Classes of 1966 and 2016 bond over mayor’s luncheon and journalism discussion
Members of the Class of 2016 had the chance to bond with the Class of 1966, their “grandparent class,” this weekend as part of a larger initiative undertaken by former classes to encourage intergenerational bonding. The events, which were organized by Class of 1966 president Charles Plohn and Walter Bliss ’66, involved a “Meet the Mayor” lunch with mayor Liz Lempert and a private discussion for freshmen interested in journalism at the home of Lanny Jones ’66.
According to Bliss, the weekend was meant to create a social space in which both classes could interact to develop a mentoring relationship and to offer networking opportunities for students interested in certain careers.
“We want to create opportunities to help members of the Class of 2016 have meaningful interactions with the Class of 1966 so that we can learn from each other and create lifetime relationships so that the members of 2016 learn of opportunities that come our way and generally enjoy the sense of a larger Princeton,” Bliss explained.
Plohn said he first had the idea for an intergenerational bridge between the Classes of 1966 and 2016 at a Pre-Rade in 2011, when he saw a group of alumni from the Class of 1965 holding up a banner for then-incoming freshman Class of 2015. After speaking with the alumni, who described the “grandparent-grandchild” relationship they planned to develop with the incoming class, Plohn contacted Associate Director for Class Affairs Marguerite Vera ’79 to ask what the relationship entailed and how the Class of 1966 could build its own, he explained.
Subsequently, the Class of 1966 decided to commit to creating a grandparent-grandchild relationship with the Class of 2016, which is fifty years its junior, Plohn said.
The first “grandparent-grandchild” event took place in January, when both classes attended a pizza party in Campus Club. In addition to the events of this weekend, Bliss said that the Class of 1966 hopes to host another dinner in April in which members of the Class of 2016 interested in education will meet with the superintendent of Princeton’s schools.
Plohn said he views these meals as opportunities for members of the Class of 2016 to network and benefit from the career experience of their older “grandparents.”
In the future, the “grandparents” hope to pair interested students with older mentors in their chosen field, Plohn said. He said that the Class of 1966 also plans to construct a nationwide mentoring map of the grandparent class so that members of the Class of 2016 traveling for internships or jobs will have a built-in advising network beyond campus.
Members of the grandparent class include FBI Director Bob Mueller ’66, Nobel Prize recipient in economics Michael Spence ’66 and Charlie Gogolak ’66, who, along with his brother Pete, introduced soccer-style placekicking to college and professional football. The class also includes Henry Von Kohorn ’66, the current president of the Princeton Alumni Association and founder of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations.
After the “Meet the Mayor” luncheon on Saturday, in which Lempert and 10 members of the Class of 2016 discussed how to build stronger ties between the University and the town, the mayor led students on a walking tour of Princeton that featured stops at her favorite Italian grocery store, D’Angelo, and Halo Pub.
Twenty freshmen interested in journalism also attended a private meeting on Sunday at the home of Lanny Jones ’66, who hosted a home-cooked meal and discussion with three prominent writers and alumni. Jones, the former managing editor of Money and People magazines, was joined by Princeton Alumni Weekly and We Proceed On editor Jim Merritt ’66 and deputy foreign editor at The Washington Post Griff Witte ’00, who is a visiting professor of journalism at the University.
Class representative Gwen Lee ’16, who attended the luncheon and pizza party in January, said that she enjoyed the mayor’s luncheon and valued the opportunity to learn from older Princetonians.
“2016 is super excited about our grandparent class; we feel really lucky that we have the ’66ers because not a lot of grandparent classes reach out,” Lee said.
She added that while the Princeton experience is very different now from that of 50 years ago, she believed that the Class of 1966 would provide a good source of support and advice.
Bliss and Plohn also noted the differences between the two classes. In 1966, study abroad was discouraged, there was no pass/D/fail option and most women were barred from the University, Plohn said. He added that the University used to be much less diverse in socioeconomic, racial and geographic terms than it is today.
However, Plohn said he urged students to not fear these differences when they interacted with the Class of 1966.
“We have been coming back to Old Nassau for 47 years since graduation and recognize that the Princeton University of today is the best that it has ever been, with the same longstanding tradition of excellence,” Plohn said.