May 29, 2007
Newest grads carry on
by eric rangus
At about 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 12 — roughly the time Emory Commencement Weekend Block Party headliner Pete Yorn was scheduled to take the McDonough Field stage — the only things rocking were the empty microphone stands in the wind.
The skies had opened up about 30 minutes earlier, sending the several hundred revelers who came out for the picnic/carnival-like atmosphere of the weekend’s largest pre-Commencement event scurrying for shelter in the Woodruff P.E. Center or under either the food or beer tents.
But Gloria Grevas, the Emory Alumni Association’s assistant director for reunions and Emory Commencement Weekend, was not one of them. She stood dressed in a blue Emory sweater vest and khakis under an umbrella about five feet from the temporarily abandoned sound board in the middle of the field. The still-steady rain fell around her and lightning danced in the sky as she surveyed the empty field.
“I just took a shower,” said Grevas, who had just returned to campus from a brief run home. Her day had started at 7 a.m. and would continue until deep into the night. That after running the Torch and Trumpet Soirée — the EAA-sponsored dance party for new graduates and their families — until well past midnight the previous night.
And while Grevas’ hair and her previously clean clothes were drenched, her spirits were far from dampened. “The band doesn’t want to take the stage with the lightning,” she said, glancing briefly at the metal rod of her umbrella. “But once it stops, they’ll get going and everything will be fine. Then I’ll be off to my reunion. This will still be great.”
Grevas’ optimism was on target. The clouds did break, and Yorn took the stage at about 6:30 p.m. and played a well-received set for the remaining fans who emerged from their hiding places. And after another shower, Grevas was set for her reunion.
The reunion was for the Class of 1957, members of whom would be inducted into Corpus Cordis Aureum — the EAA’s special group for alumni who graduated 50 years ago or earlier — on Sunday, May 13. This year’s incoming Corpus Cordis class of 127 new members was its largest ever — just another sign that since its creation in 2004 Emory Commencement Weekend has grown into a can’t-miss party to wrap up the academic year in style.
While exact attendance numbers for the five-day campuswide celebration co-sponsored by the EAA and Emory’s Office of Convocations will not be available until later this summer, the EAA logged more than 4,000 registrations over the five-day celebration that culminated in Emory’s 162nd Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 14.
More than 650 graduating students and their parents danced the night away at the Torch and Trumpet Soirée on Friday, May 11; around 300 attended a champagne brunch at the Center for Women on Sunday, May 13; despite the rain delay, 1,200 attended the Block Party and Pete Yorn Concert; there were more than 200 at the Emory Annual Fund’s Legacy Reception for graduates whose parents or siblings also graduated from Emory; and much more.
But raw numbers don’t really tell the impact of the weekend. “The people involved, all of them, were friendly, welcoming, knowledgeable, and made us feel like it was their pleasure to provide all of us a memorable weekend . . . and they surely did,” said Barbara Reed ’57N, who was inducted with her husband, Bob ’57C, into Corpus Cordis Aureum. “I honestly cannot begin to say how impressed I was,” she said.
The Reeds were among several placard-waving Class of 1957 Reunion attendees who greeted some 500 members of the Class of 2007 as they completed the Candlelight Crossover from the Emory Conference Center to the Miller-Ward Alumni House. Around 70 young alumni — those within five years of graduating from Emory themselves — were on hand as well. Many of them broke ranks and hugged new graduates they knew.
“There just seemed to be so much more excitement at every event this year,” Grevas said. “You could see it at the Crossover. The young alumni who attended were among those who began it four years ago. They started the tradition and now they make sure it is continued with the Class of 2007. That’s what traditions are all about — passing them from class to class. And it’s just wonderful to see it taking place right in front of you.”