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FORTY YEARS AGO, in the era of intricate collegiate ritual recorded in the photographs in the center of this issue, Homecoming was much, much more than a Saturday football game. It started on Friday with all kinds of extravagant hoopla including an elaborate parade; a pond-side bonfire made hotter by fiery oratory from the coach; a formal ball and the crowning of a queen. Some of the customs of yesteryear would probably be illegal today, and others go over like a lead pom-pon. Yet ritual is a need, celebration a necessity, and periodic setting off of fireworks pretty much indispensable, in our view.
Enter UMass Festival, the first annual celebration of which took place this fall on the Friday before Homecoming. In its outdoor manifestations, the festival commenced with joyous multi-cultural stuffing of our faces at an outdoor food court south of the Student Union sort of as if Earth Foods had spilled over and gotten suddenly more musical sponsored by the ALANA (Asian, Latino, African and Native American) students. A fine figure of an academic procession, shown below forming up the Fine Arts Center steps, marched grandly along the pond preceded without mishap by two officers and animals of the campus mounted patrol to a Campus Center convocation honoring President Bulger and distinguished alumni representing each of the schools and colleges.
But the festival subsumed a number of other wonderful activities. A "Crossworlds Conversation" brought Coretta Scott King and Patricia Schroeder to the Mullins Center. A Women's Activist Reunion attracted nearly two hundred participants. There were fiftieth anniversary celebrations for both SOM and Engineering; concerts, art shows, luncheons, lectures; a big fuss among bandos over Minuteman Bandleader George Parks' twentieth season. All this and the parade and football game too, culminating Saturday night in Mystery Theater at Hadley Farm, Steve Kellogg and the Root Cellar Band in the Student Union, and a posh celebration honoring campaign donors and seven former chancellors at the Mullins Center.
And fireworks. People celebrating Saturday evening in all corners of the campus we were at the Top of the Campus with the women activists stopped what they were doing to enjoy the colors bursting in the dark sky above the playing fields. It was four days of celebration marred and scarred by the death of student Adam Prentice in the middle of the night mid-way through. (See page 4.) But even that heartbreaking loss, giving us as it did so compelling a push to cherish and mend and tend our little city, our UMass, played its part in making the first annual UMass Festival a ritual to build upon.
That Susan Mattei was a college gymnast explains a lot.
The pixie grin. The posture. The stainless-steel determination.
The first and third characteristics, anyway, were factors in Mattei's success at the College of Engineering, where as director of communications since 1990 she created the award-winning Engineering News and worked on alumni programming. And it was as a UNH gymnast attending a big intercollegiate match at the University of Washington that she first found herself "just in awe of how events are put together."
The awe led to a master's program in sport management at UMass. The master's led to work in the ski industry, which gave Mattei plenty of experience not only with events but with membership programs and volunteers all of which are the meat and potatoes (and the coffeee, tea, and string quartets) of an alumni office. Appointed in October to replace Ginny Rees '93, who is now director of alumni relations at Towson State University in Maryland, Mattei says she's been deeply impressed with the quality and dedication of her hard-working staff of ten people. She wants to use her communications skills to "make sure the alumni and the campus know what great programs we have, and why they're so important."
In 1967, Stephen Brewer came to UMass from the small town of Barre, just east of the Quabbin reservoir. It transformed his life, he says. Thirty years later, this last January, Brewer's life was transformed again when he became a member of Massachusetts Senate joined by another UMass alumnus, from another generation, representing another part of Western Massachusetts: Andrea "Andy" F. Nuciforo of Pittsfield, who arrived in Amherst in 1982.
It's easy to get Brewer and Nuciforo talking about their UMass years. "They did have freshman beanies when I first came to UMass, but I didn't wear one," Brewer says. "I had been working for a year in a foundry to save enough money to attend, so I wasn't about to wear a beanie." Still, college life had its high points. "That was 1967, the Impossible Dream team for the Red Sox. I remember going to Southwest and seeing every available roll of toilet paper falling from the window sills when the Sox won."
There was also much social adjusting. "That was before the whole concept of coed dormitories," says Brewer. Men could visit women's dormitories from three to five p.m. on weekends, but this was when, he says, "A door was not a door, it was a jar" always open a decent amount to prevent ......well, you know.
Campus life was a bit more laid-back by the early '80s, when Nuciforo started college. He used to run along North Maple Street in Hadley when it was all open fields; he lived both on-campus and off, including in a house in Belchertown. "The years I spent at UMass were four of the best years of my life," he says. "I really did a lot of growing up there."
Brewer graduated in history in 1971, later earning a master's from Assumption College. He was a three-term Barre selectmen and then, from 1980 to 1988, an aide to the former Democratic senator from Barre, Robert Wetmore. He won a seat in the House in 1988, and when Wetmore retired in 1996, the Senate seat. After graduation in 1986, Nuciforo went to law school at BU, then clerked for U.S. District Judge Frank Freedman. After that, it was private law practice at the firm of Posternak, Blankenstein & Lund in Boston; in 1995, he opened his own office back home in Pittsfield.
Both men express a special affection for UMass, which of course is in the district of Senator Stan Rosenberg '77. In addition to Rosenberg, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the UMass delegation to the upper house includes Michael W. Morrissey '76 of Quincy, David Magnani '76 of Framingham, and Marc Pacheco '73 of Taunton. In case anyone's counting and we are that puts UMass' representation in the forty-member Senate at 15 percent. And climbing.
Patrick J. Callahan '76
"PLAYFULLY NODDING TO ITS FALL," a 1984 sculpture by Stephen Oakley '84G that has led a somewhat beleaguered existence beside the Campus Pond, has a beautiful setting and safe haven in a new courtyard tucked into the elbow of Bartlett Hall. Designed by landscape architecture professor Dean Cardasis '81G, the stone garden was constructed by Physical Plant staff under the direction of the UMass Arts Council.