This year’s Meliora Weekend celebrations featured a wide variety of festivities and events. Beginning on Thursday, Oct. 18 and concluding on Oct. 21, the University hosted numerous dance events, a golf tournament, a plethora of guest speakers and lecturers, several discussion panels on a wide range of topics, a host of class reunions, one football and one field hockey game.
The weekend culminated in the keynote speech by former Secretary of State General Colin Powell on Saturday and wrapped up on Sunday with a number of farewell breakfasts and brunches, including one hosted by UR President Joel Seligman. The University International Theatre Program’s presentation of the Rochester Premiere of 365 Days/365 Plays was the weekend’s last event.
In terms of turnout, the football game between UR and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (in which UR defeated WPI by a score of 42-27) and the presidential symposium were the most popular. Events like the Sage Art Gallery Exhibit, which subscribed to a more eclectic audience, had a smaller turnout, while the remainder of the attractions fell somewhere in between in terms of attendance.
The majority of this weekend’s visitors were UR alumni and their families, although a large number of parents of current students (particularly from this year’s freshman class) were also present.
Many of these visitors participated in discussion groups around campus like the College Diversity Roundtable and voiced opinions and pointed inquiries at the National Security and Civil Liberties discussion held Saturday afternoon in Hutchinson Hall.
Harvard University Law Professor and alumnus Arthur Miller ’56 led the spirited panel discussion on National Security and Civil Liberties issues in front of a room packed with alumni. The panelists, composed of distinguished UR alumni, offered a diverse range of opinions on the topic. Bruce Schneier ’84 concluded that “fear is irrational” and that Americans in general have only “short-term memories,” whereas alumnus Mark Lopez railed against the inherent drawbacks and dangers of a “surveilling society.”
Michael Wertheimer ’79, a high-ranking analyst at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, expressed begrudging support of the USA PATRIOT Act but also emphasized the overwhelming task faced by the intelligence community in trying to sift through mountains of “good and valuable intelligence” that currently makes its way through the various agencies. He concluded the panel’s discussion on a point of universal agreement by explaining that “torture makes us less in every way.”
Many people, including alumni, had both positive and negative comments concering Meliora Weekend.
“The campus has never looked better, hats off to [President] Seligman,” Jack Howitt ’56 said.
Some alumni were concerned about some of UR’s current problems. Ed Gold ’73, whose son is currently enrolled in the class of 2008, complained about certain quality-of-life issues such as cramped housing arrangements. However, he had high hopes for the future.
“In terms of long-range plans I guess [Seligman’s] got it going in the right direction,” he said.
Glenn Kaye ’87, also, a 1991 graduate of UR Medical Center, summarized the sentiments of most returning alumni by stating that the feel and atmosphere of the campus was “different and better, but largely the same.” He was impressed by the variety of construction going on around campus and expressed satisfaction at the persistence of classic visual landmarks such as the campus clock.
Many parents and recent graduates said that UR’s auspicious reputation preceded it in the workplace. They agreed that there was a significant awareness among employers of UR’s presence and quality. Recent graduates from the class of 2004, Sarah Hammer, Kirsten Michel, Kim Silver and Justine Deutsch agreed that in the outside world, UR is known to their employers by reputation alone.
Recent alumni were also impressed with the direction of UR sports.
“The women’s field hockey team has really stepped it up,” Silver said, in reference to the Rochester vs. Vassar game held Saturday afternoon.
Antonio Novack ’98 was similarly impressed by what he saw at the UR vs. WPI football game.
“I think these guys [the current UR football team] are really good compared to the guys in my day, and I think the coaches have managed to take their plays to a whole new level,” he said.
Singh is a member of the class of 2008.