Alumni Notes: July/August 2019

These class reunion notes are by custom (and YAM deadline pressures) quite short, and thus not adequate to the task of conveying the grand success that was our 60th Reunion. No less an authority than Sandy Wiener, an aficionado on these matters, declared it the “best reunion ever, and certainly the warmest.” 

Warmth was a word I heard a lot during the three days we were together. It may have proceeded from our shared experiences at Yale, our obvious affection for the University (despite  our complaints)  and, almost surely, our intimations  of mortality as we round the clubhouse turn in life. Whatever its source, this feeling of shared respect was  captured perfectly,  indeed reinforced , by our featured speaker, the Times columnist David Brooks, who surprised much of his  audience by pretty much sidestepping present-day politics to focus on the central theme of his new book “The Second Mountain,” which asserts says that our  happiness (and that of society as a whole) depends less on  individual achievement, as we had been taught, than on our capacity for civic and spiritual engagement, on our ability to reach out to others, to move from self-centered to other-centered.
There was a lot going on, before and after Brooks’s Saturday address,  all of it superbly orchestrated  by our co-chairs,  Randy Ney  and Charlie Nolan. In addition to the usual luminous lineup of speakers drawn from Yale’s  faculty, as well as university-arranged tours,  the class events included three dinners — Friday featuring ace pianist Alki Scopelitis, Saturday with a dance band whose up-tempo fox trots  fit perfectly the prevailing demographic. The Whiffenpoofs, as usual, were everywhere, increasingly heroic with age. There were also class-specific lectures, in addition to Mr.Brooks.  Illness prevented our old friend and mentor Guido Calabresi from speaking on Friday, but Messrs. Ney and Nolan found a terrific substitute in Akhil Reed Amar, a Sterling Professor of Law who addressed constitutional issues in the age of Trump. And, as usual, Bill Cutter delivered a magnificent eulogy at a memorial service for the departed, remarks as rich in humanity as Mr. Brooks’s. 
A word here about Don Watson. Way back when, Don had the idea of assembling a book of reminiscences called  the  “The Way We Were.” The submissions, from light to serious, poured in, and  I think were absolutely crucial in generating enthusiasm or the reunion.   On Friday after lunch, with Mr. Watson moderating,  a motley crew — me, Winston Lord, Dave Shire, Dick Maltby and Doug Banker — took  the stage to read excerpts from our  submissions.  There were lots of laughs.  Either we were genuinely amusing or people had really loaded up at lunchtime..
The work of Ney, Nolan, Watson, and the gift chairs —  Alex Boyle, Charlie Ellis and John Moss — paid off handsomely. Nearly 250 of us showed up. Our reunion gift target was $10.5million. We ended up raising $53.7 million (the third largest of all 60th Reunion classes),   thanks in large part to another generous gift from Steve Adam, who served as honorary gift chair. About two-thirds of us sent in something, in line with recent 60th reunion classes, and testimony to our affection for Yale and each other. .
Congrats and thanks to everyone.