In May of 2023, over 250 alumni from the Collins Living-Learning Center and its predecessor, the Men’s Residence Center, gathered together for an anniversary celebration. This marked our 50(+1)-year anniversary as a living-learning center. Held during the weekend of May 19-21, the event brought together former residents, staff members, and friends of Collins from across the decades. The cohorts in attendance spanned nearly sixty years of Collins’s history, with graduates ranging from the classes of the late 1960s all the way up to the class of 2023. Over 100 alumni and guests chose to stay in our buildings, in Edmondson and Cravens Halls, for the weekend, while others chose to find rooms at the nearby Indiana Memorial Union Biddle Hotel or The Graduate Hotel. The completion of renovation work may have kept us from celebrating the 50th anniversary in May of 2022, but alumni were excited to come together this May to see the updates those renovations brought to their beloved IU home.
With the help of alumni volunteers, student hourlies, and an alumni planning committee, the Collins staff led by Assistant Director Leigh Davis put on an unforgettable weekend of events to celebrate this special anniversary. Alumni and guests were welcomed on Friday with opening remarks and a meal of tamales, rice, and beans in the Collins Courtyard. There was plenty of time to sprawl on the grass and catch up with old friends before an evening storm chased our celebration indoors.
Over the course of the weekend, alumni enjoyed a variety of events, including a special visit from the IU Archives to share a selection of Collins materials. Alumni took a tour of campus to see new buildings and were also able to walk around Collins to see changes from the renovation. They met up in smaller cohorts in our drop-in breakout sessions for Resident Assistants, the Board of Educational Programming, the Board of Programmers, Arts Council, and Little 500 riders. They took part in trivia, a scavenger hunt, outdoor games, and photos sessions for each decade. On Saturday night they gathered for reminiscences from former directors of Collins, including Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch, Ellen Dwyer, and Padraic Kenney. After a barbeque meal in Dottie Collins Commons, Director Lara Kriegel delivered a “State of Collins” address which looked at the present and future of Collins LLC.
The weekend wound down with a selection of Saturday night activities, but many attendees ended up spending their time hanging out at the Cheshire Café, opened specially for one night only at the reunion. Former managers and baristas connected and bonded over a shared experience in a staple of the Collins community. Sunday morning’s Farewell Breakfast brought alumni together one last time for bagels and coffee, and a tour of the Hillcrest Clubhouse. As the weekend came to a close, many alumni were already asking when they could next come back.
Some plans resulting from the reunion include a push to raise more funds for our Retention Award by helping alumni better understand the impacts the rising cost of college and on-campus housing have on students. We also announced a proposal to bring alumni guest speakers in throughout the year to connect with current Collinsites and strengthen the bonds across generations. We look forward to continuing to welcome alumni back to Collins in these and other ways until our next reunion.
View the Collins 50(+1) Reunion photo album