Pittsburg State alumni members gathered in Pittsburg’s new downtown addition, Block22, for a Crawford Country Gorilla Gathering. The Gorilla Gathering included a dinner, an update on current PSU initiatives, and a tour of Block22.
Alumni Gorillas sported their PSU crimson and gold at the Gorilla Gathering, sponsored by the PSU Alumni & Constituent Relations Office. Tickets sold out prior to the gathering, which included a catered dinner from Calvin’s Catering. Speeches followed dinner, from PSU President Steve Scott and director of alumni & constituent relations Jon Bartlow.
“We travel all over the country, in fact all over the world, to do Gorilla Gatherings and they’re just great events where we bring alumni together to talk about what’s going on, on campus,” Scott said. “But this week we thought it’d be fun to do one in town in Block22 and really share our excitement about Block22 and what it means to the community and how it looks. You can see by the attendance we had a great turn out and people are really excited about the project.”
Following dinner, alumni in attendance had the opportunity to tour Block22, including the Foundry, Root Coffeehouse, and residential spaces.
“So as you know, Block22 recently opened, so any time we can have a Gorilla Gathering that features something new at the Pitt State campus, it’s something that’s very exciting for us,” Bartlow said. “We know that a lot of alumni don’t necessarily get a chance to have these kind of behind-the-scenes tours, so if we can make a arrangements for those sorts of things to happen it really draws our alumni out, and we completely sold out on this event tonight, so we were excited.”
Scott said the university holds Gorilla Gatherings all over the country in order to keep Pitt State alumni members connected to the university.
“The Gorilla Gatherings really are designed to create interest and enthusiasm, passion for the university because if our alumnus are informed about what’s going on they’re going to support us,” Scott said. “They support us by promoting their kids and grandkids to come to college at Pittsburg State, they support us with their private gifts, buying license plates that turns into scholarships and book scholarships. So, there’s just a lot of ways that they help us and we kind of give back through these events, share what’s going on, on campus, but really feel that level of support that always makes me ready to go to work tomorrow.”
The Alumni and Constituent Relations office organizes Gorilla Gatherings to take place in various locations so as to not leave out any alumni member, offering numerous gatherings each year.
“So we do around 70 various Gorilla Gatherings throughout the country during the course of a year,” Bartlow said. “Some of them are dinners like this was tonight, some of them are after hours events, some are family events, some are athletic events, so we really try to vary them so we can attract as many different types of alumni as we can.”
Neil Polfer, PSU alumnus, has attended previous Gorilla Gatherings but said he came to Tuesday’s gathering primarily to view Block22.
“… I had not had the opportunity to tour any of (Block22 before), but we try to come to all the local Crawford County gatherings.”
Polfer attended Pitt State from 1962 until 1967, receiving a business degree. Polfer and his wife are active Pitt State alumni, continuing their support to the college.
“… Both my wife and I have stayed in contact with (Pitt State) ever since we graduated,” Polfer said. “…(I support Pitt State) financially as well as attending all the functions I can.”
Polfer, along with many other alumni who attended, enjoyed the opportunity to view Block22 and reconnect with the university.
“I thought it was the largest (gathering), I believe, that I’ve ever been to,” Polfer said. “And I was really glad to see a large group show up. … I think everybody is excited about Block22 and the opportunity to get to come and see it and find out more about it. I think it’s very good to have it here.”
Block22 was packed Tuesday night with crimson and gold as alumni members represented Pittsburg State, filling the room to maximum capacity. The Gorilla Gathering was sold out prior to the day of the gathering, because of this more Gorilla Gatherings are scheduled in April hosted at Block22.
“There’s going to be at least three more events in April going on here in Block22 for kind of our surrounding areas,” Bartlow said. “This one was specifically for Crawford County, the others aren’t specifically for Crawford County but any Crawford County folks who didn’t make it to this are welcome to come along as well. It’ll be the same format.”
Scott said he enjoys Gorilla Gatherings as a way to connect with alumni members share stories about Pittsburg State.
“I think these events are important because our goal was to get our alumni excited about what is going on at Pittsburg State University, so we talk about the past, we talk about current events, we talk about the future, so this allows them to see how the university has evolved and that we’re still healthy and there’s new and exciting things going on,” Bartlow said. “So it’s always good to get folks back to campus and talk about what’s going on.”