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Alumni talking in a group

Alumni return to Transylvania to remember and celebrate

More than 640 alumni and guests enjoyed the many events of Alumni Weekend 2009, beginning with the traditional outing at Keeneland Race Course on Friday and ending Sunday morning with the Barr Society breakfast and chapel service in Old Morrison Chapel.

The alumni celebration luncheon on Saturday, held in the William T. Young Campus Center, provided the perfect setting for alumni to get reacquainted with classmates and favorite professors.

clyde roperIn his keynote speech, Clyde Roper ’59 (featured left, center) talked about what it meant to him to return to his alma mater and reflect on the value of his Transylvania education.

“The point of coming to Transylvania in the first place was to get a very special kind of education: a liberal arts education that is so good, it sustains us throughout our entire lives,” Roper said. “Philosophers might ask, ‘What is it that makes us what we are?’ A few of the answers are obvious: genetics, familial and social environment, early and high school education. But I suggest that we privileged ones here today are who we are and who we have become, because we are Transylvanians.”

Among the lighthearted moments Roper shared with his audience was his attempt to answer roll call with his marked New England accent in English professor Mitchell Clark’s first-year class. He answered “here” with an eager “he-ah,” which caught Clark’s attention.

“She drilled me with those well-trained eyes and said ‘Young man, before you leave this class you’ll learn to speak the English language!’ At the time, Transy had only a few foreign students, one from Taiwan, one from Germany, and, I suddenly realized, one from New Hampshire.”

Roper is zoologist emeritus with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and is a world-renowned expert on cephalopods, especially the giant squid. He earned master’s and doctorate degrees from the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Miami in Florida. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cephalopod International Advisory Council in 2000.

As the luncheon concluded, the Alumni Association elected Clay Stinnett ’95 president of the Alumni Executive Board and Melony Lane ’90 as president-elect.

See all 2009 University Awards recipients.

Also read A 27 Hour Journey and An Investment in Friendship.

View photos of alumni weekend on Transy's Flickr account and photo gallery.

Read a copy of Roper's speech.

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