Time to Register for Alumni Weekend
By Robin Herron
Mark your calendars, Mason Alumni: You and your family are invited to campus for the third annual Alumni Weekend, Sept. 29-Oct. 2.
“As we prepare to welcome alumni back to the university for the third Alumni Weekend, it is clear that this is a tradition that was just waiting to be launched,” says Chris Clark-Talley, associate vice president for alumni affairs. “We are very excited to see the growing interest and enthusiasm from Mason alumni looking to reconnect with their alma mater and friends. It’s a great feeling to see our vision for this event become a reality!”
The one-year-old Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel will again be the venue for the Alumni Weekend Kick-Off Happy Hour on Friday evening. The hotel offers special rates for returning alumni and, as an added bonus, those who reserve a room will receive 50 percent off Alumni Association-hosted events.
While the weekend will be one of celebration, at least one event will be bittersweet: the champagne toast to President Alan Merten and Sally Merten at the Friday night dessert social, held at the de Laski Performing Arts Building. The couple will be attending their last Alumni Weekend before Dr. Merten steps down next summer after 16 years as president.
Below are some of this year’s events you won’t want to miss.
- In true Mason style, a brand-new building will be showcased: Founders Hall on the Arlington Campus, where the School of Public Policy will host “The Policy (and Tasting) of Wine in Our Region” on Friday night. Dean Ed Rhodes and noted wine lobbyist, Terri Cofer Beirne ’88, will lead guests in tasting the fruits of Virginia’s finest wineries.
- Throughout the weekend, Mason’s schools and colleges will host special programs for their alumni. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences will have a beer tasting and the Honors College will celebrate and remember Noreen McGuire Prettyman, former director of the University Scholars Program. The College of Health and Human Services will have an Oktoberfest and reunion at the new Nutrition Kitchen, while the School of Management will host several events, including “How to Leave Your Legacy,” which is free and open to all.
- The new “September Skies!” event hosted by the College of Science will provide you the opportunity to be one of the first people to peer through the observatory’s powerful new custom-built telescope.
- “Bones, Bugs and Botany…The Real Bone Collectors!” is another exciting program for the scientifically inclined that will be presented Saturday afternoon by the Forensic Science faculty.
- Be sure to brush up on games like craps, roulette, black jack and Texas hold’em because last year’s hit, “Vintage Vegas: Glitz, Glamour and Games,” is back. This time, the fun will be hosted by Weekends at Mason as Friday night’s finale.
- Founding Patriots Reunion Breakfast on Saturday morning is a special event for alumni from the classes of 1972 and earlier, held in the Mason Inn and followed by an optional campus tour.
PatriotFest will also return on Saturday afternoon. You’ll remember that this fun family event features live entertainment, field games, face painting, caricaturists and many other vendors outside the Johnson Center.
- A reunion at Mason wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of the ever-changing Fairfax Campus. Facilities Vice President Tom Calhoun will reprise his presentation, “Behind the Construction: Building Patriot Pride.” Guided walking tours of the campus will also be available at several times on Saturday.
- Another popular event returning this year is the “Alumni Weekend Step Off” on Saturday in Harris Theater, followed by an “After Party” at Icon’s Sports Lounge and Grille, presented by the Black Alumni Chapter.
- What better way to end the weekend than with Sunday brunch at Boxwoods? Served at the Mason Inn from 6 a.m. to noon, a lovely meal (for only $5!) will send you on your way well-fed.
The fine print: While many events are free, some have a minimal charge, and there are others that will be discounted if you register by Aug. 31. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the Alumni Weekend website.