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Reunion class gifts of nearly $28,358,970 were announced Friday, June 3, at MIT's annual Technology Day luncheon for alumni and alumnae.
The luncheon in the Howard Johnson Athletics Center was attended by more than 1,100 alumni, alumnae, family and guests, some of the more than 2,700 who participated in alumni/ae activities in the week following commencement. This year's program focused on the arts at MIT. (See story, page 8.)
The luncheon program was conducted by Richard A. Jacobs '56, the 1993-94 president of the Association of Alumni and Alumnae, which has some 90,000 members in 128 countries.
As a surprise, Mr. Jacobs announced that MIT President Charles M. Vest was being made an honorary member of the Association, in keeping with the custom of bestowing this honor on individuals "whose dedication, commitment and loyalty to MIT makes them truly extraordinary."
"I've been privileged in my career to meet and work with top executives in government and industry," said Mr. Jacobs, member of the MIT Corporation, president of his own consulting firm and counsel/senior vice president of a global management consulting company.
"In most ways they are all different, but for a very few characteristic traits seemingly common to most, in my experience. For example, these are all men and women with enormous work burdens, tackling problems for which there are no precedent answers, and pursuing a 24-hour dedication to making the continuous stream of tough decisions that only they can make. Yet, visit their office and they all seem truly relaxed, welcome you, seem truly interested in your questions and are helpful. They make you feel comfortable and help you on your less-than-earth-shattering tasks. Chuck Vest epitomizes this characteristic."
Dr. Vest, who received his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan, replied that it was "a thrill to be a member of this community in yet another and profound way."
A second honorary membership was bestowed on John T. Preston, director of technology development.
"John has overseen the development of MIT's Technology Licensing Office into one of the nation's most successful programs designed to move potential products from the Institute's research laboratories to the private sector," Mr. Jacobs said.
"In the past six years, his office led the nation in university patents issued and new licensing arrangements signed. His office also has been instrumental in creating over 60 new start-up high tech companies which have a combined valuation of over $2 billion. In my travels and work with technology companies, among the most frequently asked questions was, `Do you know John Preston?' I was most proud to say, yes, I know John."
Mr. Preston said he was happy to be working in an environment where people "are stimulated to change the world in a better direction." He added that it had been "an absolute blast for me to be hanging around this place."
Mr. Jacobs told the audience that the Alumni/ae Association was continuing its review of how it serves its "customers," whom he described as both the alumni/ae and the Institute.
He explained, "The customers in the audience today are vastly different from the past. Today's alumni and alumnae are relatively younger, include substantially more women, minorities and foreign graduates, and a far greater proportion of graduate degree recipients. Although the Institute's core values remain much the same as in the past, there is a different president, new curricula in almost every department, and major problems and cost pressures faced by Tech."
Mr. Jacobs announced that the most senior alumnus at the luncheon was Malcolm "Buzz" Burroughs of Topsfield, a member of the Class of 1920, observing the 74th anniversary of his graduation at the age of 94. Mr. Jacobs also welcomed nearly 370 members of the Cardinal and Gray Society, including the "freshmen" members of the Class of 1944. The Society is an informal association of alumni/ae who have reached their 50th reunion.
Also present, he said, were 43 international alumni and alumnae representing, including the alumnus who traveled the greatest distance, Maung M. Sein '61 of Singapore.
The gift chairmen for the three major reunion classes-Denis A. Bovin and Robert A. Swanson for the 25th reunion Class of 1969; Ronald A. Kurtz for the 40th reunion Class of 1954; Edgar P. Eaton, Jr., E. Alfred Picardi and Edwin G. Roos for the 50th reunion Class of 1944, as well as Richard F. Shea for the 70th reunion Class of 1924-presented their class gifts to MIT President Charles M. Vest during the luncheon program.
The Class of 1924 announced a gift of $3,899,821, with Mr. Shea commenting that tuition during his student days was $270 for four years and that the gift was "our way of saying thank you" to MIT.
The Class of 1944 announced a gift of $6,055,819. Mr. Eaton noted that the reunion "is a celebration and a very special time for the Class of 1944. We were a war class and left MIT at various times and returned, later, to graduate long after the official date of June 1944."
The Class of 1954 announced a gift of $4,610,355. Mr. Kurtz said his class members "know that we have received a lifetime of benefits-not only from enduring this special place but having the opportunity to meet and mix with the world's best."
The Class of 1969 announced a gift of $2,334,500, which Mr. Bovin said includes a Paul Gray Class of 1969 Scholarship Fund in honor of the MIT chairman and former president.
The gifts of these reunion classes comprise all gifts made to MIT by members of the classes during the five-year period preceding the reunion and all pledges to be paid in the five years following reunion.
Other reunion gifts announced at the luncheon by Association president Richard A. Jacobs '56 included $3,608,563 from the Class of 1929, $2,525,976 from the Class of 1934, $2,619,159 from the Class of 1939, $854,675 from the Class of 1949, $687,022 from the Class of 1959, $881,085 from the Class of 1964, $90,504 from the Class of 1974, $84,765 from the Class of 1979, $43,295 from the Class of 1984, $19,422 from the Class of 1989 and the 1994 Senior Class gift and pledge of $44,008.
The annual Alumni Fund total is expected to reach a record $22.5 million by June 30, with gifts from an estimated 27,500 alumni/ae.
Mr. Jacobs acknowledged the gifts of non-reunion class alumni/ae and MIT graduate alumni/ae to the Alumni Fund. He said 30 percent of graduate alumni/ae made contributions to MIT and their departments, resulting in a record-setting gift of $4 million. It has been estimated that by the year 2000, he said, there will be more alumni/ae with graduate degrees than undergraduate degrees.
In his response, President Vest thanked the alumni/ae for their "spectacular gifts." He also reflected on his first four years at MIT, describing some of the "challenges and achievements," and looked ahead to a period that, he said, will include a rethinking of MIT's relationship to industry and to government. (See text, Page )
President Vest also extended special recognition to ten Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school students and their parents participating in the Student Recognition Day program sponsored annually on Technology Day by the Association.
Each year students who have demonstrated special interest and accomplishment in science, mathematics and technology will spend Technology Day at MIT, attending the lectures, seminars and workshops.
The group this year, from the MIT-Wellesley Upward Bound program, was accompanied by Ronald Crichlow, director of MIT's Educational Opportunity Programs, and Evette M. Layne, director of Upward Bound.
At the conclusion of the program, Mr. Jacobs handed the symbolic gavel of office as alumni/ae president to R. Gary Schweikhardt, who becomes the 100th Association president in 1994-95 and its first to have only a graduate degree from MIT.
Mr. Schweikhardt, who also joins the Corporation as an ex officio member, received BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and a master's degree in management from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1973. He is president of Washington Biotechnology Funding, Inc., of Seattle, WA, a venture/seed capital and consulting company.
Finally, Mr. Jacobs introduced the Technology Day chairman, Jorge Rodriguez '60, who in turn paid tribute to the members of the alumni/ae committee and others, including faculty and Alumni/ae Association staff, who had helped arrange the program.
A version of this article appeared in the June 15, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 36).