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Raven's Claw Celebrates 125+ Years of Leadership, Scholarship, Service

Class of 2023 Raven's Claw members in their emblematic white hats. Photo by Dan Loh.

Class of 2023 Raven's Claw members in their emblematic white hats. Photo by Dan Loh.

Society celebrates milestone; boosts scholarship campaign

The Raven’s Claw honorary society was founded by seven men in the class of 1896 to promote good fellowship, foster loyalty to class and college, cherish the principles of chivalry and perpetuate class and college customs. As Raven’s Claw marks an important milestone, alumni are planning a grand celebration and an ambitious boost to the society's scholarship campaign. For Raven’s Claw members—current students and alumni alike—both the celebration and the scholarship represent an opportunity to give back to the organization and college that has given so much to them.

Leadership, scholarship and service

Raven’s Claw honors male students who’ve demonstrated leadership, scholarship and service to the college and community during their first three years on campus. At the end of their junior year, inductees are brought into the fold by outgoing members through a tapping, or induction, ceremony, held on the steps of Old West.

Members of the Raven’s Claw originally wore a pin consisting of a gold number seven on a black raven’s claw. The white hat that Raven’s Claw members now wear came into vogue in the 1920s. Although members only wear their white hats during their senior year, they are members for life.

Raven's Claw of 1961.

Raven's Claw of 1961.

Deep impacts

Raven’s Claw members have gone on to hold esteemed leadership positions across the spectrum of professions, including as ministers, physicians, judges, scholars, lawyers, politicians, educators, coaches and business, government and political leaders. The Raven’s Claw alumni community also includes more than 45 Dickinson Athletics Hall of Fame members, representing nearly a quarter of that celebrated group.

In keeping with the society’s emphasis on service, Raven’s Claw members give back significantly to Dickinson after graduation—as volunteers, engaged alumni and Alumni Council and Board of Trustees members.  The Raven’s Claw ranks include current board president Douglas Pauls ‘80, board member George Hager ‘78 and our own college president, John E. Jones III ’77, P’11. Ben James ’34, the college’s first dean of admissions; George Shuman, Claw of 1937, served several positions for the college including treasurer and vice-president; Coach Wilbur “Goby” Gobrecht ’52, P’84, P’87, was also a member of  Raven’s Claw; onetime board members Robert A. Waidner ’32, and Boyd Lee Spahr, class of 1900, are namesakes of the Waidner-Spahr Library.

Keeping in touch

Raven's Claw of 1978. This group includes young George Hager, a Founders' Society member and trustee.

Raven's Claw of 1978. This group includes young George Hager, a Founders' Society member and trustee.

Throughout their lives, Raven’s Claw members traditionally stay in contact with those in their Raven’s Claw cohort, says Raven’s Claw’s Jim Green ’89, who’s been in touch with fellow Raven’s Claw members in his class one or more times a week, every week, for more than 30 years.

Alumni also routinely return to campus to attend tapping, or induction, ceremonies as well as Alumni Weekends. They serve as mentors to the current Raven’s Claw group, and the friendships and connections with long-time and more recent members continues to grow exponentially every year.

Many make a point of cheering from the stands during athletics events. That inspires current athletes and new inductees, says Dave Webster ’88, head lacrosse coach. And he should know. A member of Raven’s Claw’s class of 1988, Webster works with young Dickinsonians every day, both in his role as head lacrosse coach and as Raven’s Claw advisor, and he helps them develop skills for leadership and success.

Celebrating scholarships

The Raven’s Claw anniversary celebration will be held during the 2023 Alumni Weekend. It will mark Raven’s Claw’s 125th anniversary—a milestone technically reached two years ago, during the height of the pandemic, and more safely observed in person this year. The event will include a dinner on Friday, the McAndrews golf outing and the tapping ceremony on Saturday. Typically held during Commencement week, this year’s tapping is postponed, so that the newest members of the organization may take part in the anniversary festivities.

The celebration also will include opportunities to raise a glass to recipients of the Raven’s Claw scholarship, established during the organization’s centennial anniversary in 1996, and available to any students identified by the college as in need of financial assistance.

“As members of Raven’s Claw, we’ve always recognized the importance of giving back. And now, during this really important moment in our history, we want to make sure that this scholarship continues to grow—that we can celebrate the college and help make Dickinson a reality for more young people,” says Joe Patruno ’89, a Raven’s Claw alum and member of the anniversary planning committee.

Over 100 scholarships have been granted to Dickinson students since 1998, including one current employee of the college. Scholarships are available to rising seniors with financial need—male- and female-identifying alike—as determined by the college and a committee which includes several Raven’s Claw members.

There are eight Raven’s Claw scholarship recipients currently. To honor the 125th anniversary, Raven’s Claw alumni hope to encourage 125 members to make a contribution and raise at least $25K in scholarship funds this year. And they've already reached one of those goals: During the 2023 Day of Giving, Raven's Claw members turned out in force, with 73 contributions totaling $34,452.65.

“It’s an important time in our history, and we hope to inspire Raven’s Claw alumni to come out and celebrate with us,” says Jerry Urich, Chair of the 125th Anniversary Celebration Committee.


Published April 10, 2023