Stephens College reunion to focus on past, future

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:59 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stephens College will inaugurate its 23rd president, Wendy B. Libby, as part of its Alumnae Reunion 2004, which runs Thursday through Sunday.

Libby, who took over the school’s top job in July, will be installed into the institution 10 a.m. Saturday in Silverthorne Arena.

Generally, reunion weekend is attended by alumnae having an anniversary that is a multiple of five, such as their 10th reunion. Each year the reunion specially honors the class celebrating its 50th anniversary, but all alumnae have been invited to return to celebrate Libby’s inauguration.

“We thought it would be fun to invite everybody back, regardless of whether this was their reunion year or not and just let them all participate in the celebration that an inauguration means,” Libby said. “It is really an opportunity to honor the past and look forward to the future. It seemed to me that the more people that we could open up the opportunity to participate to, the more we would spread the word about the excitement here at Stephens.”

Libby has been leading the college in a strategic planning process aimed at finding a niche for the women’s college.

In her nine months at the helm, Libby has brought to life a plan that will reinvent Stephens College. Students, faculty, staff, alumnae and trustees formed four workgroups in the fall to look at the college’s academic programs, student affairs, enrollment and marketing efforts, and facilities and finance issues.

Some of the changes have just begun. For example, in an attempt to shave $1 million off its annual deficit of $3.5 million, the school will not renew contracts for 15 faculty members and will phase out six degree programs over the next two years. At the same time, five new degree programs that strengthen the school’s historically strong performing arts and preprofessional programs will be added.

Additionally, deposits from incoming students for the fall are up 25 percent from this time last year, and fund raising is up 20 percent from this time last year, Libby said.

“I’m very proud that we have moved ahead on all those frontiers,” Libby said.

The Office of Advancement expects about 150 alumnae to attend this year’s reunion.

“It’s really about getting alumnae together at Stephens to remember their wonderful times here and to meet other alumnae from other classes and have a chance to meet some of the students,” said Carol Julian, vice president for advancement.

Throughout the weekend there will be many events, both private and open to the public, that will honor traditions as well as showcase the Stephens College of today.

“This is a good way for us to come together and celebrate the fact that this change is for the good, overall, even though it may hurt in some aspects,” said Emily Heffner, president of the Student Government Association.

Reunion weekend will begin Thursday night with the crossing of the College Avenue bridge by graduating seniors, symbolic of their passage into alumnae status. It will be followed by an all-school party, where alumnae, faculty and students can share the bond that their Stephens education has created.

“I think reunion weekend is a good way for students to see their future and for alumnae to have a little glimpse into their past,” Heffner said.

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