An attendance record-breaking 4,401 MIT alumni and friends returned to campus during the 2016 Tech Reunions, held June 2-5. The community enjoyed more than 150 events including the 119th Tech Night at Pops, Technology Day, and the festive Toast to Tech, the final event of the months-long Century in Cambridge celebration, which honored the Institute’s 1916 campus move from Boston to Cambridge.
Alumni Association President John Chisholm ’75, SM ’76 and MIT's 50th reunion Class of 1966 continued a long-standing tradition of leading the Institute's Commencement procession into Killian Court.
The ceremony was highlighted by guest speaker Matt Damon — a filmmaker, social activist, and Cambridge native who rose to prominence with his portrayal of an MIT janitor with genius-level intellect in the 1997 film "Good Will Hunting."
Tech Day 2016, with a theme of Research Spotlights: Education and Environment, explored MIT faculty research on education and environmental sciences and engineering. The two-part program first considered how MIT shapes what, where, and how the world learns, from K-12 through higher education and lifelong learning; the second panel discussed new research and initiatives aimed at mobilizing the community to forge a people-centric, planet-positive future.
Panelists included Associate Dean of Digital Learning Vijay Kumar; Professor Angela Belcher; Professor John Gabrieli PhD ’87; research scientist Scot Osterweil; Professor Karen Willcox SM ’96, PhD ’00; Environmental Solutions Initiative Director John Fernández ’85; Professor David McGee; Assistant Professor Elsa Olivetti PhD ’07; and Assistant Professor Jessika Trancik.
At the Technology Day luncheon, the Alumni Association announced total reunion giving from all classes at nearly $75 million, including record participation from the graduating Class of 2016 (88 percent) and highlighted by record giving numbers: $4.4 million from the Class of 1991, $4.7 million from the Class of 1986, $6.2 million from the Class of 1981, $24.6 million from the Class of 1976, and nearly $660,000 from the Class of 1941. Gifts received by June 30 will be counted toward final reunion and annual totals.
A night at the Pops and a Toast to Tech
For the 119th year, MIT alumni and friends gathered for Tech Night at Pops — the official kickoff of Tech Reunions Weekend. This year’s Pops event featured a piano concerto from MIT sophomore Julia Chan and performances centered around the Olympic Games and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," plus an original piece, the humorous mobile phone-inspired "Ringtone Cycle."
Saturday evening’s Toast to Tech culminated the Institute’s season-long campus centennial celebration. Held in Killian Court, more than 2,300 alumni and friends enjoyed a barbecue dinner on Kresge lawn, live music, fireworks over the Charles River, dessert from Winnette McIntosh Amrose ’98 — a first-place winner on the Food Network’s "Cupcake Wars" — and complimentary beverages from Mystic Brewery, owned by Emily Havens Greenhagen ’05.
The Cardinal and Gray Society’s newest members, the Class of 1966, enjoyed a post-Commencement luncheon, a Saturday evening president's reception at Gray House, a gala dinner, and a Sunday-morning farewell brunch. The 60-year reunion Class of 1956 recreated a similar photo of the class that appeared in Life magazine in 1956.
The 40th reunion group, the Class of 1976, enjoyed a Friday-evening reception with President Reif and his wife, Christine, at the Media Lab. The 25th reunion group, the Class of 1991, took part in Friday night dinner at Walker Memorial, dinner on the top floor of the Media Lab, and a Sunday morning farewell brunch at the Grey House.
Tech Challenge Games and Reunion Row
Competition during the Tech Challenge Games — celebrating its 25th anniversary — was fierce. The Classes of 1991 and 1976 were co-champions of the Tech Challenge Games, followed closely by the Class of 1996. The Class of 1976’s co-victory marked their third time as Tech Challenge Champions — the only three-time winners in Challenge Games history.
Reunion Row featured the spirited and competitive Sunday morning race the Charles River. This year’s winners, the Class of 1976, received a special trophy in memory of Jack Frailey ’44, a longtime advocated of rowing at MIT. The Class of 1991 finished in second placed followed by the Classes of 1966 and 1986.