In a Field House packed with more than a thousand people on the evening of July 9, Gallaudet kicked off a 150th Reunion Week that promises to be full of memories and friendships – both old and new. Alumni and veteran actors Linda Bove and Ed Waterstreet emceed the Opening Ceremony with plenty of banter and reflection on their time at Gallaudet.

“Our days at Gallaudet made us who we are,” Waterstreet said. “We got education, personal growth, friends … and preparation for professional success afterward,” Bove said. That combination of learning and networking is what makes Gallaudet so special to many of its alumni, they both emphasized.

MJ Bienvenu, Gallaudet Reunion Committee Chair, took the stage to welcome all the alumni who returned to campus to celebrate the University’s sesquicentennial.

“Whether you were here just yesterday or last week, or five years ago, or 25 or 50 years ago, when you set foot on campus (this week), you are home,” she said. “Welcome home!”

Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz added welcoming remarks, and Gallaudet University Alumni Association president Alyce Slater Reynolds made a special announcement. An updated edition of the Gallaudet Almanac, last released in 1974, will be released this fall in print and electronic editions, Reynolds said. It will include the many transformational events that have taken place on and off campus in the past 40 years. All those who registered for Reunion Week will receive a free copy of the new almanac, Reynolds said.

Sam Sonnenstrahl, executive director of Alumni Relations, provided perspective on the Reunion Week with some numbers. Gallaudet started out with fewer than 10 students in 1864, Sonnenstrahl said, and this week, it welcomes 1,193 registrants from 23 countries. That includes one alumnus from the Class of 1943, the oldest of a total of 71 classes represented – nearly every class since the 1940s.

Also, during the Opening Ceremony, the Sesquicentennial Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Gerald “Bummy” Burstein, ’50 & H-’86, for his longtime service to and support of the University. Reynolds, President Hurwitz, and Board of Trustees Chair Ben Soukup made the presentation.

“I feel this award shouldn’t be for me alone,” Burstein said to all the alumni in the audience. “I wish I could break this into pieces and give one to each and every one of you for supporting Gallaudet.”

Members of “Good Vibrations,” a music group founded on campus in 1972, gave a performance of the Beach Boys’ song of the same name. Alumni Margo Cienik and Mike Yance followed up with a rendition of the traditional Bison Song to conclude the ceremony, and with a balloon drop, the 150th Reunion officially began.

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