Banquet provides connections for alumni

by Heather Fors

Tables covered in white cloths lined sidewalks along Northrop Mall. Each promoted different programs at the University — each connected the school as it is now with elements from its past.
At the 94th annual Alumni Association banquet Tuesday evening, hundreds of former University students perused the displays.
Though more than 900 alumni signed up to attend the event, rain kept many away. But the fearless and dedicated, some armed with umbrellas and ponchos like Laura Miles, braved the elements.
Miles graduated from the University in 1945 with a bachelor’s degree in law. She now holds a position on the University’s Law School Board.
Each year, Miles said, she enjoys attending the event because it brings her back in contact with old classmates.
These connections to the University and its alumni are what association officials hope to achieve.
“Celebration and connection are our two major themes,” said Ann Huntrods, a two-time graduate and the association’s departing president.
With an eye toward the future, officials said the event links the alumni to the University now and in the future.
“We want our alumni to know what the University has progressed to,” said Gil David, who attended the event on behalf of the Campus Involvement Center.
“Some people might not know what the Campus Involvement Center is,” said David, the center’s Events Calendar Web site Coordinator. “But that’s why we are here — to tell them what we are.”
But more than connections spur the event. The groups’ bylaws require it to conduct at least one meeting for alumni each year.
While officials realize it is virtually impossible to get all 38,000 association members to attend one event, the turnout still pleases them. Those who do show participate in electing new board members, meet new elected officials such as the president of the association and vote on changes in any bylaws.
Association officials said the speakers also attract many attendees.
“This is the largest gathering in the year, and we have a rich tradition of wonderful speakers,” said Dave Mona, the association’s president-elect and a 1965 graduate.
Garrison Keillor prompted the biggest turnout of about 1,800 people the first time he spoke.
This year’s speaker was Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., a noted psychologist, gerontologisst, author and speaker. Dychtwald has won two Pulitzer prizes for his work with aging and the socio-economic problems that accompany it.
Huntrods said Dychtwald’s theme of looking toward the future ties in well with University alumni.