November 15, 2002
Grads Return to Campus to Reconnect with Anderson and Old Friends; Fundraising Efforts Hits New High
Alumni Reunion Weekend
UCLA Anderson's annual Alumni Weekend and Reunions has evolved from a “should I or shouldn’t I” event to a “can’t miss opportunity” to meet old friends, re-establish academic connections and do some serious career networking. This year, more than 500 alumni – both from reunions and non-reunion years – descended on UCLA Anderson. Many former “GSM” students who were seeing the modern complex for the very first time, returned to the classroom to hear fascinating discussions from faculty and other experts and to dine and drink with classmates and fellow graduates.
The reunions (this time for the classes of ’77, ’82, ’87, ’92, ’97) serve as a prime fundraiser for UCLA Anderson. This year the five reunion classes raised more than $925,000 by “the Weekend” (with fundraising continuing through June 2003). Viewed in perspective, that figure represents a $700,000 increase in just five years. “We really demonstrated how important it is to give back to UCLA Anderson, we raised the bar,” said Christine Solomon (’92), who served as reunion gift chair for her class. “My classmates decided that this was a chance to step up and make a philanthropic statement. We spent a lot of time educating people on the importance of giving back and reconnecting with fellow alumni from all around the world. This is an important forum to create future opportunities for those at UCLA Anderson.”
In its present format, Alumni Weekend combines a one-and-a-half day conference tailored to address graduated from all years, with the reunions. The result is part practical and part party, the perfect blend for both audiences. “We wanted to offer all alumni a chance to reestablish ties with the school,” said Jill Hisey, (FEMBA ’95), UCLA Anderson’s interim director for alumni relations. “We also sought to create an event with real and tangible value that went beyond simply meeting old friends, though there is a lot to be said for meeting old friends.” Beginning bright and early with breakfast on Friday, November 1 and continuing through lunch on Saturday, both days consisted of a series of lectures and panel discussions from faculty and “real world” business practitioners. Topics ranged from The New Reality of Business Accountability to The Information Economy from a Macro and Micro Level to Career Management in the New Market Dynamic. Keynote speaker Eric Doctorow (’77), president, Worldwide Home Entertainment Motion Picture Group, Paramount Pictures, delighted a standing-room-only lunch crowd with a talk called “I Finally Became an Expert and Everything Changed.” “The whole event was well-organized with a good diversity of topics,” said one attendee. “I really liked the pairing of individuals within academics and industry.” The attendance at the Alumni Weekend Conference was an even mix of reunion and non-reunion years.
Evenings were devoted to socializing and networking. A Friday night reception was held in the courtyard with more than 450 alumni in attendance; for many this was the first time they had attended a “beer bust” that wasn’t on the roof of the old GSM library. Saturday night the reunion classes continued another UCLA Anderson tradition with their class dinners. In a break from tradition, however, all of the dinners were held in the UCLA Anderson complex, instead of at different restaurants around town. “We know that the attendees want some ‘private time’ with just their classmates,” said Hisey. “But having the dinners on campus at the same time created a unique sense of community for everyone who was there.” Regina Regazzi (’97), who flew in from New York City to attend, concurred. “The goal was not to bring people in to ‘see L.A. and party at the Roxy.’ The goal is to bring people together. I’ve never seen the dining room as packed as it was during our dinner.”
“It was a near religious experience,” she said, laughing, while trying not to be sacrilegious. “For me the purpose was to get together with people I hadn’t seen in awhile and that was great. It was also great to watch others interact and reestablish relationships. The Monday after [the reunion] you could feel the love from around the world, reading all the e-mail that arrived. It was a reminder of why you chose UCLA Anderson and a great reminder that we are a family.”