Reunion 2007 Award Winners Announced

EASTON, Pa.(, June 11, 2007 —The following is a list of awards and their recipients from the Reunion 2007 weekend.

Outstanding Reunion Chairperson: Christine O’Hea Pitluk ’92

Oldest Alum in Attendance: Donald McCluskey ’36

Youngest Future ’Pard in Attendance: Tyler Vonroth, son of Brent ’02 and Jenny Vonroth and grandson of Bill ’67 and Irene Vonroth

Longest Distance Traveled: Heather Werner ’02 from Cologne, Germany

Most Classmates in Attendance: Class of 2002 (103 alumni), chaired by Tracy Kirwan ’02

Highest Percentage of Classmates in Attendance: Class of 1962 (25%), chaired by Jim Lyttle ’62, Sandy Schwilk ’62, and Jim Montgomery ’62

3K Reunion Challenge Run Winner: James Wright ’75

Reunion Golf Outing Winners:
1st place team: Arthur Owens ’02, Spencer Williams ’02, Ross Steckel, Charlie Reiss
2nd place team: David Marione ’82, Tom O’Connor ’82, Peter Ramsey ’82, Jim Stubeck ’83
3rd place team: Tom Barlow ’82, Alexander Blanchet ’82, John Devlin ’82, Lewis Korngut ’82
Most honest team: Chris Cosgrove ’98, Steve Konya ’96, Nuri Eraydin ’99, Burak Eraydin
Longest Drive: Spencer Williams ’02
Straightest Drive: Tucker Flood ’82
Closest to the Pin: Craig Kudcey ’73

Parade Awards:
Parade Marshal’s Trophy: 1957
Honorable Mentions: 1962, 1967, 1992
The parade grand marshal was Chas Snyder ’78 and assisting marshals were Ted Versink ’68, Tony Rossi ’68, Bob Schaller ’68, and HelenBeth Garofalo Vilcek ’79.


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: Beating Swords into Plowshares and Spears into Pruning Hooks

College Archivist Diane Windham Shaw recounts the College’s difficult journey from founding to opening

EASTON, Pa.(, June 3, 2007 —

Back in 1824, nearly five decades after the 13 American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, the Revolution’s young French hero, the Marquis de Lafayette, returned for a “farewell tour.”

“Everywhere he went during the 14-month tour, he was hailed as a hero,” College Archivist Diane Windham Shaw told a packed room during a Reunion Weekend talk Saturday afternoon.

Not to be outdone, a group of Easton citizens led by James Madison Porter set out for Philadelphia in high-sided Durham boats—the kind used by George Washington to cross the Delaware—to catch a glimpse of the Marquis and hear him speak.

In the wake of Lafayette’s visit, Shaw said, there was “sort of a frenzy of honorific naming” of towns, streets, buildings, and schools for the war hero.

And so, when Porter took the lead in suggesting the founding of a college in Easton later that year, the name Lafayette was an obvious choice.

Very little else in the College’s long road to becoming reality was anywhere near as easy. From the first meeting in December 1824, arguments abounded about how the college would be run, what subjects would be taught, where it would be located, whether religion should play a role, and even whether whoever became president would be paid.

Finally, Shaw said, a solution came from an unlikely source—the Rev. George Junkin, a Presbyterian minister and head of the Manual Labor Academy at Germantown in Philadelphia, agreed to become Lafayette’s first president, and to bring most of his students to help form the new school.

And so, Shaw said, although the founding board had previously agreed that military science would be taught and that clergy should not play a role in order to prevent the new school from becoming “priest ridden,” a program of manual labor (in addition to academic study) replaced the planned military science curriculum, and Junkin was elected president Feb. 6, 1832.

“The new College would be nothing like it was envisioned,” Shaw said, and quoted the words of David Bishop Skillman ’13 in his Biography of a College: “Thus did Lafayette beat her swords into plowshares and her spears into pruning hooks.”

Junkin’s students walked north from Philadelphia with their belongings on their backs, Aaron Hoff 1836 formally declared the College open by blowing a horn, and 67 students, including 11 who commuted from their homes, began their studies. The students were taught by a mathematics professor and a classics professor.

“The tuition was $30 a year,” said Shaw, adding that lodging was $4 per year, while meals were $1.50 per week, or $1.25 at the “cheap table.”

The food, according to a letter written by Alexander Ramsey 1836, who eventually became United States Secretary of War, was “such as beggars all description.”

Ramsey wrote, “At breakfast we have coffee (so-called), sometimes a mackerel of the herring species, appropriated to about eighteen persons, a little cold meat in the same proportion, and bread and rank butter. At dinner beef, potatoes unskinned, water and dry bread. Supper a decoction of tea in warm water, bread and molasses.”

Shaw added more levity with another excerpt from a Ramsey letter: “I had but two pair of pantaloons along, and Oh Horriden!!! on descending the hill in front of the college I fell and tore one of them past all redemption, so that one pair at this time has to answer me for Sunday-go-to-meeting dress and work pants.”

In 1839, the College dropped the manual labor aspect of its curriculum—it was becoming too expensive to buy equipment and enrollment had risen to a point where it was difficult to keep all students occupied.

