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by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Dickinsonians far and wide joined together last week for an alumni event like no other before it. In previous years, the Dickinson campus was the place to be for an in-person, three-day reunion welcoming alumni from all around the world. This year, because of safety concerns brought on by the global pandemic, alumni gathered online for a weeklong virtual reunion and the chance to renew friendships, celebrate and even learn something new.
Held June 8-12, Virtual Alumni Week included small Zoom reunions, organized by alumni who took part in student groups and organizations, as well as Dickinson-hosted events for the entire college community. At the heart of the virtual reunion was a Q&A with President Margee Ensign—a virtual reimagining of the Breakfast With the President annual event.
Filmed in the Waidner-Spahr Library, A Conversation with President Margee Ensign brought Dickinsonians together for the traditional Alumni Weekend address and Q&A. Photo by Joe O'Neill.
Other highlights included a virtual toast to the college, inviting alumni to post photos and videos in Dickinson gear with the hashtag #DsonProud; an online exploration of The Trout Gallery; and a Dickinson Goes the Distance virtual walk/run organized by class of ’19 alumnae Olivia Termini and Taylor Bednar.
"It is important, especially now while we are isolated, to remind yourself of the relationships you've built over the years and to connect with the places and people you care about," said Termini, a former Dickinson student-athlete and development-office intern who decided to codevelop the event with Taylor after realizing the stress-busting role exercise continues to play in their lives. "The Dickinson Alumni Week seemed like the perfect opportunity to reach many of those we care about and unite them while doing something we love."
Eric Denker ’75 provides a behind-the-scenes view of the National Gallery of Art. Screenshot by Carl Socolow '77.
As in years past, Dickinson also offered alumni a chance to learn from each other. The week's lifelong-learning webinars were:
Ken Shultes ’89, associate vice president for sustainability & facilities planning, leads a webinar on how to manage a sustainable home and office. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.
During her brief address, Ensign announced this year’s Alumni Award honorees, outlined the college’s response to the global pandemic and answered alumni questions about Dickinson’s extensive and collaborative planning process for the challenges in the academic year ahead. “As we continue to battle this pandemic, we’ll continue to offer online programs for you,” she said. “Despite all of the changes and challenge, Dickinson continues to move forward.”
Ensign also expressed gratitude to alumni, for—weeks after joining forces during Dickinson’s annual Day of Giving—again gathering online to celebrate the college and the enduring connections that arise from their time on campus and beyond. “We miss you here on campus, and we miss our students and faculty,” Ensign said. “We really look forward to having you back on campus when it is safe.”
As she prepped for the virtual 5K, Termini said she's in. Meanwhile, she's happy to pitch in however she can.
“The coronavirus pandemic has forced us all to be creative with collective activity," Termini said. "This event reminds us that despite how far we may be from Carlisle, we are forever Dickinsonians."
Read more stories about how members of the Dickinson community near and far have responded to emerging needs and challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
Published June 15, 2020