Cornellians will gather June 10-13 to celebrate Virtual Reunion 2021, a weekend full of digital events and opportunities to gather online with friends and classmates.
Content from last year’s first Virtual Reunion was viewed by over 10,000 Cornell households from six continents and 77 countries, and representing the Class of 1937 to the Class of 2020. This year, alumni from across the globe, spanning multiple decades, are expected to tune in and take part in engaging discussions and activities.
Making it easy for everyone to join in
Featured events throughout Virtual Reunion will bring alumni together for important conversations about racial justice, equity, and diversity. All programs will be available for Cornellians to participate in digitally, regardless of where they might live—a significant benefit of hosting Reunion virtually.
“I feel that many of us are relieved that we don’t have to travel,” says Dottie Taylor Prey ’46, Class of 1946 75th Reunion co-chair. “We can, with the help of grandchildren and children and friends, connect through the computer—which is an amazing technology. Young people take it for granted, but it is absolutely a miracle of our times.”
“All of the Virtual Reunion programs are accessible, no matter where alumni are in the world,” says Kate Freyer, Director of Reunion and Campus Alumni Engagement Events. “People are making space to get together and taking the time to pause and reflect on where we have been and where we’re going.”
On Friday, a panel discussion featuring President Martha E. Pollack and notable Cornell alumni, including Kate Snow ’91, Anne H. Chow ’88, MEng ’89, MBA ’90, and Sharice Davids JD ’10, will address how women navigate leadership and define success. The conversation will be moderated by current Cornell students.
Saturday’s Mosaic Forum will focus on what meaningful action looks like in the effort to dismantle systemic racism, and what we each can do to take a firm stand against racial injustice. The panel discussion will be moderated by Noliwe Rooks, the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor, American Studies Program, Africana Studies and Research Center.
These two events will be rebroadcast at additional times during the weekend to allow Cornellians in different time zones to tune in when it is most convenient for them. Flexible viewing times are new to Reunion this year, and will make it possible for attendees to tune in from around the world.
“Even with Zoom fatigue, alumni are so excited and ready to connect,” Freyer says. She believes that providing more options for alumni to take part will increase the reach and depth of these important conversations.
“Many people have done virtual things during the year to get together with friends and family,” says Dottie Taylor Prey ’46. “So, we are hoping to have a record attendance for the 75th Reunion. That would be such fun. We’re calling, trying to convince people to please come on Zoom and have some fun, and see if you recognize anybody!”
Celebrating your Big Red family
In addition to the milestone Reunions for the class years ending in 1 and 6, this year marks important Reunion celebrations for the Cornell Asian Alumni Association (CAAA), Cornell Black Alumni Association (CBAA), Cornell Latino Alumni Association (CLAA), Cornell Military Network (CMN), Cornell Native American Alumni Association (CNAAA), and Cornell University’s LGBT Alumni Association (CUGALA).
Some of these groups have planned additional events for all alumni to continue educating themselves and learning from one another, and to start conversations they hope will continue long after the weekend is over.
“I am leading a team of dedicated volunteers who are working hard to provide fun and educational events for Cornellians, family, and friends of all ages,” says Rose Tanasugarn ’90, co-chair for this year’s CAAA Reunion. “I hope all participants will enjoy connecting with old friends and making new ones during our interactive programming. It’s definitely a challenge planning an event from the other side of the world [Japan], but I hope that alumni from this side of the Pacific will take part in the CAAA and university-wide programming.”
Another unique feature of Virtual Reunion 2021 will be a special celebration of the Class of 2020 on Sunday afternoon. President Pollack and college deans will address the class members, and notable alumni will share well wishes. All alumni are encouraged to attend and help acknowledge and celebrate the resilience of this class and their unique journey—a journey that volunteer Dottie Taylor Prey says has some similarities with what her Class of 1946 went through.
“We all try to plan our future step by step,” she says. “When you go through four years of college, you look forward to the finale. The Class of 2020’s future was totally changed, as it was for the war classes. You have to readjust, and this is what I would say they all did. I say, ‘Hurrah for them!’”
Having fun together
Virtual Reunion 2021 will also offer opportunities to connect as a community, with special events to close out Friday and Saturday evening and some fun printables and activities for alumni and children of all ages.
Participants will face off in Friday night’s Clash of the Cornellians, a trivia challenge featuring a mix of questions based on the current student experience and classic Cornelliana. Attendees are encouraged to play along with the contestants and see how many questions they can answer.
On Saturday, Spirit of the Hill will transport viewers on a digital journey across campus, with performances by the Cornell Chorus, Glee Club, Big Red Band, alumni from Baraka Kwa Wimbo and Pamoja-Ni gospel choirs, How Excellent and Chosen Generation gospel choirs, Yamatai, and other powerful Big Red artists.
Colleges, classes, and other groups celebrating Reunion will also host fun events, like game shows, numerous club and class happy hours, and more.
All alumni are invited to attend and celebrate everything that makes Cornell exceptional.