The next 70 years proved difficult, and the College nearly closed many times. Perhaps the worst crisis occurred in 1863, when the call for volunteers to serve in the Civil War dropped enrollment to 50 students.

“Most of the 19th century was pretty tricky, and we’re lucky to be here,” Shaw said. “But we certainly are flourishing now, thanks to all of you.”


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: Dry and Happy Times

With no rain for a change, alumni and their families enjoy Saturday evening on the Quad

EASTON, Pa.(, June 2, 2007 —The 2007 Reunion Weekend outdoor class cocktail parties and dinners lacked something that their predecessors had in abundance.

But no one was complaining.

Dark skies and a messy, muddy Quad had become the norm over the past several years.

But this year, despite a looming weather threat that caused alumni to prepare for the worst, Saturday’s events went off with nary a raindrop to be found. The result was no ruined shoes or party dresses, no slop trudged through the tent where the dinner took place – and plenty of happy faces to go around.

“It’s wonderful, just a beautiful day,” said Cole Vastine, who was visiting for the weekend with his wife, Carla Douglass Vastine ’87. “Everything was taken care of – and a beverage on a hot day is a good thing.”

They were joined by scores of alumni who strolled around the grounds, chatting up old friends, making new ones, and generally taking in the ambience of what turned out to be a spectacular day.

While the attire ranged from shorts and sandals to blue jeans to semi-formal evening wear, the Quad itself was dressed to the nines.

One huge tent accommodated most of the attendees, while another was set aside for the Class of ’77 and still another for the evening’s live entertainment. Unlike last year, when the band played in the dinner tent, the music and dance floor were given their own venue.

Patty DeAngelis Szipszky ’87 and Julie Martin ’87 joked about the joys of sleeping in McKeen Hall this weekend. Still, no one was complaining.

“The campus looks amazing,” Martin said. “I can’t believe the changes.”

“We’re having a fabulous time,” Szipszky added.

For Martin, coming back to campus was a bit of a hike from her home in Massachusetts.

But for Kevin Doyle ’97, he just had to shoot down Route 22 from his home near Allentown.

“It’s been great just hanging out with old buddies. It’s really what I come back for,” Doyle said as he stood in line waiting to refresh his refreshment. “The campus is looking good.”

If you attend enough Reunion and Homecoming events, many of the faces start to look familiar. But you probably wouldn’t have recognized David Fisher ’82 if you saw him Saturday.

That’s because the Chi Phi brother hadn’t been back to school since he graduated. Obviously, much had changed, but not the camaraderie among fraternity brothers.

“So far everything has been great,” he said. “It was a good turnout for our class. Three-quarters of our class was back.”

Nancy Turner Hollendonner ’82 also was enjoying the chance to reacquaint with old friends. Like her other visits back to campus, this was time well spent.

“We came up this year for the Lafayette-Lehigh game. The stadium was awesome,” she said.

Ted Gailer ’60, who had made the drive up from Atlanta, said he was having a great time. He had marched earlier in the annual parade on College Hill, somehow convinced by Glenn Grube ’57 to carry the banner for the Class of 1957.

Why did Gailer attend his first Reunion during an off year for his class? His Delta Tau Delta fraternity brothers had coordinated with alumni affairs to organize their own reunion over the weekend, and he was pleased to see about 60 DTD alumni attend, including roughly a dozen from his own era.

Speaking of fraternities, Bill Faust ’02 and his wife, Laura Hrshock Faust ’02, both enjoyed the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Phi Psi house. They were joined at their table by Mike Balboni ’02, who was relishing the chance to “just see old friends and hang out.”

Pamela Auble ’97 had taken the opportunity to hear some of Friday’s Reunion College lectures and enjoyed them immensely. As for Saturday: “We’re having a great time.”

Tri-Delta sister Heather Werner ’02, who lives in Germany, said she was using much of the weekend to catch up with her sorority mates.

And Gladys Moniba ’97 said she was using the alumni office’s guide for the weekend as her roadmap for fun.

“We’re having a great time doing everything [those] guys put in the brochure,” she said. “It’s a great event.”


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: Tragic Mistakes on the Road to War

Middle East Expert Ilan Peleg discusses Iraq conflict

EASTON, Pa.(, June 1, 2007 — The United States could have avoided many of the mistakes it made in Iraq had it listened more closely to academics and others with expertise in Middle East affairs, according to Ilan Peleg, Charles A. Dana Professor of Social Science and acting chair of Lafayette’s international affairs program.

Speaking to a riveted gathering of visiting alumni on campus Friday morning for Reunion Weekend, Peleg dissected the current situation in a Reunion College speech titled “The Iraq War: A Perfect Failure or a Reasonable Gamble?”

In his analysis, the former part of the title held more truth than the latter.

The U.S. has managed to create a Vietnam-like quagmire while alienating the rest of the world in the process, the professor said. Moreover, the White House sold a war intended to be retaliation for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that in fact is being fought against a country that had no connection to that event.

