September 10 was supposed to be the day that alumnae known as the First Women of Lafayette, women who graduated between 1971 and 1981, would reconvene on campus to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Coeducation at Lafayette. On Sept. 10, 1970, 146 women joined the ranks of Lafayette students. Plans had been in the works for over a year for this reunion, yet another event on our calendars that was not going to happenâ€”in person. Happily, the reunion took place via Zoom with over 100 of the First Women participating.
When former Alumni Association President Jonathan Ellis â€™98 announced â€śBringing Lafayette to Youâ€ť as an Alumni Council goal, he envisioned providing events for alumni who are located all over the world. Alumni could gather in London to raise a glass at a Wine 3/9 celebration, participate in a Faculty Road Trip lecture given by a Lafayette professor in San Francisco, or attend a Lafayetteâ€“Lehigh live telecast party in Dallas. We never envisioned that at present EVERY alumni event really does â€śBring Lafayette to You.â€ť
Technology has enabled our faculty to continue teaching and advising, our students to continue learning and socializing, and our alumni to continue connecting and networking. One of the only positives I can muster up about the pandemic is that connecting with alumni is not limited by geography. Homecoming this year has been rebranded Homecoming from Home! The College has conducted several Town Hall events where President Byerly and College leadership provide updates and field questions from hundreds of alumni. Over 2,000 alumni have â€śattendedâ€ť one of the ConnectEd events that have been planned by Alumni Relations and feature alumni and faculty. The First Women of Lafayette reunion reached alumnae who may not have been able to return to campus and in many cases, reunited women who had lost contact with Lafayette for decades.
Lafayette has made it a bit easier to volunteer, right from our homes and our screens. I was able to join College staff and several alumni at all of the summer Welcome Events, which took place in 16 locales from Seattle to Boston for incoming Class of â€™24 students and their families. Zoom made it possible for record numbers of alumni to â€śbring Lafayetteâ€ť to the newest members of the Lafayette community.
The Gateway Center, which offers career advice and networking exchanges to all alumni, is creatively using technology to provide externships for students during winter break. Through the Explore and Connect program, alumni can virtually host a student seeking career experience. To mentor a student, you can register on GatewayLink (gatewaylink.lafayette.edu), Lafayetteâ€™s own networking platform.
Please check out all the events listed on leopardlink.lafayette.edu. I also invite you to visit the 50th Anniversary of Coeducation website, coeducation.lafayette.edu, with links to oral histories, interviews, the Skillman virtual exhibition, and special events that will take place all year.
Alumni engagement is certainly different this fall, but your participation in all of these virtual events and volunteer opportunities has been heartening. We Leopards want to connect with and support our alma mater. Thank you for all you do for Lafayette.
With Pard Pride,
Tracy Hagert Sutka â€™82 Pâ€™17