SUNY Cortland Sesquicentennial kicks off with alumni reunion

SUNY Cortland alumni celebrate Red Dragon Pride Day 2016

This year is the 150th anniversary of SUNY Cortland, and the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association plans to mark this milestone in a big way during Alumni Reunion 2018.

Hundreds of returning alumni and friends will celebrate the SUNY Cortland Sesquicentennial as they enjoy class get-togethers, parties and other activities both on and off campus from Thursday, July 12, through Sunday, July 15.

Highlighting the beginning of the College’s sesquicentennial year, Robert Channing, a world-famous mentalist and speed painter who was a hit on “America’s Got Talent,” will perform on Saturday, July 14, at the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House during the “Brews and Barbecue” event. What Channing plans to paint during the evening is a mystery that is sure to entertain attendees.

“We are ready to kick off the College’s Sesquicentennial at Reunion,” said Erin Boylan, executive director of alumni engagement at SUNY Cortland and co-chair of the College’s Sesquicentennial Committee.

“We can’t wait to celebrate our 150 years of excellence with our alumni by offering enhanced programming,” she said. “Reunion is always a wonderful time because of the people, and we look forward to having our amazing graduates back on campus yet again.”

As always, all alumni are welcome at Reunion, regardless of class year. Featured groups include the Half Century Club, comprised of alumni who graduated more than 50 years ago; the Classes of 1953, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1973 and 1993; sisters of Nu Sigma Chi sorority, brothers of Beta Phi Epsilon (1927-1995) fraternity, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. The Classes of 1977, 1978 and 1979 will return as the 40th Cluster Reunion.

Reunion opens Thursday with the Class of 1968 50th Reunion Dinner, which will take place in the back gardens of the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House.

On Friday, the alumni association and Athletics Department will combine talents to continue the “Red and White Golf Classic.” The enhanced golf tournament will be held at the Cortland Country Club and will serve as a fundraiser for both organizations.

Later that morning, the Class of 1968 will depart for the Seneca Lake Wine Tour while Nu Sigma Chi will host a campus-wide sorority scavenger hunt.

That afternoon, the Cortland College Foundation and SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum will host a special reception at the Parks Alumni House to welcome all Red Dragons and to thank the Reunion Committee members.

Later that night, Red Dragon Karaoke will take place in the Corey Union Fireplace Lounge. The Beta Phi Epsilon (1927-1995) fraternity will have their Welcoming Social in the Corey Union Function Room. Nu Sigma Chi sorority will celebrate its 90th anniversary with a dinner in the beautiful gardens at the Parks Alumni House. The Half Century Club will again enjoy dinner in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge, and a musical, “Newsies,” at Cortland Repertory Theatre.

Saturday’s events include classes offered by graduates as well as guided tours of the campus and the Parks Alumni House.

The SUNY Cortland Alumni Association will present its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, to three graduates during the Alumni Reunion 2018 luncheon. The luncheon begins Saturday at noon in the Corey Union Function Room and honors reunion classes and the award recipients.

The following 2018 Distinguished Alumni will be honored:

  • Thomas Buschatzke ’77, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, who has made a career out of finding collaborative solutions to thorny water management and allocation issues and ensuring that the City of Phoenix and the state of Arizona have a sustainable water future.
  • Megan Burns ’01, a senior consultant and Connecticut program director for Bailit Health Purchasing in Boston. She identifies policy recommendations for state lawmakers aimed at containing the costs of health care and ensuring affordability for all people in the state.
  • Jim Benham ’67, one of the original Silicon Valley pioneers, whose expertise in photonics and high-power microwave devices has benefitted all branches of the U.S. military and major defense contractors.

The association also will present a number of other major honors that afternoon, including the inaugural Distinguished Educator Award.

The 2018 Distinguished Educator Award recipients are:

  • Fern Yasser Kupfer ’68, an American author and retired associate professor of creative writing at Iowa State University.
  • Carolyn “Lyn” Macleod Long ’58, a retired teacher and school administrator in Chapin, S.C., where in light of her very extensive community involvement the mayor last year formally declared Nov. 3 “Lyn Long Day.”
  • Nestor Sherman ’84, a Regents professor of kinesiology at Texas A&M University-Kingsville who has made a lasting impact in his field on the measurement of human performance.

The 2018 Distinguished Young Alumnus Award recipients are:

  • Patrick Fannon ’13, who attempted to qualify for the 2016 Olympics as a triathlete and currently serves as the track and field coordinator at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island, N.Y.
  • Alexander Grimm ’10, who teaches global history, social issues and criminal justice and coaches football and lacrosse at Sachem North High School in Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

The 2018 Outstanding Alumni Volunteer Award recipient is:

  • William Doughty Jr. ’69, C.A.S. ’92, a retired Cortland High School principal who has graciously performed countless services at events on behalf of the association and College and contributed many hours to the upkeep and maintenance of the Parks Alumni House.

The association’s newest Honorary Alumna is:

  • Robin Wheeler Baroni, the recently retired Alumni Engagement team coordinator who had served the College since 1998.

Following the luncheon, the Nu Sigma Chi Legacy Fund will underwrite the All-Greek Reception at the Parks Alumni House. The Lofty Elm Society Information Session and Reception will be hosted by Bitterbaum in the Dowd Fine Arts Gallery.

Saturday evening, all reunion attendees are invited to the Parks Alumni House for “Brews and Barbecue.” In addition to the Robert Channing performance, the event will offer a selection of barbecue fare and a photo booth featuring decades props. Joe McInerney ’70, a member of the association’s Concert Era Committee, will guest DJ at the event to raise awareness about the committee’s desire to highlight artists that have performed on campus and the plans to build a sculpture commemorating the many big-name concerts held on campus. Prizes will be given to those able to guess artists who have performed at SUNY Cortland.

A series of Young Alumni Reunion Day (Y.A.R.D.) events — geared for graduates from the past 10 years — are scheduled for that day. Activities will include brunch with Bitterbaum, complimentary beverages at the Cortland Beer Company and Finger Lakes Tasting Room, an invitation to join all classes for “Brews and Barbecue,” and “Ignite the Night” to close the evening at the Red Jug Pub.

On Sunday, a farewell breakfast for all classes is scheduled for 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Parks Alumni House Kappa (1925-1991) Alumni Lawn.

The campus community is encouraged to attend Alumni Reunion 2018. For more information or to register, contact Alumni Engagement at 607-753-2516 or visit