The University of Rhode Island is combining two traditional events into one this year – from Homecoming and Family Weekend, into Family and Alumni Weekend. The merger is bringing entertainment, food, school spirit and reunions all in one.
New traditions are happening all over campus. For decades, Homecoming and Family Weekend were held separately, but the University decided to combine the two, adding to the historic year and milestone for the University after 125 years of ‘thinking big.’
Alumni and Family weekend, held Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, consists of not only activities that will allow all students, faculty and staff, family and alumni to enjoy, but will also showcase everything happening throughout the University from academics to athletics.
Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Rhodyville, URI football, the Think Big Tank student research competition, a 5K run, walk to benefit mental health awareness and President David M. Dooley’s State of the University Address, alongside the 125th anniversary brunch, are few featured events among the fun-filled activities this weekend offers.
Christina Haas, director of Alumni Relations and a 2005 graduate of URI, said it’s important to make this event special for all groups attending. She said for those who can’t attend, there’s still ways to feel connected.
“I think URI talks about ‘thinking big’ and doing things big and that’s what URI Alumni and Family weekend is,” Haas said. “We took these two weekends to make a big weekend to make a big statement and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I think it’s going to be a great experience for everyone who attends.”
Haas said it’s a great opportunity for the URI community to come together as one to celebrate Rhody pride in all its forms.
“It’s almost like a capstone for the 125th anniversary year as a whole,” she said. “Our goal was to make this a wow factor, to really showcase the university.”
The pre-weekend fun is organized and hosted by the Student Alumni Association (SAA) to get students to celebrate Rhody pride and create hype before it even starts. All events were held this week from bounce houses and corn hole to Del’s on the Quadrangle.
Student Alumni Association Vice President of Campus Engagement, Jackie Helger, said her role in the group makes URI feel like home to her.
“I think SAA is almost like being in a family,” Helger said. “We’re all so close. Everyone has the same high-spirited personality. It’s definitely a go-to because they get you so involved with campus life.”
To kick off the weekend, this Friday’s events will be academically focused offering faculty lectures from different colleges. The Ninth Annual Be 5K Race/Walk for mental health awareness and suicide prevention fundraiser will be on the Quadrangle to support families and friends who lost loved ones to suicide.
To top off the night, for those looking to enjoy a night of science and humour, author, inventor, comedian and engineer Bill Nye the Science Guy will perform at the Ryan Center Friday evening.
On Saturday there will be a number of events, including Rhodyville, featuring food trucks, a bounce house, and mini reunion gatherings. The Rams football will then take on Elon University at noon. Ending the night is comedian, author and TV host Whoopi Goldberg in “An Evening with Whoopi Goldberg.”
On Sunday the URI Alumni Association will present its “Think Big Tank,” which will give six undergraduate students the opportunity to showcase their research and compete for a $2,000 scholarship based on audience votes. To end the weekend, President David M. Dooley will give “A State of the University Address” followed by the 125th Anniversary brunch.
Many students seem to be pleased with all the activity happening on campus. Sophomore Tara Bourhis said she loves URI most because of the student involvement.
“I actually just transferred here and they didn’t have stuff like this at my other school,” she said. “It’s nice to see people doing things that’s more active.”
To see a list of all of the events and register and/or purchase tickets, go to uri.edu/afw.