NJIT Graduates Will Reconnect Across Generations at Alumni Weekend

Bob Rossi , class of 1967

NJIT graduates spanning several generations – from the Class of 1944 to the Class of 2014 – will be returning to their alma mater in record numbers from Friday, May 16 to Sunday, May 18 to join in the reunions, reminiscing, and campus-wide revelry of Alumni Weekend.

The weekend kicks off on Friday evening with a party at Eberhardt Hall and continues over the next two days with a whirl of social gatherings, lectures, tours, exhibitions, an awards ceremony, and an address by President Joel Bloom, all designed to reacquaint returning alumni with the still-evolving 21st-century campus and introduce them to members of the wider NJIT community.

For the academically minded, there will be numerous opportunities to learn about ongoing research on campus, from senior capstone projects on display in the Campus Center to the Technology and Society Forum Talk on Saturday by Somenath Mitra, distinguished professor of chemistry and environmental science, who will discuss the vital role of nanotechnology in the future of water treatment and reuse.

Click here for a schedule of events

For some alumni, including graduates from the Class of 1964 who are celebrating their 50th reunion this year, the annual gathering is a hugely anticipated, highly choreographed event.

“I’ll be seeing many of my fraternity brothers from Sigma Pi, including some people I haven’t seen in quite a few years,” notes Skip Wilkins ’64, who was the co-captain of the Highlanders basketball team while an undergraduate, went on to earn his MBA at the University of Maryland, and then spent the next several decades working in the computer industry in New England.

And while alumni will be reconnecting with old friends, they will also be forming new ties with graduates from other classes, including current students.

Bob Rossi ’67 was asked several years ago to help draft the charter for the refashioned Alumni Association and then served on its board for two terms. He is one of those graduates returning in an “off-year” to celebrate what he calls “a big deal for the entire community.”

"Alumni Weekend is such a great way to re-engage people in the life of the university and to expand socializing and networking across generations. There are so many reasons to come back, and one of them is to see how much has changed. When I graduated from Newark College of Engineering in 1967 there were 600 of us, mostly men from suburban New Jersey, and about 10 women. It’s now a truly international research university,” says Rossi, who spent many years traveling the globe in technology sales and marketing. “But there is a common bond among the generations – many of us were the first in our families to go to college – and that continues to be a big plus."

Indeed, even more recent alumni say there are exciting developments on campus that keep them coming back. Michael Finley '09, an architectural designer in the New York office of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects who will be celebrating his 5th reunion this year, says his ties to the Highlanders swim team and interest in the evolving College of Architecture and Design are both draws.

“It’s great to see the architecture program progressing, with the addition of the School of Art + Design six years ago. More recently, I’ve been to a Design Showcase and the students seem to be getting stronger and stronger,” said Finley, who is currently working on a number of New York-based projects for his firm, including the rehabilitation of the historic Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park.

Cindy Osorio ’09, who is now a marketing project manager at a large asset-management firm and also planning to return for the 5th, recalls NJIT’s “first really big reunion” her freshman year from the other side when she served as crew chief for the then newly created, red-shirted hospitality crew.

“It was so interesting to learn more about NJIT’s history going back to NCE, which seemed so different from what we knew of our school, and the alumni were just as eager to hear from us what it was like in our day. It was also my first big project-management role, where I learned about things like time management,” Osorio said, noting that she landed her first job after graduation at Prudential Financial, Inc. with the help of an encouraging, well-placed NJIT alumnus.

Shabiha YasminShabiha Yasmin ’14, (pictured left) a business major from Orange who is the current crew chief and veteran of previous Alumni Weekends, recalls similar meetings with alumni such as Seymour “Zoom” Fleisher ‘51, whose name adorns the Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center.

“We all asked, ‘Is the gym named after you?’ He was the nicest man – and so happy to hear about our experiences,” recalled Yasmin, who says she also loves the “organization, planning, and creativity” of her role in Alumni Weekend, which will be one of her last major events as an undergraduate at NJIT before starting her job in advisory consulting at Deloitte and Touche, LLP this summer.

Also on hand over the weekend to receive Alumni Association Achievement Awards for their professional accomplishments, community engagement, and service to NJIT, will be:

William E. S. Kaufman, AIA Arch ’91, a pioneer in the green building movement, who is the founder and chief executive officer of WattLots LLC, a company that designs and produces solar installations.

James A. Krucher, BSME ’73, who has been an IT project manager for Johnson& Johnson, Inc., has served on several important committees for his alma mater, including the one that planned the development of the Warren Street Village Project.

Richard M. Maser, PE, PP, CME BSCE ’73, president and chief executive officer of the engineering firm Maser Consulting P.A., who is the winner of the American Red Cross, Jersey Coast Chapter’s Clara Barton Corporate Humanitarian award for 2014 and a member of the NJIT Board of Overseers.

George R. Olson, BSIE ’77, director of Fleet Ballistic Missile Test and Support Systems Engineering (ret.), who is a supporter extraordinaire of the Highlanders baseball team.

James P. Redeker, BS Eng Sci ‘77, MSCE ’80, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, who has been an adjunct graduate faculty member at NJIT teaching mass transportation systems.

Vatsal A. Shah, PE BSCE ’08, MSCE ’09, PhD ’14, a geotechnical engineer for Hatch Mott MacDonald, who led a team that developed a low-technology, emergency-response wastewater and sewage containment and treatment system for the city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and was selected by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) as a ‘New Face of Civil Engineering’ for 2013.

As the weekend approaches, preparations are well under way and excitement is building.

“This is my eighth year of running Alumni Weekend.  Getting this campus ready to receive and entertain over 250 visitors is a huge project. It pulls people from all over the campus together:  from Facilities, Catering, Public Safety, Media Services, and University Advancement as well as the Student Hospitality Crew,” says Paula Harris, senior associate director of the Office of Alumni Relations. “What I always love about it is seeing the pride that everyone takes in the campus, and the effort they make to show it at its best.”

For more information about the awardees, click here.

And for further information about Alumni Weekend, e-mail alumni@njit.edu or call (973) 596-3441.

And for further information about Alumni Weekend, e-mail alumni@njit.edu or call (973) 596-3441.

This story is tagged: alumni, class of 2014, reunion, class of 1944, alumni weekend . Or read more Feature Stories.