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Vikings Ship Up to Salem

Salem State celebrates its first in-person reunion since 2019

After two years of virtual reunion celebrations, Vikings once again reunited on Salem State’s campus, sharing memories from the past and relishing the weekend’s moments with fellow alumni and friends. 

A virtual “State of the U” campus update, moderated by Mike Mitchell ’07, associate director of alumni relations, kicked off the weekend’s festivities with President John D. Keenan and members of Salem State’s leadership team enthusiastically welcoming alumni back to campus and encouraging Vikings around the globe to stay connected. 

“We’re so thrilled to be back in person for Alumni Weekend. The virtual world that has been created as a result of the pandemic has opened opportunities for Salem State and allows us to be out there sharing the great work happening on campus, even if you can’t physically come to it,” said Cheryl Crounse, vice president of advancement and executive director of the Salem State Foundation.  

That evening, the Hawthorne Hotel welcomed Vikings who graduated 50 or more years ago for a Reunion Society reception where President Keenan proudly inducted the classes of 1970, 1971 and 1972, giving each member a commemorative pin in recognition of their milestone—a tradition implemented many years ago by longtime volunteer, Marilyn Flaherty ’54. Several reflected on how their experience at Salem State has continued to shape their lives, including the evening’s host Henry Dembowski '60, '62G and his wife, Claire Dembowski. 

“Looking around the room we can see so many individuals who have contributed to the success of the university. The university pride of our alumni, faculty, staff, community leaders and friends is truly commendable,” said President Keenan. 

Friday’s picture-perfect weather set the stage for legendary singer-songwriter Tom Rush’s evening performance, while across town a group of Vikings gathered at the Hotel Salem for a rooftop reception with breathtaking views of the city. 

The weekend also featured a lively Salem food tour that brought alumni in and out of local shops from Salem Spice to Jolie Tea Company; a presentation by local historian and former history department faculty member, Anthony Guerriero ’92, that painted a unique and complex portrait of one of America’s founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, including his influence on American cuisine and sustainable farming; a milestone reunion celebration that included the next class of young leaders—our inaugural 40 under 40 alumni—and alumni of color; and the weekend’s signature event, POMP, which brought food trucks and music by the Felix Brown Band under the lights on Marsh Quad.  

The annual jazz brunch brought Alumni Weekend activities to a close with the recognition of four 2022 alumni award winners: 

  • The Alumni Rising Star Award presented to Pedro Soto ’09 
  • The Dr. Marilyn E. Flaherty Award presented to Chrysoula Hatzis Varvounis ’93  
  • The George Ellison Volunteer of the Year Award presented to Dr. Judith Josephs, Esq. ’63, ’65G 
  • The Elizabeth Williams Wade Award presented to Jeffrey Cicolini ’94 

“These award winners have distinguished themselves in the community through their outstanding professional accomplishments and commitment to Salem State University. We are proud to highlight and celebrate these dedicated individuals who work hard to make a difference each and every day,” said Mitchell.  

The brunch also highlighted the fundraising successes of the classes of 1972 and 2022. Through their own reunion giving efforts, the class of 1972 managed to raise $40,000 for Salem State, while the class of 2022 raised over $3,000 for their senior class gift.  

In the end, although alumni agreed Salem State’s campus has seen vast changes over the years, the Viking spirit was as familiar as ever.  

View photos from the weekend.

Alumni Relations
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