Tech Reunions

John Holdren ’65, SM ’66, science and technology advisor to President Barack Obama, took the podium at his class dinner June 5 at MIT’s Endicott House to share a bit of his on-the-job experience. His official title is director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Previously he served as a professor at Harvard and Stanford and director of the Woods Hole Research Center. He’s a well rounded sort of guy who studied aeronautics, astronautics, and plasma physics and who has worked on the causes and consequences of global environmental change, energy technologies, and policies.

White House science advistory John Holdren '65.

White House science and technology advisor John Holdren ’65, SM ’66.

“Exhilerating and frustrating,” that’s how Holdren describes his job. “It’s exhilarating because Obama understands why technology and science matter. It’s frustrating because so much has to be done.” Obama sees science and technology as crucial to understanding and solving many of the world’s problems, he said.

What’s on the President’s mind? Regenerating high-quality jobs—with a high proportion coming from science and technology. Using information technology to improve medical care. Making progress in nuclear weapon restraints and cyber security. And the interlocking challenges of energy, environment, climate change.

“Climate change is the most threatening and the most difficult to solve,” Holdren said. “Science and technology have a big job to do. We need to educate people to understand the challenge. People need to understand what we can do and adapt. We are already suffering damages.”

Interestingly, Obama’s respect for America’s scientists and technologists parallels the public’s. Holdren said a recent poll gives scientists a 73 percent approval rating—as opposed to members of Congress who garner a 36 percent positive rating.


Members of the Class of 1970 serenading President Hockfield

Paper airplane competitions,  Pops concerts, and early morning rowing—Tech Reunions at MIT tend to have a distinctive, quirky quality, and that quality shined through on Friday afternoon at the Class of 1970 President’s reception. Part way through the event, composer and lyricist Alan Chapman ’70 led his class in “MIT,” an adaptation of the Beatles’ “Let it Be,” which he had written for the occasion. Chapman’s wife, Karen Benjamin, performed the solos.

Watch a short clip of Chapman, Benjamin, and their class members serenading President Hockfield:

The song has been part of MIT’s musical lore for some time. In fact, Chapman is credited for authoring the original version of the “MIT”/”Let it Be” song back in the 1960s. He updated it again at his 25th reunion. Full text of the most recent update is posted below.

Itching for more? Visit the “How to Get Around MIT” page for lyrics to other Institute classics, including another version of the “MIT”/”Let it Be” song, this one slightly adapted from Chapman’s original.

June 2010 version
Words by Alan Chapman

When I find myself in times of trouble,
Susan Hockfield comes to me,
Speaking words of wisdom: MIT.
And when I think I’m losing
What’s remaining of my sanity.
I’m told that that’s expected: MIT
MIT, MIT, what have you done to me?
I think that I’m OD’ing; too much technology.

And even though the night is cloudy
There’s a light that shines on me.
It must be a laser: MIT.
And if the light proves dangerous
I’ll go to the infirmary
Provided it is open: MIT.
MIT, MIT, computers running free
IBM is at the stem of everything I see.

I wake up to the sound of lectures.
Some professor’s telling me
And though the course seems difficult
The catalog says it’s elementary.
Everything’s so simple: MIT.
MIT, MIT, you really challenged me.
Learned to pull all-nighters with increasing frequency.

And when I’m doing a problem set
And find they’re all too hard for me,
There will be an answer: MIT.
I’ll go and threaten the tool next door
And he will do them all for me.
Then I’ll have the answers: MIT.
MIT, MIT, I’m desperate as can be.
If a B’s a bit too much I’ll settle for a C.

And as I walk its corridors,
A concrete voice calls out to me:
Soon you’ll graduate from MIT.
And then you’ll find yourself pursued
By captains of industry
All because you went to MIT.
MIT, MIT, you’ll give me a degree,
‘Cause I paid tuition, so punctually.

And now that forty years have passed,
There’s something very clear to see:
We are still connected, MIT.
Though calculus has slipped my mind,
And physics is a memory,
You are here inside me, MIT.
MIT, MIT, we sing it joyfully
Gathered with our classmates, MIT.
MIT, MIT, no better bunch than we,
We are proud to be the class of nineteen seventy.


