Next House’s executive committee faced a difficult challenge a year ago when it began to plan for the residence hall’s 30th birthday: How do you properly represent 30 years of history, diversity and accomplishments in only one day? The anniversary, which took place Sunday, April 29, brought Housemasters, alumni and students together to celebrate Next House and its progression over the past 30 years.
“Around this time last spring, I thought it would be valuable to collect stories from Next House alumni about their times here and compile them to see how Next has changed over time,” said sophomore Jordan Marks, social chair of Next House. “The thought was that this history would eventually turn into something that could be given to our alumni.”
According to Marks and Next’s executive committee, nearly 50 alumni attended the anniversary event, with a similar amount of students in attendance. Next’s executive committee is composed of Austin Brinson (Next House president), Marks, Dorian Burks (secretary and historian), Julie Rothhaar (House director), and Elena Byrne and Bob Ferrara (alumni association).
The invitation, addressed to “Nexties,” included a schedule of the day’s events, which began with brunch, followed by a presentation of a history report compiled by Next House students, optional tours, an afternoon panel discussion, a display on “Next House Through the Years,” a performance by Next Act, and finally, dinner in the Next House dining hall.
“It was apparent from the level of student involvement and alumni engagement that after 30 years, the Next House community is stronger than ever,” said Costantino Colombo, MIT’s dean for student life and current Housemaster of Next House.
The panel discussion featured five Next House alumni: the first housing chair, a former Next House president, a couple who met at Next House, and a recent graduate. In addition to the panel, the festivities welcomed Bora Mikic ScD ’67 and Liba Mikic, who were Next House Housemasters for more than 25 years.
“There is something very special about the Next House community, that after 30 years residents of one particular house came back to celebrate the years they spent in the residence hall they called their home,” Rothhaar said. “This is not something that you find on most college campuses and one of the things that adds to the vibrant community that is MIT.“
Alumni were asked to contribute pictures, stories and memories from their time at Next House, which were compiled for the Next House history report. The report provided an interesting comparison for both current and past residents, as changes throughout the years became evident through photographs and a tour of the newly renovated facility. According to the Next House executive committee, the tours were received positively. Marks said, “It was interesting to hear the alumni compare the House then and now.”
Many alumni at the event were also impressed with the growth and development of Next Act, a student theatre group that performed during the celebration. “They seemed to enjoy seeing all that it has become,” Marks said, “complete with costumes, a pit orchestra, lighting and a stage. Many alumni stayed through dinner, simply talking with current students. I love the fact that, years after graduating, people still feel connected to Next House. “
The Next House 30th anniversary event not only allowed students and alumni to connect, but also provided an opportunity for past residents to return to a place they remember fondly. Colombo said, “I repeatedly heard from current students and Next House alumni who attended the event that Next House is their home away from home.”