Every couple of years, Newman University invites its ever-growing pool of alumni back to campus to reconnect and reminisce.
The 2023 All-Alumni Reunion Weekend June 23-25 boasted everything from an alumni art show, Dueling Pianos night and guest speakers to a wine and beer tasting event, improv show and celebratory Mass and dinner for Sacred Heart Hall’s 100-year anniversary. Additionally, guests took advantage of campus tours, a social mixer, service project, DIY canvas painting and even a luncheon specifically for graduates of Sacred Heart Academy.
Alumni Director Dana Beitey organized the event-filled weekend and saw “many laughs, smiles, hugs and handshakes throughout. It means a lot to be part of that process and bring alumni together after years apart.”
Some attendees traveled hundreds of miles to return to the heart of campus, while others supported the reunion events locally.
Johanna Schwalbach-Forshee ’69, who studied music and elementary education as a student of Sacred Heart College, jumped at the opportunity to return to campus for the All-Alumni Reunion Weekend.
“1969 was the first year it was co-ed, and we had only about 14 boys altogether,” she said. “Our class was always very close-knit and kept in contact with each other. So coming together again from different parts of the country was really fun.”
Mike Ludlow ’78 was pleasantly surprised to reconnect with his friend of 45 years Margaret (Schaefer) Hebenstreit ’78 at the All-Alumni Reunion Weekend. The friends reminisced during the Sacred Heart Hall centennial dinner held on Saturday evening.
Ludlow’s biggest takeaway from his four years at Kansas Newman College was the value of service.
“Learning that service is above self is a really great thing,” he said. “Service in your life can take you many places and God will reward you. I’m a physician and went to med school. I credit Newman with all my pre-med education and with the value they placed upon service in my career.”
For other alumni, the activity-filled weekend reminded them of their active days on campus.
Biology graduate Katie Rosell ’09 remembers living on campus, having holiday dinner parties in Fugate Hall and being a member of clubs like the Newman University Medical Professions Club and Superfans Club.
“There are so many good memories and the best part was just getting involved,” Rosell said. “It just feels good to come back.”
June 24, 2023, marked the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Sacred Heart Hall building, which served as a prominent theme for the All-Alumni Reunion Weekend.
Reunion attendee Courtney Klaus ’20 studied communication and history as a Newman student. Klaus has many memories she will cherish for years to come, but one is spending time in Sacred Heart Hall.
“There was a secret study spot I had in the basement where nobody went that was great and quiet,” Klaus said. “Plus I really liked that every floor of Sacred Heart feels kind of like a different building. It’s like you smush three buildings into a sandwich.”
Historical markers in Sacred Heart Hall added to the walk down memory lane. Each marker gives a nod to the room’s original purpose using archival photos and descriptions. These were the result of a semester-long student research and design project with two history majors, Katy Messenger and Quinton Sullivan, and graphic design student Rebekah Strickbine. Together, they brought the historical vision to life.
Messenger said she learned “so much about Sacred Heart Hall” throughout the process.
“Hopefully we can better appreciate all the people who have come before us to make it what it is, and perhaps we in the present can work to preserve the legacy of Sacred Heart Hall so it can continue to be enjoyed by both staff and students for years to come,” Messenger said.
Newman University is grateful to each of its alumni for participating in the All-Alumni Reunion Weekend. For those who could not attend, Beitey said there are upcoming opportunities to return to campus and reconnect.
The next Newman All-Alumni Reunion Weekend will take place in 2025.
Beitey added, “All our alumni near and far can help in the planning process by telling us what they’d like to see at the next big gathering.”