Nearly 500 classmates, spouses and significant others gathered in the shadow of the Golden Dome in early June to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our matriculation from Our Lady’s University. To say that it was a special occasion would be to understate the reality of all that occurred during that early summer sojourn.
Reconnection with old, dear friends was the operative theme for the 315 classmates in attendance, and noting how our University has grown and prospered was a rewarding aspect of the experience as well. Festivities began with an informal cookout for early arrivals on Thursday evening at our McGlinn Hall residence. The event was well attended and featured tasty victuals and frosty libations interspersed with numerous “Is that you?” queries.
Friday brought leisurely strolls and bike rides around the campus, attendance at various seminars and visits to former dorms and classrooms along with continued amazement at the plethora of new buildings and construction projects that dot the campus.
The Friday 50-Year Club Mass was celebrated by Father Bill Beauchamp, CSC, and classmate Father Michael Giesler in honor of our 207 deceased mates. The evening Class Dinner in the Joyce ACC featured impressive presentations by Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick ’76 and Chief Investment Officer Scott Malpass ’84, ’86MBA.
Swarbrick reaffirmed ND’s commitment to excellence in all phases of the athletic program and noted the continuing leadership ND demonstrates year in and year out, on and off the field. He also described the massive $450 million Campus Crossroads construction project that entails building major additions of classroom space attached to ND stadium.
Malpass, who has distinguished himself as the preeminent asset manager among the nation’s universities, described the basic strategy he and his team execute, which has resulted in an average 12% annual rate of return for the ND endowment over the past 20 years.
The luncheon on Saturday, also in the Joyce ACC, featured our formal induction into the 50-Year Club and timely remarks from University President Father John Jenkins, CSC, and each one of us had a personal photo taken with Father John along with a massive class photo.
Formal festivities concluded with our Class Dinner on Saturday evening, which included inspiring remarks from former ND All-American defensive back and new ND assistant coach Todd Lyght ’91, as well as an outstanding report from our own John Phillips, the US Ambassador to Italy. John provided informative perspective on the global situation and outlook, noting that a primary focus of the diplomatic corps relates to how to deal with the growing threat of international terrorism.
Class President Cap Gagnon, with whom I shared emcee duties throughout the weekend, paid a well-deserved tribute to our classmates who served in the nation’s military. As you know, it has been a tradition at ND for generations that members of the 50-Year Class make a special gift to the University. Our class collectively stepped up in extraordinary fashion, presenting a symbolic check for $22,180,000, an all-time record level of contributions for a 50-Year Class. Thanks to everyone who has participated, and remember that you can participate through the end of the year.
Part of the promotion for our class gift was establishment of the Class of 1966 Pete Duranko Fund Student Athlete Safety. This initiative arose out of a suggestion by John Twohey that we give classmates a specific and relevant option to which to direct all or part of their 50-Year Class gift. Tom Bettag and Minch Lewis joined in the effort, which to date has generated nearly $194,000 from 305 donors, including 279 classmates. The Duranko Fund will support a proactive effort to gather and analyze data from ND’s 700 varsity athletes relative to head injuries, with an eye toward improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The program is already under way and will begin data collection this fall. Leading the endeavor is a senior Athletic Department official, Duncan French PhD, who holds the title of Director of Performance Sciences. Among his responsibilities will be application of scientific research and new technologies to performance of varsity athletes, seeking to reduce and minimize the impact of injuries. French spent 15 years working with teams in Great Britain, including the English Premier (Soccer) league. The Duranko Fund promises to have a real and measurable positive impact on athletes at ND and hopefully well beyond. Gifts and multi-year pledges are welcome through the end of the calendar year and will earn credit toward ticket applications.
The 50-Year Reunion festivities were truly memorable for all in attendance. Feedback has been powerfully positive. Great appreciation is owed to the local gurus who pulled off the superb logistics; Ray Flynn, Joe Guiltinan and Pat Farrell. Be sure to check out Jack Gerken’s update with photos at 1966.undclass.org. All of you who promised to send updates it’s time to step up.
Tom Sullivan; 26 Hidden Cove Road, Edgartown MA 02539; Cell 773-454-4343; firstname.lastname@example.org