As associate director for Reunions, Mibs Southerland Mara is an authority on the Universityâs signature event. Coordinating University staff and alumni volunteers, she often begins working with major-reunion classes two years before their celebrations. Mara grew up within walking distance of campus and worked in secondary-school administration before joining the Office of Alumni Affairs in 2005 â making this her 10th Reunions.
You are kâ26. Did you go to Reunions as a child?
My grandfather was Class of 1926, and growing up in Princeton, I always looked forward to Reunions, especially the P-rade. One of my favorite photos (below) is from 1966, when my grandfather carried me in the P-rade. Seeing the Clydesdale horses clomp down Prospect Street was always a highlight.
How has Reunions changed in the past 10 years?
I started working in the Office of Alumni Affairs in 2005, and Reunions have definitely changed since. There has been significant growth in attendance and events for Reunions weekend. We are always trying to enhance the Reunions experience â from adding water stations and portable restrooms along the P-rade route to adding food trucks on campus last year. We rolled out Reunions Mobile in 2009, and last year we introduced Reunions Rover â a student-driven golf-cart service for people with mobility issues. And there is the Battle of the Bands Friday afternoon.
[caption id="attachment_11148" align="alignright" width="320"] Mara is carried by her grandfather Orvel Sebring â26 while her sister Margaret marches with Adolph Schmidt â26 in the 1966 P-rade. (Courtesy Mibs Southerland Mara)[/caption]
Whatâs your favorite part of Reunions and why?
Mostly, I enjoy seeing the hard work of volunteers come to fruition.
Whatâs one thing about Reunions that would surprise attendees?
That the number of children at the 20th and 25th usually outnumbers the classmates!
How many hours of sleep do you get over Reunions weekend?
The hours are long, but you tend to run on adrenaline and collapse when itâs over.
Do you ever dream about Reunions?
Yes! I do keep a notepad by my bed as Reunions approaches in case I wake up in the middle of the night and think of things that need to get done.
You are an honorary member of several classes. Which class do you march with in the P-rade?
I am a proud member of nine wonderful classes. Iâm actually all over the place during the P-rade so I do not march. At the start, I help the 25th class officers and the Band launch from the top of Elm Drive as they march toward FitzRandolph Gate to lead everyone. And I usually bring up the rear of the P-rade. Interview conducted and condensed by Fran Hulette.
This interview was published in the 2015 PAW Reunions Guide, available on campus this weekend.