Nexi, the robot, stole the show during Technology Day, June 7, when it rolled on to the Kresge Auditorium stage and introduced faculty creator Cynthia Breazeal SM '93, ScD '00. Affable, expressive and quintessentially high tech, Nexi exemplified the Institute's innovation research presented at Tech Reunions 2008, which drew more than 3,240 alumni and guests. The Media Lab robot's spectacular presence was, however, matched by the announcement of alumni reunion giving totals--$100,578,568, a marked increase over last year's total of $54 million.
Participation, a high priority, was also strong. At the Tech Day Luncheon in the Johnson Athletic Center, President Susan Hockfield reflected on senior class gift participation during her first MIT reunion four years ago--27 percent. This year's class swept away the recording-setting numbers of the past two years--51 and 52 percent, with gifts coming from 64.4 percent of the senior class, which gave $16,524. Alumni Association President Harbo Jensen PhD '74 added $25,000 to the Class of 2008 Externship Assistance Fund when the seniors resoundingly met his participation challenge.
Class reunion gift co-chair Glen Strehle '58, former MIT treasurer, was clad in the historic red jacket, like many of his classmates, for the first time. He announced a 50th class reunion gift of $21,316,772 with donations from 70 percent of the class. The 40th reunion class, 1968, raised $7,948,263 with 66 percent participation. The 25th reunion class presented $4,354,508, with donations from 66 percent of the Class of 1983. The Classes of 1938 and 1948 both broke records with gifts of $12,164,710 and $34,854,451, respectively.
"This is an amazing reunion year â€¦ that demonstrated the devotion and dedication of alumni," Hockfield noted.
Despite volatile temperatures, alumni attended 153 events such as the 111th Tech Night at the Pops, which featured cellist Carlos Prieto '58, observing his 50th reunion from the Symphony Hall stage. Reunion Row drew a Sunday morning crowd with cheers going up for the winning Class of 1963 team. MIT's oldest alumnus, Yardley Chittick '22, celebrated his 86th reunion. Alumni arrived on campus from 44 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, plus 24 countries, including Bulgaria, Mauritius and Suriname.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 11, 2008 (download PDF).