Town & Gown came back strong for 2021-2022 after long months through the pandemic. The previous year, virtual activities and events included picking up ingredients and making food ourselves (and then enjoying it together via Zoom or Webex), holding meetings on Zoom, and providing support to our Town & Gown Scholars as well as supporting U of R faculty with Community Service Learning Grants – this was the norm during the months of 2020 and the first part of 2021. The Town & Gown Board of Directors and Town & Gown members as a whole were enthusiastic about finally getting back to “normal” with in-person activities and events for 2021-2022.
Our Town & Gown year began with a WELCOME BACK RECEPTION in late June 2021 on the Talbert Patio. This first event was well-attended, and people were thrilled to finally be back together in person. A couple of our Scholars and their families attended as well – a great chance for us to meet them! People were able to join Town & Gown that night and our membership drive began in earnest!
The annual University of Redlands TOWN & GOWN NIGHT AT THE REDLANDS BOWL was a success – our reception in the Talbert Courtyard was well attended due to the “draw” of meeting our new U of R President and her husband! Krista Newkirk and Lew Glenn have been a wonderful addition to the U of R family, and we were very fortunate to be able to introduce them to the community in July 2021.
MEMBERSHIP in Town & Gown slowly increased over 2021-2022 thanks to Steve Garcia and his committee’s hard work and constant positive encouragement. We didn’t quite meet our goal of 300 members, but by the end of our year we were so close (291!!).
Janey Cole and her committee planned a wonderful SCHOLAR RECEPTION in November to recognize our Scholars and meet their families. Each Scholar was introduced, and families had a chance to meet the Town & Gown Board over some fabulous appetizers from Harvest Table! Janey also worked hard all year to have SCHOLARS attend our Board meetings – it was so nice to be able to meet them and to hear about their work at the University and their volunteer work at the U of R and in their communities. Some of our Scholars also attended various Town & Gown events, and it was helpful to have them participate as Town & Gown “Scholar Ambassadors.”
Julie Byers, Laura Gallardo, and Janey worked hard to bring new life to our COMMUNITY SERVICE LEARNING GRANTS and to make the application process easier for faculty. Partnering with the Community Service Learning Department at the University, Town & Gown was able to offer six $1,000 grants to support U of R faculty with programs and classes to benefit the community.
James Benanti and the Events Committee continued to be the lifeline for Town & Gown members again this year! James worked hard during the pandemic to plan events for Town & Gown members, but then “hit the ground running” in the summer of 2021 to plan our many activities and events for 2021-2022. Our annual BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU (hosted by Robert & Cheri Dawes) is always a favorite and this November’s event was no exception. Then in December, the MOVEABLE FEAST dinner in the Casa Loma Room was beautiful, followed by reserved seating for the Feast of Lights (outside the chapel this year due to COVID concerns…a little cold, but as wonderful and meaningful as always).
January and February brought another surge in COVID cases, so our annual VINTNER DINNER was moved from February 14th to May 21st. But the SNEAK PEEK AT THE SUPER BOWL, led by Head Football Coach Jim Good and the U of R Football Staff, went on as planned in a virtual format, educating, and informing Town & Gown members about what to watch for during the Super Bowl (besides the commercials! ).
February also brought the INAUGURATION of our 12th President of the U of R, Krista Newkirk. We are so fortunate that Krista (and her husband, Town & Gown Board Member Lew Glenn) chose to come to the University of Redlands. Krista’s inauguration was a spectacular event, and many Town & Gown members were lucky to attend the numerous events celebrating Krista and this new beginning for the University!
Spring brought our annual AWARDS OF DISTINCTION DINNER…finally, after two years of postponing this event! Led by Emcee Nathan Gonzales, the evening was a wonderful celebration of seven leaders in our community. We also had our very first event at the Santa Anita Racetrack in the spring, the U of R TOWN & GOWN DAY AT THE RACES, thanks to Board member Rebecca Weir! This was an informative, well-attended event for Town & Gown and there have been lots of requests for this to become an annual event!
COMMENCEMENT arrived in late April and Town & Gown members volunteered to work at the annual Town & Gown booth during graduations that weekend, selling snacks, water, and coffee to commencement attendees. A huge thank you to Dawn Romo and Jeena Epperson who took charge of coordinating our Town & Gown booth. We made a profit this year! Hooray!
Finally, our final event for the year, the ALUMNI VINTNER DINNER was a great success! Thanks to the creativity and leadership of Vice President for Events, James Benanti, the selected wines were excellent, and the food paired with each wine was equally excellent! Teaming the Harvest Table Head Chef Robert Sevaly (speaking about the various courses served) with James (providing details about the wine and the wine makers) provided a wonderful program for attendees.
Our Town & Gown ENDOWMENT slightly increased during 2021-2022. The market was not necessarily our friend this year, but we did add over $24,000 to our Endowment and ended the third quarter with a balance of $1,383,548 (as of March 31, 2022). Both our Financial Secretary, Mike Reynolds, and our Vice President for Membership & Fundraising, Steve Garcia, did a great job of keeping us informed and aware of our financial progress, in order to provide scholarships to eligible Inland Empire students and to support our Town & Gown mission.
This year has been the best ever…with a dedicated, active, and enthusiastic Board of Directors, Town & Gown moved forward despite the challenges of emerging from a pandemic and the “new normal” of living with protocols in place to keep people healthy and safe. The Board met every month, either in person or on Zoom, and provided a variety of events and activities for Town & Gown members. Board meetings were always well-attended, and the Board continued to be actively engaged in the mission of Town & Gown. I’m especially grateful to Julie Byers for all of her record keeping…to Mike Reynolds for providing the financial information each month….and to Chris Walker for his guidance and for being my mentor these past two years.
As our year comes to a close and we look ahead…new Scholars have been selected for the 2022-2023 school year…faculty members have applied for and been granted community service learning grants…new Board of Directors’ Officers have been chosen and elected…and six new Board members were sought from both the “Town” and the “Gown” and invited to join the Board of Directors beginning July 2022.
A special thank you to Shelli Stockton, organizer extraordinaire and the biggest cheerleader Town & Gown could possibly have….and to Jeena Epperson who quickly became our “go to” person for all things Town & Gown and has put her “all” into everything we do! I’m grateful to you both, along with other University staff who supported us (especially Alison, Tracy, and Mary).
I think we have much to be grateful for in this past year….good health (with gratitude for vaccines!), fun activities, good friends, and a committed Board doing a great job of working together for our community, for the University and in order to further the mission of Town & Gown.
Many thanks to each one of you!
Marcia W. Fagan
Town & Gown Board of Directors
Your membership strengthens the community.