Alumni eNewsletter: The 75th anniversary of Homecoming marks many milestones (Archives)

Photo: A referee, two men, and a football player call a coin toss
Race Drake, Sr., '38, calls "heads" in the coin toss at the 2009 Homecoming football game. Drake was a member of the football team in 1934, the year of the first Homecoming, and came back to campus to celebrate the 75th anniversary of that Gallaudet tradition. Photo by Benjamin Harden.
Photo: Men stand with BLI sign
Gallaudet leaders celebrate the renaming of the Burstein Leadership Institute (BLI) with Gerald and Stephen Burstein. Pictured (from left) are Dr. Joseph Innes, dean of the College of Professional Studies and Outreach; Provost Stephen Weiner; BLI namesakes Dr. Stephen Burstein and Dr. Gerald "Bummy" Burstein; and President Robert Davila. Photo by Matthew Vita.
Photo: Davila on stage with applauding hands in the audience
Alumni applaud as President Davila takes the stage to present about Gallaudet's Long Range Strategic Plan at the Alumni of Color Reunion during Homecoming 2009. Davila's presentation, which was followed by international dance performances, a meal, and yet more dancing, was part of a festive program held in the Multipurpose Room of the Jordan Student Academic Center on October 24. Photo by Brittany Castle.
Photo: a bird's eye view of students and floats
Students rush to put the final touches on their floats in the Sorenson Language and Communication Center Atrium before the Homecoming parade. Photo by Brittany Castle.
Photo: Alumni wave colorful pompoms and hold a Class of 1984 sign
Members of the Class of 1984 demonstrate their silver anniversary spirit during halftime at the Homecoming football game. Photo by Brittany Castle.

The 75th anniversary of Homecoming (Gallaudet's first was held in 1934) was a banner weekend with many festive events happening on campus to mark the significance of the occasion. Spirits were high all weekend with alumni and students celebrating in their own way, whether it was a class reunion on or off campus, creating floats to be showcased after the class parade, to passing out pieces of a special 75th anniversary cake at the pre-game bash Friday evening, this special occasion was recognized in many ways.

(To see a brief clip of the entire Homecoming weekend, go to

The strong spirit was evident everywhere in the smiles, gestures, and moods of 2,500 participants from near and far. Some alumni showed the spirit by dressing up in their class colors during the class parade, one student even served as a "fan" by donning nothing but royal blue briefs and painting himself in royal blue and gold paint, and posing for pictures with alumni!

Two major highlights that made the weekend special were that it marked Dr. Davila's, ’53, last homecoming as president of the University, and the Gallaudet Leadership Institute (GLI) was renamed the Gerald "Bummy" Burstein, ’50, Leadership Institute. Both milestones were recognized in a special program, with GUAA President Alyce Slater Reynolds, ’76 & G-’78, leading the program for President Davila, and Provost Stephen Weiner, ’78, leading the program for "Bummy."

Gallaudet had a very special guest who was on the 1934 football team that played in the first Homecoming game. Race Drake, Sr., ’38, was the honorary captain of the Bison football team and participated in the coin flipping ceremony prior to this year's game. He also met with the football team and received a football jersey with the number 34 to represent the year of the first Homecoming. This was the highlight of Race’s weekend!

Here is a recap of other events that occurred over the weekend:

On Thursday afternoon, there was a special event that involved alumnae and students. Dr. Arlene B. Kelly, ’77 & G-’92, who teaches deaf women’s studies, has been working on a special project with her students, assigning them to alumnae who came to campus this year for their class reunions. These students researched the alumnae’s activities during their college years. To learn more about women’s lives from the 1940’s to 1984, these alumnae were invited to a panel discussion moderated by students at Peikoff Alumni House. The alumnae and students had a wonderful time, and truly enjoyed learning about the differences in their college experiences, and comparing stories. The class even ran overtime and Dr. Kelly had to stop it, with much regret!

The Alumni Emeriti Induction Ceremony was an especially beautiful and touching occasion. This was Dr. Davila’s last time as president to perform the ceremony. During his tenure he has presented medallions to the oldest living female alumni, Adele Jensen Krug, ’30, to Race Drake Sr. ’38, the oldest living alumnus with a bachelor’s degree, and to his own classmates (as well as receiving one himself). Because there are many members of the Class of 1959 who live locally, there was a large crowd of their families and friends who came to cheer them on. Bob Herbold, ’59, class representative, spoke to his classmates, and Joyce Leitich, '59, did a spectacular job of singing "Come Home to Gallaudet" in ASL when the program drew to a close.

