Reasons to Reunion

I always look forward to the Summer issue of Columbia College Today, with its photos of students and former students celebrating Class Day, Commencement and Reunion Weekend. This year, my classmates and I celebrated our (gulp) 30th reunion — although it still feels like yesterday that the Great Class of ’89 was together on campus.

I love just about everything having to do with reunion and hope that everyone shares my passion for the weekend. I thought it fitting, then, to share for this issue my Top 10 Reasons to Attend Reunion Weekend. It’s never too early to plan for it!

1. Reconnect with Old Friends. My College classmates are some of my closest friends, and there was a time when life without them nearby was unimaginable. Now we’re scattered across the globe and don’t see one another nearly as often as we intend to or should. Reunions are the perfect excuse to come together. And now, most reunion events are open to alumni from non-milestone years, too, so it’s a great opportunity to bring all old friends together.

2. Relive the Past. Reunions are the one event where everyone shows up older and then grows young again. What is it about being on campus, surrounded by your friends, that reverses time? For just 72 hours, we put aside career, family and other cares to
be 21 again. There should be a way to bottle this!

3. See Campus Today. College Walk. The Steps. Tom’s. The Hungarian Pastry Shop. 114th Street. Nothing beats physically seeing these icons again. And Columbia is always evolving. In addition to the many changes to the main campus, the Manhattanville campus is an architectural gem that shouldn’t be missed. Regardless of when you graduated, you’ll be amazed at all of the restaurants, cafés and bars that have blossomed on Broadway and Amsterdam. The undergrads never had it so good. Still, I’ll raise a glass in memory of our dearly departed The West End and Cannon’s Pub.

Photo of alumni on campus during Reunion Weekend

Scott Rudd

4. Enjoy New York City. For out-of-towners, it’s a three-day weekend in New York. For those in the tri-state area, it’s still a three-day weekend in New York.

5. Meet Someone New. Even though we’re the smallest of the Ivy League schools, I always meet classmates at reunion I didn’t know when we were students and relish the opportunity to spend time with those I wanted to know better. Some of my best reunion memories are from these encounters.

6. Talk Face to Face. That’s right, Facebook posts are not conversations. Don’t get me wrong — we all love seeing photos from your latest ski trip and reading about your feelings on the Game of Thrones finale. But these are a poor substitute for seeing you in person, hearing your voice and sharing a real laugh.

7. Spend Time with Dean James J. Valentini. Have you met the ever-popular Deantini (as the students call him)? He’s a fierce advocate for all things Columbia and has done a lot to expand the Core Curriculum, enhance the student experience and connect with alumni. If you’ve not met him or heard him speak in person, you should. You’ll quickly realize why he’s so beloved.

8. Reflect on the Past. A few reunion truisms you’ll witness: No one’s life turned out exactly as planned. Nearly all alumni are embarrassed by their younger selves. The older you get, the more you realize you have in common with your classmates, regardless of how you felt about them as undergrads. Having a drink with your first-year floormates gets better with age. And regardless of how old you are today, the best music ever made was whatever you listened to in college.

9. Debate: V&T or Koronet? More heated than any political debate, Columbians seem equally split and passionate on the question. If you’re like me, your pizza palate has expanded since your days on campus. Are these two places as good as you remember? Only one way to know for sure …

10. Just Have Fun. Whether it’s your 5th or 50th, or even if it’s not your milestone year, Reunion Weekend is a fun time. The job, family and to-do list will still be there come Monday. In the meantime, join the party.

I hope to see you at Reunion Weekend 2020! Save the date: Thursday, June 4–Saturday, June 6!