the class then filed out the front of Chambers for their class photo. The Class of '36 consisted of a small, but enthusiastic couple. (l-r) Tom Ross '36 and Floyd Johnson held their banner proudly. Vera Morrison, spouse of Boyce Morrison '41, made a special point of decorating her cane with the Wildcat colors to show her allegiance for the alma mater. (l-r) Dick Phillips, Tom McCoy, and Murphy Williams took time after the photo shoot to chat. As class members strolled away from the area, a group of them was stopped by current senior Wendy Adams, who enquired whether any of them remembered her late grandfather Andy Dale '41. Several did, and a long conversation about friends and times past ensued.
Since Davidson's Homecoming football game with Drake was cancelled, and because the terrorist events were on everyone's mind, the alumni office pulled together an afternoon panel discussion about the issues of the day. A large crowd of alumni gathered in the C. Shaw Smith 900 Room to hear remarks by (l-r) Lou Ortmayer of the political science department, Arabic historian Jonathan Berkey, Susan Roberts of the political science department, Matt Zogby '02, and Derrick Willard '91. Many in the audience, including Cecily Craighill '91, had questions for the panelists.
The panel concluded after an hour, leaving alumni with a large chunk of free afternoon time before their evening activities. The college employed students and rented a fleet of golf carts to help alumni get around campus. Clea Garner '02 gave a ride to Miller '41 and Barbara Sproull. Groups of friends coalesced informally wherever they met. Tina McKenzie '91 provided some rich memories for her classmates by bringing along the beautifully crafted scrapbooks she compiled during her years at Davidson. They included everything from photographs to ticket stubs from concerts to headlines from newspapers, helping jog memories and bring smiles to faces.
As the day drifted toward evening, the two younger reunion groups took their turns on the Chambers steps for a group photo. (l-r) Jay Chaudhuri '91 and John Howell '92 spent a few minutes afterwards catching up. The Class of 1991, whose reunion was chaired by Kristi Kessler and Derrick Willard, headed to the President's House for some socializing. Several former college notables dropped in to visit with their old friends. Miles Dean Engell '91 spoke with Will Terry, former dean of students, while Suzanne White Howell '91 talked with Don Kimmel, professor emeritus of biology. That group then devoured a low country boil, and stayed long into the evening enjoying a slide show, and warm conversation. The Class of 1996 gathered under the leadership of reunion chairs Katie Tobin and J.D. DuPuy. They spent the evening on the front lawn of Chambers, enjoying daquiris and made-to-order fajitas. (l-r) Lori Blue '96, Phelps Sprinkle '93, and Kate Evans Sprinkle '96 toasted their reunion with frosty glasses. As darkness fell, Chambers provided a stately backdrop for their gathering, and a silent reminder during troubled times of knowledge and values gained during their four years on those grounds.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson is currently engaged in "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.