'Return to Oz' reunion follows road to fourth installment

SUNY Oswego alumni of color will gather this month for “Return to Oz,” the fourth in a series of reunions that began in 1996, but whose genesis traces to the early to mid-1980s.

The reunion will take place Sept. 27 to 29, featuring a networking fair with current students, a welcome dinner, a social with music by alumnus DJ Tumbo, a picnic at Fallbrook Recreation Center, tours of campus and an alumni dinner dance.

Alumni taking lakeside pictures“We’ve got a whole bunch of events going on that Saturday (Sept. 28),” said Laura Pavlus, interim alumni director, “including a networking fair where students can do tabling and share with alumni what has happened on campus since they were here. Alumni love to hear that.”

The fair, titled “Ease on Down the Road,” also provides student organizers and attendees of the African, Latino, Asian and Native American Student Leadership Conference with access to the wisdom of those who have made the transition from college to the wide world of work, Pavlus said.

Set to occur in September 2012, “Return to Oz IV” was delayed by the unavailability of hotel rooms in the Oswego area during a heavy influx of workers dealing with a maintenance power outage at Entergy’s nuclear plant in Scriba.

The first “Return to Oz,” 17 years ago, took at least a decade to get launched, said Howard Gordon, executive assistant to President Deborah F. Stanley.

“It was the end result of more than 10 years of discussions by this campus community, particularly Hubert Smith, former director of the Office of Learning Services, along with the alumni and current and former employees he talked with,” Gordon said, such as Catherine Santos, associate provost for multicultural opportunities and programs.

Gordon, who was one of those employees involved in the early talks about the reunion and who remains active in organizing it, said one of the time-consuming tasks was to build a database of alumni of color. Thanks to the persistence of the Division of Development and Alumni Relations and alumni such as Marilyn Mason Bell, class of 1975—she had her own substantial list of alumni and phone numbers—the college eventually built the database.

Many people have made the reunion happen, Gordon said, including Stanley and the support she has given “Return to Oz.” Volunteers working off-campus have always been key to assisting the alumni office with promoting and organizing the reunion, he said.

“The reunion can’t happen without them,” he said. “We have a great group of volunteers.”

To register for “Return to Oz IV” or for more information, visit www.oswego.edu/alumni.

PHOTO CAPTION: Golden memories—SUNY Oswego alumni enjoy a tour of the lakeside residence halls at the most recent “Return to Oz” reunion in 2007. “Return to Oz IV” will bring alumni of color back to campus Sept. 27 to 29 for networking with current students, tours of an evolving yet familiar campus and many social events.

(Posted: Sep 11, 2013)

Tags: reunion, return to oz, alumni of color, alumni