People and Legacy
Among the myriad traditions at Jefferson, our celebrations of graduates’ 50th anniversary really stand out.
The Diploma Nurses hold a luncheon and call out the 50th anniversary class in their annual Bulletin. The Sidney Kimmel Medical College presents a gold pin to the 50th anniversary class at Alumni Weekend. Alumni of Textile and Philadelphia University are recognized as Golden Rams at a special ceremony.
I’ve worked in alumni relations for two decades, and it seems like every year, the 50th anniversary class gets younger.
Last fall during Homecoming, we welcomed the Class of 1969 into the ranks of the Golden Rams. The warmth in the room reminded me of Proust: “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
I met so many fascinating people, and learned so much more by reading the class Memory Book. It gave me enormous satisfaction knowing that Textile’s legacy, and now Jefferson’s legacy, includes such accomplished graduates.
I read about alumna like Carol Beck, who opened the doors for many women in the design programs today.
And David Gingras, who after a successful career at Burlington Industries and in financial services was put on active duty as a colonel in the New York Guard after 9/11.
And Edward Belcak, who started three different manufacturing businesses, all with products that were 100 percent “Made in America.”
I also enjoyed reading the fun details, like Arthur Master’s story about a food fight in the dorms that made the evening news.
Later on, the room was held rapt by Class of ’96 President Eddie Willis. You could hear a pin drop.
Willis has an amazing story about how he rose to become head of the Structural Design Department at the Container Corporation of America at age 19. When he learned that his lack of a college degree stood in the way of further advancement, he enrolled at Textile on a full scholarship, was elected class president in his senior year, and graduated at the top of his class. He worked closely with President Bertrand Hayward to develop a diversity plan for the college.
He was the first alumnus from Textile to attend Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA in computer-based information systems and finance, and set off on a successful career in the financial industry. Willis was also an adjunct professor at Penn’s Wharton School for 12 years, where he created and taught courses on entrepreneurship and served on the taskforce that established an entrepreneurship center.
“I attribute a lot of my life success to the foundation established at Textile,” Willis said.
Homecoming weekend is about people and legacy. Our first enterprise-wide campaign, Reimagine, is also about people and legacy. It’s about generating support for people who will change the world. It’s about creating a legacy of creativity and careers for the future.
I hope you’ll take time to learn more about Reimagine, and that the projects we’re launching will capture your imagination or stir your spirit. You’re a part of our shared story, and you can help us design a brighter future.
Elizabeth A. Dale, EdD, MPA
Executive Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer
Office of Institutional Advancement
Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about the doors you can open and lives you can change. I’d love to hear from you.