“We went into Iraq without understanding the community, the culture,” Peleg said. “Who actually won the Iraq War? For the most part, unfortunately, our very worst enemies won the war in Iraq.”

To that end, Peleg delineated five different parties – the U.S. not among them – who have gained the most from the war:

  • Iran: “Easily, I think, the biggest winner of the war. They did not fight the war, but they won the war.” Among Iran’s major victories: the elimination of its hated enemy Saddam Hussein; an expansion westward, including control of a sizeable swath of southern Iraq; the growth of its nuclear capability; and a tilt in the balance of power in its favor.
  • Al-Qaeda: “The invasion of Iraq in many ways saved Al-Qaeda.” The terrorist organization and its Sept. 11 architect Osama bin-Laden now have a staging area for terrorists, who have been pouring in from Chechnya, Algeria, and other countries. Veterans of the conflict are returning home and establishing new Al-Qaeda cells. Peleg said President Bush failed to understand something his father did during the Persian Gulf War of 1991 – that if the U.S. overthrew the Iraqi government, it would be in charge of an area it could not control.
  • Radical Shiites, most notably cleric Muqtada al-Sadr: “He’s the single most powerful man in Iraq, with 60,000 fighters who are willing and able to do anything he asks.” Al-Sadr also has the advantage of being backed by Iran.
  • Other world powers like Russia and China: After the end of the Cold War, the U.S. was by far the most powerful nation in the world militarily, economically, and culturally, but “Iraq actually stopped the momentum we had going for us.”
  • Other Arab dictators: “In effect we have given a reprieve in the process of democratization to these other leaders,” most notably Egypt, which had been under pressure to install a democracy before the war began. “In Iraq we made a judgment that we have more important things to attend to.”

As for solutions to the conflict, Peleg suggested that Iraq would need to be partitioned to keep the endlessly warring factions apart, though he acknowledged that this minority view is not a popular one and the war will continue for some time regardless.

And as for a diagnosis of what caused the U.S. to enter Iraq without thinking through the consequences, Peleg said the Bush administration was a victim of its own hubris. He said the war’s architects have “all the confidence, often based on a lack of knowledge and no real interest in exploring knowledge.”

Matt Thomases ’62 asked what the U.S. could do now.

“Let’s not go back,” he said. “How do we get ourselves out of this mess?”

“You have to think about how to disengage,” Peleg said before outlining his idea about partitioning the country. “Unfortunately, I think Iraq will continue to be a hotbed for terrorists.”


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: The Risky Business of Being a Younger Sibling

Susan Averett shares her research on birth order and family dynamics

EASTON, Pa.(, June 2, 2007 —

Susan Averett, a mother of two children spaced five years apart, explained to a roomful of alumni Saturday afternoon how she learned that her spacing choice may not have been the best for her younger child.

Averett, Lafayette’s Dana Professor and head of economics and business, told Reunion Weekend participants that several books, most notably Dalton Conley’s The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why, prompted her to conduct research on the economic consequences of birth order.

Her work, “Birth Order and Risky Adolescent Behavior,” co-authored by Laura M. Argys and Daniel I. Rees, both of the University of Colorado at Denver, was published in the April 2006 edition of the journal Economic Inquiry and garnered national attention, including articles in USA Today and the Boston Globe and an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show.

Averett said Conley interviewed hundreds of siblings to determine “which siblings succeed and why” and determined that “there’s a lot of inequality within families.”

Most famous in such unequal pairings, Averett said, are American presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and their younger brothers, Roger and Billy – extreme examples of law-abiding, successful older siblings and risk-taking younger siblings.

Averett also pointed to Why Firstborns Rule the World and Lastborns Want to Change It by Michael Glose as important to her research. And, in a bid to popular culture, she cited the “Brady Bunch effect,” using TV sitcom character Jan Brady’s angry outburst about her older sister’s achievements (“Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!”) to describe the difficulties of middle children in large families.

“Only very recently have economists begun to look at how birth order factors into risky behavior,” Averett said.

Her research focused on cigarette smoking, alcohol and marijuana use, and sexual activities as examples of risky behavior by adolescents.

“If adolescents engage in these behaviors, they may have negative effects on their future earning capacity,” she said, explaining that over the past 20 years, economists have branched out into examining “all kinds of different behaviors, including marriage, fertility, and risk-taking.”

“There are in fact costs to our society” when adolescents engage in risky behavior, Averett said. “And there are, of course, costs to their families.”

Averett said that with the help of student researchers in Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, she examined data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics-funded National Longitudinal Study of Youth and Young Adults, encompassing information from 15,000 adolescents, and the National Institutes of Health-funded Adolescent Health Survey, including “very personal” information from about 20,000 adolescents.

Averett and her students learned that boys and girls with older siblings all were more likely to engage in risky behaviors. Boys with older siblings had greater increases in instances of drinking alcohol, using marijuana, and engaging in sexual activity than did girls, while girls had the larger boost in smoking cigarettes.

“We controlled for all other factors,” Averett said, explaining that birth order emerged as the determining factor—and, much to her chagrin, the strongest effects were between siblings four or more years apart.

She also researched the relationship between birth order and positive behavior without finding a link of cause and effect.


