William & Mary’s Geology Department turned 50 years old in 2011. We celebrated the half a hundred mark with a weekend wingding on campus and in the field. Nearly one hundred alums were in attendance and by my reckoning a good time was had by all.
Founded in 1961, the Geology department has graduated nearly 800 majors. The feté brought together many of these alums from across the decades, current students, departmental friends, emeriti faculty, and present-day faculty. The crowd arrived in the department on Friday night for a voluble reception.
On Saturday morning we rolled westward to the Falls of the James in Richmond for a field trip dedicated to former Professor Bruce Goodwin, who introduced legions of W&M students to this exceptional exposure of granite and its erosive fluvial features. We remembered Bruce and then cast our eyes towards the rock and riverbed to understand the geologic history of the Fall Zone. The banter on the outcrop was rich.
Back on campus that evening, participants exchanged their fleeces and boots for more upscale fashion at the banquet. As department chair the master of ceremony duties fell to me. I recounted a departmental history (although, I must admit, strict historical accuracy was tossed under the bus). Other speakers recollected past adventures and made a strong case for why the department has been a vibrant community for 50 years.
For me the weekend will be among the most memorable and satisfying I’ve had in my fifteen years at the College. To see so many students, former faculty, and friends was special. We won’t wait another 50 years for another celebration!