Friends Reunite at College Reunion Brunch.

Friends from the class of 1978 reunite during the college reunion brunch, held this year at the WinShape HUB on the mountain campus.

What do class reunions, carnival rides, cupcakes, football and soaring voices have in common? All were indispensable ingredients adding flavor to Mountain Day 2018!

Thousands of alumni, students, parents, faculty/staff and friends took this year’s theme of “Better Together” to heart by packing the world’s largest campus for the 104th edition of Berry’s one-of-a-kind homecoming celebration. Those who couldn’t make it back in person joined in the fun via social media thanks to a new tradition rooted in Mountain Day’s origins as a birthday celebration for Martha Berry herself.

Highlights included the Mountain Day Olympics – Friendship and Morgan/Deerfield claimed victory, for those keeping score at home – a glorious fall picnic and the Grand March of Students. Adding to the fun was the return of Mountain Day football, which drew a record crowd of more than 4,600 to Valhalla for another win by Berry’s nationally-ranked Vikings, and the annual Marthapalooza carnival. Campus visitors also got to enjoy two home volleyball matches (both wins!) and daily performances of Neil Simon’s Rumors by Berry’s student theatre company.

Sydney Adams (18C) and Lauren Richardson (18C) shared this Mountain Day selfie from Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. "Cupcake for Martha" during Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.

Sydney Adams (18C), left, and Lauren Richardson (18C) shared this Mountain Day selfie from Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.

Reunion events included a brunch at the WinShape HUB, a pregame tailgate for the “milestone” classes of 1978, 1993 and 2008, and an inspiring 60th anniversary concert by the Berry Singers at Ford Auditorium. There were also alumni games for returning student-athletes and special events honoring beloved faculty members, past and present.

New this year was “Cupcakes for Martha,” a tasty way to toast Martha’s birthday. Alumni and friends made short work of the 1,000 free cupcakes available on campus, while those checking in from the road were more than happy to provide their own sweet treats while sharing selfies from as far away as London and Munich. Search #cupcakesformartha on Instagram and Facebook to view some of the photos.

We’re grateful to everyone who took part in this year’s celebration, as well as Mountain Day sponsor Plainville Brick Company and other community partners for their role in helping to make the event a success. If you missed out, don’t worry – we’re already making plans for Mountain Day 2019!

Related: Photo gallery; Berry Singers concert coverage (with audio); choir photos; reunion photos

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James Blount and Barry Griswell (71C)

WHAT A VIEW: Berry student James Blount welcomes Board of Trustees Chair Barry Griswell (71C) to the podium during the groundbreaking ceremony for The Spires at Berry College. Eagle Lake can be seen in the background, with Lavender Mountain in the distance.

Spires RenderingA soaring bald eagle provided the perfect backdrop as student James Blount offered opening remarks at the official groundbreaking for The Spires at Berry College, a continuing care retirement community to be located on approximately 50 acres of leased Berry property off the North Rome Connector.

Blount, an intern with the project, joined college and local officials in welcoming future residents – some of them Berry alumni – in attendance. He lauded the strength of the community they are already forming and compared their experiences to his own.

“Involvement characterizes the life of a Berry student,” Blount explained. “It is one of the cornerstones of having a beneficial and loving relationship with this school. And I can see in this community that there is already so much involvement.

“You are so special because you have bought in,” he added, addressing the future residents in the crowd. “You’re the first, and you realize just how truly magical this place is.”

When completed in 2020, that “place” will be a community of 170 cottage and apartment-style homes located on the shores of Eagle Lake, a former quarry. Deposits have now been paid on more than 70 percent of those residences, allowing construction to begin.

President Steve Briggs first shared the vision for the project – a long sought dream of Berry alumni – in this 2015 Berry magazine essay. For residents, benefits will include first-class amenities as well as proximity to the Berry campus and Rome’s thriving medical community. For Berry students, the facility represents opportunity in the form of intergenerational mentoring relationships and significant student work experience. Read more.

While located on Berry property, The Spires will operate as financially independent, self-sustaining nonprofit with its own board of directors. Visit retireatberry.com for project details.

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UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE: Check out the student-produced video above for an example of Berry innovation in action, courtesy of applied physics and creative technologies double-major Janosch Spohner.

Class Meets Outside Evans Hall

Assistant Professor Dr. Jonathan Parker leads a class outside Evans Hall.

College presidents, provosts and admissions deans from across the South are singing Berry’s praises for its strong commitment to undergraduate teaching and penchant for innovation.

