Class of 1964 Makes Historic 50th Reunion Gift
By Doug Scanlon
There is a Tibetan maxim that states that tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength. The experience of the Springfield College seniors in 1964 was enveloped in tragedy, starting with the attack on Pearl Harbor shortly after their birth and culminating in the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy their senior year.
A remarkable number of alumni from this class found very successful and meaningful careers, dutifully attended reunion every five years, and consistently contributed to the class gift. Perhaps it was strength born from their collective experiences that bound them. Perhaps it was that strength that made their latest reunion gift, their 50th, such a success.
A committee led by Herb Jervis and comprised of Liz (Ryder) Bebo, Bob and Donna (Kole) Hamill, Clark Masters, John Odierna, Howie Pulsifer, Paul Rosenbaum, and Mary (Ramsay) Stam established two goals: to make a class gift that would have great impact and to reconnect with those classmates who had not participated in past reunions.
“The 50th reunion is a time for reflection. It’s one of those points in your life when you take a minute to pause and think about your experience at Springfield,” explained Jervis, one of four members of the Class of 1964 who currently sits on the Springfield College Board of Trustees.
The Class of 1964 had established a solid record of financial support long ago. Jervis credits the Hamills in particular for promoting philanthropy back to the class’s first reunion in 1969. For the occasion of their 50th reunion, four anonymous classmates offered a challenge: they would match every dollar given until a goal of $400,000 was reached.
The committee made phone calls, exchanged emails, swapped stories, and re-established connections, in some cases for the first time in 50 years.
“We worked through affinity groups. So if you ran track, you would call other people who were on the track team with you,” said Jervis.
The culmination was a spectacular weekend celebration in early June back on campus. In front of smiling classmates at a dinner that evening, Bob Hamill shared with President Mary-Beth Cooper that they had raised $406,701 — the second largest 50th-reunion gift ever.
Moved by the fact that nearly 90 percent of Springfield College students receive financial aid, the majority of the funds were designated to establish the Class of 1964 Endowed Scholarship Fund.
“Just walking around and chatting with them and going to watch the home show, sitting in the stands in the football field and talking to them, you still get the feel of the kind of student that goes to Springfield College. That’s why we do a lot of the things we do here, for the students,” said Jervis.
And the Class of 1964 is far from done. Seizing on the momentum of the 50th reunion, committee members are already working on ideas around a 75th birthday celebration in the fall of 2016. In addition, they hope to grow the scholarship to $1 million in support of Springfield College students.