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Alumni Reconnect With Tulane and New Orleans

October 30, 2007

Fran Simon

A myriad of motivations drove thousands of alumni of all ages to return to New Orleans and Tulane for Wave ’07, the first-ever All-Alumni Reunion weekend, Oct. 26–28. For some, it was the chance to help the renewal of the city. For others, it was the chance to trade old war tales.


For Laurie and Jim Alsup of Princeton, N.J., Homecoming was a great opportunity to visit their daughter, Claire Alsup, a first-year student at Tulane. (Photo by Lloyd Dennis)

More than 50 visiting alumni volunteered to help clean up and beautify local schools.

At the first annual Day of Service on Friday (Oct. 26), organized by the Tulane Office of Development and the Tulane Center for Public Service, alumni worked alongside current Tulane students. They planted and weeded a garden at Sophie B. Wright Charter School in uptown New Orleans.

The Tulane Associates provided supplies, tools, plants and sod for the new garden that will be used as a space for tutoring and reading programs in clement weather.

When Sharon Clark, principal at Sophie B. Wright School, came outside to thank the volunteers, she caught sight of the nametag on Rudy Marshall of Columbia, Md., who graduated from Tulane in 1967.

“I was born in 1967!” exclaimed Clark.

Clark said she felt “honored” that her school has been “adopted” by Tulane University. A sign next to the door of a spacious room declared “Tulane Reading Room.” It is where 25 Tulane service-learning students, 20 Tulane law and graduate students, and 12 student-workers provide tutoring and serve as reading buddies for students in the 4th through 8th grades.

If Tulane alumni, students and volunteers hadn’t built the reading garden during the Day of Service, Clark said it would have taken the school two to three years to get the job done.

On Thursday (Oct. 25), more than 150 visitors attended a luncheon honoring the 65th reunion of the first Naval ROTC class at Tulane. Four members of the class of 1942 traded war stories, listened to the National Marine Band and received tribute from Tulane President Scott Cowen, who served for three years in the Army during the Vietnam War era.


Shovels in hand, Tulane alumni Rudy Marshall, left, and Katherine Hanemann work the ground at Sophie B. Wright School, where they helped create a garden during the Day of Service on Friday (Oct. 26). (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

“Tulane is one of the only universities to continuously support the military for 65 years,” said Charles Frank, a retired Navy captain who graduated in Tulane’s 1943 NROTC class.

Frank said graduates of the Tulane NROTC earned battle stars in 48 actions, from Normandy and Sicily to Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

“Our ranks have commissioned some 3,000 ensigns in the U.S. Navy and second lieutenants in the Marine Corps,” Frank said. “This [event] is the last hurrah for the wartime classes!”

A number of special events were planned around the Homecoming football game that proved to be a close contest between Tulane and the University of Memphis. The heartbreaking final score of 28-27 was overlooked by many fans, who enjoyed reuniting with friends and family at the events.

“We love New Orleans and we love Tulane,” said Bill Conley of Frederick, Md., a 1977 graduate who was tailgating before the game with his son, Joe Conley, a 2007 grad who lives in Chicago now. “We reconnect when we come down to New Orleans,” Joe Conley said. “This is where we meet.”

For Jim and Laurie Alsup of Princeton, N.J., the Parent/Family Weekend in conjunction with Homecoming was a great opportunity to visit their daughter, Claire Alsup, a first-year student at Tulane.

“We feel like we’re ambassadors for New Orleans,” Laurie Alsup said. “We’re delighted that she’s here to experience a completely different culture. We believe more people need to come to New Orleans.”

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000