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: 50-Plus Years in the Lafayette Community

Over 100 longtime alumni gather for lunch with President Dan Weiss

EASTON, Pa.(, June 1, 2007 —So what does it take to be a member of the Alumni Association’s 50-Plus Club?

It’s pretty simple: You have to have graduated in 1957 or earlier.

1957 was the year the Soviets launched Sputnik I, the Giants baseball team moved from New York to San Francisco, and the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles. Dwight Eisenhower began his second term, and nine more presidents would follow.

People who graduated that year, though, were the youngsters at Friday’s Reunion Weekend reception for the 50-Plus Club at Kirby Sports Center. More than 100 alumni from classes reaching back to the ’30s and ’40s attended the event, kibitzing with their classmates and making new friends while also getting to speak with Lafayette President Dan Weiss.

As Dan Gichner ’52 sees it, more alumni ought to take part in such events, even though they are getting a bit grayer.

“I think we should plan for the 60th reunion for people to get them to think positive,” Gichner said as he made his way through a meat and cheese line set up for the attendees. “People used to die in their 70s and 80s, but now a lot keep going.”

Finding classmates was a challenge for some 50-Plus members.

But that doesn’t keep Otto Alden ’42 from attending alumni events when he can. He remains enthused and interested about the College’s progress.

“We’re moving ahead very much academically and athletically. I think it’s a real fine institution,” he said. “I’m pleased with the renaissance of the athletic program. I’m pleased with our new president.”


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: Making Lafayette One of the Very Best

President Dan Weiss discusses six-part strategic plan

EASTON, Pa.(, June 2, 2007 —

Lafayette President Dan Weiss outlined a six-part strategic plan Saturday that he said would make the College one of the nation’s elite learning institutions.

Speaking during a 10 a.m. gathering that served as one of the focal points of Reunion Weekend, Weiss laid out a bold set of ambitions that will serve as the foundation for Lafayette’s future. The speech echoed some of the vision he set forth in his inaugural 2006 Reunion Weekend address.

“When I came to the campus two years ago it was with the intention to lead the effort of, what do we do next?” he said. “How do we create a college in the new century that respects tradition but looks to the future?”

The answer, Weiss said, lies in the strategic plan – still under development – that will land Lafayette “among the ranks of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country.”

1) Quality of faculty. “We’re going to invest in building the finest faculty we can,” Weiss said. He praised the College’s current instructors and said Lafayette needs to keep making sure it upholds its standards of instructional excellence.

2) Curriculum. Among the goals must be a curriculum that stresses globalism, where students are encouraged and enabled to learn foreign languages, cultures, and viewpoints and study abroad. That also encompasses service learning, the incorporation of service projects into curricula as “faculty work to get students out in the world” to gain first-hand knowledge. “This means taking our little college in Easton, Pa., and connecting it to the world in myriad ways.”

3) Initiatives in the life sciences. “This is the great scientific frontier in the 21st century,” Weiss said. He said the curriculum needs to stress cutting-edge learning in areas like stem cell research and nanotechnology to position Lafayette at the forefront of the science world.

4) Arts. “All great liberal arts colleges have strong programs in the arts,” he said. He praised the programs of the Williams Center for the Arts and Williams Visual Arts Building, and stressed the importance of the Experimental Printmaking Institute founded and directed by Curlee Holton, which gives students the opportunity to work side-by-side with renowned professional artists and exhibit their works in real-world settings. “We ought to leverage it more effectively than we do,” Weiss said. He also said the aesthetics of the campus need greater attention, in particular mentioning his desire to eliminate the road around the Quad.

5) Diversity. The school can better achieve diversity by becoming a stronger leader in making a Lafayette education available to anyone who qualifies academically, regardless of ability to pay, Weiss said.

6) Campus, resources and community. Among the priorities in meeting this goal are making sure Lafayette is a responsible citizen in the Easton community and maximizes the use of its resources. “This is a place that brings people together, who love this place, who want to be a part of this place,” Weiss said. “We can’t lose sight of that or we lose our identity, we lose our core.”

Before outlining the plan, Weiss noted that the past 15 years have been a particularly fruitful era for the College.

“We have so much going for us, so much momentum and opportunity,” he said.

He also shared highlights from the past year.

On the athletic front, the football team once again defeated Lehigh (for the third straight year) and the baseball team has enjoyed its most successful year in program history, including a berth in the NCAA playoffs.

In academics, Weiss cited three faculty books that have earned critical acclaim and media attention: Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller, John Henry MacCracken Professor of History; From Hire to Liar: The Role of Deception in the Workplace by David Shulman, associate professor of anthropology and sociology; and Babylon and Other Stories, a collection of short stories by Alix Ohlin, assistant professor of English.

Three students and one recent alumna received Fulbright Scholarships, noted Weiss, and the College is first among leading liberal arts schools in the country for the number of students receiving Goldwater Scholarships in recent years.

Posse Foundation students continue to flourish at Lafayette, including Pepper Prize winner Danielle Bero ’07. In fact, Weiss reported, CBS News will air a report on the program Monday evening that highlights Lafayette because of the program’s success here.

