Alumni Weekend 2014 celebrates the University of Guelph milestone
The festivities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the University of Guelph are set to continue on this year’s Alumni Weekend, held on June 21 and 22.
Since the official campus and community kickoff back in January, events across campus and around the city have celebrated this milestone: everything from the museum exhibit, University of Guelph: 50 Years of Building a Better Planet, to a concert with the Juno-nominated Eccodek, to the Global Development Symposium.
The 2014 Alumni Weekend will not simply mark the annual trek back to campus made by hundreds of U of G alumni. Several months of celebration will culminate in the full schedule planned for the weekend, recognizing 50 years of community and worldwide contributions from the university. (Story continues after slideshow. Photos by Matthew Azevedo/ THE ONTARION)
The weekend will include several exciting events, including almost 40 reunions for various graduating classes, clubs, and groups; the annual President’s Lunch in Creelman Hall; an alumni family picnic honouring legacy families (those with three or more generations of Guelph graduates); and the unveiling of the newly landscaped main entrance and the accompanying Gryphon statue.
The new main entrance park, located on the corner of Gordon Street and Stone Road, was completed to the tune of $300,000 in donations and funding, much of which was provided by the Alumni Association. The new Gryphon statue was custom designed by the University of Guelph’s own FASTWÜRMS, also known as husband-and-wife art duo Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse, both Associate Professors at the university. The unveiling of the park will kick off Alumni Weekend on June 21 – only fitting with the generous support of the Alumni Association and individual alumni in its development.
The most anticipated event of the weekend, however, is without a doubt the return of the Conversat Ball. As the “signature event of the year,” the Conversat will include a three-course dinner and reception on Johnston Green, followed by six separate themed parties across campus, fireworks, dancing at the Bullring, and a midnight buffet.
It has been nearly 40 years since the last Conversat Ball was held at the University of Guelph. The first Conversat – the word itself Latin for “meeting for conversation” – was held as a simple social in its first form, beginning in 1904. Over several decades, the social evolved into a full-fledged evening dinner and ball.
“We felt there was no greater way to pay tribute to the history of the university than by reviving a central feature with the ball,” said Maureen Mancuso, Provost and Vice President Academic and Chair of the university’s 50th anniversary celebration committee. “We think this will be the highlight of Alumni Weekend, and we’re delighted to have so many people attending.”
The Conversat revival aims to bring together almost one thousand guests for the event. The tickets for the gala dinner on Johnston Green have already sold out.
Tickets remain available for the six themed parties, with each featuring unique evening entertainment. Each separate venue will play host to a different decade and style of music and celebration: a 1920s style Speakeasy full of jazz music; a beatnik-influenced coffee house; a Casablanca-themed big band event; a showcase of British music from the 1960s; a dance party featuring the big hits of the ‘70s and ‘80s; and funk-music-filled futuristic galaxy.
The entertainment at each venue will be timed to allow guests to attend each event without missing an act, with sets scheduled into separate 45-minute time slots. Each venue will also feature snacks, desserts, and a signature drink.
The organizer of the Conversat Ball, Sue Bennett, Director of University and Community Relations, believes the event will be an excellent way to top off the 50th anniversary celebrations.
“We have a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who are excited about this night,” said Bennett, “and they are looking forward to celebrating Guelph’s rich history and culture with our guests and alumni.”
The University of Guelph Alumni Association is equally optimistic about the weekend, which stands to be one of the “most widely attended and memorable events in our university’s history,” according to Brad Rooney, President of the Association.
“Not only does this occasion give us the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, classmates, faculty, and co-workers,” said Rooney, “but it also serves to foster new relationships, based on the shared values we all hold as [members of the U of G community].”
Alumni Weekend 2014 looks to be an excellent top off to a season of celebrating 50 amazing years of the University of Guelph – changing lives and improving life.