President Hockfield thanks Don Shobrys for this year's reunion giving.

President Hockfield thanks Don Shobrys for this year’s reunion gifts. Photo: Tanit Sakakini.

Technology Day, filled with talks by leading MIT thinkers and a festive luncheon to celebrate class giving, included an enormous amount of good cheer—and great giving results on June 5.

At the luncheon, Don Shobrys ’75, Annual Fund board chair, presented a giant check to Hockfield representing reunion gifts totaling $36,126,812 to date. You can watch the action as gifts and donor numbers are credited on the class giving Web site until the books close June 30.

“We are here today because we share in the belief that MIT makes the world a better place, and these gifts are one way that we can be a part of that process,” Shobrys said. “But even as we celebrate this chapter of reunion giving, a glance at the world around us tells us that there is so much more that can be done. Annual fund participation—not just this year, but every year—is the key.”

At the luncheon, President Susan Hockfield saluted the Class of 2010 for their 72 percent participation—the highest of any senior class.

Honorary memberships in the MIT Alumni Association were awarded to Hockfield and to Sara Bittenbender, co-chair of the Class of 1940 Reunion committee, a pivotal class volunteer both before and after the death of her husband some 35 years ago. Hockfield acknowledged that “It took me a little longer than most of you to become a member of the Alumni Association,” but she said that after five years, MIT feels like home.

Alumni Association President Ken Wang ’71 passed the gavel to incoming president Anne Street ’69. “Her leadership style, enthusiasm for MIT, and wide-ranging volunteer experience will make her an exceptional president of the Alumni Association,” he said.


As many of you may know, we had a little thing called Tech Reunions on campus the past four days as well as Commencement. Soon, we’ll post slide shows of all the merriment in the Alumni Association’s (you heard it here first) new media galleries. In the meantime, here is just a glimpse of alumni and students having a blast.

Seniors enjoy ice cream and snag some free boxes at the Senior Week ice cream social.

Seniors enjoy ice cream and snag some free boxes at the Senior Week ice cream social. Photo: Emily Muldoon Kathan.

Members of the 50th reunion class of 1960 yuck it up as they prepare to lead the graduates into Commencement.

Members of the 50th reunion Class of 1960 yuck it up as they prepare to lead the graduates into Commencement. Photo: Darren McCollester.

The paparazzi prepare for the 50th reunion class and the graduating students.

The paparazzi at the ready for the Commencement processional. Photo: Darren McCollester.

Isn't this what reunions are all about? Members of the 40th reunion Class of 1970 greet each other fondly at a reception and dinner with President Hockfield. Photo: Darren McCollester.

Isn’t this what reunions are all about? Members of the 40th reunion Class of 1970 greet each other fondly at a reception and dinner, held in the new Media Lab extension. Photo: Darren McCollester.

The Class of 1945 enjoys a riverboat cruise on the Charles. Photo: Heather Garcia.

The Class of 1945 enjoys a riverboat cruise on the Charles. Photo: Heather Garcia.


Photo: Justin Knight

Couldn’t get to Cambridge for commencement or Tech Reunions this year? Not to worry.

Friday, June 4, 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. EDT: Watch commencement exercises via webcast.

  • Graduates report to Johnson Athletics Center by 7:30 am
  • Doors to Killian Court open at 7:30 am
  • Entrance closed for Procession 9:45 am
  • Entrance reopened after Procession 10:15 am
  • Recession 1-1:30 pm
  • Reception on Kresge Oval immediately following the ceremony

Saturday, June 5, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. EDT: Tune in to Tech Day 2010. President Susan Hockfield will provide an Institute update, then faculty will share recent work on how the brain makes and breaks habits, energy efficiency advances, and grid level innovations in energy storage. Watch it live.


Hi everyone! Whew – it has been quite an academically busy summer for me, but I won’t bore you with those details. DSC01515Instead I thought you’d enjoy a recap of my third Fourth of July at MIT.

On the eve of Independance Day, I made cupcakes in my friend’s kitchen in Bexley. (I decided to personalize some of the cupcakes (exhibit to your right) for a BBQ we had the next day.) Artistic genius? I think yes.