The Third Street area at the bottom of College Hill will look completely different in the next year-and-a-half as projects are completed there, Weiss promised, and the College has received two major community service awards that demonstrate it serves as a national model for town-gown relations.

Weiss also mentioned the dedication of Ramer History House and Bourger Varsity Football House, the renovation of McKeen Hall, the upcoming master plan that will guide the use of the campus over the next 10 to 30 years, and the yearlong celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birthday of the Marquis de Lafayette.

During a question-and-answer period, Weiss said the College will continue to set its tuition according to what the market will support while continuing to make full use of its endowment and ability to provide financial aid to students who need it. He pointed out that Grinnell tried dropping its tuition to attract more students and found that it failed.

Weiss also mentioned that the new vice president for business affairs and treasurer, Mitchell Wein, has been charged with improving the College’s recycling and overall environmental stewardship. A building housing a life sciences program would be a “green” (environmentally friendly) one, he added.


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: The College Dedicates a Masterpiece

Bourger Varsity Football House donors honored as facility has its coming-out party

EASTON, Pa.(, June 1, 2007 — The dreams of Lafayette football supporters from all ranks – coaches, players, alumni, and others – came true tonight with the unveiling of the Bourger Varsity Football House.

In one of the key events of this year’s Reunion Weekend, dignitaries spanning the Lafayette community came together for an emotional ceremony that marked the dedication of the facility at the west end of Fisher Field. The $23 million project, begun in 2006 with the installation of Field Turf, the Jumbotron, and other amenities at the field, gives Lafayette first-class facilities to match its booming football program, coming off a Patriot League championship season and third straight NCAA playoff appearance.“What does this mean to the campus?” asked an at-times choked-up head coach Frank Tavani. “It means we now have the finest facility in the country at any level bar none, and it’s something we can all be proud of.”

Named in honor of the generosity of Leopard football great John T. “Jack” Bourger ’71 and Selena Vanderwerf, the two floors of the facility boast a dazzling array of cutting-edge features.

The first floor contains the team’s locker room, strength and conditioning areas, and sports medicine facilities, including a hydrotherapy room. The upper level houses coaches’ offices, a gallery with a display honoring “The Legends of Lafayette Football” and several meeting rooms, each named for donors who made the building possible.

Given the opportunity to discuss his contribution to the field house, Bourger instead chose to talk about his parents, Eugene J. “Mike” Bourger ’44 (1922-2004), a Lafayette soccer standout and baseball player, and Ruth Bourger (1922-2005).

The elder Bourgers were not only staunch supporters of their son’s football ambitions, but also the Lafayette program as a whole, attending most home and away games for more than 50 years. The warmth and closeness of the Lafayette community made them continue to come back, even when their health began to slip and they watched games from what Jack Bourger called his “luxury box” by the third-floor windows of the Allan P. Kirby Sports Center.

“It was those Lafayette friendships that sustained them through those years,” he said.

In fact, it was in 2001, a down year for the football program, that Bourger and Tavani first dreamed up the idea for the field house. Turns out, he and Tavani had the same vision.

“I remember looking to the left and thinking there was something missing in that stadium,” Bourger said. “Today that dream is a reality.”

Among the direct beneficiaries will be Marcel J. Quarterman ’08, co-captain of the 2007 team. Quarterman said he looks forward to no longer having to travel by bus down Sullivan Trail to Metzgar Field for practice.

“It’s going to be ours to use and the home of champions for years to come,” he said while acknowledging the donors who made the project a success. “With that kind of support you have no choice but to become champions.”

Lafayette President Dan Weiss thanked many of the key donors involved. Some have their names enshrined on various rooms in the building, while others have lockers bearing their names, or those they wish to honor, in the new locker rooms.

“We had arguably the poorest facility of its kind 10 years ago, and now we have the finest,” said Weiss, who jokingly said he would claim an office next to Tavani and appointed himself offensive coordinator of the team. Turning to Bourger and Vanderwerf, he said, “Jack and Selena, we are deeply grateful to the both of you for your devotion to the College and to Lafayette football.”

Joining the couple as the main financial supporters of the comprehensive stadium project were James R. ’77 and Tracey Fisher and the F.M. Kirby Foundation, represented at the ceremony by Fred Morgan Kirby II ’42, whom Bourger credited with insisting that the football field be moved to ensure excellent sight lines for all spectators in the stadium, and S. Dillard Kirby ’81.


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: Phi Psi Celebrates Reopening of “Old Grey Barn”

Ribbon-cutting ceremony caps fraternity house’s million-dollar renovation

EASTON, Pa.(, June 2, 2007 —With the snip of a green ribbon, the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house – known as the Old Grey Barn – was officially reopened Saturday during Reunion Weekend.

Alumni and current brothers were on hand to celebrate the million-dollar restoration campaign. One of the ceremony’s highlights was the completion of the front porch, which spans the entire front of the house.

Mechanical engineering graduate Doug Fish ’01 has been fundraising co-chair for the last three years. He has worked with international affairs graduate Jeff Gingerich ’97 on the renovation’s capital campaign.

