uvm a - z directory search





UVM Notebook


Alumni Voice

Campaign Update

Alumni Connection

Class Notes

Extra Credit



Alumni news &






Talkin' 'bout our Generations
Seen and Heard at Reunion 2005

photos by Sabin Gratz

“It was a great coming together of a bunch of kids who didn't know how good of a time it was until afterwards,” says Dan Burack '55, sitting around a table at the Catamount Cookout with a bunch of those kids, now celebrating the 50th anniversary of their graduation from college. They were all members of the Phi Sig fraternity on North Prospect Street and they returned in impressive numbers for a house reunion that coincided with the Class of '55's celebration. Burack notes with pride that the fraternity was one of the tops on campus and their chapter pioneered opening Phi Sig membership to black students. Across the table from Burack, Bradley Gordon '55, Cynic editor during his student years, sums up the unity of the old days - “There's never been a time when I had so many friends whom I considered close, intimate friends.”

“I have a B.S. in mechanical engineering and I'm nuts enough to tackle an occasional electrical project,” says Fred Gear '38 as he stands outside Ira Allen Chapel and provides a tour of the '38-50 Bandwagon, a staple of the Reunion celebration since he built it for his 50th. Constructed atop an old Radio Flyer wagon, the green and gold cart, festooned with Catamounts and Vermont pennants, pumps out big band tapes through speakers powered by a tractor battery.

“This is a little different than a concert in subtlety. When it says 'piano,' think 'mezzo, mezzo,'” Music Professor Tom Toner tells the volunteer alumni band as they prepare for the Celebration of UVM, something like a pep rally in staid Ira Allen Chapel. Toner annually strikes up the band - a loyal crew of alumni, spouses, their kids, and sometimes even their musical students - for a rousing mix of marches on Reunion Saturday. “It's fun, it's heartwarming,” says flutist Bobbie Moser '74 G'76. “You never know which classmates you'll meet.”

“We lived two doors apart in Chittenden Hall,” says George Bardis '55, explaining how he first met Fred Cioffi '55. They hit it off because of easy-going personalities and similar backgrounds - first-generation college students of immigrant families, one Greek, one Italian. They also shared a love of food and many meals together have been part of their long friendship, though perhaps none have been as well appreciated as those rare days at UVM when they had the cash to splurge at Bove's.

“We slept on the porch our whole senior year,” says Betsy Marlow Komline '40. The “we” was a lively trio of roommates at the old Redstone mansion - Komline, Mary Nelson Tanner '40 and Flossie Wade Eaton '40 - who took to the chilly sleeping porch just for the challenge of it. On a bright June morning on the UVM Green, they recall other Vermont winter adventures, such as following a horse-drawn plow as it cleared the walk from Redstone to central campus. All that 1930's fresh air and exercise served them well. They are seemingly everywhere at Reunion Weekend, an octogenarian version of the Three Musketeers.

“I have yet to read a good poem about a reunion,” says Major Jackson, associate professor of English, at the beginning of a workshop on writing poetry for special occasions. “In fact, I haven't read any reunion poems. So let's start the tradition right here on June 3, 2005, in Burlington, Vermont.” After a lively explication of the form and function of occasional poetry, Jackson brings the session around to the current occasion. The group discusses the stuff of reunion odes - past times, old friends, beloved places, academics - then read their own. A multi-page epic from Ron Hertel '65 and classmates cover includes lines like “ when temperatures dropped for months below zero/fraternity boys scoffed, didn't wear socks, played the hero.” Arthur Langer '50 offers a poem about a tough instructor, Mrs. Smith, who would “fail a theme” for even two petty mistakes. Langer's poem describes his arrival on campus still “speaking Brooklyn-ese… deese and dem,” and credits Smith for his linguistic turnaround: “I now say these and them/and that I owe to UVM.” And, so, perhaps, a tradition is born.

“It's my first time back. I miss Burlington, I wanted to see the campus,” says Kim Harrison '95, who returned for her 10th Reunion along with friends Audrey Considine '95 and Cindy Klain '95. On their itinerary to visit - bookstore to refresh their UVM gear, their old room in Chittenden, new stuff such as the dorms under construction, downtown. Oh, yeah, and that Irish happy hour at the place where Last Chance used to be.

“There's a whole new feel to the place - really forward thinking and believing in itself,” says Fred Hackett '55. For the one-time chair of UVMs Board of Trustees, Reunion 2005 is a dual milestone - his 50th and son Steve's 25th. Hackett likes what he sees at the University these days, and the sixth-generation Vermonter extols the links between UVM and the state, from improving health care to driving the economy to providing opportunities for first-generation college students. “UVM is a much bigger factor in Vermont, I think, than the state university in any other state,” Hackett says.

Collected by Thomas Weaver and Kevin Foley