Feature Story

May 21, 2024 | By Ericka Kurtz

Lorraine 'Lorry' Swatik Szabo '49 (right) helps to lead the Parade of Classes as she celebrates her 75th Ohio Wesleyan reunion. Swatik Szabo has never missed her class reunion and brought her son, Joseph, this year to help carry her class year banner. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

Rallying and Reconnecting

Ohio Wesleyan Alumni Celebrate Being Bishops During Reunion Weekend

President Matt vandenBerg speaks during the Bishop Rally, a new event held for the first time during this year's OWU Reunion Weekend celebration. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

Nearly 700 alumni and friends returned to Ohio Wesleyan University to celebrate Reunion Weekend May 17-19 and to participate in a new tradition, the Bishop Rally.

Alumni in classes ending in '4 and '9 gathered on campus to reconnect with lifelong friends, including 144 alumni from the largest class in OWU history, the Class of 1974, to celebrate their 50th reunion and 64 graduates from the Class of 2014, the largest attendance for a 10th reunion in the last decade.

One of the standout moments of the weekend was the return of Lorraine "Lorry" Swatik Szabo '49 for her 75th Reunion. A dedicated Bishop, Swatik Szabo has never missed a reunion celebration, and she helped to lead this year's Parade of Classes.

Alumni Awards

Another highlight of Reunion Weekend was the Alumni Awards Recognition Breakfast, during which Keith Rozanski '99, president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, presented the Alumni Awards. The 2024 recipients include:

Distinguished Alumni Citation

  • Dan Allender '74
  • Tim Corbin '84
  • Tomiquia Moss '99
  • Robin Vierbuchen Sproul '74

Alumni Awards

  • Sheila Fagan Plecha '84

Young Alumni Awards

  • Kyle Adams '09
  • Pooja Dutt '09
  • Madelaine Mavec '14
  • Max Seigal '09

Honorary Alumni Award

  • Lisa Luckett P'16, P'20

Please visit owu.edu/nominate to nominate alumni for future OWU Alumni Awards.

Bishop Rally

The Class of 2014 shows its Bishop spirit during Reunion Weekend with the largest attendance at a 10th reunion in the last decade. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

New to Reunion Weekend this year was the Bishop Rally, with alumni and friends gathering to celebrate OWU with spirit in a pep rally-style event featuring OWU President Matt vandenBerg, who shared several recent announcements.

Ohio Wesleyan's newest alumni also were recognized during the rally, including eight members of the Class of 2024 who served as event ambassadors throughout the weekend.

The event also included Alumni Board member Zibbi Palmer Cunningham '99 recognizing non-50th reunion class giving, which totaled $1,007,815 for fiscal year 2024 as of May 19.

The OWU Class of 1974 unveils its 50th reunion gift of more than $4.2 million during the first Bishop Rally. The classmates were invited to wear their favorite music band T-shirt as they reminisced throughout the weekend. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

The Class of 1974 led the way in reunion giving, presenting a big check at the rally representing their total class contribution of $4,223,744.83!

The Class of 1959 nearly doubled the previous record for the 65th reunion, giving a total of $247,473, and the Class of 1969 set the record for the largest 55th reunion class gift, contributing $340,946.

To date, 738 reunion attendees have made an Annual Giving Program gift to honor their reunion. Ninety percent of those who celebrated on campus have made a gift to Ohio Wesleyan since graduation.

Memorable Moments

Other noteworthy Reunion Weekend moments included the Class of 1994 taking time for service in Delaware during their reunion festivities. Carrie Lippert Reinhardt '94 and Shawn Pierce '94 offered a service opportunity for classmates at First Presbyterian Church on Saturday afternoon.

Also on Saturday, a reception was held to honor the late Denny Griffith '74, an artist and former president of the Columbus College of Art & Design, and Justin Kronewetter, founding director of the Ross Art Museum and emeritus professor. In addition, Drew Farrell '10 and Brent Carson presented "Delaware: Proud Past, Promising Future."

As always, Reunion Weekend featured annual favorites such as the All-Alumni Picnic, Parade of Classes, Alumni College featuring speakers from the Class of 1974, and the Tower Society Ice Cream Cart. For the parade, members of the Class of 1974 all wore their favorite band T-shirts.

To see Reunion Weekend in pictures, check out the photo collection on Flickr!