‘Although the vibrancy of the organization has ebbed and flowed over the past 140-year period, we remain stalwart and are currently enjoying proud strength.’

…President Dick Karslake

Happy spring, Alumni! Your Alumni Association is clocking along at a fast clip toward the 2017 Chautauqua season. There is much going on and you need to keep up with, participate in, and be proud of your organization. We have a tradition that goes back to the earliest years of Chautauqua—1878 to be exact when Chautauqua co-founder Bishop John Heyl Vincent kicked off the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle. Looking for a place to gather, the first class of 1882 built Pioneer Hall and following two classes the Octagon Building and an additional structure that was torn down to make room for the Hall of Missions. The next six classes, seeing the limits of continuing in the initial direction, banded together to build Alumni Hall.

Every single year since 1882, Class Banners, mottos, honorees, etc. have been created and classes graduated. Although the vibrancy of the organization has ebbed and flowed over the past 140-year period, we remain stalwart and are currently enjoying proud strength. This is due to the interest, leadership, and loyalty of Chautauqua Institution and many committed CLSC alumni. Current exciting thrusts of our Association include the publishing of a definitive history of the CLSC being written by Mary Lee Talbot, the full utilization of our Writing Scholarship Program for Chautauqua County High School Seniors led by the very capable Carol Collins, continuing care and maintenance of the priceless collection of historical Class Banners by the Banner Committee headed by Charlotte Crittenden, and the on-going efforts of the Executive Commitiee and Trustees to innovate changes to steadily improve the impact of the organization upon the under graduates, the alumni, the balance of the Chautauqua community, and the various locales in the United States and around the World that support their own CLSC book clubs.

The results of these efforts have given the CLSC a new level of prestige. Recognition Day has become as memorable a day as many graduates will ever experience—thanks to the efforts and dedication of the late Bob Thomas and his committee that created the new diploma, stoles, seals and patches for the four post-graduate reading levels, the current efforts of Tom Small as director of the Recognition Day Parade, the Class of 2000 that was responsible for the rebuilding of the Golden Gate arch and the maintenance of the Mosaics in the Hall of Philosophy, Nancy Eichelsdorfer and her Keepers of the Arches, the Veranda that organizes the service in Hall of Philosophy, and all the many volunteers who contribute to the success of that most active day.

Even with all the developments within the electronic world, people still love to read good books. Sherra Babcock selects them on behalf of the Institution and programs the authors for round-table discussions and book-signings—adding real depth to the club’s activities. Then the alumni take over and continue to promote and stimulate lifelong learning through book-reading. The CLSC and its books are a window to the world and there is much to see and learn. That is why the CLSC will continue to grow in size and strength.

However, our organization is people; people who believe in the CLSC and its purpose. And once graduates get involved, they tend to stay involved year after year. It gives increased purpose and satisfaction to their Chautauqua experience. And with people visiting during the summer for shorter and shorter periods, tasks have been divided into smaller, less demanding parts. Some of the commitments don’t even require being at Chautauqua. Others take an hour or two during the whole summer, but they all contribute to our mutual success. Communicate your interest in participating to Karen Conover (Nominating Committee Chairman), any Trustee or Executive Committee member, or the ladies at the front desk of Alumni Hall during the season. We can find you a spot that will fit your interests and time availability. Simply let us know; we look forward to your participation.

See you this summer,
Dick Karslake


OPENING JUNE 25, 2017 Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Sunday, 1:00-5:00pm; Closed Saturdays


  • August 18, 2017, 12:10 pm: Seven Seals Brown Bag
  • August 19, 2017, 11:30 am: Bryant Day
  • August 21, 2017, 4:00 pm: Executive Committee Meeting