Despite the cold rain and dampness that plagued this past weekend, families still gathered to make merry during Union’s Homecoming and Family Weekend. According to UConnect’s online attendee list, nearly 1,700 guests flocked to Union’s campus to enjoy the festivities.
After registering and checking in at the booths in Reamer Campus Center Atrium, families, alumni and students were invited to visit a class from an approved list of open classes all day long on Friday, October 21.
In the late afternoon on Friday, the weekend kicked off with the President’s Welcome Reception at 4:00 p.m. in the Nott Memorial. After listening to musical pieces from both the Dutch Pipers and the Garnet Minstrels, Terri Cerveny, Vice President for College Relations, welcomed John E. Kelly III ’76, chairman of the Board of Trustees and IBM executive, to speak at the podium.
Kelly, who has been on the Board of Trustees since 2003 and was only appointed chairman in 2015, spoke of the search for Union’s new president back in 2006. He mentioned that the winner of that search, President Ainlay, has made an impressive contribution to Union and, as a result, his contract was extended this year.
President Stephen C. Ainlay spoke just after Kelly and described some of the achievements of his tenure here at Union. He encouraged Homecoming guests to walk around campus and visit both the new buildings and with the students of the campus. He prompted the audience to ask questions about students’ research and about students’ studies. Only by talking to students can one get a true sense of Union, emphasized Ainlay, because, as the signposts around Union used to declare, “You are Union.”
He urged parents, alumni and visitors to discover students’ passions, to discover “what lights them up.”
With that, Ainlay closed his message to campus and invited everyone to enjoy the weekend.
Other highlights from Friday included Golub House’s Oktoberfest, Chemistry Club’s Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Social and a Pumpkin Carving Competition.
The social held by the Chemistry Club is an annual event that is always well-attended. Made up of mostly chemistry and biochemistry majors, the club mixed half-and-half, heavy cream, sugar and flavoring together to create the ice cream’s basis, and then froze it instantly with liquid nitrogen, which is at a temperature of -321 degrees Fahrenheit. The liquid nitrogen was graciously supplied by the Chemistry Department; indeed, many faculty members and alumni also attended the event.
According to Jake Ulrich ’17, president of Chemistry and Biochemistry Club, this event “allows the students, their families and the faculty to all mingle in a more relaxed setting than in the classroom or professors’ offices. I think it’s an event that really embodies how the faculty-student relationships here at Union are really unique.”
Sharing the patio with the Chemistry Club was the Pumpkin Carving Competition, which was also well attended. The winner of the competition was announced at the halftime of the football game.
On Saturday Union came alive with a multitude of events. In the morning College Park Hall hosted a First-Year Family Breakfast Reception for first-year families to get to know each other. Also in the morning students presented their research at a poster session in College Park Hall, with projects from mapping the pheromones of flies to testing the air quality at Union.
Other events included tours of historic Union, family portraits at Abbe Hall, a sing-along with the Union College Choir and presentations from International Programs. Regrettably, because of the weather, both the Dutchman Dash and the campus hay rides had to be cancelled. Several open houses were also held to introduce visitors to aspects of Union life. Rathskellar, Greek life and the Feigenbaum Center for the Visual Arts all opened their doors and invited students, families and alumni to come and explore campus life.Later in the day the annual Dean’s List Reception took place in the Nott Memorial, where students who have achieved the Dean’s List commendation are invited for the unveiling of the Dean’s List plaque and to pick up their commemorative pin. To be named to the Dean’s List, students must maintain a GPA of 3.50, carry a full course load, and avoid incurring grades of “D,” “WF” and “F.”
Dean of Studies Mark E. Wunderlich spoke to the gathered faculty, students and families during the reception. He read comments from faculty about Dean’s List students, and generally spoke about the quality of a Union education. He mentioned that while some schools try for a V-shaped education, Union has “U-shaped students” that have both depth and breadth.Sunday, the day to bid families goodbye, was not without its share of events. Both Hillel and Upperclass Dining Hall welcomed families for brunch, and Memorial Chapel hosted a Catholic Mass.
In addition, Henry and Sally Schaffer Professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies Stephen M. Berk gave a talk in the Nott Memorial entitled, “Election 2016: Clinton, Trump, The American Jewish Community, and Israel.” As Sunday came to a close, families bid their students goodbye and alumni vowed to catch up with each other next year. Next year’s Homecoming and Family Weekend is already set for October 27-29, 2017.