Reunion 2015: Good times remembered, renewed

June 9, 2015

More than 800 Saint Michael’s alumni returned to campus the weekend of June 4-7 for Reunion 2015 activities that promoted sociability and friendships while recognizing achievement, progress, learning, faith and loyalty to the College.

Alumni of the Year and Father Verret Awards presentations were a highlight during a brunch in Alliot Dining Hall late Saturday morning. Right before that, Pam Carroll ’85, who will be inducted into the College’s Academic Hall of Fame this fall, gave an impressive and well-received talk in Cheray Science Hall about her prominent role in cancer research that has raised great hope among scientists, doctors, patients and their families.

As is tradition, festivities began Thursday when new Golden Knights from the Class of 1965 had Mass together at the chapel (which was new when they were seniors) and then got a photo together and with other Golden Knights on a beautiful Thursday evening outside on the steps. An upbeat and sociable cocktail hour and Golden Knights Dinner followed in the Dion Family Student Center, where registration took place on the first floor.  Through Friday and Saturday, more and more folks arrived, most from class years ending in “0” or “5” that were noting milestone reunions. Many commented on the beautiful new Dion Center, particularly those seeing it for the first time.

With Trustees also in town for the weekend, Friday’s events included 11:30 a.m. Mass for them and alumni with new Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne in the Chapel. Later that afternoon, more than 100 students, trustees and alumni mingled in the space between Dion and Alliot for an ice cream social focused on student summer research. Several financial supporters of that research were able to hear directly from beneficiaries about their projects.

After a Leadership Reception with top donors and alumni volunteers in Dion, a planned outdoor “surf and turf dinner” was moved indoors due to weather – a good move given the lightning and downpour that ensued. Several Reunion classes on Friday evening headed downtown to eateries and taverns for informal events that allowed easy access to Church Street and the Burlington Jazz Festival. More formal Class Events, many also downtown, followed for Saturday night. Other big-ticket Reunion events were an afternoon chicken barbeque under a tent in the 300s field; and a Sunday morning strawberry brunch from 9 to 11 before Mass, after which most attendees headed home.

Crusading against cancer

In her Saturday morning talk, Pam Carroll ’85 told of her more general high-level post-graduation research work until cancer diagnoses of her father and uncle in rapid succession sealed her commitment to work for better treatment and toward a cure. “My drive and lens changed and I was able to lead in a different way,” she told a packed Cheray 101, many her classmates.

Since 2002, Carroll said, she’s focused on many types of late-stage cancer in her work. The thrust of her talk was explaining an increasing shift recently toward “targeted therapy in cancer” using white blood cells, cytotoxic t-cells and other aspects of tumor immunology instead of or more often in concert with more traditional chemo and radiation treatments. She and others are shifting “from being cancer scientists to immunologists,” she said. She cited recent results that have “amazed” her and fellow researchers and are causing “huge excitement.” Her coming work will pursue this growing trend, she said. A touching moment was when her PowerPoint presentation included a slide of five 1985 classmates who have died of cancer. More people are going to be cured at significantly higher rates in coming years based on what she’s been seeing, she said.

Director of Alumni Relations Angela Armour, emcee for Saturday’s awards brunch, joined President Jack Neuhauser in presenting the following awards:

Young Alumna of the Year: Emma Stenberg’10.  Stenberg is director of student activities and an English teacher at Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island. An alumni club volunteer in Providence, she’s organized several events, was her class’s Reunion co-chair (70 classmates attended), makes regular financial gifts, and is pursuing a master’s in Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf program.

Alumni of the year: John Cummings ’55. He has been a long-time volunteer and has served as class agent, former and current reunion co-chair and career adviser. He regretted missing this year’s reunion because of a prior commitment in Europe, but he and his wife, Marilyn, plan to visit Homecoming Weekend in September. After 38 years in the service he retired as Colonel in 1963, and then earned a chemistry doctorate and a law degree. He’s active in professional groups and his home parish in California and continues working as a highly successful environmental consultant and attorney. He’s a long-time Medallion Society supporter of the College and recently also a Heritage Circle member with an estate gift intention.

Alumnus of the Year: Matthew Mostoller ’00. After graduation he was his class rep for the Alumni Board of Directors for two years, and became very involved with Boston’s alumni club, serving as president and planning several major events. He was his class’s 15th reunion co-chair this year. He’s a member of the Career Advisory Network, has been an alumni mentor and a Boston Career Seminar presenter. He’s also a loyal donor. With a master’s in public administration from Suffolk University, he’s environmental manager of the Acton Water District and has volunteered extensively in his community.

Alumna of the Year: Deidre Maggipinto Tavera ’85: She’s planned many alumni club events in Hartford, staffed phonathons, attended college fairs for Admissions, served as class agent, co-chaired multiple reunions and served four years on the Alumni Association Board of Director. Later she was that group’s vice president and president (2010-12). She initiated improvements on that board with divisions into strategic areas: admissions, career development, alumni relations. Recently she has served on the Board of Trustees. With a communications master’s from University of Hartford, she served many years in many roles with the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. She’s been executive director at several nonprofits and now does development work for Hartford Public Schools.

Alumnus of the Year: Jack Bergeron ’70. The Bergeron family through Jack’s father Urban’39 made a gift of the longtime journalism building. A successful attorney and founding partner of his Burlington law office, Jack and his siblings run the Bergeron Family Foundation – extremely generous benefactors of the College. He served on the College’s Board of Trustees from 2005-2014, the Career Advisory Network, co-chaired his reunion this year and is a Heritage Circle member with an estate gift intention.

Fr. John Verret Good Citizen Award (Named for member of Class of 1935 and WWII paratrooper who died in the Battle of the Bulge): Donald “Pappy” Sutton H’75. He began a 26-year Saint Michael’s career in food services in 1967 and went on to be dean of men, acting director of physical plant, and first special events director. In 1980 he became director of safety and security, serving until 1993. He’s best known as founder of the Fire and Rescue Program and for spearheading the building of the squad’s current home. A scholarship honors his service. He’s also been active in the Knights of Columbus and charitable fundraising locally for Camps Ta-Kum Ta and Holy Cross and many other worthy causes.

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