1998 Fall ’23 Class Letter

Dear Class of ’98,

It was fantastic to see so many of you at our 25th Reunion this summer! I had a great time – though I did question my decision to stay in Bovay in the summer heat. The experience was… authentic. It had a great view of stadium construction on Lower Sadoff, though. The contrast of old and new really plucked my nostalgia strings. That, and Professor Hatcher’s retirement reception in West Hall. I spoke to students from recent classes about how much he influenced them, and it echoed my own experience, despite our classes being 20 years apart.

Another favorite was the class march and the State of the College address by President Folse (only partly because of ’98s unspoken but universal decision to peel away from the march and find seats in the shade instead, like cool kids beelining for the back of the bus).

I had the opportunity to hear President Folse speak previously, when Eric Tammes and I came up for her inauguration. At the time, I felt certain that the College’s future was in good hands, and that feeling was reinforced further during Alumni Weekend.

You may have heard about the Forever Ripon campaign – the largest philanthropic and engagement initiative in Ripon’s history. The goal of this $75 million campaign is to improve access and impact, and focuses on three funding priorities: endowment growth, facility enhancement, and the Ripon Fund. You can read more about it at ripon.edu/forever-ripon. I’m planning to give what I can, and encourage you to do the same.

I’ve saved the class updates for the end. There’s a sad one this time – I’m sorry to have to share that CHAD BUTTERFIELD ’98 from Buckeye, Arizona, passed away on May 18, 2023. If you have memories that you’d like to share in the next letter, please send them along.

KRISTIN DODDS ’98 is deployed again and the Senior Vice Commander for her VFV Post, so still organizing events with them.

SARAH ENG ’98 is about to celebrate her first anniversary of working at FundApps, and is still delighted to be there. She recently used a meeting technique that she learned at Ripon with her new team. (Any other Scott Hall RAs remember “peaks and valleys” with Clarke?)

SHANNON MCKINNEY-FREEMAN ’98 continues to direct a research lab focused on Hematopoietic Stem Cell (HSC) Biology in the Department of Hematology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In April, she was awarded a new R01 grant from the NHLBI to study the effects of sickle cell disease on HSC function. This work has direct relevance to improving the safety of gene therapies for sickle cell disease. She was also promoted to Full Member (Full Professor-equivalent) at St. Jude in 2022. She continues to serve on the Executive Committee of the International Society for Experimental Hematology, where in 2024 she will serve as President. This Fall, she will submit a T32 training proposal to the NIH to fund a training program for postdoctoral fellows at St. Jude in benign pediatric Hematology. She is looking forward to visiting Ripon College again in October, where she will present a seminar and meet with students. While visiting, her daughter Mary, a High School senior, will enjoy a campus tour. Thus, Shannon is doing her part to encourage the next generation to consider Ripon College for their undergraduate studies.

LYNNE PHILLIPS ’98 writes, “It was great seeing many of you at Alumni Weekend! 25 years… Well, after all that time, I finally got my dream job. In April, I became the Curator of Hearthstone Historic House in Appleton, the first house in the world lit by a central hydroelectric plant. I spend my days researching, writing, working with interns (from Lawrence, but I like them anyway), and caring for the collections. I wandered the US for 22 years, but I’m back in my hometown and loving every minute! If you’re ever in Northeast WI, stop by and I’ll give you a tour!”

Thanks for reading, and keep the updates coming!

Sarah ’98