Wildcats Return Home for Reunion 2018

During JWU’s Reunion on April 27-29, nearly 400 Wildcats and their guests returned home to Providence to reconnect with faculty, see the amazing changes on campus, interact with students, and make new connections with fellow alumni.

“Reunion is our favorite time of the year,” said Lori Zabatta ’95, director of alumni relations.

Festivities kicked off on Friday with the Distinguished Alumni Awards held in Harbor View’s Rhode Island Room. This year’s award recipients were Monica Souza ’16, recipient of the Young Alumni Award; Hazem Gamal ’90, recipient of the Alumni Service Award; and Charlie Ayers ’90, ’14 Hon., recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award.


“There were so many highlights at this year’s reunion, but the one that really set the tone for the weekend for me was the Distinguished Alumni Awards presentation,” said Zabatta. “A first at Reunion, we recognized three alumni recipients for their career accomplishments, community service and extraordinary support of JWU.”

Following the award ceremony was the Opening Reception, which brought together faculty and alumni for an evening of conversation and cocktails. “This year, we had an outstanding turnout from faculty, which alumni truly appreciate because they were a huge part of their lives as students,” said Liza Gentile ’18 MBA, manager of alumni relations.

The fun continued on Saturday with a variety of new and favorite happenings including Criminal Justice Lab tours, 3D printing demo in the College of Engineering & Design, TV Chef Panel Discussion and Cat Chats—a series of short, TED-style talks by some of JWU’s brightest alumni and faculty.

Patrick Leary, EdD, associate professor in the College of Hospitality Management, participated in the Cat Chats with SEEM alum Tim Anziano ’07 from the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). “I thought the Cat Chat event was a fantastic concept and provided a tremendous opportunity to showcase some of our talented alums across a wide range of spectrums,” said Leary. “Tim and I spoke about ‘The Fan Experience.’ He articulated how today’s sports organizations as well as sports and entertainment venues are integrating emerging technologies to enhance the fan experience. I followed Tim by describing how SEEM faculty at JWU are continually contemporizing the curriculum to account for the constant evolution of technology as well as the successful integration of this technology to optimize the fan experience.”

On Saturday morning, New Student Orientation & Support Programs hosted its first OTEAM reunion. Former team members reconnected with each other, engaged with current leaders and professional staff, and learned how the orientation program has evolved over the years. Though the concept of the Wildcat Way was new to some, their passion for and experience on OTEAM plays an important role in their everyday lives. Former orientation leader Kariffe Nunes shared, “I bring what I learned on OTEAM every day to my job as a resort manager, from communication strategies to being an effective and confident supervisor.” 

Reunion would not be complete without the ever-popular Taste of JWU event—a weekend highlight of Gentile’s as well as of TJ Delle Donne ’04, ’07 MAT, assistant dean of culinary relations & special projects in the College of Culinary Arts. “The weekend was incredible,” he said. “I participated in a series of events because I’m a very proud alum and keeping our networks and celebrating alumni success is the very essence of our success as a university. Lori, Liza and the team do a great job with this weekend, from the awards, to the Cat Chat, and of course the Taste of JWU.”

The weekend slowly wrapped up with smaller affinity gatherings, “The Big Party” on Saturday night, and a farewell Jazz & Champagne Brunch on Sunday morning with special guest Clay Snyder ’93, a member of JWU’s Board of Trustees.

Congratulations for another successful Reunion, considered “our biggest and best yet” by Alumni Relations.