“For all of us the dedication is immensely gratifying,” Fish said. “We have succeeded in securing the future of the chapter house and with that the future of the chapter by providing a state-of-the-art living facility for the current brothers.

“For me, my fraternity experience was one of the most important learning experiences of my life. This revitalization of the chapter house is my way of making sure that future generations will have the opportunity to benefit from the Phi Psi experience.”

Leading the capital campaign were biology graduate Roger Newton ’72 and mechanical engineering graduate Jim Akerhielm ’86. In addition to Fish and Gingerich, the core group of alumni who initiated the renovation project include civil engineering graduate John Pierce ’81, building committee co-chair; electrical engineering graduates Wes Crouse ’81 and R. Jay Geiger ’62; A.B. engineering graduate Alex La Roche ’98, housing corporation president; mechanical engineering graduate Bill Turner ’71; chemistry graduate Robert Leciston ’63; and economics and business graduate Robert McCabe ’67.

The construction portion of the project was managed by Crouse, Pierce, mechanical engineering graduate Jon Glick ’05, and mechanical engineering and international studies graduate Bill Faust ’02.

Newton, Fish, and La Roche were presented with plaques recognizing their special contributions to the project.

“This day came quicker than I thought, and it came as a result of the hard work of all these people,” said Newton.

The chapter expressed gratitude to the College administration for its support and cooperation in the project. Current brothers were housed in Rubin Hall this past school year while the fraternity house was under construction. Fish particularly acknowledged the support of Bruce Ferretti, director of physical planning, Plant Operations, and President Dan Weiss.

Weiss, Fish, Newton, Pierce, La Roche, and Claude Warren, assistant executive director of Phi Kappa Psi National Fraternity, offered remarks.

“This was a long time coming, and I congratulate all of you for your commitment,” Weiss said. “Thank you for devoting your time and effort to ensure that the members of Phi Psi have a strong academic as well as fraternal experience.”

Phi Psi students appreciate their fraternity experience and strong connections with the fraternity’s alumni.

“It has been my great honor and privilege to join Phi Kappa Psi this year with such a group of great guys,” said corresponding secretary Joey Haymaker ’09 (Hellertown, Pa.), a double major in Spanish and economics & business. “While Rubin Hall has become our makeshift home, I cannot count the times I have heard ‘I miss the house.’ It is definitely an understatement to say that the brothers are looking forward to the future of Phi Psi in the redone house, and we cannot say enough about the generous support from our loyal alumni.”

The Pennsylvania Theta Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi was founded at Lafayette March 15, 1869. In 1903, two alumni purchased a tract of land off Sullivan Lane that the fraternity house would eventually occupy. It is believed, though not officially confirmed, that President Woodrow Wilson, a Phi Psi brother from Princeton, visited the “Old Grey Barn” while in office.

In 1969, the house was moved to its March Field location as part of a project completed in 1971. Unfortunately, the house fell prey to years of wear and tear, leading to the need for the renovation project.


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: Bringing Nanny Insanity to the Big Screen

Andrea Cohen Malamut ’78 shares the stories behind her Domestic Import

EASTON, Pa.(, June 1, 2007 —

For many people, truth really is stranger than fiction. For Andrea Cohen Malamut ’78, it’s funnier, too.

Malamut turned one of her life’s more bizarre experiences – hiring a maid from Kiev to take care of her house – into a full-length feature comedy that has garnered strong reviews despite not having the backing of a major distributor.

“I think we need to smile and laugh once in a while, because there is such stress in the world,” Malamut told an amused gathering of alumni Friday during the Reunion College portion of Reunion Weekend.

If having a maid from Kiev doesn’t sound funny on its surface, then you need to hear Malamut’s story.

She and her husband hired the maid when they were having their first child. What followed was a comedy of errors in which the maid ended up bringing over family members from the Ukraine to the Malamut home, causing mayhem in which her husband was the main victim.

“She was hiding the entire family in our house,” Malamut said, only half-jokingly.

The film, Domestic Import, had its name changed to Nanny Insanity for release in the lucrative foreign market because not everyone gets the wit behind the oxymoron title and the new name translates better.

The project originally was meant for the stage. Malamut said the play version had all the right backing, including from Joy Abbott, wife of Broadway legend George Abbott, the man behind such hits as Damn Yankees. The show played to packed audiences in Florida, but when a financial backer died and Abbott’s interest turned elsewhere, the play landed in a drawer, where it would stay for eight years.

Still, the script stayed in Malamut’s mind, and she got the backing of investors that included Culver Studios, home to such classics as Gone With the Wind and King Kong and the TV show “Las Vegas.”

The movie was made in Hollywood, and Malamut told the audience of how strange it was to vacillate between the two worlds of living with her family on the East Coast and dealing with California movie executives making a movie. She recounted a time when she was standing in line at the deli counter ordering meat while on her cell phone making decisions about the movie.

Among the film’s stars are Howard Hesseman, most noted for his portrayal of DJ Johnny Fever in the classic “WKRP in Cincinatti” TV show and a role as a teacher in “Head of the Class.” It also features noted character actor Mindy Sterling.

