January 29, 2013

Cornell Alumni Honored for Expanding Class Reunions

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In an effort to increase ­­recognition of alumni volunteer effors, the Cornell Alumni Association unveiled the CAA Cup this month, a competition that awards  specific programs created by Cornell alumni.

The Cup was created to recognize specific group alumni programs and events that take place around the world, according to Scott Pesner ’87, a CAA vice president.

“Cornell alumni put in a lot of time volunteering, so the award is just another way we can recognize them,” Pesner said.

Doug Mitarotonda ’02 and Julie Vultaggio ’02, co-presidents of their graduating class, were the inaugural winners of the CAA Cup, accepting the award for creating events called “Non-Reunion Reunions.”

The year after its five-year reunion, the Class of 2002 began planning events across the country during the first weekend in June on non-reunion years, Vultaggio said.

“Non-Reunion Reunion is our way of making reunion weekend a priority in our classmates’ minds every year, not just the every five years we meet in Ithaca,” Mitarotonda said.

The class officers developed two priorities after the five-year reunion: to build excitement for the 10-year reunion and to keep classmates engaged with Cornell, particularly during non-reunion years.

According to Mitarotonda, a collective brainstorm-session found that both goals for the class could be achieved by throwing Non-Reunion Reunions.

The events began on a small scale in 2008, but by 2011, they had expanded to include more creative and region-specific events. For example, reunions in New York City involved happy hour events, while in Los Angeles, the class hosted an outdoor picnic, according to Vultaggio.

Mitarotonda said that the non-reunions will continue at least until the class’ 15-year reunion. Planning for the Class of 2002’s upcoming 2013 Non-Reunion Reunion began at this year’s conference.

“Our plan is to focus on our NRR events for the foreseeable future,” Mitarotonda said.

The class plans to expand its Non-Reunion Reunions by partnering with more regional clubs and class councils, particularly classes on the same reunion cycle, and by offering reunions in more cities, according to Mitarotonda and Vultaggio.

Other classes have begun adopting the Non-Reunion Reunion idea for themselves. In June 2012, the Classes of 1999, 2004 and 2009 held joint events in multiple cities across the country, according to Vultaggio.

Pesner said that sharing ideas for events and programs was one of the Cup’s initial purposes.

“I think [the Non-Reunion Reunion] is a great idea, and you’ll see other classes working toward that,” Pesner said.

He added that the CAA may use ideas from the contest’s entries to create a database or toolkit of ideas for other alumni groups.

Vultaggio said that the CAA’s help with the Class of 2002’s project was instrumental, also noting that the CAA’s conference helped the Class of 2002 establish connections with other class officers to expand the Non-Reunion Reunions.

“We’re proud to have great success, but we wouldn’t have been able to do it alone,” Vultaggio said.

The CAA, which received more applications for the award than it had originally anticipated, Pesner said.

“It just goes to show how creative and hard-working Cornell alumni are in creating events,” Pesner said.

Original Author: Dara Levy