Where old and new traditions meet
What may well become a new tradition at Queen’s will be launched later this month when alumni return to campus for Spring Reunion ’09.
Scheduled for the weekend of May 22 to 24, the event will be a reunion in every sense of the word – with all the reconnecting, reminiscing and camaraderie that in the past has been associated with Fall Homecoming, says Alumni Association president Sarah Renaud (ArtSci ’96). But it will also introduce some intriguing new elements for returning graduates.
“There are a number of unique offerings, including a ‘re-convocation’ ceremony, all-alumni smoker and campus tours that showcase new developments at Queen’s,” notes Ms Renaud, who along with other volunteers has been working with Alumni Relations to help promote and build awareness of the event.
“Plus, it’s a perfect time of year for grads to return and see campus in full bloom – something they may not have experienced during their student years.”
Incoming Alumni Association president Heather Black wholeheartedly agrees with this assessment.
“I’ve thought for a long time that offering a Spring Reunion for our Queen’s alumni could be important to extending our reach, especially to those alumni who may never before have ‘come home’ in the fall time-frame,” she says. “Offering an official Spring Reunion in 2009, while borne out of circumstance, will be an excellent opportunity to further test the alumni appetite, especially in conjunction with the second MiniU.”
When the decision was made to cancel fall Homecoming for two years, there was a desire to offer alumni an alternative opportunity to get together, says Principal Tom Williams.
“Spring is an inspiring choice, since it’s a time of year when the campus is lovely, the City of Kingston is kicking off its tourism season, and accommodation is plentiful.”
Holding Spring Reunion at the same time as MiniU – with its many novel and entertaining learning experiences – provides added value for returning alumni, says Principal Williams.
The fact that more than 500 alumni from 35 classes will be returning for the weekend is a testament to the hard work and enthusiasm of a number of volunteers, reports Associate Vice-Principal (Alumni Relations) Judith Brown.
Alumni have risen to the challenge of organizing themselves very quickly to take advantage of the opportunity, she adds, noting that in less than six months they have accomplished what often takes as long as two years.
“The Queen’s University Alumni Association has been invaluable; Sarah Renaud and her board have been true partners in every way possible.”
Members of the Kingston community will also be contributing to the Reunion Weekend. In partnership with university organizers, local hotels are offering special prices on rooms, while local businesses are sponsoring events.
The mayor will participate in the Saturday lunch barbecue, where the Boys and Girls Club choir will perform and their Links catering service is preparing dessert. Local high school students also have volunteered to help.
“We’ll be gathering feedback from other alumni so that we can best position program components for Spring Reunion in 2010,” says Ms. Renaud. “Hopefully, this will lay the foundation for many years to come.”