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Virtual Reunion Weekend 2020

October 20, 2020

Around 79 alumni from the classes of 1970, 1995, and 2010 connected virtually to celebrate their milestone 10th, 25th, and 50th reunions during the school’s first virtual reunion week. While alumni were not able to share a beer in-person this year at the school, the virtual format allowed for new and engaging programming and provided an opportunity for alumni from around the world—from Denmark to China to Mexico—who may have been otherwise unable to travel to DC to “Zoom in.”
William Roth, Associate Dean of Development and Alumni Relations, said that he hoped that reunion week was “very much a bright spot” for attendees despite the often challenging and discouraging atmosphere in the world today. “Reunions are about human connection,” said Dean Roth. “They’re about the triumph of shared values and diverse experiences. And they’re an appreciation of quality and the importance of insight and thoughtfulness as we look at the world.”
That thoughtfulness of the Johns Hopkins SAIS family shone throughout the week and in the months leading up to reunion. As of reunion weekend, the three classes combined raised over $290,000 for critical needs at the School including internships, fellowships, and the COVID-19 Student Emergency Fund. And they continue to give back to the school with their time and resources, offering to mentor students, make connections with fellow alumni, and more.
To kick off reunion week programming, alumni had the opportunity to connect with current students and hear from them how their internships, research, and other experiences have shaped their time at the school. Alumni enjoyed asking questions of the students and hearing from the school’s Global Career Services team on the newly established Co-Curricular and Experiential Learning Office. Following the student panel, reunion attendees joined career-networking sessions, shared their experiences from their industries, or explored new ones.
Dean Eliot A. Cohen joined reunion participants on day two to share his state of the school remarks including the exciting changes to the school’s curriculum, its move to 555 Pennsylvania Ave, and the establishment of the George Crowell Committee. Scott Wilkerson ’95 led all participants in a mixology class of his version of the “perfect margarita” before the classes broke out to enjoy social time with their peers. Cheers!
The final day of reunion week began with remarks from the class committee chairs Olga Grkavac B’69, ‘70, David Frey ’95, and Laura Lombard B’09, ’10.  Andrew Mertha, Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs and the Director of the China Studies Program, then led a faculty panel discussion on “Global Relations in the Age of a Pandemic: Rise in Nationalism vs. Decline in Globalism.” He was joined by Carla Freeman, Lisel Hintz, and Devesh Kapur.
Virtual reunion week concluded with a 50th medallion presentation honoring the Class of 1970. The class shared memories from their time at Johns Hopkins SAIS (protesting in Dupont Circle, meeting life-changing faculty, and more) and the journeys their lives took after graduation. Alumni then went into their class-specific breakout rooms to enjoy some final social time together.
In addition to the formal programming, the class of 1970 organized a small online gathering with art and connection. Participants virtually toured classmate Ambassador Richard (Dick) Erdman’s art studio and body of work, listened to him discuss his process and passion, and asked questions.
Follow reunion activities on social media and share your memories with #SAISReunion20. View our photo album to see highlights from the week.