Worth the trip: ’Berg Family Vacation brings joy to hundreds of alumni

Hugs, smiles, tears of joy, laughter, more hugs, stories shared, friends reconnected, photos taken, memories made. Those were the most heartfelt highlights of Alumni Weekend 2023: ’Berg Family Vacation.

It was a busy and special weekend from start to finish. Here’s a recap of some of the favorite and traditional events.

Lilly tree dedication


Although Dr. Percy Lilly passed away just a week prior to the dedication at the age of 95, his friends, family and former colleagues gathered to celebrate his legacy: Heidelberg’s diverse collection of trees, so designated the Percy L. Lilly Campus Forest by the Board of Trustees in October 2022. Representing the family, daughter Laurel said the trees selected and curated by her father will serve as a teaching tool and his legacy for future generations of ’Berg students. Professor Emeritus of Biology Dr. Ken Baker emceed the event and Tiffin Mayor Dawn Iannantuono read a proclamation for “Percy Lilly Day.”

AW23 picnic


For many attending Alumni Weekend, Happy Hour and Dinner on the Lawn on Friday night is their first opportunity to reconnect with classmates they may not have seen since graduation or lifelong friends they just saw the day before. We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather to pair with a delicious BBQ, prepared by Parkhurst Dining. And the root beer floats were to die for! The sweet sounds of Bill Kazen ’72 and Back Traxx capped off a fun evening.

AW23 Kostyu Classes Without Quizzes


No pressure here! Just some good, old-fashioned learning. Alumni Paul Kostyu, Jim Boroff and Kathy Turner, and John Cooper shared their expertise on their vocations and avocations as part of the annual Classes program. Topics ranged from the death of journalism to mission service in Romania to the Abraham Lincoln presidency with a special “visit” from Honest Abe himself. At the end of the day, everyone passed their exams!


AW23 campaign breakfast John Kratz


Interested alumni gathered for breakfast Saturday to hear from Heidelberg leaders about the new fundraising campaign, Catalyzing Progress: A Bold Path Forward. Providing a “40,000-foot view,” Advancement VP Phil Ness explained that the four initiatives of the campaign – building the Student Athletics, Academic and Recreation Center (fieldhouse) and the Student and Community Welcome Center, and creating student scholarships and The Heidelberg Fund – are student-centric, giving all students “the ability to have a great experience, stay here for four years and go on to have a great career.” Board Chair Kathy Geier ’78 told the alumni that all four initiatives will help Heidelberg build on its success and “enhance our ability to attract and retain the best students.” Trustee John Kratz spoke about the team effort and investment required for the campaign to succeed and to address facility needs. “We’re in a competitive environment, and we want to win,” John said. President Rob Huntington wrapped up the presentation with a Q&A and reminded alumni that the fundraising goals build value around the established strategic goals of enrollment growth, academic value, a diverse, equitable and inclusive community and financial sustainability. Read more about the Catalyzing Progress: A Bold Path Forward campaign. 

AW23 Remembrance tree planting ceremony Paul Stark


Although Alumni Weekend is the perfect opportunity for classmates and friends to reconnect and reminisce, it’s also a solemn reminder of those alumni and friends we have lost over the past year. On Saturday morning, alumni gathered for the annual Tree Planting ceremony behind Pfleiderer Center to remember those no longer with us. Campus Minister Paul Sittason Stark led the service, and President Rob Huntington and Board Chair Kathy Geier read the list of names of deceased alumni and friends. Erika Warnke ’21 sang “Hymn of Promise” to close the ceremony.


AW23 Outstanding Alumni Award winner Bob Youngblood

We were honored to recognize one of our own, Bob Youngblood from the great class of 1970, who has spent his second career in service to alumni as an integral part of the Alumni Engagement Team, with the highest Outstanding Alumni Award. We also celebrated the members of the Butcher-Kostyu Legacy Family and their unique connection to the Student Princes.

AW23 giving check presentation


Not only big but record-breaking! As part of the Alumni Weekend tradition, members of the golden anniversary class unveil the results of the past five years of giving from the landmark reunion classes. This year, ’73 classmates Paul Kostyu and Rev. Mark Frey pulled the cloth off of the “big check” to reveal a total of $12,078,342 from the classes of ’63, ’68, ’73, ’83, ’98 and ’13. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Rob said. “That is super significant and will enable the university to keep going forward.” Heidelberg is so grateful to the generous donors who made it happen. Also at the luncheon, alumni heard from Rob about four areas of reflection: the campus spirit that “lifted us all up” as we emerged from COVID; encouraging enrollment and retention numbers for the Fall 2023 semester; the challenging landscape of higher education; and an update on the Fieldhouse project, which is gaining momentum. “We’re close,” he said of the project. “We think we can start in the fall with $4 million left to raise before we can build it.”

AW23 Pancoast Patio dedication


After several years, the Pancoast Patio, off the front of Brenneman Music Hall, received its official dedication. The piano-shaped outdoor space has been a labor of love, spearheaded by alumnus and Berg Bravo! President Ed Ayers ’71. Berg Bravo! members raised funds for the construction of the space which is a tribute to the late Reg and Enid Pancoast. Now, music students will have a place to relax between classes and music faculty can use the space for small performances. Thanks to the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce for the official ribbon-cutting.

View Our Alumni Weekend Photo Gallery

Alumni Weekend 2023 Photo Gallery

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