Next weekend, from May 31 through June 2, Bellarmine University will host its largest ever 50-year reunion
as members of class of 1969 return to campus from 17 states.
Those alumni and alumnae were the first to receive diplomas bearing the name Bellarmine-Ursuline College, after the merger of the all-male Bellarmine College and the all-female Ursuline College the previous summer.
Steve Kirn, who is traveling to this year's reunion from his home in Gainesville, Florida, graduated in 1969 with a degree in biology. Among his memories of his time on campus, he recalls nearly bumping into Thomas Merton, who was rushing to a meeting.
"I was especially delighted to be part of what I think of as a new 'pioneer class' of 1968-1969 that welcomed women to what was then named 'Bellarmine-Ursuline College,'" he said.
"We had been sharing classes for a while, using the horrible school bus that shuttled between campuses," said Kirn. "You could sense the difference as women became fully integrated into the college. Women added a different dimension and sensibility to
classes and campus life. It transformed the college. It was the best decision ever."
So far, 60 members of the class of 1969 have given to an endowed scholarship honoring their graduation year, a tradition that started last year with the class of 1968. This year's reunion class has raised the bar as they pursue an ambitious goal of $169,000. A portion of the
endowment's earnings will be awarded each year as a student scholarship, with a preference for first generation students.
The fundraising committee includes these members of the class of 1969: Linda Dunn Meir, Tom Bohnert, Bob French, Cindy Cain Huber and Kirn. During the reunion, alumni Angela and Joe Schmidt will auction the use of their vacation homes in Thailand and Hudson Valley to raise additional funds for the endowed scholarship.
The class of 1969 will kick off reunion weekend with a reception on Friday in the W. L. Lyons Brown Library, featuring remarks by Dr. Susan M. Donovan, Bellarmine's president.
"Bellarmine University is excited to welcome home so many of our alumni from the Class of 1969 for their 50th reunion," said Peter Kremer, director of Bellarmine's Alumni Association. "The year 1969 was an historic time for our country and for Bellarmine,
with this being the first graduating class after the Bellarmine-Ursuline merger. We thank the class for their support and involvement and look forward to hosting the largest 50th reunion ever at Bellarmine!"
On Saturday, they'll be joined by graduates from the classes of 1979, 1994 and 2009 for a weekend of festivities, including tours of the Ursuline and Bellarmine campuses, a cocktail reception and dinner, a reunion Mass and a day at Churchill Downs' Starting