The SUNY Cortland Alumni Association plans to conclude the upcoming Alumni Reunion 2019 not with a fizzle, but with a bang. Literally.
The association plans to hold a Sesquicentennial Closing Fireworks Celebration on Saturday, July 13, in the City of Cortland’s Courthouse Park. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Marking the end of the College’s 150th anniversary year, the incendiary display at 8 p.m. that day will top a full schedule of reunion festivities slated from Thursday, July 11, through Sunday, July 14.
Hundreds of returning alumni and friends have registered to participate in the SUNY Cortland Sesquicentennial’s final days as they enjoy class get-togethers, parties and other activities both on and off campus.
“It’s been such a special year for SUNY Cortland, celebrating 150 years of excellence, and having Reunion serve as the opening and closing celebrations has been a really special way to include our alumni in such a huge anniversary for our alma mater,” said Taylor Lynch ’17, assistant director of alumni engagement at SUNY Cortland and coordinator of Reunion 2019.
“We’re excited to have a fireworks show for the first time during Reunion, in addition to the more than 30 events we have planned for the weekend. There’s something for everyone and a handful of free events for all.”
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 1954, 1959, 1964, 1969, 1974 and 1994; sisters of Alpha Sig sorority, Kappa (1925-1991) fraternity, the softball team, College Singers and Kente/Voice Office groups.
Reunion opens Thursday with the Class of 1969 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 1969 will celebrate its 50threunion with a Skaneateles Adventure. The class members will spend a day exploring Skaneateles Lake with a boat cruise featuring lunch and time to explore the village’s charming downtown. Meanwhile, Alpha Sig will host a Cayuga Lake Wine Tour.
Friday 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 on Friday, many class and group activities will ensue. The Half Century Club will enjoy dinner at Dowd Gallery in the Dowd Fine Arts Center followed by a musical, “Mamma Mia!,” at Cortland Repertory Theatre. The featured 45th anniversary Class of 1974 will have an informal welcoming social on the back patio at Central City Bar and Grill. Kappa (1925-1991) fraternity members will gather on the Parks Alumni House Kappa (1925-1991) Alumni Lawn. Alpha Sig sorority will dine in the beautiful gardens at the Parks Alumni House. Former members of the College Singers will have dinner at the Community Restaurant.
That evening, the Cortland Main Street Music Series will host a concert that is free and open to all, featuring the Todd Hobin Band with support from The Cousins and The Beaushesnes. The show will be held rain or shine. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.
The reunion committee this year strives for diversity more than ever by organizing a weekend full of events for the Kente/Voice Office groups, including a Voice Office social that evening called the Late, But Not Too Late, Night Event in the Corey Union Function Room.
On Saturday morning, in another sesquicentennial year highlight, the association will host a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. to unveil a metal sculpture for the Musical Legacy Commemorative Project: 1960-1990.
The event takes place on the Corey Union ground floor. The metal sculpture was conceived by a group of alumni who formed the Musical Legacy Commemorative Project: 1960-1990 committee. The project is supported by alumni donors and designed and built by graduate Scott Oldfield ’06, a lecturer in SUNY Cortland’s Art and Art History Department.
The Cortland campus was where many students first heard what would become some of the largest stars in music, including the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Judy Collins, Billy Joel, The Grateful Dead, The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Aerosmith, Muddy Waters and The Kinks. The sculpture aims to ensure that this era is remembered and celebrated.
Following the unveiling ceremony, the Musical Legacy Commemorative Project: 1960-1990 committee will host a reception in Memorial Library to show off their memorabilia. Committee members will be present to answer any questions.
Saturday’s events also include guided tours of the campus and the Parks Alumni House. Softball will celebrate 50 years of their program with the Cortland softball family. All teams, their families and friends, are welcome to see the new field and celebrate team camaraderie, coach Julie Lenhart’s retirement and the beginning of the head coaching career of Molly O’Donnell M ’15.
Kappa (1925-1991) will host a ceremony to unveil a plaque signifying their naming of the Student Life Center back patio, with lunch to follow.
The Alumni Association will present its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, to three graduates during the Alumni Awards Luncheon. The luncheon begins Saturday at noon in the Corey Union Function Room and honors reunion classes and the award recipients.
The following 2019 Distinguished Alumni will be honored:
- Michael Flaster ’78, who was instrumental in the development of SUNY Cortland’s radio station, enjoyed a successful career in public broadcasting and is now a respected media consultant.
- Robert Gaeta ’00, who holds a Ph.D. in plant breeding and plant genetics, works to provide sustainable food solutions for farmers.
- Michael Kerner ’75, a highly-respected psychologist, lends his expertise to law enforcement and universities in Northern California.
The association also will present a number of other major honors that afternoon. The 2019 Distinguished Educator Award recipients are:
- Timothy O’Connell ’90, a professor of outdoor recreation and outdoor education at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, is known for adding recreational adventure to college student orientation and for using reflective journals as a teaching tool.
- Richard Sylves ’70, a professor emeritus in political science and international relations at University of Delaware, made a career out of the politics of disaster.
The 2019 Distinguished Young Alumnus Award recipient is:
- Paul Mangiamele ’14, who created downtown Cortland’s first Long Island-style bagel shop, sold the successful enterprise and now works for Tesla Motors.
The 2019 Outstanding Alumni Volunteer Award recipient is:
- Richard Cecconi ’74, M ’89, C.A.S. ’93, is a retired Homer, N.Y., schoolteacher and lacrosse coach. He currently is an able, ready and cheerful SUNY Cortland alumni ambassador and Parks Alumni House volunteer.
Reunion attendees will have the chance to speak with the award winners and learn more at a meet and greet after the luncheon.
That afternoon, Kente/Voice Office groups will host an authentic Caribbean lunch and will unveil anewly created plaque will be unveiled honoring the late Calvin Louis-Juste ’09 during the grand reopening of the newly renovated Corey Union Voice Office, a space dedicated to student organizations that focus on celebrating member’s individual identities including ethnic and religious backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender identity or differing abilities. The plaque will display the names of recipients of the new Calvin Louis-Juste ‘09 Memorial Award, which recognizes a student from a multicultural background with at least a 3.0 grade point average who is committed to community service, campus leadership, continuing personal improvement and advocacy for equity and inclusion on campus.
The Nu Sigma Chi Legacy Fund will underwrite the annual All-Greek Reception at the Parks Alumni House. All alumni members of fraternities and sororities are welcome to join, not just the featured Greek groups.
Saturday evening, all reunion attendees are invited to the Parks Alumni House for Reunion’s biggest event, Brews and Barbecue.
After Brews and Barbecue, the Young Alumni Post-Brews After Party will take place at the Cortland Beer Co. Young alumni events are geared for graduates from the past 10 years.
On Sunday, a farewell breakfast for all classes with the Alumni Association Board of Directors is scheduled for 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Student Life Center. Kappa (1925-1991) fraternity and Alpha Sig sorority will also have their own respective farewell breakfasts.
The campus community is encouraged to attend Alumni Reunion 2019. For up to date information or to register, contact Alumni Engagement at 607-753-2516 or visit RedDragonNetwork.org/reunion.
“We’re just so excited to have our alumni back on campus to help them make new Cortland memories,” Lynch said. “Whether they came back just last year or haven’t returned since they graduated 50 years ago, it’s a special weekend filled with nostalgia and memories for all.”