Connected Across Class Years
Alumni Weekend 2021 opened doors for networking and new adventures
Friday, October 29, 2021
Two alumnae hug in front of a lit sign and maroon and white balloons

It’s a wrap! Alumni Weekend 2021, one of the first in-person, large group alumni gatherings since the start of the global pandemic, was filled with fun and festivities for Trinity alumni and friends—more than 900 of them, in fact. Friday brought chances to reignite our passion for lifelong learning and celebrate alumni award winners. Saturday evoked memories of traditions new and old—from cheering on Tiger athletics to the now-annual Block Party, where alumni connected with generations of reunions across decades. Sunday was a chance to unwind and relax, savoring shared moments from college years through affinity gatherings. Many signature events were offered virtually, giving alumni across the nation who couldn’t make it back to campus the chance to participate as well. 

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left: reunion representatives carry ballons saying "35"; right: Michelle Collette and Michael Bacon hold a big check for $5M

 

Reunions

“Twice the Fun in ’21” brought together classes who not only celebrated their anniversaries in 2021, but also those who would have celebrated in 2020 if not for the pandemic. Tigers from every decade through the 1960s made their way to San Antonio for celebrations and special moments. On Friday night, Trinity alumni took San Antonio by storm and could be found reminiscing together all over the city - from Bay’s (Bombay’s Bicycle Club) to Tycoon Flat’s to Club Giraud. Saturday saw alumni from 1970 and prior enjoying brunch and being awarded medallions by University leadership. 

In addition to networking and creating new memories, alumni came out in full support of the University. This year, the reunion Classes of 2020 and 2021 presented a check of more than $5 million in gifts and pledges from 1,727 donors. From supporting student scholarships to investing in state-of-the-art resources, the reunion gift to Trinity further enhanced the monumental donations made this year by alumni Janet ’68 and Jim ’68 Dicke and Michael Neidorff ’65.

 

Phil Wetz walks to accept an award in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall

 

Alumni Award Winners

Admiration spilled over as eight alumni were honored with prestigious University awards. Aisha Sultan ’96 gave a heartfelt speech while accepting her Distinguished Alumni award: She shared the story of finding her home at Trinity and the beloved faculty member who showed her it was okay to cry and have a moment of weakness as a journalist. Equally powerful, Phil Wetz '73 accepted the Spirit of Trinity award and shared how the culture of the University extends into all areas of life, reaching far beyond the pursuit of academic excellence. Bené Eaton '09 joined via video from New York to share her gratitude in receiving this year's Outstanding Young Alumna award. Karla Hagen Phillips '92 was celebrated for her guidance to both her sorority as well as all clubs with the Fraternity and Sorority Alumni Adviser of the Year award. Lastly, the University celebrated contributions to the Trinity community and the greater community as a whole from Tower 5 awardees: John Burnam '10, Sarah Causer '11, Libby Day '12, Ender Ergun '11, and Mitchell Hagney '13.

 

 

Young Alumni

Alumni of the last ten years and our most recent graduates were invited to a number of young-alumni-focused events offering opportunities to revisit favorite campus traditions that, for some, were lost due to the pandemic.

Allison Wolff ’20, M’21 described how “Alumni Weekend provided a lot of closure for the Class of 2020—closure that maybe we didn’t even know we needed. Many of us had moved on with life and careers, moved away and moved on. But Alumni Weekend was really the cherry on top to our crazy senior year. I was able to spend time with a roommate I hadn’t hugged or seen since the day we found out campus was closing. She and I had lived together all four years, and being [together again at] Alumni Weekend was really exciting.”

Saturday morning kicked off with mimosas under the Tower, where young alumni visited with former classmates, and the Class of 2020 participated in a virtual brick signing. Alumni Association Board president, Michelle Collette '06, and assistant vice president for Alumni Relations and Development, Joannah Pickett, hosted the ring ceremony and welcomed past ring recipients to mid-day festivities at the fountain to reflect on their many accomplishments and perform the traditional ring dunk. 

