Beginning on Friday, Meliora Weekend will be “Celebrating Diversity.” For the first time, the Multicultural Alumni Advisory Council has worked to bring speakers to showcase diversity.

“Celebrating diversity is a great centerpiece beause it is both appropriate and timely,” Vice President, General Secretary and University Dean of Students Paul Burgett said. “One of the great strengths of UR is, in part, the result of great diversity – race, nationality, gender and other factors. There is strength in diversity and this weekend will reflect that.”

The weekend will kick off with a reflection on women’s progress, followed by the Meliora Citation for Career Achievement where alumni Kathy Waller and Thomas Sloan will receive the alumni career achievement award.

“Meliora Weekend should always be representative of the entire community,” Dean of The College William Green said. “[Celebrating diversity] will reconnect us with lots of alumni and make us a stronger place.”

Burgett will be leading a discussion on how Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan impacted musical jazz.

Novelist and poet Ha Jin will discuss his work later Friday evening.

“The centerpiece is a dinner on Friday for 200 people and a number of speakers,” Director of Development at the Office of College Advancement Mary Jo Ferr said.

At the dinner on Friday evening, MAAC and President Seligman will be welcoming the College’s multicultural alumni.

“I think we’ve gotten the word out – this is really special,” Director of Communications Sam Lopez said. “Seligman has a strong commitment to diversity and we are doing our job to support that.”

Continuing Saturday morning, UR alumni and Harvard professor Arthur Miller will lead a roundtable debate on some of the issues going on in society today. Miller is a former member of the Debate Team.

Later on Saturday, there will be a chance for students to meet with and talk to the speakers.

“We told the speakers to be aware that a lot of students will be in the audience, so they should gear their speeches toward students,” Ferr said. “We have worked really hard to create programs that students will enjoy. This isn’t just alumni weekend. We have arranged for students to meet the speakers, but a lot of students haven’t registered yet.”

Saturday concludes with the Guardians of the Legacy, which will feature descendants of notable civil rights leaders.

“Not only are these people related to famous people, they are very strong people,” Ferr said. “They are going to talk about how we can change the world.”

Many students are excited for these events and wonder why a weekend like this has not been held sooner.

“There are a number of celebratory traditions that we have here, and this really brings these all together,” Burgett said. “This year the stars were just aligned. This weekend was a great idea whose time has come. This is a time to celebrate.”

Paret can be reached at eparet@campustimes.org.



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