This weekend, students, parents, alumni and faculty will converge on campus for the fourth annual Meliora Weekend. This year, major speakers include Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway Human Transporter, and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Assistant Director for Alumni and Student Relations Jennifer Linton said that registration – currently around 5,000 – is down from last year. “We don’t have the big headliners that we had last year. We had Hillary Clinton last year and others who draw large numbers of people,” Linton said. “This is a little bit more subdued, but we still have fantastic speakers.”
The CEO of JetBlue Airways, David Neeleman, was scheduled to speak this weekend, but cancelled because of a “family scheduling conflict,” Linton said. Neeleman has been invited to speak next year.
Last Thursday, Oct. 2, Mervyn Jones, husband of Cleveland Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, died of a heart attack. Tubbs Jones had planned to take part in a discussion panel with UR Political Science Professor Richard Fenno, Philadelphia Congressman Chakah Fattah and eight UR undergraduates. The panel is still scheduled, but Jones cancelled her appearance.
Thursday night, the weekend begins and registration opens specifically for students. That evening, students are invited to attend the Yellowjacket dinner at Danforth Dining Center.
Friday night at 11 p.m., a popular New York City club, Webster Hall, will transform the pit into a nightclub-complete with DJs, lights and giveaways.
This year’s theme is innovation-so, many of the speakers and programs are focused on inventions and new ways of thinking.
Saturday, former CNN executive producer Robert Wiener and current senior executive producer Ingrid Formanek will join Richard Chapman, co-writer and co-producer of the film, “Live From Baghdad.”
Wiener and Formanek are regarded as the first journalists to cover a war “live” from behind enemy lines.
Also on Saturday is the Innovative Careers Program in which two UR alumni will discuss their paths to success and answer students’ questions. Susan Hockfield ’73, currently the Provost of Yale University and Michael Kanfer ’80, an Academy Award winner for his work in visual effects for the film “Titanic,” are also this year’s recipients of the Meliora Citation for Career Achievement.
Marc Mellon, a renowned sculptor who attended UR in the late 1960s, will speak on Innovations in Bronze. Mellon has sculpted Pope John Paul II, former President George Bush, Ted Turner, Michael Jordan, Mickey Mantle and many others.
Saturday night, at 5 p.m. on the Wilson Quadrangle, a barbecue picnic dinner will be served to accompany the third annual Rochester Revue. “It’s a phenomenal program that showcases a lot of our student talent. The first year we had it, it won a national award,” Linton said.
“Twelve of our performance groups will be showing their stuff in the tent, ranging from a capella to dance groups to the jugglers.”
Stars of the show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood will entertain UR in two shows on Saturday night.
Though somewhat disappointed by this year’s program, students are still looking forward to this year’s Meliora Weekend.
Junior Heather Weisner is pleased with new programming.
“I’m really excited, they’re doing a lot more artistic stuff-Rochester Revue and Dance Troupe have sold a lot more tickets,” she said. “I think more people are participating this year. There’s more emphasis on fun and recreation through the student activities.”
Sophomore Summer Lennox is particularly interested in this year’s entertainment programs. “I signed up early for the events because I wanted to get tickets to the comedians. I’m more interested in the student activities, like Webster Hall than the guest speakers,” he said.
“I’m seeing fewer programs this year-I liked last year’s theme better,” sophomore Sarah Tinsley said.
Junior Keith Rosenberg feels similarly. “I’m not as excited as last year because there aren’t as many big names,” he said. “I haven’t heard that much about student activities.”