Neale Adams ’63 and his brother Mike ’75 set off on their bicycles from Ottawa on May 14. They biked about 30 miles a day, through towns, farms and forests, switching to a train for only 100 miles of their 400-mile journey. On May 23, they reached their destination: Amherst’s Reunion Weekend.
The Adams brothers were just two of the more than 2,300 alumni and family members who trekked to campus for the long weekend. In addition to the traditional tent parties for reuniting classes, address by President Biddy Martin in Johnson Chapel and kids’ carnival on the Main Quad, Reunion 2018 featured more than 70 other events—many hosted by the classes of 1958 to 2013. (The oldest class represented on campus, by the way, was 1943: Bill Whiston ’43 was there to celebrate his 75th Reunion.) Guests were treated to museum tours, musical performances, poetry readings, sporting events, receptions, lectures and panel discussions.
Numerous events addressed life at the College itself. Visitors planted seeds at Book & Plow Farm and heard from some of the ’13s who helped to establish the campus farm when they were students. Jim Brassord, chief of campus operations, gave a presentation about the Greenway Projects, using sketches, maps, photos and even a time-lapse construction video to explain the features of the four new Greenway Dorms (opened in fall 2016) and Science Center (scheduled for completion this summer). As part of a panel discussion on “The Role of Liberal Arts Education in an Age of Polarization,” psychology professor Elizabeth Aries described her fall course “Intergroup Dialogue on Race” as an example of the careful steps necessary to lay the groundwork of trust so that students can feel safe collaborating across differences and conversing about controversial issues. Lawyer, author and community organizer Hugh B. Price ’63, who moderated the “Polarization” panel, later met with visitors in the Archives to answer questions about the collection of professional papers he has donated to Amherst.
Other Reunion programming circled the planet—and gazed beyond it. Ted Truman ’63 and economics professor Geoffrey Woglom discussed the Greek financial crisis and the related persecution of Andreas Georgiou ’83, former head of Greece’s statistics office. Professor Kate Sims, an economist who teaches environmental studies courses at Amherst, introduced Foster Brown ’73 and John Reid ’88 to speak about their work on conservation of the Amazon rainforest. Alfred Venne, director of the College’s Bassett Planetarium, showed visitors a recreation of the night sky over Amherst and used an orrery to demonstrate the positions of planets in the solar system.
As the weekend drew to a close, the alumni departed campus to return to their respective corners of the universe. Some loaded up their cars; others boarded trains or planes. Neale Adams—the ’63 class secretary who will report on Reunion in Amherst magazine’s class notes—got back on his bike.