The Big Bash 50th Reunion weekend kicked off a busy fall of homecoming activities. While the event was a scaled-back version of the traditional Big Bash reunions each summer, it still included signature events.
“Being able to finally welcome the Classes of 1970 and 1971 is exciting,” said Steve Hoffman ’85, director of alumni and parent relations. “They have shown extraordinary thoughtfulness, understanding, and patience as their 50th reunions were delayed. We can’t thank class agents Ron Shelby ’70 and Jon Pactor ’71 enough for their efforts.”
Both classes participated in Chapel Sing where alumni tested their memories by singing the beloved fight song, “Old Wabash” in front of Pioneer Chapel.
Alumni and guests also gathered throughout the two days for presentations by President Scott Feller, College Archivist Beth Swift, and a panel of faculty and alumni.
Panelists Keith Nelson ’71, Trey Holland ’71, Alex Miller’ 71, Associate Professor of Religion David Blix ’70, Professor of Political Science David Hadley H’76, and Emeritus Religion Professor Raymond Williams H’68 joined Pactor to discuss events and issues on campus during “the unique period” of 1967 through 1971.
Topics from the conversation included student traditions, the military draft and Vietnam War, Black studies, and the founding of the Malcolm X Institute.
“This was the time of riots, and my parents didn’t really want me to come to school in Indiana. Indiana was notorious for Black folk in that it wasn’t very accepting. But I came in with seven other Black students,” said Nelson, a founder and one of the first co-directors of the MXI. “We had the fortune of having faculty who took an interest in us. Many supported us when we started forming the MXI, and it’s hard to believe that it is 50 years old now. Different conflicts occurred on and around campus, but not to the extent that the comradery was ever destroyed.”
President Feller presented a state-of-the-College address titled, “A Well-Run College that is Well-Loved.” With a number of “headwinds” the College faces, including shifting demographics of college-bound students, he outlined the innovative ways in which the liberal arts College continues to attract and retain young men across the country.
While Wabash is well-run, Feller also emphasized it is able to continue doing the good work of educating men because it is also well loved by the alumni.
“The future of Wabash College is built on philanthropy, and to celebrate that with you is very special,” Feller said after presenting 50th reunion medallions to the members of Classes of 1970 and 1971, whom would collectively donate checks of $6,361,495 and $2,212,781, respectively, to the College. “The loyalty and generosity that those checks represent is overwhelming.
“We celebrate these tremendous gifts from these two remarkable classes together with pride and admiration, especially knowing that your time on campus was, at times, unsettling and unrivaled,” Feller said in conclusion. “This is something we have thought a lot about over the last 20 months, and have had conversations about the ways we can help our students as they manage the COVID-19 pandemic to remember that their time at Wabash will not be defined the difficult times around them. It will be defined by the relationships they develop with each other, and with their faculty and staff. You have shown us how those relationships have paid off over 50 years.”
Next up, Homecoming 2021 officially begins on September 16 with Chapel Sing followed by the LaFollette Lecture, Athletics Hall of Fame Induction, NAWM Alumni Chapel, football versus Allegheny, the Glee Club Homecoming Concert, and soccer versus Grinnell.
On October 16, Wabash welcomes back two sets of reunion classes to celebrate milestone reunions from 5th to 45th and 55th and 60th with a special tailgate in Mud Hollow followed by soccer and football home matchups.
For more information on all alumni events visit https://www.wabash.edu/alumni/events.