“It was a healthy sign of alumni interest that so many representatives of different classes participated in the first annual meeting of the Organized Classes last week,” wrote the editor of the Pennsylvania Gazette in the October 22, 1920, issue. A spinoff from the General Alumni Society, the group met for the first time on October 12, a little more than a century ago, at the University Club.
“One of the first things the new organization should do, and we are glad to see that it has taken hold of the problem energetically, is to awaken the many classes now either unorganized or but slightly active,” the editor wrote.
Known since 2002 as the Alumni Class Leadership Council (ACLC), the organization’s mission is to “strengthen ties between alumni classes and the University.” As an advisory board, it consists of leaders from undergraduate classes spanning nine decades.
As Alice Way Waddington Ed’49, an ACLC member and Class of 1949 president, says in a virtual tribute video on the occasion of the group’s 100th anniversary, the ACLC “[helps] classes get together and stay together.”
The board of the ACLC works closely with Alumni Relations staff to provide classes with leadership and engagement tools, such as operating guidelines for new class presidents, templates for class webpages, and an online alumni directory (MyPenn.upenn.edu); as well as to promote reunion activities in the spring. Annually, the ACLC cohosts the Alumni Award of Merit Gala, held during Homecoming weekend, which recognizes classes and clubs with awards for their ongoing achievements.
E. Gerald Riesenbach W’60, past president of the Organized Classes/ACLC from 1999 to 2004, remembers restructuring the Organized Classes into the ACLC: “It became apparent that one of our initial goals had to be making alumni class officers more important in our alumni organization so that class members would want to seek leadership roles,” he says. “And to convince attendees that they were a group of very important alumni leaders, the University president and chief operating officer attended, participated, and discussed with the attendees the important issues taking place at Penn.”
Back in 1920, the Gazette called the group “the type of organization which Pennsylvania needs badly.” That’s still true today, according to associate vice president for Alumni Relations (and Gazettepublisher) F. Hoopes Wampler GrEd’13. “The backbone of any strong alumni relations program is a really strong classes and reunions program,” he says in the video. “And you all have been doing excellent work for now a century.”
The tribute video can be watched at pennalumni.smugmug.com/ACLC-100th/n-CQhw6D. —NP