Every couple of years, Newman University invites its ever-growing pool of alumni back to campus for an opportunity to reconnect and reminisce.
The 2023 All-Alumni Reunion Weekend June 23-25 boasted everything from an alumni art show, Dueling Pianos night and guest speakers to a wine and beer tasting event, improv show and celebratory Mass and dinner for Sacred Heart Hall’s 100-year anniversary.
Additionally, guests took advantage of campus tours, a social mixer, service project, DIY canvas painting and even a luncheon specifically for graduates of Sacred Heart Academy.
Alumni Director Dana Beitey, who organized the event-filled weekend, said she saw “many laughs, smiles, hugs and handshakes throughout the weekend. It means a lot to be part of that process and to bring alumni back together after years apart.”
Some alumni attendees traveled hundreds of miles to make it back to the heart of campus, while others supported the reunion events locally.
Beitey’s favorite part of the weekend was hearing stories straight from the source.
“Hearing alumni tell their own stories about their experience at Newman — whatever its name might have been at the time — was special,” she said. “We had a huge number of folks who attended Sacred Heart College (SHC) and another big group of Sacred Heart Academy (high school) alumnae, some of whom then attended and graduated from SHC, too. I feel privileged to have met them and learn all about their time at the university.”
Historical markers on display throughout Sacred Heart Hall added to the walk down memory lane. As alumni meandered through the building, historical markers gave a nod to the original purposes of each room, compared to its present form today.
Reflections from alumni
Sacred Heart Academy
Karen Chippeaux Flanigan, a ‘64 graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and ‘85 Kansas Newman College, still feels a special connection to campus and actively visits and volunteers any time she can.
“My twin sister, Sharon, and I were lucky enough to attend Sacred Heart Academy because my parents felt that it was very important to have a Catholic education,” she explained. “I know it was a big sacrifice for them at the time.”
Flanigan said, “I just know I felt safe and comfortable in the Catholic surroundings, the sisters and classmates — knowing my faith would never feel compromised. I still have several close friends that I made in high school.”
Sacred Heart College
Johanna Schwalbach-Forshee ‘69 studied music and elementary education as a student at Sacred Heart College. She was part of the school choir, played piano, cello, bass and fiddle, and sang — and found ways to incorporate these talents in her career as a math teacher.
Schwalbach-Forshee jumped at the opportunity to return to campus for the All-Alumni Reunion Weekend.
“The class of ‘69 was always a very close-knit class and kept in contact with each other,” she said. “So coming together again from different parts of the country was really fun. Gerry Killeen (‘65 graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and ‘69 graduate of Sacred Heart College) was our class member and she’s from New York. I was originally from Chicago, so seeing everybody again has been really exciting.”
Up until 1969, Sacred Heart College was open only to female students. The fall of that year, however, marked the beginning of a big change for the beloved college.
“It was our first year of college, and it was the first year it was co-ed,” Schwalbach-Forshee explained. “We had only about eight boys living in the dorm and I think there were only about 14 boys altogether the first year. So it was just a different experience. We were all good friends and we became really close.”
For Schwalbach-Forshee, one of her all-time favorite memories from Sacred Heart College was a fundraiser involving tricycles.
“Each team had to build their own tricycle and race them in the gym to raise money,” she said. “We just had a blast doing it.”
Fellow classmate Lorraine Astjeter ‘69 fondly remembers her days as an elementary education major, cheerleader and prom queen.
“I agree with Joanna; we had the most fabulous class,” she said with a smile. “And it was also special that there were eight of us girls that lived up above the chapel in the Sacred Heart Hall/ administration building. It’s always fun to remember how we all lived together in those two adjoining rooms.”
Something Astjeter will always remember one aspect from her college days: “Everybody knew everybody.”
“It’s always fun to get to see people you haven’t seen for so long and catch up on all the latest of what’s been going on in their lives,” Astjeter added.
Kansas Newman College
Michael Ludlow ‘78 graduated as a chemistry major from Kansas Newman College. He, too, was involved in several clubs and even served as president of a Christian youth organization on campus.
“We worked with the enrollment process for new students, so I learned from Sister Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, and Sister Tarcisia Roths, ASC. I was also in Student Government, but the most important thing that got me here was basketball. I practiced a lot of basketball, I played eight minutes my sophomore season and I scored a point a minute. It’s my claim to fame.”
One of Ludlow’s most prominent memories took place while he was a chemistry student of Sister Margaret Knoeber, ASC.
“She was one of the first female doctorate graduates from Notre Dame University ever,” he explained. “She’s a very good teacher, but she’s a very hard teacher.”
Ludlow recalls the anxiety he felt for an upcoming organic chemistry test in Knoeber’s class. He had a basketball game scheduled for Tuesday and the test was Wednesday. He asked to take the test at a different time and Knoeber was eager to accommodate.
“On a Friday at 7 a.m., I walked over to the house on All Hallows, where eight sisters were living in community,” he said. “She invited me in and all the sisters were in their robes and bunny slippers with their hair curlers in at the time.
“She pulled back the tablecloth on the kitchen table so that I had a hard service to write on. She turned off the dishwasher and brought me a plate of milk and cookies to eat in case I got hungry. During the exam, I scored something like 65% on the exam with all these accommodations and I felt terrible about it. I studied my you-know-what off the rest of the time trying to do better. I ended up with a B in the class, which meant barely better than a C, but I got into med school, so I credit Sister Margaret. She was my mentor and my great friend.”
