For alumni and friends of Manhattan College, the summer of 2020 looked and felt uniquely different from previous seasons. Ensuring safety during the COVID-19 pandemic meant postponing Reunion Weekend and other popular events that strengthen ties to alma mater while providing vital support for undergraduates.
Even so, Jasper spirit prevailed at this critical time for Manhattan and its hardworking students. Alumni and friends rose to the occasion by generously supporting new and creative efforts to strengthen the College — and its historic Lasallian Catholic mission — as the campus community wrestles with unprecedented challenges.
For the first time in recent memory, the College postponed its popular Reunion Weekend in June — three days of festivities on the Riverdale campus. The decision was far from an easy one, according to Louis Calvelli, director of alumni relations. “Who could imagine summer without it?” he said. “But in these uncertain times, all colleges have had to put many traditions on hold to protect the health of our communities.”
Along with cruises, barbecues, dancing and other activities, the presentation of the 50th and 25th Anniversary Class Gifts is a high point of every reunion. Despite this year’s postponement, our 2020 anniversary alumni generously continued this tradition. Along with annual giving and other initiatives, anniversary class gifts this year contributed to a remarkable $4.7 million in unrestricted gifts — part of the more than $16 million in support for the College this year.
“As a graduate celebrating my 50th anniversary, I was disappointed that we weren’t able to get together,” said Kenneth A. Rathgeber ’70, chairman of Manhattan’s Board of Trustees. “But I’m happier than ever to be counted among our College’s many donors. I’ve seen the success our support has helped to achieve.”
Alumni and friends found a unique way to participate in the annual Jasper Golf Open as well. The July event also was postponed for safety reasons. Would-be attendees contributed instead to the College’s first “Un-Golf” Open, providing support for scholarships and other forms of student aid.
In an especially innovative approach to assisting students, the College held its first Day of Caring in addition to launching its special Pandemic Relief Funds. Held on April 7 and 8, the Day of Caring commemorated the Feast Day of Saint John Baptist de La Salle and the College’s annual Mission Month. Gifts allow the College to make special grants to undergraduates facing unexpected costs due to the pandemic, including emergency travel expenses and lost family income. This aid continues throughout the fall semester.
“Jaspers never step away from a challenge — particularly when it means serving others,” noted Thomas Mauriello, vice president for college advancement. “During this decidedly different summer, our alumni and friends continued to change students’ lives, going to innovative lengths to provide the resources they need for continued success. We are all deeply grateful.”