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Ties That Bind

When members of the class of 1958 joined the Class of 2008 in procession at Commencement this year, ties between the two groups were already strong, nurtured by Class Connections, a program managed by the Office of Alumni Relations. Class Connections, says Rex Morey '99, associate director for class activities, is a four-year program that facilitates links between each undergraduate class and their corresponding 50th reunion class.

Ralph Manuel and Tess Reeder
Ralph Manuel ′58 and Tess Reeder ′08, presidents of their respective classes. (Photo by Kawakahi Kaeo Amina ′09)

Ralph Manuel '58, former dean of the College and current president of the Class of 1958, thinking back on his own commencement, recalls marveling at the members of the Class of 1908 ("the first set of '08s I encountered") assembled for their 50th reunion: "Those men were a link to history." Now that his class has arrived at the 50-year reunion mark, he notes, they stand at the midpoint of a century of Dartmouth history. "Our class provides that link for the Class of 2008. We connect them to the past, but we can also start them thinking forward, to their 50th reunion, in 2058."

"The '58s and the '08s will be the first classes to have had this formal connection from freshman to senior year," Morey observes. "In fact, some '58s raided the '08 DOC trips and cooked them meals in a cabin." Since then, events such as an etiquette dinner, held during the Class of 2008's sophomore summer, and a barbecue at Homecoming 2007, which attracted approximately 150 members of the class of 2008, have brought the groups together. The classes of '59, '60, and '61 have embarked on similar programs with their counterpart classes of 2009, 2010, and 2011.

In part, the connections made are personal-friendships built with stories of Dartmouth then and now traded between classes-and advice about professional life. "It has been an absolute pleasure to get to spend time with the '58s and their spouses," says Genevieve Parshalle '08, alumni liaison for her class. "I have received some of my best life advice from the '58s." But it's also about connecting to the College. Tess Reeder, president of the class of 2008, says that "experiencing the dedication of the College's alumni" has been one of the great benefits of the Class Connections program. "There's no question that the Class of 1958 is an inspirational model for us." Parshalle concurs: "I hope that I can have as lasting an impact on the Class of 2058's Dartmouth experience."

The Class of 1958 has set numerous giving and participation records over the years, notes Manuel, and wants to encourage the '08s to follow in their footsteps. Saturday, June 7 saw the announcement not only of the Class of 1958's 50th Reunion gift to the College, but also a gift and a remarkable 50-year challenge to the Class of 2008.

At Class Day, Manuel brought greetings to the assembled '08's from the 50th reunion class. Praising the graduating class for their record-setting 92.5 percent Senior Class Gift participation rate, Manuel spelled out a challenge for Dartmouth's newest alumni. With a gift of $2,058 as seed money, Manuel, on behalf of his classmates, challenged the '08's to surpass the value of the Class of 1958's 50th reunion gift-which stood at $3,585,858.58 as of Class Day-in 50 years' time. "Good luck, and Godspeed," said Manuel, as he reminded the '08's of the words of President John Sloan Dickey '29, "The word is ‘so long,' because in the Dartmouth fellowship there is no parting."

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Last Updated: 6/23/08