An unusually large number of alumni and parents turned up for this year’s Meliora Weekend, which coincided with Eastman Weekend across town. This weekend marked the eighth annual alumni, homecoming and parents’ weekend. Executive Director of Alumni Relations Kevin Wesley reported that there were more than 7,300 registered guests the highest number since 2002.

Across the River Campus, signs and banners displayed UR’s revamped logo and Rocky, the new mascot. The weekend included highly anticipated shows by big-name stars Anderson Cooper and comedian Stephen Colbert. These two events sold out within hours of registration opening online in late August.

Saturday’s two major events began with Anderson Cooper’s keynote address and, that evening, Campus Activities Board co-sponsored Stephen Colbert’s performance. Event chairperson of CAB and senior Liz Gabster commented on Colbert’s show.

‘Having Colbert here during an election year is phenomenal and really a unique experience,” Gabster said. ‘I feel that for our generation we rely more on Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for political commentary. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a comedian [for the question-and-answer section]. It was fantastic and it was hilarious.”

On Friday, events varied from a women’s leadership lecture to a talk by Dean of the Simon School of Business Mark Zupan on the market’s volatility.

Also on Friday, UR Vice President and General Secretary Paul Burgett related tales spanning UR’s storied past to an audience in Hubbell Auditorium.

At the event titled ‘University History: Stories from Rochester’s Past and Present” Burgett drew on Arthur May’s ‘A History of the University of Rochester 1850-1962″ and other sources to move through the entire history of UR.

Burgett described UR’s inception in 1850, when the campus was located in downtown Rochester, as well as the move in 1930 to UR’s current location on the River Campus.

He detailed the incredible generosity of George Eastman, who in 1918 convinced then-University President Rush Rhees that UR should have a professional school of music, for which he provided the endowment.

Eastman’s donations to UR started simply with a camera but eventually totaled about $50 million, as he pledged his entire estate the day before he died.

Burgett described the efforts of another significant figure in UR’s history, Susan B. Anthony, and her remarkable endeavor to get women admitted.

In addition to substantial fund-raising, she even put up the cash value of her insurance policy to meet the financial requirement for the inclusion of women. The Board of Trustees acquiesced in 1900 and returned Anthony’s charitable monetary gift.

Speaker of the Students’ Association Senate and senior Harrell Kirstein attended several weekend events, including Stephen Colbert’s performance, Anderson Cooper’s lecture and Burgett’s lecture on the history of UR.

Kirstein was impressed by the event, particularly the information he learned about the University’s early supporters.

‘They were amazingly interesting people and they had an interest in education,” he said.

SA President and senior Eric Sansky said that Burgett’s talk was his favorite event of the weekend. Sansky described this year’s Meliora Weekend as a success.

‘Receptions I attended for the Board of Trustees, Delta Upsilon Fraternity and Student Government had a strong turnout. And, hearing alumni recount stories of how the SA worked to address the needs and act in the interest of the student body was a welcome reminder that some things remain the same,” Sansky said.

Leber is a member of the class of 2011. Additional reporting by David Cutshall.



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