Physicians Alumni Weekend Becomes ‘Zoom Reunion’

virtual Physicians Alumni Weekend celebration

Travel concerns and safe gathering guidelines required the School of Medicine to go virtual to celebrate Physicians Alumni Weekend this fall.

The annual two-day celebration was condensed into one evening on Oct. 16. The event included a State of the Medical School address by Dean Steven Zweig, MD ’79, and an update from Richard Barohn, MD, executive vice chancellor for health affairs. Alumni president Mary Faller, MD ’98, moderated the program. Classes then held individual “Zoom Reunions.”

“While our physician alumni were disappointed about not having an in-person event, those who participated in the virtual program not only enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with classmates but also want to connect virtually on a more frequent basis,” said Melanie Barger, the School of Medicine’s alumni affairs director.

The virtual class reunions provided a fun format for physician alumni to share family and career updates, reminisce about their medical school days and toast their anniversary. Participation ranged from a few classmates to 20 per class, with some classes chatting for an hour and a half.

The virtual program also engaged physician alumni and former faculty who said they would not have traveled for an in-person event, such as John Van Peenen, MD ’70, who resides in Oregon. He surprised former classmates by joining their 50th reunion virtually.  

“As we continue to navigate alumni event planning moving forward, a return to in-person events may continue to include some virtual programming,” Barger said. “But, being able to give someone a hug is still the preferred way to celebrate reunions together, and we’ll look for the safest ways to be able to do that in the future.”