The Loras College Class of 1969’s 50th Reunion – recently held over Homecoming weekend – was a once in a lifetime experience.
“I heard repeatedly from classmates that they were really glad they had made the effort to come,” said Al Ruffalo (’69) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He co-chaired the reunion committee along with James Gebhardt (’69), St. Charles, Illinois. In all, 17 other members served on the reunion committee.
“It was good to see classmates we hadn’t seen for 50 years,” Ruffalo said. “The Friday night dinner was definitely the highlight of the weekend and hearing President Jim Collins (’84) and his comments about the success of Loras College since we had left was inspiring.”
More than 100 people attended the reunion dinner, along with other events over the weekend. Fifty members of the class joined together to raise more than $285,000 to help fund renovations to Keane Hall. A classroom on the building’s third floor, which is home to the Francis J. Noonan School of Business, has been named in recognition of this class. The Keane Hall funds are part of $1 million in cash gifts, planned gifts and pledges made over the past three years by members of the Class of 1969.
Gebhardt said the reunion committee initially set a goal of raising $250,000 for the Keane Hall project. “About six weeks before the reunion, we hit that number and decided to push for $300,000,” he said.
Ruffalo added, “Money is still coming in, so we still may hit $300,000, which would be a great accomplishment for our class. People have felt compelled to continue to give. Loras College is a great institution. So many of us can look back and say Loras was a contributor to our success.”
Ruffalo, a founder and executive chairman of a leading consulting and management firm for higher education, is a former member of the Loras College Board of Regents. His son, Paul Ruffalo (’00), is also a Loras College graduate.
Gebhardt, a retired insurance executive, approached the reunion committee from a different perspective after visiting campus four or five times since his graduation. “My career took me to different parts of the country. I spent a lot of time in Texas where it wasn’t convenient to come back,” he said.
“Our 50th reunion allowed me to be more active and give back to Loras in a way I had never done before,” Gebhardt added. “When I was asked to assist with the reunion committee, I jumped at the opportunity.”
A final way Gebhardt hopes to help Loras College is by challenging members of the Class of 1970, who will celebrate their 50-year reunion at Homecoming on October 9-11, 2020.
“I’m going to encourage alumni who are thinking about participating to be part of the organizing committee,” he said. “Make sure your 50th reunion is a success. It’s a spectacular weekend.”
If you would like to make a gift to the Class of 1969’s fundraising effort for Keane Hall, please send a check to the Development Office at Loras College (1450 Alta Vista St., Dubuque, IA 52001). For more information, call Amy Bess, senior development officer, at 563.588.7969.