As current Union students enjoy homecoming events and prepare for upcoming finals, members of the class of 1965 are preparing to reunite after nearly 50 years of postgraduate life.
Johnny Lott, member of the class of 1965 and reunion chairman, said he expects about 30 alumni to attend the reunion, a total of 65 with spouses and guests.
Josh Clarke, director of alumni relations, said the reunion is a pivotal part of each year’s homecoming festivities. In addition to members of the class of 1965, he expects a couple hundred alumni from other classes to attend the weekend’s events.
“The ability to welcome members of the Union community from throughout the years is a great joy to me,” Clarke said. “You can see how the Lord has used them in a variety of different careers and often times you can see the next generation of Unionites – kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews – get their first look at Union University.”
Lott said what he looks forward to most about the reunion is reconnecting with former classmates. Over the past year, Lott has worked with Teresa Rosson, assistant director of alumni relations, to put together a “Golden Book,” which contains a 1-2 page update from class of 1965 alumni on what they have been doing since graduation.
“It’s been fascinating to see what [our class] has been doing,” Lott said. “I haven’t talked to many for 50 years – things have taken us in very different directions.”
When Lott and his classmates attended Union, the campus was located in downtown Jackson. Lott, who majored in mathematics and minored in secondary education, met his wife, Carolyn Jernigan, at Union. Lott proposed during his senior year at Jones Hall, one of the women’s dormitories at the old campus. They married after she graduated in 1966. For the past 32 years, the Lotts have lived in Montana and taught in their respective fields at the University of Montana.
During his four years at Union, Lott was president of the Mallory Math Club, vice president of the Student Council, sports editor for the Cardinal & Cream and participated in the theater department.
According to the 1965 “Lest We Forget” annual, there were 16 student organizations at the time, including some that are still active: Student Council (which would later be called Student Government Association), Alpha Psi Omega, Phi Alpha Theta and Interfraternity Council, which included representatives from all fraternities and sororities.
Lott said the library was his favorite place to study because of the quiet environment, but it was also one of the main places on campus that students of both genders could get together.
Halfway through their time at Union, the class of 1965 experienced a presidential transition when Francis Wright became president in 1963 and celebrated with inauguration and other festivities, similar to the events of this year’s homecoming.
The staff of the 1965 “Lest We Forget” yearbook wrote: “Rumors had begun to drift down our perpetually correct grapevine that, once again, the committee designated to select our new president had bogged down. We were all concerned to say the least; the choice of a president, we felt, had a great deal to do with the value of our diplomas and a few of us had even hinged our decisions on whether to return or transfer on the outcome of the committee’s sessions.”
The “Lest We Forget” 1965 annual includes photos of the class of 1965’s “Who’s Who” students, class favorites, Mr. and Miss Union, campus favorites, Greek officers, athletic teams and homecoming court.
Lott encourages Union students to attend Friday’s homecoming chapel to hear what Union alumni have accomplished in the 50 years after graduating.
“What happens is you can look at these people who came to Union, just like modern students, and see what they have done since,” Lott said. “Union set the path [for us] and opened doors that would have never be opened.”
“[The reunion] also allows us to introduce these alumni to current students,” Clarke said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to remind the student body that they are a part of something that is much larger than themselves and their four years here.”
Click here for a complete schedule of this week’s homecoming activities.