Cheers Erupt at Keuka College as Near-Darkness Descends During Solar Eclipse

Alumni, students, friends, faculty, and staff joined together on campus for an afternoon like none other in College history.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Keuka College Professor Emeritus Dr. Tom Carroll captured the mood on Monday while delivering an eclipse-related lecture in the College’s Norton Chapel.

“I’m not an astronomer,” he said an hour or so before the height of Monday’s eclipse. “But everybody is, in a way, because we all love to look at the stars.”

That was the case on campus as more than 80 alumni and friends of the College joined students, faculty, and staff for an afternoon of eclipse-related programs, music, and sky-watching.

For some, like Evelyn Ashfield ’83, whose Rouses Point, N.Y., home is directly in the path of totality, the chance to spend the day with former classmates … ahem, eclipsed a superior viewing experience.

“I probably would have had a better view if I had stayed home,” she said with a good-natured laugh.

She was not alone.

“There are multiple people in this group who came because they’re friends with Keuka College people and left places that are more in line for the eclipse,” added Chrisy AmEnde ’83, decked out in a custom-made sweatshirt reading, “I blacked out in Keuka Park, NY.”

Chrisy and Evelyn joined Cathy Strack-Dutton ’83 of Syracuse and other classmates for an eclipse-themed visit to their alma mater that included staying overnight in alumni housing on campus.

With classes canceled for the afternoon, students staked out spots on the lawn, playing games, listening to music, and awaiting the big event.

“You can feel the energy and excitement on campus,” said Nolan Dudley, a first-year management student. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I’m glad we have it here and didn’t have to travel.”

“I’ve been looking forward to this, and it’s a great event,” said Olivia Henry, a first-year social work major. “I love seeing all of these students on the lawn and having fun.”

Before joining friends on the lawn, Matthew Gosper, a second-year visual communication design major, attended Dr. Carroll’s informal yet informative lecture, titled “Total Solar Eclipse: Fundamentals.”

“I learned a lot more about eclipses, and that, depending on where the moon is, there are 80 different types of eclipses,” he said before turning his attention to the crowded campus lawn. “It’s pretty fun to have this opportunity to see everyone out and see the campus come alive.”

That’s just what happened a few minutes later when the campus experienced a brief period of near-total darkness: Hundreds of students, alumni, friends, and staffers burst into spontaneous applause.

“Even though we weren't able to see the eclipse,” said psychology major Melissa Cohen ’24, “it was really cool to see it get dark so quickly.”

“Keuka College is where students make memories,” said College President Amy Storey. “And today’s eclipse will no doubt be one of them.”