In an attempt to increase participation on campus during alumni weekend, the schedule for the celebration will feature several changes while maintaining more traditional aspects of the event. Hugh Daschbach, who was appointed senior director of Alumni Relations in the spring of 2017, is now supervising the event.
“Alumni weekend is the primary weekend of the year that we invite all of our alumni to come back to campus, revisit their friends and celebrate their reunions if they happen to be having one,” Daschbach said. “I think the big change in general would be this theme of trying to bring different interests to the same physical location on campus, so that we’re not competing with ourselves.”
Events start on Friday and include opportunities for alumni to reconnect with academic interests, faculty and students. Alumni have been allowed to sit in on classes in the past; this year a new event, Fiesta with the Faculty, will also be offered to returning graduates.
“This alumni weekend there’s a couple of new events, for instance, Fiesta with the Faculty is a new event that we’re trying to get started now. It’ll be on Friday night, and it’s a kind of social experiment to see if we put in the effort to do this, what’ll go down,” said Cristian Vargas, senior biology major and vice president of finance for Student Ambassadors. “This will be an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with some of their old professors.”
The event will take place from 5:30–8 p.m. at the Meadows Pavilion during the men and women’s soccer games. Several departmental receptions will be going on before the event, and in past years participation has been lowered by the conflicting times, a fact which has been confirmed by alumna Amy Turlington Chambers, class of 1989 and Trinity University Alumni Association board member.
“Friday evening has always had an event on the Esplanade, but it’s been at the same time as many groups’ happy hours, so I’ve never attended,” Chambers wrote in an email interview. “This year, under Hugh Daschbach’s direction, this event has been transformed into more of a party — a fiesta, if you will. Lighter fare, beverages and a chance to chat with the faculty. I really encourage all of the organizations and class reunions to come to this event.”
The Saturday of alumni weekend typically has more events and opportunities for participants to attend. Just as alumni had the opportunity to sit in on classes on Friday, they will also have the opportunity to get involved in other academic outlets this year.
“The alumni college starts off Saturday morning. We have Dr. Colleen Grissom, Dr. Willis Salomon and Dr. Corinne Pache each do a 30-minute program in the Ruth Taylor Theater with time for questions,” Daschbach said. “Faculty will speak about mainstream interest topics that are related to their area of academic study. … We celebrate the exploration of intellectual conversation and critical thinking, and sometimes once you leave school, it’s hard to find those conversations in your day-to-day life, and we have found those alumni really enjoy an opportunity to continue life-long learning opportunities.”
Trinity also provides a variety of social opportunities for alumni, such as the Tiger Tailgate Festival, Greek Carnival and Alumni Artisan’s Sale, all of which will now be centralized, a new change being enacted this year.
“The tailgate is an open invitation. We host the party on the Prassel Lawn; the athletics department hosts a football game there. This year we’ll also induct members into the Trinity Athletic Hall of Fame, which will happen at halftime this year,” Daschbach said. “This year, we’ve coordinated that event with the Greek Carnival, which usually took place at a different venue, but we really thought it made sense to invite everyone on campus to celebrate in the same place so that it’s easier to co-mingle and see people and celebrate.”
In doing so, both the Alumni Office and Student Ambassadors hope to attract alumni to the event.
“Student Ambassadors has a lot of things lined up for alumni weekend. One way to think about the ambassadors is as the student arm of the Alumni Relations and Development office. That office is responsible for coordinating and logistically planning a lot of the events that go on, and so Student Ambassadors is the one that run the events in terms of the actual booths on the ground,” Vargas said. “For instance, we’re excited for the opportunity to be involved in this year’s tailgate.”