Dear Louisiana Yalies,
2015 was a busy year for the Yale Alumni Association of Louisiana. We started the year with a big change – an annual meeting at dinner, rather than lunch, and later in January to accommodate the work schedules of many of our members. Attendance numbers and feedback were both good, but there is still room for improvement. Attending the annual meeting is the best way to add your voice, and we need your voice. This year’s meeting will take place during and after dinner on January 28th at 6:30pm at Ralph’s on the Park. Please come and make yourself heard (RSVP LINK).
Our first event after the 2015 annual meeting was what a successful and engaging event for this group should be—a special tour of the Prospect.3 art installments across New Orleans. We filled the (smallish) bus and spent an afternoon exploring our city and the cool things that happen here, learning and critiquing together. I’m a bit sad to report that I saw faces on the P.3 bus that I wouldn’t see again during the year, but P.3 draws whom it draws.
We put together over 17 events overall in 2015, and Rich Look, our intrepid secretary, was in touch with the membership on more than 30 occasions. There were the traditional and safe events, some experimental and some risky. We learned from them, inter alia, that you’re all busy people; that you don’t always open your emails in a timely fashion; that you like food; that you don’t mind drink; that you sometimes commit to things and don’t show up; and that once you do show up, you really enjoy each other’s company! Communication has gotten better but can be better still. You like to be reminded—attendance goes up when we tell you more than once. And we’re still struggling to reach some of you digitally. So, please, if you aren’t receiving emails from us or aren’t connected, contact me (details below). You’re missing out on Rich’s beautiful missives.
More than anything else, it is evident that we’re all gathered in this place for one reason, and, frankly, it’s not Yale. We’ve all been drawn the New Orleans and its environs for many reasons – service, opportunity, family – and stayed because we love it here; and we remain connected to this place. We were not pushed here by Yale, and you didn’t show up/stay because of the concentration of Yalies in the area. New Orleans was not inevitable for many of us, and it is most certainly a choice we all made and continue to make. I do not mean to suggest we don’t love Yale, or seek each other’s company. Rather, I’ve learned that many of us come here disconnected from the University and disconnected from the Yale Alumni network. If the Association is going to succeed, we the members have to recognize and share what keeps us in New Orleans and cultivate our connection and contribution to this place. One of the simplest things we can do is connect our members with each other and share the amazing things we’re. We were able to share the work Joe Truhe is doing with a promising local mentorship program called Elevate. We put the spotlight on the artistic contributions of many in the Kamenetz clan. We book signings by several Yale authors or friends of Yalies in town. Still, that’s only a fraction of what our network is doing. Let’s build on these example and use this network to share what we’re doing. Don’t be bashful. Call me. Text me. Email me. Send a carrier pigeon.
Our most successful event was our tour of the WWII museum this fall – no surprise, given that the WWII museum is one of the brightest gems in the city. We were allowed very special access to the Road to Tokyo exhibit before it was open to the public. Our tour guide was none other than Owen Glendening, one of the principal architects of the newest exhibits. Owen personally narrated our perambulations (I can’t write a letter to the Yale community without using a word like that, right?) as painters, artists, and curators added finishing touches around us. We hope to engage Owen again in the future, perhaps as a speaker or a dinner guest, to give us a little more insight into what it takes to create an exhibit at one of the world’s leading museums from start to finish.
Feb Club 2015 was a blast, albeit quite cold. 2016’s Feb Club is slated for late February at the Rusty Nail. On a related note, our Mory’s cup is still not engraved! Need a list of Latin mottos to choose from, people – send ‘em in! Thanks, as always, to Fran Olivier and Trina Beck for quarterbacking all things Feb Club.
We doubled the number of recipients of the Yale Book Award this year and considered a wider swath of the educational landscape with very positive results. It is nearly impossible to communicate how monumental it is to receive a book award from Yale. We’ll do a better job this year (with photos!) showing you all how great this program is. I’m excited to announce that Professor Angel Parham is now our Book Awards Coordinator!
The Whiffenpoofs graced us with their presence during Mardi Gras once again (and they’re doing the same this year – details to come). We held a joint lecture event with the UVA Club of New Orleans at the Beauregard Keyes house, which was excellent in content but could have been better attended. The Bulldogs in the Big Easy events are always well attended – the city tour with Richard Campanella is so well attended, we’re exploring the possibility of doing another one during the fall. We trounced Harvard, 13-13, in the Hunter Cup softball game this year and were happy to see new faces on both sides of home plate. And we even had a Yale alumna, Jeannine B. Scott, President of the U.S.-Angola Chamber of Commerce honored by the New Orleans City Council.
I didn’t attend our party for The Game this year at Bayou Beer Garden since I was in New Haven for the AYA Alumni Assembly. In between visits to Pepe’s and Mory’s, I met with our university representatives and many of the leaders of the other Bulldogs programs around the country. There is meaningful communication happening between our association and Yale, and, particularly with respect to the Bulldogs program, we’re making headway with the University. I’m optimistic that Bulldogs in the Big Easy will continue to improve its influence on campus both with the student body and the University. New Orleans and Louisiana remain interesting places for Yale graduates and that the perception of the Big Easy is improving on campus – due in no small part to the BITBE Program. New Orleans’ unique intersection of opportunity and quality will continue to be attractive to Yale graduates – it serves us and New Orleans well to make sure that message is heard loud and clear in New Haven.
While in New Haven I made it over to the undergraduate Summer Opportunities Fair to see our BITBE undergraduate ambassador, Hannah Yang, proudly repping Bulldogs in the Big Easy while wearing Mardi Gras beads and showing off pictures of the swamp tour. It is evident that BITBE really leaves a lasting impression on our Bulldogs, and the model we’ve built is successful. The Office of Career Strategy (formerly UCS) is only getting better handling applications, and business postings and students and businesses reports are all just glowing.
BITBE’s expansion is limited, first, by the number of positions we’re able to get New Orleans businesses to post with the University and, second, by our finances. If you or a business you know could use an intern, contact me (details below). If you’d like to support the program, please also contact me.
To sum up, in 2016 we hope add more events like the WWII Museum and P.3 tours, more events and opportunities that highlight our connections to and opportunities with this city. Special events like this take more time to plan and coordinate, however, and we cannot generate all the ideas ourselves! We need your ideas – so please do get in touch!
Pay your dues online or by check – see the flyer included with this letter for details there and a short list of upcoming events. Check the website (yalelouisiana.com/calendar), facebook, and your email for upcoming events and make sure your contact information is up to date at yalelouisiana.com/members.
Finally, it pains me to note the passing of two of our most beloved members, Nikki Barranger and Charlie Bosworth. Both men were active, happy, interesting and left a legacy with this group as well as New Orleans that will not soon be forgotten. We owe it to Nikki and Charlie to continue to make the Yale Alumni Association of Louisiana as good as it possibly can be.
Beau Babst, CC’08
beaubabst (at symbol) gmail
To import our calendar “automagically” into your phone, see yalelouisiana.com/calendar for instructions. (It’s easy!)
Thursday January 28th, 6:30 pm
Annual Meeting @ Ralph’s on the Park
February 8 – 13th (Mardi Gras)
Whiffenpoofs, Details TBD
February 25th, 6 pm
Feb Club 2016, New Orleans
March 17th – 19th
Yale Glee Club, Details TBD
Thursday, March 24th, 5 pm
Jay Gitlin of Yale, Andrew Wegmann of Loyola, and Author Rien Fertel present
Celebrating Jackson Day: A francophone perspective on the war of 1812
The Cheesiest Event Yale Has Ever Had, with our resident cheese expert, Liz Thorpe
And many more to come! Stay tuned!