Alumni Reunion Weekend: A decades-long history of courage, resistance and hilarious antics
A crowd of alumni with cohorts dating back to the 60s, gathered in Palm Court. Photo taken by Nickolas Steinig

Alumni Reunion Weekend: A decades-long history of courage, resistance and hilarious antics

For weeks prior to the event, the New College Alumni Facebook group was abuzz with folks making plans for accommodations and social gatherings for the upcoming Alumni Weekend. Dozens of alums returned to campus on Feb. 17 and 18 for the opportunity to connect and reminisce about their time at New College. The 2023 Alumni Reunion weekend, the largest ever,  included campus tours, waterfront access, mini-classes, a cocktail hour and a late-night outdoor storytelling session, ending Saturday night with a Bayfront party. 

According to Reunion Co-Chair Leslie Reinherz (‘70), 2018 was the school’s first large-scale alumni reunion, though alums have been returning to campus to relive their New College memories for years. 

“I really did love it here, it’s just an amazing school,” Reinherz said, who has served on the school’s New College Alumni Association (NCAA) Board since 2015. In her role, Reinherz worked to expand the scope of the Reunion events in order to increase attendance.

“I was always a party thrower,” Reinherz joked. “I kept pushing and pushing and I finally convinced [the Alumni Association] that they shouldn’t be going small-scale.” 

With the help of Director of Alumni Relationship Kathleen McCoy, Reinherz and other Reunion Co-Chair Ben Stork ( ‘03) were able to plan this year’s Reunion. 

Reinherz and Stork are largely responsible for the planning and media outreach that makes the Reunion Weekends so successful.  

“Our role is to pitch ideas to the NCAA and try to get information out,” Stork said.

At the cocktail hour held outside of the Heiser Natural Sciences Complex on Feb. 17, several alums spoke to the Catalyst about their time at New College and their decision to attend Alumni Weekend. Carmela French ( ‘06), explained that the controversial new Board of Trustee (BOT) appointments “drove people to physically be here.” 

Alum Nancy Rose Spector (‘06) explained that she “missed being around good people” when asked what drove her to attend this year’s reunion. Spector said her favorite thing about New College was the “freedom to study what we want” and reflected fondly upon her contributions to the campus’s Native Plant Restoration Area.  

Mustafa Fakhri (‘05) emphasized the importance of “being given the space to follow and explore a path without being stopped” and stated that after New College, he “kept that playfulness, creativity and freedom to explore.”   

Alums gathered on that night under the stars to tell stories and reflect. Alums from as far back as the 1960s congregated near the Dort Promenade to listen to each other muse over their time at New, whether they rehashed hilarious and bizarre ways they managed to pay for tuition, or reminisced about how meaningful their first class was.  

New College alumni are living proof of a rich history of intellectual curiosity, educational fulfillment and resilience. 

“New College was always in my heart,” Reinherz said.  “Wherever I went, there was always an active group of alums.”

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