Alumni eNewsletter: Gallaudet University Alumni Association: A Celebration of 125 Years (Archives)

While Gallaudet has had a banner year celebrating its 150th, the Gallaudet University Alumni Association (GUAA) had its own moment of celebration in recognizing its 125th anniversary.

Because the GUAA, one of the oldest alumni organizations in the United States, is special to so many people with numerous alumni contributing in different ways, helping it to remain strong, such as serving on the GUAA Board, being active with their local chapters, being a part of different committees under the GUAA, to name a few examples, GUAA wanted to take the time to recognize these individuals/groups for their contributions and support.

GUAA along with the support of the Office of Alumni Relations staff hosted a dinner during the Gallaudet Reunion to bring together those that have been involved with the GUAA to celebrate and reflect on 125 years of the GUAA and see how GUAA has come/evolved over the years to where it is now - unstoppable and strong.

The event was held at the Peikoff Alumni House which was a no-brainer since it is home to the GUAA. The energy was high as alumni representing various chapters and committees under the GUAA attended dinner and it was fun to see everyone greeting old friends and trading memories! Matt O'Varanese, '04, of the now defunct Standard Company, catered dinner and guests were treated to a cheese board that also included imported meats, dinner and dessert. To make the occasion even more festive, lemon blueberry parfaits were served for dessert – yellow and blue representing Gallaudet’s colorst; the centerpieces were wooden numbers that had been painted in gold depicting the numbers 125: there were light green, blue and white flower petals scattered around the 125 which represented 125 years of the GUAA being on Kendall Green/part of Gallaudet with the green part of the petals depicting Kendall Green and the blue/white serving as buff and blue which are Gallaudet’s colors.

Sam Sonnenstrahl, '79 & G-'84, executive director of GUAA opened the program as the Mister of Ceremony by asking current GUAA President Alyce Slater Reynolds, ’76 & G-’78, to give remarks and introduce the current GUAA Board. President Hurwitz followed with remarks. Sam continued the program by using a PowerPoint to show the different ways the GUAA has been involved with and contributed to the deaf community over the years by showing different events and committees.

There was a brief trip down history as milestones of the GUAA were outlined, numbers were shown how membership has increased since GUAA was first established with the first member being Frank Gray who jointed in 1878 – today the GUAA now has over 8,000 members! There were mentions of the various committees under the GUAA along with names of those who have served on these committees such as the election and screening committees, pictures of alumni playing golf during the Gallaudet Golf Open, raising money to go towards student scholarships.

GUAA also has a strong connection to the community by its involvement from the chapters to fundraising to volunteers to publications to name a few of the ways GUAA has contributed to and supported the community. There was also mention of past and present Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund (LCCF) chairs along with pictures of them hosting Charter Day, the award recipients, and biking with President Hurwitz which was a well - attended fundraising event.

To show how widespread and strong the GUAA is, a map with showing the currently active GUAA chapters, Canada, Japan, and Nigeria was shown with the Minnesota Chapter being the first chapter in 1895! In 1993, the Nippon Chapter became the first overseas chapter. There were pictures of different chapters hosting different events but one of the most thrilling moments was seeing pictures from the 25th anniversary of the Deaf President Now (DPN) movement in March 2013 because this was the first time in history chapters undertook an event at the same time, celebrating with their own groups.

Once the PowerPoint presentation ended, different groups were asked to come onstage for group pictures such as former and present GUAA Board members, chapter officers, and GFF/LCCF chairs. There was laughter from the audience when the Alumni Relations home staff from the past 40+ years where first and former director Jack Gannon, '59, quipped he loved his job so much he didn't know why Gallaudet continued to pay him.

When the program ended, guests were given blankets with the GUAA logo printed on them to take home with them as a token of appreciation from the GUAA for their support and the reaction upon receiving these blankets was something to see!

Posted: 16 Oct 2014

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