UNION–More than 50 alumni of Kean University—then Newark State College—from the Class of 1962 returned to the campus for their 50th reunion on Saturday, Oct.13. The alums were treated to a luncheon, video presentation, and memorabilia display at the Ruth Horowitz Alumni House on the East Campus, followed by trolley tours of the campus.
“Are you working?” “Are you retired yet?” and “How many grandchildren?” were three of the most common questions the reuniting alumni asked each other. Name tags were useful memory-joggers, with the women often referring back to each other’s maiden names to help reestablish long-lapsed connections.
One name that hadn’t been heard much in the decades since graduation was that of Ronald Blazovic—the reason being that he, unlike the majority of his classmates, had put down roots on the other side of the country. Just days after graduation in 1962, Blazovic had packed up his Chevy and headed out to the West Coast. He lives there to this day, in San Diego, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to attend his 50th college reunion—especially after receiving an out-of-the-blue phone call from classmate Robert Marcantonio.
“I hadn’t heard from this guy since graduation, and I still don’t know how he tracked me down because I have an unlisted phone number,” says Blazovic, who subsequently earned master’s and doctoral degrees from California institutions and made his career in special education teaching and administration. “He was just trying to reach out to some people he remembered to see who else might be going to the reunion.” Marcantonio himself traveled some distance, from Matthews, North Carolina, to be present at the event.
Some alumni seemed a bit overwhelmed at how much their small teachers’ college had transformed itself over the decades. In 1962, then-Newark State was concluding its transition from its former Newark location to its new campus in Union; the class of ’62, comprising about 250 students, was the first graduating class to be based on the Union campus all four years. Back then, the campus consisted of just five buildings: the student center, gymnasium, library, power plant, and Townsend Hall. All graduates were prepared for careers as teachers. Today, of course, Kean University is New Jersey’s third-largest public university, with more than 16,000 students, six colleges, 48 majors, 35 graduate degree programs, a branch campus in Ocean County, and a two-year pilot program just getting up and running in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, China.
During the luncheon, Alumni Association President Edward Esposito ’69 ’72 MA presented the alumni with special commemorative medallions, giving each individual the chance to be called up and recognized individually. Esposito also reminded the alumni that they were now eligible to attend Kean University’s annual “50 Plus Reunion”—a gathering of alumni who have passed their 50th reunion—not forgetting to point out that their class would be the “youngest people in the room” at the next installment of that event in May 2013.