Pass the Baton Dinner – October, 2016

Class of '67 co-presidents Allan Stern and John Hufnagel receive the baton from Budge Upton and Bill Bowden from the Class of '66 (photo by Susan Scrimshaw)

On the weekend of September 30-October 1 about thirty ’67 classmates and spouses/partners showed up for the annual “Mini-Reunion Weekend,” along with members of the surrounding classes of ’66, ’68, ’69, and ’70.  There was an interesting panel discussion on Friday afternoon entitled “Sustainability: a Role for Everyone,” then a dinner at the Williams Inn where everybody had a chance to mingle with alumni from the surrounding classes.

Saturday morning there was a room reserved at the Paresky Center (the student union) just for our class.  Nothing formal was planned, it was just a time for informal conversations and reconnecting.

After that there was an extremely interesting lecture by assistant biology Professor Matt Carter, entitled “Shining Light on How the Brain Controls Hunger.”

The afternoon was spent on individual activities.  Some went to the Clark Museum.  Some went shopping.  Some went to the football game against Trinity, but the less said about that, the better.  Let’s just say it’s a rebuilding year for the football team with their new coach.

The main event of the weekend for our class was held on Saturday night.   This was the annual “Pass the Baton” dinner, where this year the outgoing 50th Reunion class of ’66 passed on reunion responsibilities – and an actual baton — to the incoming 50th Reunion class of ’67.

Members of the Classes of '66 and '67 enjoy the Pass the Baton dinner at the Faculty Club (photo by Allan Stern)

This was a tradition that started actually in 1967 when the class of 1917, celebrating their 50th that year, decided to make a formal event of passing on the 50th reunion responsibilities to the following class.

Williams President Adam Falk speaking at the Pass the Baton dinner (photo by Allan Stern)

After inspirational remarks by Williams President Adam Falk, ’66 Co-President Walter “Budge” Upton expressed his thanks to the 50th Reunion staff of Mark Robertson, Christine Robare, and Darlene Alderman for their outstanding support during the reunion planning and implantation stages.

Budge Upton '66 speaking at the Pass the Baton dinner, while Bill Bowden '66 looks on (photo by Susan Scrimshaw)

Then Class of ’67 Co-President John Hufnagel spoke, talking about the covenant between our class and the college and how the life trajectory of our class brings us back 50 years later to better appreciate not only our classmates who are left but the college experience itself.

John Hufnagel '67 speaking at the Pass the Baton dinner (photo by Susan Scrimshaw)

'67 Class Co-President Allan Stern holds the actual baton. It had to be given back at the end of the evening, unfortunately. (photo by Susan Scrimshaw)

Participants in this weekend’s events:
Bob & Susan Bahr
Fred & Linda Ball
Ron Bodinson & Nada Young
Chuck Glassmire
John & Jinx Hufnagel
George Lee
Harry Matthews
Dave & Kathleen McCarron
Ted McPherson
Peter & Alicia Pond
Mark & Liz Richards
Terry Sands
Allan Stern & Susan Scrimshaw
Harry & Suzanne Tether
Bob & Meg Tyre
John Way & Kathy Duncan
Ed & Rena Wing

Huff’s remarks are included below:

Every year a baton is passed from a class with 50 years of experience to a class with 49 years of experience.  When we reach this stage in life, who really thinks that a year of additional wisdom makes a significant difference?  Especially when we are struggling to hold onto the wisdom we have.

But here tonight there is a difference.

What the difference is that you, the Class of 1966, have been through a 50th Reunion and we have not.  Thank you for your generous support, advice and inspiration along the way.  You have been helpful in preparing us for this moment.  You have made the pilgrimage and ours lies ahead – the opportunity to reconnect in a significant way with our class.

We have all made our way in this life to get here.  It can be said we have nothing to prove.  We have had our successes and failures, joys and sorrows.  We have seen our world change as rapidly in our lifetime as those who started this tradition of passing the baton in 1917.  So here we are, planning to embark on our pilgrimage to Williamstown with enthusiasm and purpose, not to reconnect to who we were -`- but to acknowledge who we have become, and to give thanks to Williams College and each other for the four years here that had a profound influence on our lives.

Reunions and continuing friendships have always been a touchstone.  This is one that with all the help and planning from the College, previous classes, and classmates promises to be a deeply shared experience.

During our four years here we didn’t necessarily know or appreciate:

  • The endless buffet of experience.
  • The discipline of seeking the truth from a barrage of information (for many of us, that began with the Massacre of Glencoe).
  • The dedication of a professor who pushed us to explore our curiosity and who challenged us to question our preconceived notions.
  • Nights of friendship engaged in obtuse discussions where bullshit could not be fact-checked on Google.
  • The power and the price of righteous indignation.
  • The power of words and collaboration.

We lived in a secure pot of hope, dreams, insecurities, ambition, and hormones which was stirred by a covenant that placed Mark Hopkins and a dedicated faculty at one end of the log and us at the other.

A covenant that through direct contact encouraged intellectual curiosity and a love of learning.

A covenant that grew in an insular, comfortable physical setting that had no intellectual bounds.

A covenant that had great influence on us to prepare us for what lay ahead.

We are here tonight not only to reconnect with the Class of 1966 and the classes that follow us, but also to reconnect to Williams College and to the covenant that placed us at one end of the log.

This is our time to say thank you to the College.  It is our time to check in with how this covenant is holding up, and to make our statement as a class after 50 years of living with our four-year legacy.

We have decided as a class to create two gifts to the College to help sustain the covenant.

The first is to create the Class of ’67 Fund for Faculty Recruitment to help sustain the faculty end of the log.  Today, as Williams enters a period of unprecedented faculty turnover, the College must intensify its efforts and deepen its investment in order to secure the College’s next great faculty.  Our class is honored to support this priority in a meaningful way to help ensure that this wave of hiring, and those that follow, will yield the most talented future faculty for Williams.

This Fund will give the President and Dean of the faculty the flexibility over time to make the most compelling offers to top-choice candidates.  It will be an unrestricted endowed fund to provide fully discretionary dollars to these decision-makers.  The Fund will make Williams more competitive by allowing recruitment conversations to include promises of investment in research and technology – knowing they will have the time, tools, and resources they need to stay at the forefront of their fields is a powerful incentive for a scholar to join the Williams faculty.  The Fund will also be crucial to helping the College creatively address common concerns among potential faculty members relocating to Williamstown – spousal employment, housing, and other costs – on a case-by-case basis.  We feel proud that this gift was seen as such an important piece of Williams’ future that it has been carried forward into the Teach It Forward Capital Campaign.

Our second gift is to enhance the student’s end of the log.  Since 1967, we have sadly lost more than 40 of our classmates as well as many treasured professors.  To honor their memories and to support Williams’ commitment to enroll talented and motivated students regardless of their families’ financial circumstances, we have established the Class of 1967 Memorial Scholarship Fund.  It will provide permanent, dedicated revenue for financial aid.

We believe these will be meaningful gifts that will have a significant impact on helping Williams retain its commitment to those on both ends of the log.

When we pass this baton next year, it will be the 50th anniversary of the first passing, and I believe we will do so with a pride in our gift, grace for what lies ahead, a greater appreciation for the richness of our lives that comes from the friendships made here, and an appreciation for what Williams has given us.

Thank you.

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