While Malamut praised the cast for its work, she said she has one regret: not getting an A-list star, someone whose involvement would have convinced a distributor to spend significant money on what is known in the business as P&A – print and advertising. Limited funding has kept the film from having widespread release, although it was picked up for international distribution by Curb Entertainment.

“The creative process is truly wonderful,” she said of movie-making. “The business end is not.”

Still, the process was satisfying and the product, judging by excerpts Malamut played for Friday’s crowd, stupendous. The film is chock full of farce and comedic conflict, leaving alumni roaring with laughter and anticipating the film’s video release.

Critics enjoyed it as well. “ABC Primetime Weekend” compared the movie favorably with “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and the Philadelphia media ate it up when “Nanny Insanity” played there.

“This is light comedy,” Malamut explained. “It’s a throwback to the way comedy used to be.”


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: Full Speed Ahead for Alumni Association

Alumni hear progress report and approve new bylaws

EASTON, Pa.(, June 4, 2007 —Alumni Association President Jamie McLaughlin ’76 reported to alumni Saturday on Reunion Weekend that the association has enjoyed significant progress over the past year. He also introduced changes to the group’s by-laws at the annual meeting, all of which alumni voted to approve.

McLaughlin began by praising Alumni Affairs Director Sherri Jones for rejuvenating her office. He noted that the association’s leadership began an effort five years ago to draft a long-range plan that would make it more relevant. A proposal submitted by Ed Alkire ’58 and Dee Jacob ’74 was trimmed down, but most of the committee structure adopted by the Alumni Association Executive Committee reflects what was outlined in the proposal.Progress over the past year has been “pretty remarkable,” said McLaughlin. The main thrust has been to boost the “relevance and connectivity” of what the Alumni Association offers its constituents. Alumni increasingly are dispersed around the globe, making it more difficult to reach them and raising the importance of electronic communication, he said.

The regional chapters program has received a shot in the arm, he noted, as strategic areas are targeted by alumni affairs staff. A number of chapters have been established or revitalized, and plans are for the roster of 26 active chapters to double in the next few years.

Alumni affairs has organized annual programs for each class of students to make them more familiar with the office and the Alumni Association, McLaughlin reported, and the Executive Committee has attended Convocation for the incoming class during the past two years.

He highlighted the success of the inaugural Orientation to Life program in March, where students and young alumni heard from top speakers in the financial services field, including Thomas Orecchio ’90, one of top 100 financial advisers in the nation.

“It was an exciting effort to reach out to undergraduates and young alumni,” said McLaughlin.

More than 130 alumni are serving on Alumni Association committees, he noted, and regional chapter officers bring the total number of volunteers to more than 300.

McLaughlin urged the group to register for the Alumni Online Community and visit the alumni web site, which will unveil a redesigned home page in the near future.

Alumni unanimously voted to approve the following changes to the Alumni Association By-laws:

  • Merging the association’s constitution and by-laws into one document
  • Consolidating the several classes of membership to alumni and honorary members
  • Expanding the minimum advance notice required for the annual meeting from five weeks to 45 days
  • Changing the name of the association’s governing body from the Executive Committee to the Alumni Council (the current Alumni Council “has no real functions”)
  • Establishing that election of the Alumni Council will be by its members, with the exception of the president-elect, who will be chosen by all alumni who choose to attend a regular or special meeting
  • Enabling the designation of association committees by the Alumni Council rather than through the by-laws


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: Art Interpretation as Time Travel

President Dan Weiss uncovers political and religious messages in ancient art

EASTON, Pa.(, June 1, 2007 —For the second year, Lafayette President Dan Weiss shared his expertise in medieval art with an enthusiastic audience at Reunion College. His talk Friday morning addressed “Teaching Medieval Art in the Modern World: Finding Meaning and Relevance in a Lost Era.”

Harkening back to his days as an art professor at Johns Hopkins, Weiss admitted that communicating the relevance of medieval art to students was a challenge – and a necessity given the much greater popularity of other eras in art history.

Showing a slide of a Monet painting of a hazy sunrise, Weiss noted the work was originally derided by critics, who believed anyone could paint in that seemingly shoddy fashion. What people came to understand through Monet’s Impressionism was that paintings can depict things in the way the eye sees them through the filter of the brain, challenging the notion that paintings have to represent objects in their reality.

Jackson Pollock took this idea further, noted Weiss, demonstrating that paintings don’t have to be representational at all, instead being about color, light, and composition. Weiss’ presentation developed the point that what art expresses can go far beyond faithfully representing objects.

“Art functions best when it communicates with us,” said Weiss, noting that this is true even if the viewer’s response to this communication is negative. Art fails, he added, when it does not engage people.

Religious art in the Middle Ages depicted biblical themes, said Weiss, but it communicated other meanings. The challenge is trying to discover what the artists were trying to express. Decoding those meanings strips away thousands of years and brings us directly to the intent of the artist, because while a composer’s notes are interpreted by a symphony and a playwright’s words by actors, visual art is an unmediated experience, Weiss noted.

