Barry McNamara  |   Published June 07, 2022

Plenty to Do, Plenty to Learn

Golden Scots return to Monmouth’s campus from across the nation for first celebration since pandemic.

OUT AT THE FARM: Monmouth biology professor Eric Engstrom (hand raised) spoke to a large gatherin... MONMOUTH, Ill. – People from all over the country coming together at Monmouth College to learn and to learn from each other.

That was the experience for Monmouth alumni when they were students five or six decades ago, and it was their experience again June 2-6 when they returned to campus for the Golden Scots Celebration.

This summer’s event was the first in-person meeting for the Golden Scots since 2019, after the pandemic canceled the gatherings planned for 2020 and 2021.

SURPRISE! 1977 classmates Emily Douglas Cardin, Klaris Thompson Nisbet and Kari Kittermaster see ... SURPRISE! 1977 classmates Emily Douglas Cardin, Klaris Thompson Nisbet and Kari Kittermaster see a familiar face headed toward them on the first day of the College's Golden Scots Celebration.“After hitting pause for three years on our Golden Scots reunion, we experienced this weekend with a deeper level of appreciation for the ability to gather in person and on campus,” said Monmouth Director of Alumni Engagement Jen Armstrong. “Twelve classes reconnected to their friends and their roots. Golden Scots weekend is one that everyone is sad to see end.”

In all, the Golden Scots (alumni who graduated in 1977 or earlier) represented 19 states, returning to campus from Alaska to Florida and from Arizona to Massachusetts. Included was the Class of 1952, which saw six classmates – now all in their 90s – return for their 70th class reunion.

Check out more than 2,700 photos from the Golden Scots Celebration.

“I really enjoyed the politics discussion – it was very interesting,” said John Scotillo ’72 of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a member of the Monmouth College Board of Trustees. “The audience was full of people from all around the country.”

That point was made evident when Monmouth political science professor Robin Johnson asked audience members to shout out their home county so he could share demographic and voting data from one of his favorite websites for political analysis. Responses included Los Angeles County in California and Mercer County in New Jersey, as well as the Midwest.

Although home states are important, Johnson also shared with the Golden Scots the central idea of American Nations, a book by Colin Woodard that breaks the United States into 11 regions and helps analysts – and Johnson’s own Monmouth students – understand how the current political landscape has developed.

‘Campus has never looked better’

Johnson’s talk was just the tip of the iceberg for Scotillo and his enjoyment of the weekend.

“It’s nice to be back,” he said. “It’s nice to catch up with old acquaintances. And the campus has never looked better. I’m so impressed with how it’s evolved. The buildings are new, but they haven’t lost their old charm.”

Asked what building he wishes would’ve been on campus when he was a student half a century ago, Scotillo replied, “The food court. And the Huff (Athletic) Center is amazing. It’s second to none for a school the size of Monmouth, in my opinion.”

David Kinney ’72 of Ocala, Florida, agreed.

“We were back 15 years ago for just one hour, but other than that, this is our first time back in 50 years,” said Kinney, whose wife is Cynthia Baumann Kinney ’73. “Your athletic facility is incredible for this size of school.”

“It’s still such a beautiful campus,” said Cynthia. “We were impressed by how the old gymnasium’s façade was incorporated into the new building and by how well the old buildings and the new buildings blend together.”

“It’s still such a beautiful campus. We were impressed by how the old gymnasium’s façade was incorporated into the new building and by how well the old buildings and the new buildings blend together.” – Cynthia Baumann Kinney

Her husband would’ve seen that façade often on his way to class during the year he lived in nearby Fulton Hall.

“I was also impressed that Fulton is still standing,” he said.

In terms of programs, Kinney enjoyed a talk given by local artist and 2003 graduate Dusty Scott.

“I enjoyed hearing what he had to say,” said Kinney. “A young man like that would be a great marketer for the College. He talked about how his family comes first, and then his art.”

Another program enjoyed by many was College Editor and Historian Jeff Rankin’s talk on the history of a Civil War cannon that was to be given to Monmouth by the Class of 1903. However, it was stolen by the rival Class of 1904 and missing for half a century before it was recovered from a creek bed by chemistry professor Garrett Thiessen.

“The cannon presentation was fascinating,” said Tom Martin ’72 of Reno, Nevada. “If I ever knew any of that history, I’d forgotten it.”

Plenty to do, plenty to learn

Golden Scots also participated in a wine tasting, a ceramics workshop and a typewriter social. In addition to talks by Johnson and Scott, others were presented on the College’s new wellness and movement major, the Doc Kieft Summer Research Program and Fighting Scots athletics. Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt combined his passion for history and music with a talk titled “The Songs of War and Peace: American and Vietnam.”

Besides touring campus, the Golden Scots also visited the Educational Farm, which is on the eastern edge of town. At least one couple was seen making the trek downtown to grab a bite at one of Monmouth’s oldest restaurants, the Italian Village, but local dining also came to campus in the form of a well-attended “Taste of Monmouth” lunch. Pork tenderloin sandwiches were a big hit.

As was the case for many of the spouses who attended the event, Julie Shaw, wife of Tom Davis ’62 of Moreland Hills, Ohio, was not a Monmouth student, but she enjoyed her time on campus, all the same.

“I just love the camaraderie of the people – that sense of loyalty and commitment. And the campus is beautiful – all the places to just sit down and enjoy the scenery.” – Julie Shaw

“It’s all running so smoothly,” she said. “And I just love the camaraderie of the people – that sense of loyalty and commitment. And the campus is beautiful – all the places to just sit down and enjoy the scenery.”

“I’m happy to be back,” said Davis, who has attended many of his five-year-increment reunions through the years and also returned as an invited “distinguished alumnus” speaker. “I was impressed that several people who are younger than me recognized me from my picture that used to hang in the Sig Ep house.”

That Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity residence stood on the north side of the 700 block of East Broadway. The College “paved paradise to put up a parking lot” in its place, but Davis said it was for a good cause.

“Yesterday, we parked where my bedroom was,” he said. “But the business and science building (built on that block in 2013) turned out just terrific.”

TOGETHER AGAIN: Classmates from the 50-year reunion Class of 1972 got reacquainted at Thursday TOGETHER AGAIN: Classmates from the 50-year reunion Class of 1972 got reacquainted at Thursday's kick-off dinner for the Golden Scots Celebration. From left are John Scotillo, Bill Daniel, Maribeth Novak Mohan, Helen Bowden Josephine, Lucy Hyde Johnson, Steve Johnson and Bob Gentile.

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