Finally, 2020 graduates were furnished with a unique celebration during the Block Party on Oakmont. Among the cheers and laughter, alumni from the class of 2020 were treated to a mock graduation stage with the now infamous “Flat Danderson” to recreate their graduation photos. To cap off a night full of rekindled friendships, the evening ended with a special toast from VPAA Megan Mustain to the class of 2020. 

 

a group of reunion members gather in a front yard to celebrate with a toast

 

Block Party

Bubbling with the memory of time gone by, hundreds of alumni and friends buzzed with excitement as they returned to Oakmont for the now-annual Block Party. The nostalgia and connection between reuniting alumni from the Class of 2021 all the way back to the 1960s was palpable as music thumped from three bands and a DJ throughout the evening.  The smell of Chris Madrid's “big cheesy” wafted in the air along with food trucks from Tycoon Flats, La Consentida, and empanadas and desserts provided by Aramark. People lined the street, stopping to take pictures with one another, while relishing in the great weather and friendly atmosphere. 

 

Rin Nirenberg speaks on a panel during Alumni Weekend 2021

 

Alumni College

Dubbed "Classes without Quizzes,” Alumni College featured esteemed faculty and alumni subject matter experts who presented mini-lectures, panel discussions, and question-and-answer forums. To meet the growing expectations for an educational component, Alumni College offered opportunities for lifelong learning through two tracks: Speakers in track one presented diverse perspectives on pressing issues. Topics ranged from a discussion on assumptions led by the 2021 Distinguished Alumna Aisha Sultan ‘96, to an ethnography of death penalty trials in the United States, to conversations about the influence of media on public discourse, and a class on the connection between religion and racism. Track two featured three panel discussions featuring Health Care Administration faculty and alumni experts on a variety of healthcare-related topics, including "Leadership and Resilience During the Pandemic," featuring San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg ’99, as well as “Health Disparities, Inequity, and Racism" and "Innovation in Healthcare."

 

members of the Bengal Lancers across decades cheer at the Alumni Weekend tailgate party

 

Tiger Athletics and Tailgates

Tiger Pride was on full display as alumni gathered to cheer on the football and soccer teams all weekend. Alumni reconnected with one another at the Trinity South Campus Soirée with their drink of choice and empanadas from Carmens de la Calle food truck. Children of alumni were able to show off their best soccer skills during halftime of the women’s game through the Running of the Cubs. The women’s soccer team defeated Schreiner in a 9-1 win, and the men’s team finished off Friday night with a tie (1-1) against St. Thomas.

The high-spirited energy continued the next morning as alumni gathered on Prassel Lawn at the Sport Management 10+ Year Reunion and Trinity Tiger Football Tailgate/Alumni Involvement Fair, sponsored by the Bengal Lancer Alumni Foundation. The tailgate included food, drinks, cornhole, and a mechanical bull. The Football Watch Party displayed the game on a mobile TV Trailer with a 15ft by 8ft LED TV screen. The exciting afternoon ended with a nacho hour and a Trinity win against Sewanee in a 66-7 point game.

 

group photo of the AW21 Alumni Association Board volunteers

 

Volunteers

To execute 60+ events in less than 72 hours, it takes an army of volunteers. This year, Alumni Weekend was made possible with the help of over 100 volunteers made up of mostly alumni, as well as staff, students, and faculty members. In addition to Trinity’s Alumni Association Board giving of their time to introduce speakers and helping hand out champagne for reunion toasts, alumni from every decade could be found enjoying the beautiful Live Oaks as they strolled campus on their way to their next event. 

Thank you to all who attended and contributed to a phenomenal Alumni Weekend 2021. We look forward to seeing everyone back on campus next year!

Alyssa Tayrien '17 is the digital communications coordinator for the University's Office of Alumni Relations. She majored in communication and ancient Mediterranean studies at Trinity.

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