I Say Goodbye and You Say Hello …

By Tracy Hagert Sutka ’82 P’17
Tracy Hagert Sutka ’82 P’17

Tracy Hagert Sutka ’82 P’17

This distortion of the classic Beatles song title was suggested by Michael Weisburger ’82, the incoming Alumni Association president, when we discussed my final column for Lafayette magazine. On June 3, my term will come to a close. That evening, “Weissy” (as he is commonly known) will be handed the Alumni Association gavel and will graciously take over my role on the Alumni Association board. We will be in very good company that evening, among the hundreds of alumni who will be on campus celebrating milestone reunion years. In fact, Weissy and I are celebrating 40 years!

The position of Alumni Association president comes with many privileges, duties, and obligations, and it turns out that one of my final duties will go down as the most meaningful event of my presidency. I am writing this column days after returning from Commencement weekend on campus. One of the Alumni Association president’s privileges is to be part of the academic procession and individually welcome each member of the graduating class into lifetime roles as Lafayette alumni.

On Saturday, May 21, members of the Class of 2022 joined the ranks of an alumni family that is more than 30,000 strong. I shook every hand as they bounded down from the stage, newly graduated and proud. My “welcome to the Lafayette alumni family” greeting most likely did not resonate as they were being directed to take a photo and receive our Alumni Association gift.

On Sunday, May 22, the College welcomed back the Class of 2020 for a real-life do-over of their 2020 virtual Commencement ceremony. This was the class whose members never returned to campus after spring break in March 2020 and watched their graduation ceremony online from their homes. It was a priority of the College to make it up to them and give them a tangible and celebratory experience so that they could walk across the stage and be acknowledged.

So, members of the Class of 2020, if you are reading this, your Commencement was my favorite experience as Alumni Association president. It was an honor to be on hand to greet you as you left the stage. In my remarks during the ceremony I said that I am not welcoming you as new alumni, I’m thanking you for doing the most important thing alumni can do: come back home to Lafayette to be honored by your alma mater.

This event summed up what makes the Lafayette alumni experience so rewarding. The Class of 2020 received their diplomas two years ago. Yet they were thrilled to return as alumni to celebrate with their classmates, their favorite faculty, fellow alumni, and their families. When I shook their hands and welcomed them back, almost every person said, “Thank you for having us, thank you for doing this.” I wish I could take all the credit.

I thank the College for giving me the honor of serving as Alumni Association president. Thank you to all members of the Alumni Association board and to the thousands of alumni and parents who attend events, partner with the Gateway Center to provide support for students’ career endeavors, and so generously donate to the College.

Hopefully, our alumni will follow the example of the Class of 2020 by gathering back on campus and appreciating their connection to Lafayette. As I say goodbye and Weissy says hello, I know the alumni community is in good hands.

With Pard Pride,
Tracy Hagert Sutka ’82 P’17

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