Their feedback, as reported in U.S. News and World Report’s annual “best colleges” edition, landed Berry at No. 3 in the undergraduate teaching category among regional universities in the South. The college also ranked 11th among “Most Innovative Schools,” to go along with a “best-value” designation by publication editors.

“At Berry, you won’t just be another face among a sea of students,” said Provost Mary Boyd. “Berry’s culture of mentoring gives you one-on-one time with your professors who can become not only mentors, but friends in your journey to fulfilling your dreams.”

Click here for more on this recent recognition.

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President Steve Briggs at the Dedication of the Sam Spector MBA Classroom

WORDS OF WISDOM: A quote by Dr. Sam I. Spector can be seen on the wall of the MBA classroom that now bears his name. Berry President Steve Briggs (center) joined family members and other guests for the September naming.

Dr. Sam I. Spector Speaking at Berry's 2008 Commencement

Dr. Sam I. Spector

Dr. Peter Lawler

Dr. Peter Lawler

Beloved faculty members have been remembered and celebrated this fall with campus namings made possible by the generosity of alumni and friends. Their gifts, in turn, have seeded opportunity for future students by supporting scholarships named for those same faculty legends.

Recent honors include the naming of the MBA classroom in Berry’s Campbell School of Business for the late Dr. Sam I. Spector, whose accomplishments at Berry include the 1973 establishment of the MBA program. Read more.

Similar recognition has been bestowed upon the late Dr. Peter Lawler, whose famously messy office remains a touchstone for the many Berry alumni privileged to have known him during his nearly 40 years on the faculty. His former office space in Evans Hall isn’t so messy anymore, but it fittingly bears the name of the man whose unexpected death in 2017 generated an extraordinary outpouring of love and remembrance.

While both of those alumni-driven campaigns benefited existing scholarships, another honoring longtime student publications advisor Kevin Kleine has resulted in nearly $6,000 in gifts toward a new fund supporting study-abroad experiences for communication majors.

Kevin Kleine and Bob Frank

Kevin Kleine, left, with another legendary member of the communication faculty, Dr. Bob Frank.

Alumni from as far away as Texas gathered for an informal Mountain Day reception celebrating Kleine’s 30th year at Berry. Fittingly, this recognition coincided with Kleine’s receipt of a national advising award from the College Media Association. Fundraising for the Kevin Kleine Study Abroad Scholarship continues with an ultimate goal of $25,000 in gifts to endow the award.

Also on Mountain Day Weekend, friends, family, colleagues and former students gathered for the official naming of the Ouida Word Dickey Living Room in Berry’s Ford alumni center, made possible by a successful 90th birthday giving challenge. This effort resulted in more than $570,000 in gifts to the Ford Auditorium renovation, pushing fundraising for that project past the halfway mark to $3 million in total commitments.

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Al Christopher’s talents as a woodworker are evident all over the Berry campus – you just have to know where to look. Numerous projects completed by Alumni Work Week participants and friends in the Berry College class of 1961 reflect his trademark craftsmanship, as does the beautiful new Christopher Browning Pavilion at Oak Hill.

Recently, friends and family celebrated the opening of a new exhibit at The Martha Berry Museum – “From Tree to Treasure: Woodturnings by Al Christopher” – showcasing a different side of his creativity and artistry.

Al Christopher (61c) with some of his creations

Al Christopher (61c) has been prolific in his art since taking up woodturning in retirement. Select pieces are now on display at The Martha Berry Museum.

It was only in retirement that Christopher took up woodturning, which involves the use of a lathe and hand tools to create works of art. He refuses the title artist, preferring “hobbyist” instead, but the skills used to produce the pieces on display at Oak Hill – many Berry inspired – are undeniable.

“Over the past 14 years, he has gone from being a slightly interested party to someone who lives and breathes this medium, said Rachel McLucas (12C), curator of The Martha Berry Museum. “One of the things that is so evident in this collection is the enjoyment woodworking brings to him. He has a long career in millwork and contracting that has informed his work in unique ways.

“I think whenever anyone approaches this exhibition they’re going to walk away surprised even if they know him and are familiar with his work,” she added. “There are just so many hidden treats within it.”

The exhibition runs through May. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Click here to see examples of his work.

Look for more on Al and Becky Browning (61C) Christopher in the fall issue of Berry magazine, due out in a few short weeks.

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Video courtesy of Ryan Gooding and the Boulder Daily Camera

Sandy Bonnyman Jr. with Medal of HonorMost students graduate with some knowledge of Martha Berry’s family history, but it’s doubtful many know the story of her nephew, Marine 1st Lt. Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman Jr., who earned the Medal of Honor for valor in the Battle of Tarawa during World War II. He lost his life that day in 1943, and for nearly 75 years his body was lost as well.

