Cornellians and Touchdown the Bear celebrate at Cornelliana in Bailey Hall during Reunion 2023

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From Cornelliana Night to goat yoga and the ‘Redstock’ concert, alumni celebrate traditions old and new

By Joe Wilensky

More than 6,300 alumni and their guests attended Reunion 2023, enjoying the traditional events and trying some new ones. Cornellians from as far away as Thailand and Australia—representing 24 countries and 45 states (plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico)—came home to the Hill for festivities, fun, and friendship.

While there were advance concerns about the region’s air quality due to smoke from massive wildfires in Canada—prompting a few events early in the weekend to be canceled or moved indoors—conditions improved quickly.

The remainder of the weekend featured typical weather for an Ithaca June, with periods of light rain giving way to balmy temperatures and beautiful skies.

A family on the Arts Quad during Reunion 2023
“C” is for ... cutie!

The Class of 1983 set a new attendance record for a 40th Reunion, with 350 classmates returning.

The Class of 2018 drew an impressive 744 members for its 5th; on the other end of the generational spectrum, the Class of ’48—whose members are in their mid-to-late-90s—welcomed five classmates for its 75th Reunion.

The Class of ’48—whose members are in their mid-to-late-90s—welcomed five classmates for its 75th Reunion.

Reunion fundraising totaled more than $112.6 million from undergraduate classes as the weekend got underway—and attendees consumed a whopping 278 gallons of Cornell Dairy ice cream.

Highlights of the weekend’s 200 programs and events included the annual Olin Lecture, given by Ozan Varol ’03 (who was celebrating his own 20th Reunion), author of Think Like a Rocket Scientist and Awaken Your Genius.

Alumni enjoy the Friday night tent parties on the Arts Quad during Reunion 2023
Tent parties on the Arts Quad.

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For her annual Reunion conversation, President Martha Pollack gave an update on University initiatives and hosted a panel discussion and Q&A with two brand-new Class of ’23 alums and one current undergrad.

Cornelliana Night—returning to Bailey Hall for the first time since 2019—saw the traditional Big Red songs and more, including presentation of the William “Bill” Vanneman ’31 Outstanding Class Leader Award to Martha Mapes ’48, MS ’49, a longtime Ithaca resident and chair of her class’s 75th Reunion.

In a relatively new tradition, the oldest attendees—members of the Classes of ’43, ’48, ’53, and ’58—gathered with the youngest (the Class of 2018) for a “Passing it Forward” ceremony. And a debut event that may become a regular offering was “Redstock,” a folk, rock, and jazz concert performed by alumni.

Other time-honored favorites included canoeing on Beebe Lake, tunes by the Big Red Band, walking tours of Cascadilla Gorge, the Reunion 5K run at the Cornell Botanic Gardens, and, as always, tent parties on the Arts Quad.

There was also at least one alumni proposal: Kate Kilbourne ’18 and Kyle Pellegrino ’18 got engaged, celebrating at sunset in Stewart Park against the backdrop of Cayuga Lake.

Top: Celebrating at Cornelliana Night in Bailey Hall. All images in this story by Cornell University photographers Noël Heaney, Sreang Hok, Jason Koski, and Ryan Young.

Published June 13, 2023

Did you come back to the Hill for Reunion ’23?


  1. Michaline Bruyninckx, Class of 1979

    I’m hoping to participate in my 45th reunion next summer. I haven’t been back to Ithaca since graduation in ‘79. Will there be activities for a nonambulatory person? I currently use a walker for short distances.

    • Mary Grainger, Class of 1979

      Hi Michaline! I’m sorry that you had to ask the question again. When you wrote in May, some of us involved with the class did some research and asked Cornell staff. They pointed out this on the Reunion website for 2023. There will be 2024 information released next winter/spring before Reunion registration time.


      Is Reunion an accessible event?
      We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including differently abled individuals, to engage fully. When registering for Reunion, guests may add notes on accommodations. You can also connect directly with your class or group registration chair to communicate any specific needs.

      For more information about accessible transportation and on-demand rides, visit our Arriving and Getting Around page.

      For those engaging with us virtually, we offer live-streamed programming with closed captioning.

      • Roger B. Jacobs, Class of 1973

        Main reason I didn’t go was lack of clarity on being able to get around.
        RBJ. 1973

  2. Janet Helms

    Reunion ’23 was Epic! So much fun replicating 4 years of college in 2 days. And added a few new experiences. Ag quit, goat yoga, dairy store, CTB, IB, Moosewood, the Tents, lectures, hikes, …
    Can NOT wait to get my Red and White Striped Blazer!

  3. Susan Berger, Class of 1968

    Had a wonderful time!

  4. Brian Hanse

    Great time of celebration. Most memorable for me were Cornelliana night and President Pollack’s message and her discussion of four current students at Bailey.

  5. Eric Beane, Class of 1993

    Great to be back for my 30th reunion. So much fun catching up with classmates and friends from other graduation years. It was my first reunion in 20 years. Will definitely be back for 35 in 2028.

  6. Steve Unger, Class of 1968

    There are many good reasons for coming back to Cornell every 5 years. The best is seeing old friends that I graduated with 55 years ago. Some I see much more frequently. Oldest friends are the best friends.

  7. Pam Anderson, Class of 1988

    I returned to Reunion for just a short time on Saturday of reunion weekend..Nice to be back in Ithaca and see a few familiar faces.Enjoyed our class concert by the Hangovers and hanging out in our Class sHQ. Fun to see the tent parties in full swing on Sat night under the stars.

  8. Roger B. Jacobs, Class of 1973

    For a variety of reasons I didn’t attend. One is mobility. The other is simply that my wife has passed and I just couldn’t tell how I’d feel about up
    By myself. Both kids are cornellians. Have beautiful memories out on the lake with Robin. Came up monthsxearliest. And was on the lake myself

    Got a little upset so I went beach. Packed up and left. Drive up to tramssburg to check on. The embassy. Place not there. No out door trace of the rongovvian embassy. Was always a favorite. Sad loss to
    The area. It was such a unique place going back to sixties look.

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