ST. BONAVENTURE — A gathering of around 1,000 St. Bonaventure alumni walked the hallowed halls and sunlit walkways of their alma mater Saturday during the annual Alumni Reunion Weekend.
Positive comments and nostalgia-driven anecdotes resonated around campus, which left alumni office communications coordinator Lucia Scotty satisfied with this year’s turnout. Scotty said around 400 alumni were entreated to stay on campus this weekend, sleeping for a few nights in Shay and Loughlen Halls and visiting the Gardens of Brother Leo and recently constructed townhouses that many had not yet seen.
“We have alumni who haven’t been here since graduation, some from 50 years ago,” Scotty said. “Some of those who haven’t been here in a long time are exploring a lot of the new buildings.”
Attendees, like class of ‘89 mass communication major Susan R. Mende, enjoyed the new facilities, sunny weather and welcoming atmosphere this weekend.
Mende began her morning with a walk on the new-to-her Allegheny River Trail, which runs through campus. She observed other alumni talking about and walking along the trail that didn’t exist in her time at SBU.
“This is my 30th(-year reunion), and the last time I was here was my 10th,” said Mende. “It’s just been exciting for me to see a lot of the changes in the new buildings since I was here. The Regina Quick Center is new since then. The fitness center and the townhouses were not there.”
“It’s great,” she concluded.
Returning alumni were reminded this weekend of the friendly atmosphere and welcoming demeanor adopted by many who find themselves on university grounds.
“There is a warmth to the people and to this place. It’s special. I’ve travelled a to a lot of places for the last 30 years and there is something special about this corner of the world,” said Mende.
“It doesn’t ever seem forced; it seems natural here. And that’s what, I think, makes it special,” she said. “I feel that people just naturally feel joyful when they’re here. And so when you’re joyful you smile and you say hello. I think a lot of that is the beauty of the campus and the surrounding natural beauty of the mountains and the river. It sort of surrounds you.”
Nadine Mullins — a class of ‘91 alumna and a high school teacher — was glad that Bonaventure provided her opportunities to see more of the world.
“I live outside of Boston and we have a terrific alumni chapter out there. We all meet up more or less once a year,” she said.
For Mullins and her fellow class of ‘91 friends, David LoTempio, Celene Bernstein O’Neill and Julie Paar Moriarty, the pilgrimage to St. Bonaventure is an annual journey.
In reference to the reunion weekend, Mullins said, “We keep crashing. This contingency meets up every year because it’s a central location and a great place for us all to meet. It brings us all together.”
With members hailing from Boston, Springville, Buffalo and Philadelphia, respectively, the group makes an annual effort to congregate at their alma mater, with plans Saturday that included exploring campus archives and reminiscing about their own history together.
A number of couples who met during their time at St. Bonaventure were also in attendance. Both from the class of 1969, finance student Patrick Cullen and math student Joan Anderson Cullen met while studying in Friedsam Memorial Library. They enjoyed many walks together, and chose to spend Saturday retracing their steps.
“One of our first walks together around campus was to the grotto, and we just went there again today. It has a lot of meaning for us.” said Patrick Cullen.
“We graduated, got married a year later and had four kids who all came to Bonaventure. And they all love it more than we do,” added Joan Cullen.
The couple live in Cattaraugus.
Class of ‘80 alumni Paul and Diane Zwirecki of Lancaster stood on the steps of Shay and Loughlen Halls.
“Paul and I met here at the end of our sophomore year — right here during senior week,” Diane Zwirecki said.
Together with Zwirecki’s class of ‘79 roommate and lifelong friend, Julie Cosgrove, the trio was elated to have such favorable weather to enjoy a nostalgic journey around campus.
“Many of our friends are celebrating their 40th this year,” Zwirecki said. “We just got here but we’re congregating in town and going to the reception tonight and revisiting campus.”