News

October 5, 2007

Rallying Alumni in Houston

George Gick ’60 recounts an event with Lafayette President Dan Weiss and discusses why he serves as chapter president

by George Gick ’60

On a late summer afternoon in September, Lafayette College President Daniel Weiss, along with his sidekick John Leone, Lafayette’s associate director of major gifts, arrived in Houston, Texas, aboard a silver-winged steed. His purpose was to inform the local alumni chapter concerning the latest happenings at our alma mater and express his vision of its future.The chapter convened for dinner at the prestigious Houston City Club. In excess of 70 loyal alumni and their spouses, out of a total of 160 alums in the area, attended the event anxious to meet Dr. Weiss and hear his remarks and engage in a dialogue about their beloved Lafayette. Members of the classes represented ranged from Bob Johnston ’42 to Greg Van Volkenburg ’06. Despite the wide disparity in ages present, a common bond of the “Lafayette experience” was immediately obvious at the welcoming cocktail party.

When dinner was announced, I welcomed President Weiss, John Leone, and all chapter attendees and thanked the 14 members of the executive committee for their outstanding recruitment of alumni for the event. A deliciously delectable menu was chosen by the College’s alumni office and graciously presented and served by the Houston City Club’s management and staff.

The highlight of the evening came when President Weiss took the podium and extemporaneously and eloquently presented his update of recent campus activities and physical changes that have enhanced the College’s reputation and appearance. Redesign and construction of library and athletic facilities were of particular interest to those who had not recently visited the campus, but Dr. Weiss’ five-point vision for Lafayette’s future drew the most attention and applause. His strategy of increasing faculty to decrease the student-to-faculty ratio while maintaining instructional excellence received universal accolades by the audience. Increased emphasis on the life sciences and making the College available to all who academically qualify through innovative financial programs were also of great interest to the group.

A question-and-answer period followed Dr. Weiss’ presentation and included queries about the present state of fraternity/sorority life on campus and projections for the ’Pards in their athletic conference.

After all questions were thoroughly addressed and feedback requested to be sent directly to the president’s office at Lafayette, Dr. Weiss thanked the chapter members for their hospitality and continued support of the College. I then presented him an authentic Stetson hat as an acknowledgement of our appreciation of his visit to the alumni chapter in Houston. When he asked how I knew his exact hat size, I enthusiastically replied, “I read, I study, I listen, I reflect — And from all this I came up with your exact size.” Ah, the advantages of a Lafayette education are inexhaustible!

With that thought in mind, President Weiss donned his Stetson, summoned his sidekick, mounted his silver-winged stallion and flew off into the night, shouting behind him, “Y’all keep up the good work; Y’hear!

Why I became chapter president

After 47 years of living the precepts learned during a four-year Lafayette College education, I realized it was time for me to give back some of that which has so enriched my life. I therefore chose to accept the position of Houston Lafayette Alumni Chapter president so that I might further enrich my knowledge of the ongoing educational curriculum and values taught by my alma mater, as well as influence other alumni to do the same. I sincerely believe that the coordinated influence of alumni also sets an example for underclassmen who, through us, can visualize the possibilities in life as demonstrated by their graduate predecessors.

I have never forgotten those inspirational words indelibly implanted in each of us during my tenure as a student – “I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I reflect and out of all this I try to form an idea into which I put as much common sense as I can.” Life has dealt me many successes and a few failures; those words have always surmounted each setback and driven me on to new pinnacles of success.

I hope during my tenure as president of the local alumni chapter, and with the very capable assistance of my executive committee, that I will be able to rally the support of a large majority of our local alumni to support both physically and financially the goals of the College. Events such as the evening sponsored by Amy Scott ’01 at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the organizational efforts of Gordon Laird ’49 in arranging a great alumni “tailgate party” for the Lafayette-Lehigh annual football game demonstrate the sincere interest and commitment of classmates separated only by the years they graduated and not college camaraderie and spirit. Additional events of interest to all alumni will be planned to amalgamate our chapter members through that never-ending quest for knowledge instilled at Lafayette in each alum. Isn’t that quest what really has given each of us the personal fulfillment we have experienced in life?

I anticipate renewed enthusiasm for our beloved Lafayette by our Houston area alumni through the interaction and participation of all local Leopards in those meetings and events sponsored by the chapter. Lafayette College is alive and well in Houston, Texas!

George Gick ’60 is president of the Houston Lafayette Alumni Chapter.

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