More than 3,100 alumni and guests gathered last weekend to celebrate their MIT connections and give back to the Institute. Alumni reunion gifts to MIT, reported at the annual Tech Day luncheon at the Johnson Athletic Center on Saturday, June 6, totaled more than $152 million.
A standing ovation greeted the announcement of the Class of 1959's reunion giving total during the luncheon. Bolstered by gifts from 68 percent of its members, the 50th reunion class has now given more than $100 million -- a new class record.
The senior class gift broke new ground with a record 65 percent of the class contributing nearly $12,000. Other new records included the 25th reunion class gift of $12.4 million coming from two-thirds of the Class of 1984 and the 10th reunion class set a dollar record with $167,479. The 25th, 40th, 50th and 60th and higher reunion classes count gifts over five years; other classes count gifts in the past year. Final giving totals will include gifts through June 30.
This year's Alumni Association President Toni Schuman '58 thanked alumni for their volunteer efforts and their generosity, then passed the gavel to incoming president Kenneth Wang '71, a New Yorker who is president of U.S. Summit.
Wang said that in a time of economic turmoil, alumni can count on their connection to MIT and its unshakable commitment to educating the best students and solving the world's pressing problems. "We need to help each other, help MIT, and help the world," he said.
Honorary membership in the association was awarded to three MIT staff members: Joanne Cummings, Sgt. Cheryl Vossmer and Clarence Williams. Cummings recently retired as senior associate director of admissions after 40 years in the department. Schuman noted that Cummings' contributions helped ensure the quality of each new class and contributed to MIT's extraordinary 98 percent freshman retention rate -- the highest in the country.
Vossmer, a community police officer for the last 23 years, has worked closely with students and served as instructor of Rape Aggression Defense training. "Cheryl is not only the face of campus police for many, she is also the smile of campus police," Shuman noted.
Williams, adjunct professor emeritus of urban studies, has held high-level positions supporting diversity and academic life since 1972 and has taught a course on race and diversity since 1992. He is the author of "Technology and the Dream: Reflections on the Black Experience at MIT, 1941-1999," based on oral histories of 75 MIT alumni, faculty and administrators including former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The oldest attendees were also honored at the Technology Day Luncheon, and included Paul Stanton '39 of Framingham, Mass.; James Baird '40 of Concord, Mass.; Fred Schaller '39, SM '40 of Wellesley, Mass.; and Richard Leghorn '39 of Osterville, Mass.
This year's Technology Day program, the Mind's Eye, included introductory remarks by President Susan Hockfield and presentations by MIT professors Rebecca Saxe PhD '03, on how the brain invents the mind; Pawan Sinha '92, PhD '95, on learning to see; and Patrick Henry Winston '65, SM '67, PhD '70, on computers with commonsense. View the archived program online at http://amps-web.mit.edu/public/techday/2009.
The thousands of alumni and guests who visited MIT over the weekend came from 45 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and 18 other countries including Singapore, the United Kingdom and South Africa.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 10, 2009 (download PDF).