In the search for these meanings, said Weiss, there is no substitute for looking very closely at the work of art; every detail was placed there deliberately. It also helps to have a sense of historical context and the traditions in which the artist operated, he added.

Weiss showed images of an ampulla, a flask-like object worn by pilgrims in the Holy Land, and a wooden box, both of which would carry soil or other items to take home. Scenes of Christ’s life were rendered on them in a rudimentary way, but the quality of the art was not the most important element. The containers were considered sacred by the pilgrims, believed to possess miraculous powers.

Another example was the art of Santa Maria Maggiore (432 A.D.), the first church commissioned by a Pope. It depicts Old Testament heroes such as David, Joshua, and Moses to appear like Christ. In the historical context of a Christian religion still developing its identity, this made a statement that there was not a distinct Hebrew Bible, but rather an Old Testament complementing Christianity’s New Testament, said Weiss.

The church’s image of the Virgin Mary is not the modest, poor young woman of history, but rather is wearing gold and gems as the queen of heaven. Three angels being greeted by Abraham in another scene appear as the Trinity, and they are dining at an altar as at a Eucharistic table.

The cathedral of San Marco in Venice, built in the 11th century and decorated in the next two centuries, was “first and foremost a political statement about the dominance of Venetians on the world stage,” said Weiss. Most of the church’s objects, including the famous statue of four horses and even the columns, were spoils of war from the conquest of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade.

“Religious images are just the vocabulary people used to engage their audience,” said Weiss. “They can inspire us, they can dazzle us, we can marvel at the craftsmanship to produce them,” but there are meanings and agendas behind them.

The church of St. Faith in Conques, southwestern France, has an enormous sculpture of God’s final judgment of humanity, said Weiss, with images of local people, including someone who wouldn’t sell his land to the church being eaten by demons. A statue of St. Faith has the face not of the young girl martyred by the Romans for her Christian faith, but of a Roman official. This was done because the point of the sculpture was not to depict the girl, but to show off its gems, and because the Roman face put the sculpture in a definitive historical context.

The final example was the Sainte-Chapelle, a chapel built by King Louis IX in his palace to house the purported crown of thorns of Jesus Christ and other religious relics. Its stained glass windows put the king squarely into Biblical history – all the heroic figures look like him.


Reunion 2007 Dispatch: Taking a Stand in the Community and Around the World

Landis Center Director Bonnie Winfield, students, and even alumni are making a difference through Lafayette’s volunteer service programs

EASTON, Pa.(, June 2, 2007 —In 1988, Bonnie Winfield was a suburban housewife and single parent whose world changed in the course of a few hours during a visit to a mountain clinic in Nicaragua.

There, she witnessed a child dying of malnutrition — the result, in part, of the United States’ economic boycott of the revolution-ravaged nation.

By the time she returned to the U.S., Winfield had decided that she would teach others about social justice—and to do that, she’d need a Ph.D.

“Fortunately, nobody laughed at me,” Winfield, now director of Lafayette’s Landis Community Outreach Center, told a group of alumni and staff during a Reunion Weekend talk Saturday afternoon.

She went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Syracuse University, followed by a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary social science from the university’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She became a professor and later an administrator.

“I wanted to be that person who builds bridges,” she said.

Today, Winfield manages about 25 programs that bring students into the local community to tutor children, spruce up parks, cook for homeless families, work with Alzheimer’s patients, and help and learn in many more ways. She also oversees students who travel long distances to conduct service projects through the Alternative School Break Club.

Winfield showed several videos of students’ experiences and mentioned that for the first time, alumni in several regional chapters joined the rest of the Lafayette community for Lafapalooza: Lafayette’s National Days of Service this spring, conducting service in their areas.

“All of you can be involved in this in future years,” she said.

Alan Raisman ’10, winner of Lafayette’s Volunteer of the Year award, told the audience that Pards to People, Lafayette’s chapter of People to People International, a program begun in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, is about “creating peace through understanding.”

Raisman began volunteering during his third week on campus and does extensive work in the community, including attending weekly “Weed and Seed” meetings about improving conditions in the city’s West Ward. He noted that Lafayette is one of only 27 colleges and universities in the world currently participating in People to People—and one of only four in the United States.

“I plan to stay in Easton and work with this over the next three years,” he said.

Winfield said several other students and alumni, including Pepper Prize winners Nangula Shejavali ’06 and Danielle Bero ’07, as well as Jillian Gaeta ’07, have traveled to Namibia to extend the Outreach Center’s work.

Winfield closed her talk with a poem entitled “Take a Stand,” about children who have suffered from poverty, neglect, and injustice.

“In faith, we must join hand in hand. Suffer the children and take a stand,” she read.

At the talk’s end, alumni spoke in support of the program.

“When you learn to do good things unconditionally, it’s called ‘psychic income,” one alumnus pointed out. “When you finally understand and learn that, your life is better.”

Ellen Poriles Weiler ’83, a Alumni Association Executive Committee member and chair of its Volunteer Committee, talked about the enriching experience that Philadelphia alumni chapter members had through participating in Lafapalooza. Her report on the group’s service at a food bank can be found in the latest Alumni Chapter Roundup.