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Published on October 15, 2021

Eastern Celebrates! Virtually

1971 yearbook cover 

Eastern Connecticut State University glowed on desktops, laptops and mobile devices across the country on May 14 and 15 as the Office of Alumni Affairs presented a virtual version of Eastern Celebrates!, connecting alumni with some of the very best that Eastern has to offer.

Class of ’71 Takes Charge

The 50th Reunion class got an early start by happily taking over the Zoom 101 primer session on Friday morning. Whether by accident or design (something we’ll always ponder) they had a wonderful time getting a jump on reconnecting.

Friday Night Reunion

Friday evening, May 14, featured the “official” 50th Reunion of the Class of ’71 as well as the 45th Reunion for the Class of ’76. President Elsa Núñez greeted both classes, and highlighted Eastern’s expanded campus, academic programs and accolades that the university has been receiving. She described 1971 as being a year of relative calm after some of the most turbulent years of the 20th century. Referring to the challenges that have made 2020 and 2021 so difficult, she hoped that the past two years will be remembered as a time when people came together. “I want you to remember this year as a time when, despite the challenges, you reunited with your friends and your Eastern family to celebrate our shared connections, values and common commitment to making this a better world.”

Jubilee class of 1971 meets via Zoom.

Prior to the reunion, Class of ’71 members in attendance received a gift package of Eastern items, courtesy of the ECSU Foundation, Inc., including a bottle of sparkling wine with commemorative 50th Reunion glasses, and Eastern’s traditional “Golden Diploma.” In his remarks, Class Vice President Paul Drouin expressed his thanks to the University for recognizing the 50th Anniversary of their graduation, and thanked his classmates for joining him despite the limitations brought about by COVID-19. in giving the Class Toast, Gloria (Petruccelli) Drouin ’71 urged her classmates to “cherish the good times of your life with family and friends, and may life bless you with happy, healthy days ahead.”

English Professor Raouf Mama 

The 1971 and 1976 classes came together for a presentation hosted live by Music Professor David Belles featuring choral selections pre-recorded by the Eastern Chamber Singers. The Class of ’71 spent the remainder of the evening sharing updates about their families and careers, and remembering the people and events that shaped their lives.

Story Time and “Welcome to Campus”

Award-winning storyteller, best-selling author and Distinguished Professor of English and Storytelling Raouf Mama captivated his Saturday audience with stories and wisdom from his native Benin. “The Hunter and the Magic Antelope” focused on family values, harmony between man and nature, and creative problem-solving. “Goat’s Encounter with Tiger” illustrated the need to stay calm in the face of danger and keeping “need” from turning into “greed.” Later in the day, Alex Mitchell ’23 led a lively group of alumni on a virtual tour of campus. The most popular stop was Shafer Hall, with its Café across from the completely renovated Shafer Auditorium, a new gymnasium (where the original gym was located before it became the Harry Hope Theater), and loft-style apartments that had once been classrooms.

A Musical Montage

Professor Belles returned Saturday evening to host a live program that was part concert and part webinar, featuring performances by the Chamber Singers, Concert Band, Opera Workshop and Percussion Ensemble. He showed how Eastern students and faculty continued making music throughout the pandemic, thanks to the wonders of recording technology.

Jim Wolf '03

Live from All Over – It’s Eastern Saturday Night!

The night ended with an enjoyable combination of trivia, cocktails and live music — almost like being at Blarney’s! Annie Lion-Lee ’18, one of Blarney’s most popular bartenders, served as the “drink coach” for the evening, sharing summer drink recipes such as “Long Island Iced Coffee” and the always popular “Astro Pop.” Singer-songwriter Jim Wolf ’03 shared some tunes from his recent albums (see Class Notes) along with some favorites from back in the day and Michael Stenko and Ryan Rose ’00 MS ’11 from the Alumni Office shared trivia questions to keep everyone on their toes.