The annual Friday with Professor lecture series drew a large crowd. This year's topic was the Sixth Street Development project, which Fred Weiner, ’88, has been leading. In keeping with the theme of a changing Gallaudet, Dr. Mike Moore, ’68, spoke about what Gallaudet looked like 25 years ago, while Fred spoke about plans for the future if Sixth Street is turned into a community. PeV Hlibok, ‘84, served as moderator. There were easels set up with the plans, and many alumni were fascinated by the project.

After the lecture, GUAA President Alyce Reynolds held a brief program expressing appreciation for the accomplishments made by Dr. Davila during his three-year presidency. "You led the University out of darkness," Reynolds said to Davila. "You led us back into brighter days and a better future." With his time in office coming to an end, she took this opportunity to announce that the Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund Committee of the GUAA is raising money for a portrait of Dr. Davila to join the other presidential portraits in Chapel Hall. Also, the GUAA is donating $10,000 to the Robert R., ’53, and Donna E. Davila Career Development Fund.

Following the announcement, Provost Stephen Weiner led a program renaming the Gallaudet Leadership Institute after Gerald "Bummy" Burstein. Dr. Davila gave remarks on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the University. "This is a man who deserves every recognition that could possibly be bestowed upon him," said Davila, remarking that Burstein "has given of his life and his career to serving deaf people." Dr. Jay Innes, PhD ’00, spoke about how the program would not have been successful without the fund Bummy set up. Bummy received a standing ovation when he joined the presenters in unveiling a plaque.
The College Bowl Challenge was particularly spirited because there were two members each from the classes of 1959, Joanne Brininstool and Bob Herbold (Vilas Johnson later replaced Bob), and 1984, Ethan Bernstein and Phyllis (Cass) Bertling (Bob Arnold later replaced Phyllis), competing against Gallaudet students in the annual Academic Bowl competition. Nicholas Gould, '09, served as moderator. The students won.

The Pep Rally was true to form--noisy and spirited, with many alumni from various classes participating.

Then, of course, there was the popular annual pre-game bash, held at Peikoff Alumni House ("Ole Jim"), which drew large crowds and filled the upper level to near capacity. Alumni enjoyed seeing the class banners dating back to the Class of 1922 that were hanging from the ceiling. They also saw the new display case in the foyer that is filled with items alumni have donated over the years, and retold stories about those items that they remember fondly. During the bash, there were raffles, and an auction for a beautiful blanket with a picture of the campus. It sold for $215 to Laura Walker, ’84. There was also cake with the words "Happy 75th Anniversary!" inscribed on it that was passed out to the partygoers.

There was the traditional House One Tour that was made even more sentimental because many of the 50th, 55th, and 60th anniversary class members hold long friendships with both President Davila and his wife, Donna.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of Homecoming, several student organizations, with the support of Alumni Relations and the Student Body Government, contributed prize money for floats--$1,000 for first prize, $500 for second prize, and $250 for third prize. The floats were beautiful and went with the theme of the 75th anniversary of Homecoming. It was inspiring to see students come together on this project. The International Student Club took first prize while the English Language Institute took second place and the Class of 2011 won third place.

The Gallaudet football team was eager to play the final home game, and the Bison didn’t disappoint! Honorary Captain Race Drake, Sr. called the coin flip and Gallaudet received the ball. The Bison played extremely well and won the game, 37-0. Even the rain did not stop the fans from cheering the Bison on!

The Gallaudet volleyball team salvaged a split in its two matches at the Field House. The Bison ran into a tough Lebanon Valley College team to start the day, losing 3-0, but ended the day on a high note with a 3-0 win over The University of Scranton.

The women’s soccer team had a thriller later in the evening. Time was running out on them at a wet and windy Hotchkiss Field against Lincoln (Pa.) University. The Bison trailed by a goal with six minutes left. Then they scored two goals, including a dramatic game-winner, with 40 seconds remaining to a come-from-behind win, 3-2.

Due to the rain, booths were set up inside the Jordan Student Academic Center, with various organizations selling food, pagers, and VP services. The area became more crowded as the day wore on, with all the socializing, but alumni and friends didn’t seem to mind that it was hot and crowded because everyone was happy to be together.

There were also private events for many class reunions. The spirit was strong among the classes, including 1984 (25th anniversary) and 1958 (50th anniversary). Both classes celebrated all weekend by taking private tours on and off campus, throwing banquets, and displaying memorabilia on their clothes and in their banquet rooms. The Class of 1959 had an additional special occasion to celebrate: The class raised over $20,000 to be donated to the Gallaudet Museum Fund.

