The World Council of Alumni Convenes With New Optimism

On March 3, 2021, the International House World Council of Alumni (WCA) held a virtual meeting to hear updates from the House and to begin plans for marking the House’s 100th anniversary in 2024. This was the first time the WCA had met virtually instead of bringing together its members from around the world to meet in person.

More than 60 Council members and guests participated in the Zoom meeting, representing Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Kenya, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. Participation was multi-generational as well, with alumni from a span of decades taking part, including Tudy McLaine ’56 from Canada and Arne Grob ’17 from Germany.

“The fact that so many are participating today is a good indication of how much we all care about I-House, and want to help it succeed as we approach the Centenary in 2024,” said WCA Co-Chair Klaus Moessle ’85 in his welcome.

“The alumni community is the heart and soul of what I-House is all about,” said Co-Chair Patricia Hamzahee ’83, who sought support from Council members in their various regions for I-House centenary celebrations. Part of the meeting was devoted to break-out groups in which members shared ideas for celebrating the historic milestone, and thoughts on how best to galvanize the global alumni community.

Co-Chair Ross Youngman ’91 acknowledged Peter M. O’Neill ’92 and other fellow board members among the participants, and struck a hopeful note following a year of the pandemic.

“The House has gotten through this difficult period not without some pain, but with vaccines now available there is a new optimism,” said Youngman. “As we seek a new president, [Interim President] Brian Polovoy is doing a wonderful job, and it’s an exciting period for the House as we look to re-open post-COVID.”

President Polovoy described life at the House in 2021, and the socially distanced and virtual programming offered to the members of the community residing in I-House North this year. He thanked Council members for the virtual meetings held by the Freunde, FIHUK and NYAAC groups, the year-end pub party, and the recent Lunar New Year event.

Admissions Director Megan Amouzou shared statistics on resident representation and reported that 117 residents representing 30 countries have lived in the House since the start of the Fall semester. This was achieved in spite of recruitment challenges ranging from a diminished applicant pool to the soft rental market in New York City.

Tom Carley, Interim Head of Development, Alumni Relations & Communications, described fund-raising efforts, and thanked Council members and other alumni for their response to December’s Giving Tuesday match from Polovoy, which resulted in $16,000 from 79 donors, and to the anonymous Trustee match which netted $43,000 from 285 donors, including 20 first-time givers.

Lead Archivist Caroline Donadio discussed progress made in the International House Archives, and described the critical role the Archives will play as the 100th anniversary of the House’s opening approaches.

As the meeting drew to a close, Moessle proposed a new member for election to the World Council. Citing her long association with the Council and participation in its meetings, and the fact that she lived in I-House longer than any other alumni, he proposed that Bonnie Cuneo, the wife of the late I-House President Don Cuneo, be elected an Honorary Member, by acclamation. The proposal was unanimously passed.

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