Class of 1974 Celebrates Milestone 50th Reunion

Members of the Class of 1974 with President Richard J. Helldobler (center) at the reunion luncheon on May 23

Alumni from the Class of 1974 celebrated a very special milestone in May 2024: the 50th anniversary of their graduation from what was then The William Paterson College of New Jersey.

Charles Hawthorne and Steve Brown carry the Class of 1974 banner

Charles Hawthorne and Steve Brown carry the Class of 1974 banner in the processional at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on May 22.

The celebrations began on May 22, when members of the Class of 1974 had an opportunity to participate in the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony at Prudential Center in Newark. Those in attendance joined in the academic procession, following the new graduates into the arena; they also received special recognition from President Richard J. Helldobler during the ceremony.

The following day, May 23, members of the class returned to campus for a 50th Reunion Luncheon, where they were able to reconnect with classmates, reminisce with friends, and reflect on their experience at William Paterson. President Helldobler, Provost Joshua Powers, and members of academic leadership and the Institutional Advancement team also joined the celebration. After lunch, attendees had the opportunity to take a shuttle tour of campus and witness the many exciting changes that have occurred since their time as at William Paterson.

Nursing alumni

Nursing alumni (from left) Gail Okoniewski, Elizabeth (Daleo) Graves, Jan (Kopf) Sigall, Janet (McKenna) Den Herder, and Maura Del Re reunite at the luncheon.

Jan (Kopf) Sigall ’74 and Steve Brown ’74  served as 50th Reunion Ambassadors. In this leadership role, they spread the word about the reunion activities to classmates, encouraged members of the class to support the Class of 1973-74 Endowed Scholarship, and shared remarks during the Reunion Luncheon.

"William Paterson has played such an important part in my life and it was exciting to attend the 1974 Reunion Luncheon, meeting with former classmates that I hadn't talked to in almost 50 years and hear their stories that started with graduation in 1974—and everyone has a story to tell!” said Sigall. “We all had gone in different directions after graduation and returned to the Reunion Luncheon to celebrate us. To celebrate where our lives had gone because of being at William Paterson and to celebrate the changes to William Paterson because of us being there!” 

“It was nice to re-connect, reflect and re-new our friendships,” she continued, “and I hope that other graduates from the Class of 1974, those that were unable to attend, will find the time to reach out to some of their former classmates.”

Leonard Domino, Steve Brown, and Gerald (Gerry) Gallagher

Leonard Domino, Steve Brown, and Gerald (Gerry) Gallagher at the reunion luncheon.

For Brown, the Class of 1974 reunion “was  a core memory from the best four years of my life,” he said. “The connections made here built a foundation of my present day principles. I value the time shared and look ahead for more great memories. It was an honor to participate in the Commencement Ceremony. I felt like a new graduate all over again!”

Members of the class generously raised funds for the Class of 1973-74 Endowed Scholarship in honor of their milestone reunion. During the luncheon, Pamela Ferguson, vice president for institutional advancement, thanked those who support William Paterson and extended a special recognition to participants who are members of the WP’s Heritage Society, which recognizes and celebrates loyal donors who have given to the University for 20 or more years, no matter the giving level.