It was not only these classes that celebrated in style. Other alumni commemorated the milestones of their 55th and 60th anniversaries. The Class of 1954 had a special reason to celebrate its 55th class anniversary this year: Their class was right behind President Davila’s class after he graduated in 1953, and they were thrilled to be here during his last Homecoming as president. As a special gift to that class and the Class of 1949, after the reception at House One, President Davila had his picture taken with both classes, and he told many stories about his classmates during their college days--which were a riot to hear! The Class of 1949 was a group of nine, breaking a record as being the largest 60th anniversary class to attend their class reunion at Gallaudet!

The Class of 1964 had an unveiling of the late Judith Stein Williams's portrait in HMB. Her portrait used to hang in the English Department where she taught for many years. After restoring the picture, it was moved to a more public location fitting her accomplishments.

The classes of 1969, 1974, 1979, and 1994 celebrated their anniversaries with banquets at the James Lee Sorenson Language and Communication Center. The other anniversary classes, 1949 and 1954, shared a banquet room at the Kellogg Conference Hotel with President Davila and his wife, Donna, joining them for dinner. The Classes of 1959 and 1984 also had banquets at Kellogg Conference Hotel, and they lasted well into the night with dancing and lots of trips down memory lane. Classes of 1964 and 1999 held reunions off campus.

Recognition goes to those who worked so very hard to plan their class reunions and fire up their classmates' spirits:
Donald Bradford, '49
Leonard Peacock, '54
Ronald and Agnes Sutcliffe, '59
Holly MacFadden, '64
Jane Golightly and Frances Marzolf, '69
Jimmy Bishop, '74
Zelephiene Jennings Meadows and Yvonne Olson Catt, '79
Rosemary Adamca Balzer, '84
Matthew Lockhart, '94
Jessica Hinman, '99

Homecoming also featured special events such as the Alumni of Color Reunion, which drew a large number of alumni from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The event began with President Davila giving a presentation on the Long Range Strategic Planning goals. Charity Reedy-Hines, ’87 & G-’97, director of admissions, and Daphne Cox, ’82, associate director of admissions, both gave a presentation on enrollment numbers for alumni of color. Olugbenga Aina, G-’97, spoke about Keeping the Promise of Educating Black Deaf Males and Keeping the Promise of Educating Latino Students, both academic programs that support these students in achieving their academic, career, personal, and lifelong goals. After both presentations, there was Mexican food and entertainment.

The Alumni of Color event would not have been made possible without the support of the President’s Office, Elvia Guillermo, ’03, and Mark Amissah.

On Sunday, the Department of Athletics held a special breakfast at the Kellogg Conference Hotel to honor seven Hall of Fame inductees. Each athlete was introduced by someone who knew him or her best while working in their sport of choice at Gallaudet . There were plenty of touching moments. (For more information on this event, please check out the article in this month’s e-newsletter.)

The Office of Alumni Relations (Sam Sonnenstrahl, '79 & G-'84, Abigail Strauss Drake, '97 & G-'99, Peggy "PeV" Hlibok, '84, Colleen Doyle, ’09, and Sonia Brown) wants to take this opportunity to acknowledge and deeply thank the many alumni who volunteered their time over the weekend to help make Homecoming a big success. There will be a volunteer appreciation party in the next few weeks. We would not have been able to get through the weekend if it were not for the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make sure we had a very successful Homecoming!

Not only did we have alumni volunteers help out, but we also had student interpreters from the master's in interpretation program volunteer their time working with members of certain classes to ensure they were included in the activities. They did a great job and, again, made sure Homecoming was a success.

We wish to thank:

Bill Terrell
Jennifer Harris
Erica Hosser
Cenee Dawkins
Frances Marzolf
Michael Marzolf
Arlene Kelly
Marquette Laquey
Jean Drake
Race Drake
Darrell Drake
Elesha Clement
Iris Mars
Harvey Grossigner
Yvonne Catt
Amy Hile
Shannon Augustine
Suzanne Warwick
David Weisblatt
David Reekers

Janet Weinstock
Deb Moore
Rhea Kennedy
Mark Lott
Mike Kaika
Lisa Jacobs
Roberta Gage
Leticia Arellano
Hillel Goldberg
Franklin Torres
Johanna Dobb
Bobby Freeman
Rosemary Adamca-Balzer
Ronald Sutcliffe
Agnes Sutcliffe
Jennifer Cooper
Matthew Vita
Peter Balding
Phillip Ledwell
Robert Weinstock

Nicholas Gould
Risa Shaw
Robert Weinstock
Nicholas Gould
Juniper Sussman
Michael Moore
Fred Weiner
MJ Bienvenu
Brittany Castle
Fallon Brizendine
Rachel Birr
Elise Coco
Natalie Goldsmith
Kirsi Grigg
Adam Ledo
Gustavo Navarrete
Emily Schenker
Sarah Spellman
Krystin Balzarini
Kim Craig

Posted: 10 Nov 2009

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