On Reunions Weekend, Alumni Show Wahoo Spirit and Support for U.Va.

June 8, 2010 — Reunions Weekend brought a possible record number of University of Virginia alumni back to the Grounds over a sweltering summer weekend.

Approximately 2,700 alumni came to Charlottesville last weekend to celebrate the reunion years from 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005. Including guests, the number of attendees topped 4,300.

"This is about the same number as last year, which was a record-setting year," said Jason Life, managing director of alumni engagement at the U.Va. Alumni Association. "We won't know until we count the final numbers whether we actually surpassed last year – it's that close." 
A range of activities was offered to the alumni, including a welcome back fiesta, academic seminars, dinners, career services, tours and, for their children, art projects at the U.Va. Art Museum. Guests contended with temperatures that soared into the low to mid-90s.

As his 20th and final year leading U.Va. comes to a close, President John T. Casteen III hosted a dinner at Carr's Hill for his classmates, who were celebrating their 45th-year reunion. Alumni from other classes met for dinner at locations in the Academical Village. All attendees had the chance to hear Casteen give remarks and enjoy a reception at his residence.

Casteen's Class of 1965 had the highest percentage of participation and reached its fund-raising goal, with 30 percent of the classmates giving a reunion gift to the University.

"To date, reunion classes have raised in excess of $16.9 million from 4,493 donors," said Beth Bishop, director of reunion and leadership annual giving. Donations are still coming in and will be counted until June 30, the end of the fiscal year. 

The Reunion Giving Program began in 1998, at the suggestion of alumni. In the program's first year, the combined giving from all classes was approximately $3 million. Now, more than 10 years later, it is not uncommon for a single class to report a total gift of $3 million, Bishop said.

"I am happy to report that this year, one of the classes raised in excess of $3 million," she said. 

The Class of 1985, celebrating its 25th anniversary reunion, received the award for the most dollars raised: $3,696,532 in gifts and pledges.

In addition, the Classes of 1960, 1975, 1990 and 2005 reached their dollar goals, and the Classes of 1960, 1975 and 1980 exceeded the 25 percent average giving participation rate. 

— By Anne Bromley