Campus was booming with activity, as Wabash College welcomed back alumni for Big Bash 2022.
Reunion activities began Friday morning with a golf outing at Rocky Ridge Golf Club in Crawfordsville and ran through Sunday’s Big Bash Awards Brunch, where President Scott Feller presented several awards.
This year, Big Bash celebrated reunions with class years ending in 2 and 7, but many alumni from other classes and friends of the College attended as well. Steve Hoffman ’85, director of alumni and parent relations, said more than 350 guests, with class years spanning eight decades, are planning to return to campus.
“We are more eager than ever to host our alumni and friends for Big Bash this year since we’ve not hosted our traditional Big Bash since 2019 due to the pandemic,” Hoffman said. “A highlight for me is watching college friends reunite, sometimes after 50 years or more, and talking to alumni who have not been back to campus for decades.”
Big Bash weekend featured campus tours from the Sons of Wabash, colloquia sessions, great meals, spur-of-the-moment mini-reunions, and the ever-popular Alumni Chapel Sing Saturday, where alumni tested their memories by singing the beloved fight song, “Old Wabash” inside Pioneer Chapel.
After the golf outing on Friday, attendees enjoyed the Welcome Back Luncheon in Knowling Fieldhouse, and the opportunity to catch up with classmates, faculty, and current students.
Big Bash guests also attended the annual alumni/faculty/staff symposium, titled “Wally Salutes: A Symposium on the Military and the Liberal Arts.” The presentations, offered simultaneously throughout the afternoon, featured alumni, faculty, or staff and demonstrated the breadth and depth of the liberal arts on the topic of the military.
Colonel Mark Lee ’85, who has over 29 years of active-duty service experience, presented “On Leadership: Does Liberal Arts produce better leaders?” Lee shared stories from his deployments in support of four campaigns: Operation Just Cause, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. He also talked about the impact his Wabash education had on him throughout his military and professional career.
“Here at Wabash, we learn to challenge ideas. We learn to challenge our own ideas and challenge the ideas of others,” Lee said. “That is powerful leadership.
“Whether it’s in the civilian world or in the military, the liberal arts empowers you to be successful. I continue to benefit from that education today, and I believe the more we can have Wabash-type liberal arts in our society at-large — where we can have discussions and debates — it’s going to be a tremendous benefit to our nation.”
Reunion attendees enjoyed a lively reception before the Big Bash Banquet which highlights the weekend. President Feller presented the Class of 1972 with their 50th reunion medallions. The Class of 1972, in turn, presented the College with a $3.7 million class gift.
Saturday’s activities kicked off with an 8 a.m. bike ride throughout Crawfordsville and Montgomery County, and fun run/walk.
The Alumni Chapel Sing started at 11 a.m. Alumni sang “Old Wabash” with members of their own class and competed against the other nine reunion classes.
President Feller presented a state of the College titled, “Wabash Today'" and alumni attended colloquia sessions by Dean of Students Greg Redding ’88 and Trustee Greg Castanias ’87 on “The Future of Fraternities at Wabash;" Panelists Greg Birk ’77, Hugh Vandivier ’91, Rob Rudicel ’92, Dr. Frank Howland, and Dr. Warren Rosenberg H’98 presented “The Coeducation/Single-Sex Study of 1990-1992.”
A moderated Q&A colloquium, titled “Wabash and Four Years that Changed America: 1968-1972,” featured panelists Dr. Finley Campbell, Dr. David Hadley H’76, Dr. David Blix ’70, Coach Rob Johnson H’77, and Class of 1972 members Frank Hagaman, David Myers, Dr. Don Shelbourne, Dr. Michael Louden, and Steve York, USMC (Ret.).
Big Bash weekend wrapped up Sunday with the Awards Brunch with the Class of 1972 winning most of the awards including attendance, giving, and the Alumni Chapel Sing competition.
President Feller concluded the weekend with a few parting thoughts. "As you leave here, I want you to think about the ways the College is moving forward boldly into its third century—the Wabash experience remains timely. At the same time, the Wabash experience is timeless—you come and you are a part of a long arc that stretches back 190 years of engaged learning."