Bonnyman’s heroism and the subsequent search for his remains were the focus of a recent campus presentation by Clay Bonnyman Evans, grandson of the World War II hero and author of Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II.

Evans was thrilled by the opportunity to share the story of his grandfather with Berry students.

“I love Berry College,” he said. “I think it’s such an amazing and cool school. And I love the fact that people in the Berry community and in Rome are interested in the Berry family story.”

In his earliest years, Evans recalls his grandfather being an almost mythical hero symbolized by the Medal of Honor that hung on the wall of every house he knew as a child. Decades later, he played a role in solving the mystery of his grandfather’s whereabouts through his work with History Flight, an organization led by Mark Noah dedicated to finding and recovering the bodies of missing American soldiers abroad.

“If anyone was going to get this done it was going to be this little nonprofit,” Evans said.

In 2015, History Flight uncovered Bonnyman’s body along with others buried in a small stretch of land known as “Cemetery 27” on that far away Pacific island. Evans was present when the archeologist identified the remains. Later that year, his grandfather was finally laid to rest in the family burial plot in Tennessee.

“I was privileged to be a part of the effort to locate his remains, but the credit for that goes to Mark Noah and History Flight,” Evans said. “Mark, like my grandfather, was doggedly determined. He refused to give up, and he made it happen. Without Mark Noah, I feel very confident that we would never have found my grandfather.”

More coverage: Washington Post; Campus Carrier

By student writer Kendall Aronson

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"Rumors" Set

SPACE TO PERFORM: Students actors make themselves at home on the set designed by Carl Tallent (01C) for BCTC’s fall production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors.” Photo by student Lindsey Campbell.

Carl Tallent Working on the Set of "Rumors."

Carl Tallent working on the set of “Rumors.” Photo by student Jacob Bushey.

It’s been more than 17 years since Carl Tallent (01C) graduated from Berry, but when he returned to campus in September to assist with set design for the Berry College Theatre Company’s production of Neil Simon’s Rumors, it felt like no time had passed at all.

Tallent, who has put his Berry-honed skills to good use working on props for Broadway productions such as Rock of Ages and Cirque du Soleil, did note one impressive change – new facilities for the dramatic arts in the form of Sisters Theatre and an updated Blackstone Hall, both funded by the generous gifts of alumni and friends.

“It seems like the resources have really grown,” he said. “There’s a new costume shop and a new theatre. It is a really exciting time.”

In addition to his Broadway production work, Tallent has also showcased his talents designing shows for community theatres and high schools and creating window displays on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. When Associate Professor of Theatre Alice Bristow contacted him about the possibility of sharing his experience with current students, he was happy to oblige.

Students Building "Rumors" Set

Students gain valuable experience building the set for “Rumors.” Photo by student Lindsey Campbell.

“I really love working with students,” he said. “These people are just starting to do work outside of Berry, so it’s exciting to advise them and help them get jobs.”

When Tallent first arrived at Berry as a student, he wanted to be an actor. His work in the scene shop opened up new possibilities.

“I was always artistic and crafty, but I never thought of set design as a career,” he said.

His professor thought he had skill, both in set painting and set design, and encouraged him to explore those options.

“If I had been at a larger school I might not have explored doing set design, but it wound up being what I was passionate about,” Tallent said. “It was great that at Berry we were able to experience all different aspects of theatre, so I discovered that set design was what I wanted to do.”

Click here for more on Tallent’s visit.

By student writer Kendall Aronson

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Several hundred first-year and transfer students filled the Cage Center arena in early September to hear from the author whose words were a substantial part of their introduction to Berry College.

Dave Isay, four-time Peabody Award recipient and founder of StoryCorps, wrote Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, the first-year reading assignment for Berry’s newest students. His book recounts conversations about work and vocation collected through StoryCorps, the mission of which is “to record, preserve and share stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs.”  To date, more than 75,000 oral histories by ordinary Americans have been recorded and preserved at the Library of Congress.

During his Berry presentation, Isay shared audio recordings from the people behind the stories and talked about upcoming goals for StoryCorps. Afterward, he encouraged students to explore opportunities and continue doing what they love.

“The lecture was amazing,” First-Year mentor Hannah Norman said. “He shared heart-felt stories that were very inspiring and also hilarious ones that made us laugh.”

Click the video above to view Isay’s presentation.

Reporting by student writer Alisa Jordan

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