Celebrating the 50th anniversary of New College of Florida’s first class of students, alumnae/i returned to campus for the Charter Classes Reunion, bearing gifts in all shapes and sizes.
One alumnus returned a book overdue from the library since 1970 – along with a check in the amount of the estimated fine or replacement cost. Another wrote a check bearing a large prime number, in honor of college President Donal O’Shea, a noted mathematician. And others announced major planned gifts.
By the close of reunion, at a brunch on Sunday, Nov. 2, the Charter Classes – New College’s first three graduating classes – announced they have raised nearly $1.7 million for their alma mater.
“This was a ‘Grand Hurrah.’ And it was grand to be able to give a gift like that to the college. It was really a gift from our hearts,” said Kathleen Raskin, chair of Charter Classes Reunion 2014. “What better way to say ‘thank you’ than to afford other students the opportunity that we had that changed our lives forever?”
That puts the Charter Classes well on the way to their target of raising $2 million by 2016, the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the third graduating class. (Unlike most colleges, New College alumnae/i group themselves by the year they arrived, instead of the year they graduated.)
“This was a very significant gift from the Charter Classes, and the first organized reunion class gift in the history of New College,” said Jessica Rogers, vice president of alumnae/i affairs. “It speaks volumes that the relatively small, early classes have raised these funds, and it sets a precedent for future classes about their importance of their ongoing engagement and support of New College.”
New College alumnae/i have a strong bond to the college, Raskin said. “There was an overwhelming belief that New College was something special – something unique in this universe,” she said. “And it was. You could virtually create any course or area of study and throw yourself into that experience.”
About 315 alumnae/i from all classes returned for the reunion, with one, poet, actress and director Glenda Cimino, coming from as far as Ireland. Some 420 guests attended Clambake, the weekend’s main event.
“We’re thrilled that so many of our alumni returned to the College for this special weekend,” President O’Shea said. “Their experiences are invaluable to our students, and the Charter Classes gift will enable the College to continue to provide a transformational education.”