Alumni Reunion and Family Weekend combine for the first time

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Linda Smith, News Editor

The University of Dallas Alumni Reunion and Family Weekend both occurred this past weekend, sharing the same date for the first time.

Friday kicked off the dual event, allowing parents and alumni to visit classrooms, Haggar and the Mall throughout the morning. Sophomore Amy Sullivan took her mother Caroline and sister Elizabeth to her French, politics and medieval spirituality classes, where they were impressed by the students and professors alike.

UD alumni and families gathered together to enjoy Alumni and Family Weekend. Due to an expectation of rain, events were moved indoors.

“[I was surprised by] how engaged and attentive all the students were,” Caroline Sullivan said. “In politics [with Dr. Natalie Culp], everyone was paying attention and the professor was encouraging discussion. [Also, I] was impressed because it was at nine in the morning!” Elizabeth also enjoyed the class, and told Amy afterward, “Everyone in Congress would learn a thing or two from Dr. Culp.”

The afternoon provided several opportunities for discussion among current students, alumni and family with a Philosophy Colloquium directed by Dr. Kathryn Rombs, a lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls given by Drs. Mark Goodwin and Andrew Glicksman, and a film and lecture event presented by Invisible Children.

After a faculty reception for alumni and families and a barbecue dinner on the mall, visitors had the chance to see the student talent show, “Taste of Talent and Treasure,” before either stargazing under the guidance of Dr. Richard Olenick or enjoying the Bruce Evans Band while answering trivia and playing games.

“I particularly enjoyed the Faculty Reception for Alumni and Parents,” said National Alumni Board President Mary Ritter, ’85. “It was a great opportunity to visit with friends and faculty, and to meet the parents of future alumni.”

Saturday’s activities began with a few options to fill the 9 a.m. slot: an official welcome from

Thomas Keefe, a nature walk with Dr. Marcy Brown-Marsden, and several tours of new campus features, such as the DART station, Art Village, New Residence Hall and several classrooms and labs. Senior Justin Samorajski presented his senior research project: a 3-D printer he developed in conjunction with the physics department.

“I really enjoyed being given the opportunity to present my research to the alumni and parents of UD,” Samorajski said. “The weeks leading up to the presentation, I worked very hard on the project in order to have it ready for public display. The presentation deadline did help me accelerate progress. We had a lot of families show up to the presentation and there was a lot of interest in this rather new technology.”

An alumni Mass and vow renewal honored the Feast of the Archangels and recognized couples who met at UD. The afternoon was filled by tours of the UD Archives, a trip to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a kids’ theater, a symposium of several discussion panels, and the alumni versus students rugby game.

While Sunday marked the end of Alumni and Family Weekend, it kicked off Charity Week with Family Day. A bracelet booth and a bubble station were set up, and attendees could participate in face painting, a bean bag toss or many other fun activities.

In the traditional Family Weekend Alumni Game last Saturday, the alumni team powered through the Groundhogs on the rugby pitch. The alumni were able to overcome the conditions to take a 20-10 win on the wet and muddy pitch. This match was much closer than in years past, which have featured alumni wins of more than 30 points. With only two wins in the last 30 matches against the alumni, the current Groundhogs are encouraged by this relatively close loss and look forward to a strong season.

“[Family Day] really encompasses the family atmosphere of UD,” said junior Chandler Johnson, Charity Week co-chair. “It’s all about spending time together and enjoying the company of your fellow alumni and friends and family. It’s all about coming together for a singular cause, but enjoying yourselves thoroughly while doing it!”

To describe the goal of Alumni Weekend, Alumni Relations Officer Joseph Howe drew upon the 1981 graduation address of Bridget Wagner, this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award winner, utilizing her image of the typical UD mesquite tree.

“These trees flourish on our campus, where elsewhere they can be dry and scrubby; here they are green and delicate, and they do so because they have long roots that drink directly from the source,” Howe said. “I think Alumni Weekend enables the university as a whole to see how that source sustains faculty, alumni, parents, and students in common.”

Valerie Landrum, the assistant director of student and parent services, said that the faculty in Student Life hopes that parents and families will take their experiences from the visit and keep up a working affiliation with the university staff.

“We value the role that parents and families play in their student’s educational experience, and hope that this weekend provides them with the opportunity to experience the rich and vibrant campus life,” Landrum said. “This allows us to develop an engaging and purposeful relationship with parents.”

The National Alumni Board, a volunteer advisory and service board of the UD Alumni Association, works with UD’s Office of Alumni Relations to provide events, activities, support and programs for alumni and current students, like those of Alumni Weekend.

“I would encourage all alumni to come back to campus for Alumni Weekend, not just those alumni having reunions,” Ritter said. “There are activities available for everyone during the weekend, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Ritter praised the changes on campus, commenting that the changes “make UD a much more accessible, livable and attractive campus.”

“I think it’s important that alumni have the opportunity to reconnect with friends and with this place, to see the changes that have taken place on campus, and experience the energy and excitement of the current student body,” Ritter said. “I also think it’s important that current students see alumni returning to campus and remaining connected to UD, so that they begin to see themselves

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