The University of Sussex wrapped up its ’60 years of Sussex’ celebrations by hosting an alumni reunion weekend on campus. From the 2nd to the 4th of September, alumni from around the world were reunited to partake in a weekend filled with activities ranging from debates and talks to an interfaith service of thanksgiving.
The academic year of 2021- 2022 marked 60 years since the university hosted its first batch of 52 students after acquiring its Royal Charter. To mark its diamond jubilee, the university organised multiple events online and in person throughout the year. The celebration kicked off with the plantation of 60 trees and was followed by the Better World 60th Anniversary Event which focused on the university’s aims regarding improved sustainability. Succeeded by an event celebrating Black alumni, an event in the House of Lords and summer graduation for alumni who missed out on their in-person graduation due to COVID-19, the festivities officially drew to a close after the alumni reunion weekend.
Alumni had the option to pre-book accommodation on campus. If pre-booked, they were allocated rooms at Sussex’s newest student accommodation, East Slope’s Amberly, for one night. Alumnus Jamie Bond who studied International Development at Sussex from 2014 to 2018, says “It was lovely to hear of attendees reminiscing about their time at the University, in particular, how they used to use the Students’ Union venues back in their day. Talks of how ‘The Crypt’ and ‘The Hothouse’ were the highlights of their week and seeing how that space has now been transformed into Room 76, predominantly a cafe. It was a really nice event organised by the Alumni office at the University, and really great to be a part of it.
Alumni were also able to examine the ‘Sussex in 60 objects’ exhibition. The carefully crafted exhibition displays ceremonial silverware, architectural masterpieces and art that reflects Sussex’s ethos, history and vibrancy. Speaking about the reunion during the drinks reception, Sussex’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Sasha Roseneil said: “Sussex was one of seven new universities built after the Second World War, and seized the opportunity to develop radical new interdisciplinary approaches to higher education. Since then, the University has come to be globally recognised for its innovative and impactful research and teaching. While the higher education landscape has changed enormously over the past six decades, I believe that Sussex has, more than most, stayed true to its roots: authentic, courageous, sometimes outrageous…no one would disagree that it has a very distinctive character. The reunion weekend was a fantastic way to end our 60th celebrations and hear more about what has made Sussex so special to so many.”
Alumni reunions also took place in various locations throughout the world, including the United States, Nigeria, France, Italy and China. Redbond iterates to current students that while studies are important, so are making friends and building a support network whilst at university.
Student Ambassador Juhi Parmar who helped organise the Alumni Reunion weekend says, “It was so nice to see alumni of all ages walk through campus again. Despite all these years, they did not need help being shown around because they all still remembered where everything was located. Some even flew in from the US for the reunion, it was great.”