Over 2,300 alumni and guests returned to campus on October 11th for HBS’ annual fall celebration of
25th through 45th reunions. Reunion activities ranged from faculty presentations and alumni- and faculty-led case discussions to 7:30 am soccer matches (for the lucky members of the Class of 1993!) and perennial favorites, Friday night section parties and Saturday night class galas.
In the spring, HBS will welcome back classes celebrating their 5th through 20th and 55th through 70th reunions with a similar line-up of events. While the Fall Reunion focused on alumni in “the middle years”, the Spring Reunion will host both the youngest and oldest HBS alumni, who are often accompanied by their children and grandchildren respectively, adding another dimension to the festivities.
For the Fall Reunion, planning began as far as nine months in advance in a coordinated effort between alumni volunteers and HBS Reunion and Development office staff. According to Aimee Lebrun, Assistant Director of Reunions, alumni volunteers play a central role in the planning process – personally inviting section mates the school may have lost touch with, taking a pulse on their section to help HBS tailor programming, and volunteering to plan and host events. For many alumni volunteers, Reunion was an opportunity to give back to HBS, whether that was giving their time to organizational efforts, participating in fundraising, or sharing skills and experience with other alumni through workshops and panels.
Despite the recent explosion in tools to help people get and stay connected, enthusiasm for “brick and mortar” HBS reunions has remained strong over time and across class years. The Class of 1993 delivered record-breaking attendance for their 25th reunion this year with 694 alumni and guests, surpassing the event’s prior all-time high of 662 attendees. “People appreciate face to face connections. You can’t substitute being physically back on campus, in your old seat, with your section mates, with your favorite professor,” explained Kate O’Donnell, Assistant Director of Student and Young Alumni Engagement (MBA ‘16). With the wide range of class years, the reunion also gave attendees a chance to interact with alumni from different years and experience a wider HBS community beyond their section and class.
From an institutional perspective, the reunion was also an opportunity for HBS to reconnect alumni with the school itself. Representatives from CPD and Baker Library were on hand to share information on the lifelong services they offered, while tour guides showed off the new additions to campus. Teenage children and grandchildren of alumni participated in a case discussion led by HBS faculty member Professor Ayelet Israeli, complete with name cards and simulcast to their proud parents and grandparents. Laurie Kopp Weingarten (MBA ‘93), led a session on college admissions, while in prior years, reunions have offered programming on issues like elder care. Noting the popularity of such “time of life” programming, Lebrun explained, “Your relationship with HBS is a lifelong relationship. We want to be with you through every stage of your life. When you graduate, it’s only the beginning”.
Joanna Concessao (MBA ’20) is originally from Canada and graduated from Wellesley College in 2013. Prior to HBS, she worked in private equity and investment banking in New York, where she tried to avoid spinning her wheels and/or boiling the ocean.