Denison University's Reunion Weekend Nets Big Rewards; Class of '54 Gives Record $5 Million, Including Lugar Chair
Posted: June 7, 2004
GRANVILLE -- Things were more than normal for Denison University's annual Reunion Weekend (June 4-6), when, in addition to the scheduled honoring of alumni for service to their professions, communities and alma mater, the Golden Anniversary Class of 1954 announced its big surprise of the Friday night Convocation in Swasey Chapel: They were pledging more than $5 million for Denison's future in the form of scholarships, faculty endowments and other gifts, including a chair in political science to honor classmate Richard G. Lugar, the senior senator from Indiana.
This is the largest class gift in Denison history, more than doubling the $2.38 million Golden Anniversary gift presented four years ago by the Class of 1950.
Other reuning classes also reported impressive class gifts, but the drama of the evening was certainly enhanced by Class of 1968 fund chair Jack Wyant of Cincinnati delivering his class's record $150,000 gift in the form of a red-draped wheel-barrow full of single dollar bills. After ruminating about his class's $90,000 goal and the need to be a role model for other classes, Wyant went backstage and returned to ceremoniously deliver the wheelbarrow load to the stage floor -- to the amazement and amusement of the audience and President Dale T. Knobel. Campus security representatives were on hand and remained until after the convocation to assure the safe delivery of the cash to a local bank vault.
Denison University President Dale T. Knobel, left, is surprised by a very untraditional cash gift presented on behalf of Class of 1968 by Jack Wyant of Cincinnati, during recent Reunion Weekend activities in Swasey Chapel. Wyant presented the class gift of $150,00 in single dollar bills -- a wheelbarrow's worth weighing in at some 300 pounds -- as the alumni weekend audience looked on in amazement.(Denison University Photo: Matt Sullivan)
Not to be outdone, dollar-wise, Wyant's 1968 class gift total was bested by his Cincinnati friend (and fraternity brother) "Buck" Niefhoff '69 with his class's 35th anniversary gift of $170,000 -- another school record for 35th anniversary classes.
The evening started out with the normal amount of fanfare, as the various classes marched from Denison's new Campus Common up Chapel walk, led by faculty in academic regalia and the platform party that included alumni citation winners and other officials.
After welcoming remarks from Alumni Society President Kim Cromwell '81, opening remarks by Denison President Knobel and recognition of retiring faulty by Provost David Anderson, the individual reunion class gift chairs reported their achievements to the crowd of nearly 1,000.
Starting with the more recent returning classes first, gift chairs reported numerous record goals exceeded and participation rates much improved. For example, Lauren Stanier Haarlow presented Denison with a $42,000 on behalf of the Class of 1990; next, Caroline Roe presented the 15th anniversary class of 1989 that was just over its $30,000 goal and Tom Crabb, representing the "casual pride" class of 1988, came forward with $36,000.
Columbus alumnus Tom Szykowny '79 raised the stakes with a 25th-reunion class gift of $88,000, followed by Seattle-resident Charlie Scott's announcement of a $115,000 gift from the Class of 1970, while the Class of 1964 broke previous 40th reunion class gifts with its $158,000, presented by Columbus attorney Scott Whitlock of Worthington.
However, the crowd was to hear from Class of 1954 co-chairs from Chicago -- George H. Shorney of Wheaton, Ill., and Dorothy Dennett Speidel of Wilmette, Ill., -- that their class had decided to honor one of its own by endowing a chair in political science to be named for Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.). In addition, Speidel (a Northwestern University development officer), told the audience that 139 of her 239 living classmates had managed not only to fund the Lugar Chair, but also would be providing Denison support for other scholarships and other academic programs with gifts totaling more than $5 million.
Senator Lugar was then asked by his classmates to speak and responded that he was "honored and humbled" by their gift and reflected on his experiences that started at Denison 50 years ago when President A. Blair Knapp greeted their Class of 1954 in the same Swasey Chapel.
U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) was asked to share a few thoughts on his Denison experiences by his classmates in the University's Golden Anniversary class of 1954 after they announced endowing "The Richard G. Lugar Chair in Political Science" in his honor as a reunion class gift. The Class of 1954 pledged a record total of more than $5 million for academic programs, scholarships and the Lugar Chair.(Denison University Photo: Matt Sullivan).
Denison University, located in Granville, Ohio, was founded in 1831 and is a privately supported, coeducational college of liberal arts and sciences, offering three different bachelor's degrees (B.A., B.S. and B.F.A.) among more than 40 majors and concentrations. Some 2,000 full-time undergraduate students represent 47 states and 34 foreign countries. Denison is fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and is a member of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) and a founding member of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). Denison's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was established in 1910. Dale T. Knobel is Denison's 19th president.
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