I spent some of the early evening on the 4th at the Baker Alumni Reunion BBQ to fulfill my duties as a student ambassador/bakerite/ MIT student who knows she will be an alum all too soon, too!

I had originally planned to watch the fireworks from the top of DKE but at the last minute, some friends (one with a cousin on the Harvard sailing team…) coerced me into power walking DSC01543over to the Harvard Boathouse to watch the explosions from the dock. How could I say no? [On the way over, I had to instate my own policy that if a person’s blanket was on the ground, it was okay if I stepped on it. ] We made it with two minutes to spare, wobbled our way onto the dock, and took a seat just feet away from the barge itself. ———>DSC01551


What was 7/4 like when you were at MIT? Have you been back since and has it changed?





                                                                                                                             Rachel ’09, Jon ’11, and me!

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Brad Bates '59, in his father's red jacket. Photo: Justin Knight

Brad Bates ’59, in his father’s red jacket. Photo: Justin Knight

He wasn’t always easy to spot among the masses at this year’s Tech Reunions, but if you looked closely there were a few details on Brad Bates’s 50th reunion red jacket that distinguished him from the rest. For one thing, the rich cardinal color was slightly faded. There were two, not one, MIT pocket crests. And the buttons looked light and silvery instead of gold-plated. Bates’s jacket was from 1974; it had originally belonged to his father.

“It’s a link to the past, and it’s honoring my father,” Brad said several days after Tech Reunions.  “It meant a lot to me to be there at the same milestone that [my father] had gotten to at one point. It was a thrill.”

Brad’s father, Philip K. Bates ′24, PhD ′29, pursued biology and life science while at MIT, and went on to serve as president of the Club of Southern California. He was honored with a Bronze Beaver Award in 1980. The younger Bates diverged from his father academically—studying electrical engineering and computer science—but followed his father’s commitment to leadership and service to the Institute. Brad served as president of the Club of Southeast Michigan and, like his father, earned his own Bronze Beaver in 1991.

Today Brad lives in Michigan with his wife, Lydia, whose father, incidentally, is also an MIT grad.

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Class of '59

The class of ′59 gave reunion attendees a lot to smile about last week. They marched with dignity—and some humor—into Killian Court on Friday. They danced their hearts out after Saturday’s class banquet. They even rallied at Reunion Row on Sunday, coming in second in the first heat. But one alum takes the cake for his ability to awe and inspire his fellow classmates—Oliver Seikel, lawyer and cycling enthusiast, biked 794 miles from his home in Cleveland, Ohio all the way to the steps of 77 Mass. Ave.


Affectionately dubbed the “fittest of the fiftieth,” Seikel maintained a blog for the duration of his trip and his local  TV station posted a video on his adventure.

(And in case you’re wondering, yes, even a bike trip can be infused with distinctly MIT-ish charm: “The wind made it possible to build up kinetic energy on the downhill, and then convert it back to potential energy on the uphill, with some entropic loss of course,” Seikel wrote in his blog after three days of riding.)


For a taste of the 18th annual Tech Challenge Games, watch the two-minute video below. Special thanks to videographer Russell Boulais and photographer Justin Knight. ‘


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In a highly informal survey during Tech Reunions last weekend, Association Director of Communications Maggy Bruzelius asked alumni what three words they associate with MIT today. You’ll find them below.

Excellence, prestige, diversity: Wilfred Graves ’94

Opens many doors: Aarti Shukla ’94

The future, work, brains: Jim Monk ’64, SM ’71

Amazing, proud, world significant: Malcolm Green ’50, SM ’51

A great place: John Matthews ’44, SM ’47

Engineering, management, entrepreneurship: Michael Krasner ’74, SM ’75, EE ’75, PhD ’79

Energy, biology, engineering: Jean Hammond SM ’86

Making a difference, stepping stone: Bonny Kellermann ’72

Innovative, challenging, inspirational: Paula Elster ’74

Bigger, better, not cheaper; no longer battleship grey: Jon Tepper ’74, SM ’75

Impressive, encouraging, wow: Jean Mozolic ’74, SM ’76

More women, sterile, eek! (cost): Tom Howard ’74

Cleaner, brighter, cooler: Seth Powsner ’74

What three words would you use to describe MIT today?

Please click the comment button to share your words.