Families, Alumni and Friends Return to Campus for Jam-packed Weekend
Matt Donlon '82 sat in his lawn chair just a few steps away from the campus fountain Saturday, taking in a familiar view on the picturesque fall afternoon and reminiscing about old friends, good moments and times when he used to hit golf balls toward the McConnell Library windows.
"I tried, but I never hit one," he said with a wry smile.
Donlon was one of thousands on campus last weekend—most of them less willing to share stories of mischief—for Radford University's 2012 Family Weekend and Alumni Homecoming, which featured a barbecue for alumni, a Greek social, and seminars, arts and athletics events.
Weekend festivities began Friday with the College of Business and Economics' BB&T Global Capitalism Lecture Series, which featured two speakers from Standard's & Poor's. Visitors also had an opportunity to see a faculty art show, a World War II-era fashion show and the Family Weekend Dog Show.
The Class of 1962 and guests were treated to a Golden Reunion dinner with RU President Penelope W. Kyle.
Parents had two opportunities during the weekend to meet personally with President Kyle. The RU Parents Coffee with the President on Saturday in the atrium of the new College of Business and Economics building gave visitors a chance to explore the facility as well as share a light breakfast and get acquainted with other parents and Kyle. At Sunday's Highlander Family Weekend Brunch in Dalton dining hall, Kyle chatted with parents and students as they enjoyed a hearty meal together before families headed home.
On Saturday, just about a 9-iron shot away from alumnus Donlon's lawn chair, the weekend's activities continued with the 27th Appalachian Folk Arts Festival, where campus visitors browsed tables filled with handmade arts and crafts and while listening to folk music.
Wiley and Betsy Traylor took in the festival with their daughter, Emily, a freshman graphic design major. The couple drove from their home in Mooresville, Ind., to visit with Emily, whom they had not seen in six weeks. "It's good to see them again, catch up and have them see my campus and see what I'm doing," Emily said.
For Wiley, it also was an excellent opportunity to revisit the campus where he worked for four years before leaving in 2003.
"So much has changed, but it's still a beautiful campus," said Wiley, who worked in heating and air conditioning with Facilities Management at RU.
"Oh, you need to fix my air conditioning," Emily reminded her father.
As apple butter cooked and an auctioneer rhythmically chanted on Heth lawn at the folk arts festival, in nearby Young Hall, Professors Tod Burke and Stephen Owen hosted parents for an interactive class about criminal justice, asking the attendees to make life-and-death decisions based on presented scenarios.
"This is a really great opportunity for parents to come to the university and see what a class here is like," said alumnus Chris Rehak, who now serves as Commonwealth's attorney for the City of Radford.
Also in Young, College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Dean Katherine Hawkins talked to parents about preparing students to "get a good job in today's challenging economy." Professors Joe Jones and Margaret Hrezo presented a lecture on liberal education in a democratic society.
At Pridemore Playhouse, visitors were treated to a backstage tour by RU theatre faculty and majors. Participants went behind the scenes of the weekend's performances of "Spinning into Butter," Rebecca Gilman's popular play about prejudice and political correctness.
Tours also were offered for the Performance Hall in the Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts, the Museum of the Sciences, the RU greenhouse and planetarium.
Family, students and alumni also had opportunities to attend open houses and receptions offered by the School of Nursing, the Department of Interior Design & Fashion, the College of Science and Technology, the College of Business and Economics, and the College of Education and Human Development.
Emily Blunt, a sophomore media studies major from Mechanicsville, enjoyed the day with her parents, Ken and Susan, and sisters Laura and Katie.
"It's great having them here. I miss them," Emily said. Laura and Katie are in high school, she said, "and they're looking at colleges. I have to say, Radford is pretty great. I feel like I can be myself here."
For those interested in athletics, plenty of Highlanders displayed their sporting prowess. Men's and Women's Soccer and Volleyball all were in action. Five sports stars from the past were honored at the Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Luncheon.
Following Women's Soccer 3-0 triumph over Charleston Southern at Patrick D. Cupp Stadium, hundreds flocked to the stadium parking lot for the Greek Life Alumni Social and Highlander Fan Zone BBQ. As '80s music played inside the tent, alumni, friends and parents gathered for a festive meal.
Tom Blassey '83 attended the social and talked about his role as both parent and alumnus. "It gives us a chance to come back and always have that connection," said Blassey, whose son, Cole, and daughter, Chandler, are a senior and sophomore, respectively. "It gives us even more spirit to come back and compare what we used to do with what they do."
About 100 alumni from Phi Kappa Sigma attended the social and gathered to celebrate the RU chapter's 30th year. The group also presented an $11,000 check to President Kyle to establish the Greek Leadership Training Fund, which will be used to provide Greek members at RU opportunities to learn leadership skills.
"To start something like this is a wonderful statement," Kyle said to members of the fraternity as she accepted the check. "We hope that you'll stay involved and that you'll come back frequently and help us mentor our students."