Queen's University

Be a student for a weekend


For staff and faculty who work on campus regularly, MiniU is an opportunity to rediscover Queen’s, says organizer Melanie McEwen.

“It allows us to open our eyes to what’s happening here, to immerse ourselves in the excitement of learning, and discover the hidden treasures at Queen’s,” she says.

The idea for MiniU was born in 2004 after an alumni survey revealed a hunger for an educational element to campus visits. From there, Ms. McEwen, manager of Alumni Education and Outreach, started the research that led to the development of MiniU.

One school that Ms. McEwen and her team visited was Princeton, for its alumni weekend. There, reunion, convocation and educational panels are combined. And this year, with MiniU coinciding with Spring Reunion on May 22 to 24, the Queen’s campus will be just as lively.

But where Princeton keeps its weekend activities limited to alumni, Queen’s MiniU is open to anyone. And with the MiniU a la carte option, where single sessions cost only $20, it’s accessible to everyone.

“MiniU is a great opportunity to open up Queen’s to the community – and the Queen’s-Kingston relationship can always benefit from more open doors. Sometimes I think there’s a little bit of fear of crossing over into the land of students. But MiniU allows anyone to get a sampling of what it’s like to be a university student for just one weekend, without the pressure and panic of exams,” she says.

MiniU has grown since its debut last year.

“We’ve got more programming, even more sessions and more timeslots for sessions,” Ms. McEwen says. Last year, MiniU ended with a whimper as attendees simply wandered away after the last Sunday sessions. This time, it ends with a bang – a closing luncheon (featuring celebrity chef and alumna Trish Magwood.) “It’s a final coming together, as a group. We’re also having an all-alumni smoker at the Queen’s Pub.”

This year, more faculty are involved. Finding them was one of Ms McEwen’s favourite parts of her job.

“I talk to my contacts, ask questions and watch the news to see what neat things are going on, what findings are being announced. And for the faculty, it’s a great opportunity to showcase what they do in an adult learning environment.”

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Last updated at 9:07 am EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
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