Ludlow was pleasantly surprised to reconnect with his friend of 45 years Margaret (Schaefer) Hebenstreit ’78 at the All-Alumni Reunion Weekend. The friends reminisced during the Sacred Heart Hall centennial dinner held on Saturday evening.
“I had quit going to church when I first came to Newman and Margaret said, ‘You should come to Mass. It’s different. You won’t believe it.’”
Sure enough, all it took was one of Father Tom Welk’s Masses on the third floor of Sacred Heart Hall — where seat pillows filled the floor and guitar music filled the air — for Ludlow to feel rejuvenated in his faith life.
“Those Masses are why I’m still Catholic today,” he said. “Father Tom was great and after communion, we would have a guitar player who’d sing a song and then we’d reflect. You’d try to contemplate your place in the universe. And it was just wonderful.”
Ludlow’s biggest takeaway from his four years at Kansas Newman College is the value of service.
“Learning that service is above self is a really great thing,” he said. “And that service in your life can take you many, many places and God will reward you for your service in your life. I’m a physician. I went to med school. I credit Newman with all my pre-med education and I credit them with the value they placed upon service in my career. And I’ve tried to reflect that in my career.”
For other alumni, involvement with events and extracurricular activities on campus was the best decision they made.
Biology graduate Katie Rosell ‘09 enjoyed living on campus, having holiday dinner parties in Fugate Hall and being a member of clubs like the Newman University Medical Professions Club and Superfans Club.
“The Superfans Club at the time was led by Jake Baalman,” Rosell said. “We’d just go to all the sporting events and cheer, so that was great. Living on campus, it felt like there was always something going on and we were just always a part of lots of things.”
She also recalls spending several hours each week in the Campus Ministry office alongside Father Tatro and friends who worked there.
“There are so many good memories, and the best part is just getting involved,” Rosell said.
Rosell said coming back to campus is always an adventure worth taking “because it feels like home.”
“I’ve been back several times because my brother lived here in the dorms for a while and is the chaplain (Father Adam Grelinger). We always hold our office Christmas party in the Alumni Lounge on campus.”
Rosell added, “It just feels good to come back.”
Courtney Klaus ‘20 was particularly excited about the Dueling Pianos event and DIY canvas painting event during the All-Alumni Reunion Weekend. Both did not disappoint, she said.
Klaus, a communication and history double major, participated in many activities as a student at Newman. She served as a resident assistant, participated in the Student Government Association and was the editor-in-chief of the Newman Vantage, the student-led newspaper.
She has many memories she will cherish for years to come, but one is spending time in Sacred Heart Hall.
“I really liked that every floor of Sacred Heart feels kind of like a different building. It’s kind of like you smush three buildings into a sandwich. There was a secret study spot I had in the basement where nobody went. It was great and quiet.”
Klaus’ advice for students is the same advice she would give her younger self.
“I would say get involved in as many things as you can and come to Newman with an open mind. You never know what opportunities might be available, both while you’re in college and then also far beyond college and the connections that you make. The friends that you make and the professors that you get to know now will play a significant role in the rest of your life.”
Connecting people of the past to efforts of the present
June 24, 2023, marked the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Sacred Heart Hall building, and this served as a prominent theme for the All-Alumni Reunion weekend.
During Saturday’s Sacred Heart Hall centennial dinner, Newman President Kathleen S. Jagger, Ph.D., MPH, pointed out that every student at Sacred Heart Academy, Sacred Heart Junior College, Sacred Heart College, Kansas Newman and Newman University has “likely been in this building at some point in time.
“Sacred Heart Hall is something that binds us all together and I believe it is something to be celebrated and appreciated for what it has done for the students throughout the decades here,” she said.
Jagger shared some of the most exciting recent developments and plans for the future of Newman. Her address included enrollment numbers, Newman’s status as a Hispanic-serving institution, the return of the Metanoia Catholic living community and Spiritual Companions as well as Newman Athletics’ full membership to the MIAA. She also shared the updates within Newman’s five schools and announced the nine new undergraduate and master’s programs.
“It’s a good place to be and there’s a great spirit of optimism on our campus,” Jagger explained.
Not to mention, Newman University received a $2.2 million Title III grant from the United States Department of Education to support student success with a newly hired director of the Newman Navigator program and construction of the new student success center in Dugan.
“It’s really been a collaborative effort across the campus,” Jagger said. “We have lots of great ideas from our leadership team and I’m proud of them for their efforts.
“We also had more than 2,000 donors this year give to the university with 385 of those being alumni,” she continued. “We appreciate all of you who give of your time, talent and treasures to continue to support Newman. We can’t do it without people like you.”
Roths, who served as a past president of Newman as well as an academic dean, talked with guests about the historical significance of Sacred Heart Hall. As a student of Sacred Heart Academy, Roths reflected on her time as an educator.
“I got to teach, and that was my first love,” she said. “I especially loved the interaction with students that I can feel so much as I see you here for these alumni reunions. I have very fond memories of those years, of seeing you grow and learn and become the people that you are today. It makes me very proud.”
Wrapping up a successful reunion
Newman University would like to once again thank alumni for participating in the All-Alumni Reunion Weekend.
“For those who couldn’t attend, we have many opportunities throughout the year for you to jump back on campus and reconnect with old classmates,” Beitey said.
The next Newman All-Alumni Reunion Weekend will take place in 2025.
Beitey added, “All our alumni near and far can help in the planning process by telling us what they’d like to see at the next big gathering.”
Thank you, Newman alumni!
Thank you for joining us at the 2023 All-Alumni Reunion Weekend. We had a blast! Please take a moment to tell us what you would like to see at the next reunion in 2025. Your ideas are greatly appreciated.