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Old School Reunion celebrates 20-year anniversary during IU Homecoming 2016

Oct. 5, 2016

Homecoming is just around the corner, and this year’s celebration marks a historical year for one group of IU alumni.

The Old School Reunion co-founders

The Old School Reunion, which started out as a small gathering for alumni, has grown significantly over the past 20 years. Co-founders Patrice (Russell) Walker, left, and Ruben Flores help plan the event every year. | PHOTO COURTESY OF RUBEN FLORES

Twenty years ago IU alumni Ruben Flores, originally from East Chicago, Ind., and Patrice (Russell) Walker, originally from Fort Wayne, Ind., were pursuing graduate degrees at their respective universities when they both decided they were homesick for the Hoosier state. They knew homecoming was the perfect excuse to take a trip down memory lane and reunite with old friends on campus, so they got a group together and met in Bloomington for the 1996 homecoming celebration.

That was the beginning of the Old School Reunion, an annual event that would bring hundreds of alumni back to campus for networking events, socials and, most importantly, to share their Hoosier pride.

“We are two extremely proud alums and forever grateful to our almost 200-year-old Indiana University,” said Flores, who is now the director of residence life at Fairleigh Dickinson University, said. " The classic line, ‘Indiana, Our Indiana, Indiana, we're all for you!’ couldn’t be more true.”

The reunion, which started out as a gathering for 25 alumni, has grown over the past 20 years, with as many as 500 alumni returning to IU for the celebration. Co-founders Flores and Walker, along with committee members Andrea (Henry) Nichols, Matthew Broadnax, Daleta (Briggs) Mitchell and Anitra (Turley) Dillard plan the event every year, keeping their promise to never lose touch with their alma mater.

But it wasn’t just enough to have a celebration. Because of what IU had given them, Flores and Walker decided they wanted to come up with a way to honor remarkable IU faculty, staff and alumni that work together to make the university one that no one wants to leave. To do so, they instituted the OSR Honoree Award in 2008. The award gives special preference to those who support IU students from traditionally underrepresented groups.  

“We love everything IU: the energy of the institution, but more importantly, the great people that comprise IU,” said Walker, now an attorney employed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, said. “We love reconnecting with Indiana on a very personal and intimate level.”

The first event and a highlight of the Old School Reunion, will be Convocation at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, which is an event for the alumni to network and reconnect. Here, the 2016 OSR Honorees will be recognized, and alum Stefanie Crews will serenade  the guests.

Several other events are scheduled for the weekend-long reunion, and all alumni are welcome to attend. For a complete schedule of events and to RSVP, visit the Old School Reunion event website.

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