MBA alumni were welcomed back to Athens April 18-19 for a Reunion Weekend that added a fresh twist to the annual spring gathering. Graduation classes that were marking a special anniversary gathered with their classmates for a night (or two) on the town at a favorite old hangout or dinner destination.
The Office of Development and Alumni Relations helped the anniversary classes — from 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2003 — spread the word and get organized for their respective reunions.
The college's other MBA programs — the Evening MBA, the Executive MBA, and the customized program for IBM consultants (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers) — also organized program get-togethers open to all alumni at various locations around Athens. All three of those programs have had fewer than 10 graduating classes.
Leading up to all the class gatherings on Saturday night, the Alumni Relations staff and the Terry MBA program pulled together a full slate of other reunion activities, capped by the longstanding tradition of the MBA Charity Golf Tournament hosted by the Graduate Business Association.
Gwen Bauer Erhardt (MBA '98) co-chaired the 10-year reunion of the Class of '98 with Michael Ghioto (BBA '91, MBA '98) and Lara Perdue Ghioto (BBA '97, MBA '98). The Class of '98 gathered Saturday evening at the Porterhouse Grill for dinner and drinks and laughed at a barely-audible video of the MBA Follies show, which was a new idea in 1998 that has since become a rite of passage for each subsequent graduating class.
Erhardt said, no matter the distance, alumni like her and her classmates never regret making the effort to come back to Athens. "People just want to get back and experience the atmosphere again," she said. "There were a lot of us who went to our favorite hangouts, whether it was eating at The Grill or going out to the Globe."
Erhardt, who is vice president of investments for IDI, a developer of industrial real estate in Atlanta, didn't have nearly as far to travel as many of her classmates. Vitolds Jakovlevs (MBA '98) came to the reunion from Jurmala, Latvia, on his way to a professional conference in San Francisco.
Karen Leblang Hutcheson (BBA '00, MBA '03) co-chaired the 5-year reunion of the Class of '03 with fellow Nashvillian Doug Ghertner (MBA '03). Hutcheson has two younger brothers who followed her to UGA, so she has more built-in excuses to visit Athens and enjoys the R&R away from her account management career at Philip Morris USA. "Being in Athens makes you slow down," she said. "Life's a little less hectic."
But Hutcheson made sure the reunion weekend was kept busy with a long, casual dinner upstairs in a private room at the East West Bistro on Saturday, preceded by a smaller outing to one of her classmates' favored Athens nightspots, the Village Idiot, on Friday night.
Like Erhardt, Hutcheson was pleasantly surprised at the distance some of her classmates traveled to come to the reunion. Markus Seibold flew in from Munich, Germany, and Rui Guedes came from Lisbon, Portugal.
Terry College Alumni Relations Director Jill Walton said the college will continue to focus the reunion program on anniversary classes and will continue testing the mix of scheduled and informal reunion activities in hopes of striking the right balance of catching up with old friends and familiar places.