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Cougar Tales: Director's Cut (January 2015) 

Party Like It's 1999, or 1989, or 1979, or 2009 

One of the College of Charleston’s most enduring traditions is the Annual Business Meeting of the Alumni Association followed by the Annual Alumni Reception, the latter known today as A Charleston Affair.  For well over a century A Charleston Affair has welcomed each graduating class to the ranks of the alumni – in most years occurring only days before their testimonial walk across the Cistern.

Likewise, A Charleston Affair has always represented an occasion for all alumni to return to campus to remain informed, stay engaged and to learn about ways to give back to our alma mater.  Some universities call their formative weekend “Alumni Weekend”; and indeed you will see this language used by the College’s Alumni Association to describe the breadth of engagement opportunities now bolted on to the popularity of A Charleston Affair.

However, A Charleston Affair is unlike anything we know of at other universities.  The gravitational pull is immense.  Over 46% of our 5,000+ alumni attendees travel from outside the state of S.C.  More than a few travel from Europe and the Far East.  Jillian Irizarry ’06, a software executive in New York City, describes it as “a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with peers who share the educational and cultural threads of the CofC experience. New York is a great adventure for me, but I miss the warmth of the city of Charleston and the people associated with the College - this event is irreplaceable.”

Today, A Charleston Affair is so widely attended by CofC classmates that alumni plan their weddings AWAY from the dates of A Charleston Affair to avoid losing bridesmaids and groomsmen.  We have met groups of fraternity brothers and sorority sisters who have committed to reunion at A Charleston Affair every single year.  A Charleston Affair has grown so much we now hold DUPLICATE A Charleston Affairs on back-to-back evenings! Mitchell Crosby ’86, one of Charleston’s premier event planners, has certified, “A Charleston Affair is now the single largest ticketed cocktail party in Charleston in any given year”. 

Now honestly, if you haven’t attended A Charleston Affair in the last decade, this hype probably makes no sense to you.  For you, it’s like my wife describing childbirth to me.  I hear it.  I think I get it.  But until I experience it firsthand, I can’t fully appreciate it.

Attorney Randell Stoney ’74 promises that “Anytime an alumnus wishes to relive the excitement, joy and optimism of his or her College experience, they need only to attend A Charleston Affair for renewal.  It’s an invigorating experience”.

Take a look at some pictures from last year's event.  Pretty special don’t you think?  If you want to learn more about this year’s event, go to the A Charleston Affair website.  I hope you like it.  It just launched today. 

Tanisia Charles ’07, a recruiting coordinator in Atlanta, sums it up this way.  “To me, A Charleston Affair isn't just a party with tasty beverages, amazing food and a great band. It's a chance to reconnect with the College and see how it continues to grow.  It's a time to reminisce with old friends and make new lasting connections. Most importantly, it's an opportunity to go back ‘home’ and remember why I'm so proud to be a Cougar.”

See you in May.

Jack Huguley '72 
Director of Alumni Relations
College of Charleston
huguleyj@cofc.edu