New attendance records and new media among highlights of Yale College reunions

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Returning alumni sing "Bright College Years" while waving white handkerchiefs. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

A tweet from @YaleCollege2004 expressed the feelings of thousands who returned to New Haven recently for Yale College Reunions over the weekends May 22-25 and May 29-June 1: “Not gonna lie. It’s pretty great to be back at #YaleReunion – thank you to everyone that helped put it all together.”

The Yale College Class of 2009 welcomed 54% of classmates home to Yale, a new 5th year reunion attendance record. The Classes of 1954 and 1994 also broke previous records for classmates returning for 60th and 20th reunions, while the Class of 1989 set a new overall attendance record for a 25th reunion, bringing together 601 classmates and 575 family members and guests.

Overall, this year’s reunions – of Yale College classes graduating in years ending in “4” and “9”, from 1949 down to 2009 – saw the second-highest attendance of any cycle ever. A total of 6,943 people, including 4,290 alumni, came to campus over the two weekends. The number of classmates was just shy of the previous record – 4,296 – set at reunions in 2013.

Social media has become an integral part of reunion. The Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) and the Yale Office of Public Affairs set up a photo booth on the Cross Campus each weekend that generated a lot of activity, as recorded on Flickr albums for both the first and second weekends. The Class of 2009 had its own class photo booth and encouraged engagement on Instagram using the hashtag #y09reunion. The Class of 1994 was also a social media innovator, with an array of photos of campus and New Haven posted by classmates in the #94hunt scavenger hunt.

The social media from reunions can be enjoyed online via Storify accounts compiled by volunteer leaders with the AYA’s Yale Alumni Social Media group. The compilation of tweets and images from the first weekend can be viewed here, and the compilation of the second weekend can be viewed here.

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