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Separated by Miles; United by Books

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by Kandace Kohr

There are myriad ways that alumni stay connected beyond Dickinson’s limestone walls. From alumni global adventures to beautiful destinations like Galapagos, Iceland and Italy, to regional events and more, the bonds formed at Dickinson transcend physical barriers. Like many alumni rekindling their connection to the college, Megan Shelley Dapp ’05 stays in touch with her fellow alumni by encouraging academic discourse through the Alumni Book Club.

An avid reader for many years, Dapp recently learned about the book club through the alumni network, and it was the perfect marriage of communication, connection and camaraderie. “I tend to stick to a similar genre, and when I started to get involved and share books with other individuals, and was exposed to different types of reading, I really enjoyed that. It gave me a different perspective.”

Dapp is one of nearly 500 members of the Alumni Book Club, which was formed by Dickinson’s Office of Alumni Relations, a division of college advancement. All alumni, parents, faculty and staff are welcome to join this free club, which convenes via an online forum. Members represent the classes of 1952 through 2019.

“As Dickinsonians, we share a love of learning, and the book club offers a way to connect with each other through intellectual discussion once again,” says Liz Glynn Toth ’06, director of alumni relations. “We are excited to offer a way to connect with each other from around the world.”

A book club facilitator denotes the timeline for completion of the book and sets the schedule for interactive discussions about a chapter or section of the book. Once the topic of discussion is posed, members are encouraged to engage, whether they wish to react to the selected passages or the book as a whole. The group is now working through its third book. 
Members vote based on a shortlist of books comprising other member recommendations. All of the books that the group has read so far—Ribbons of Scarlet, co-written by Laura Croghan Kamoie ’92, A Gentleman in Moscow and Educated—are award-winning books in some capacity, including New York Times bestsellers. “The books have all been slightly different, and it’s been interesting to see the evolution. It’s nice to be able to weigh in with our individual interests, and it’s a great opportunity,” says Dapp.

For Dapp, her sentiment is likely one that many of her fellow alumni share as well: the appreciation for the continued support from the Dickinson community. The club offers alumni the chance to keep in touch and reinvigorate the lifelong learning culture they fostered at Dickinson, and it allows alumni to forge bonds beyond campus events like Homecoming and class reunions. 

“This has been a way to connect in more of an academic atmosphere,” Dapp says. “And I think for many Dickinsonians, they’re lifelong learners, and it’s nice to go back to the portion of my life where I was unpacking the meaning of something that’s written and how the history of the times affected the content. It’s nice to reconnect that part of my brain that I might not have utilized in a very long time.” 

Alumni, parents, faculty and staff are encouraged to join the conversation.

Read more from the winter 2020 issue of Dickinson Magazine.

TAKE THE NEXT STEPS

Published February 20, 2020