Freshmen, meet Rochester

More than 1,350 students will be placed with community agencies, providing a first connection to the city and to volunteer opportunities in Rochester.

More than 1,350 students will be placed with community agencies, providing a first connection to the city and to volunteer opportunities in Rochester.

Carolyn Magri ’13(T5) recalls the excitement she felt at her own Wilson Day experience as a freshman after she arrived on campus from her home in Maine.

“You see the facades of buildings but you never really know what’s happening inside,” says Magri, who spent the day helping a local church reorganize its basement.

“Rochester is more than a map,” she adds.

That’s one point she hopes students understand as they embark on their own Wilson Day experience in August. As this year’s Wilson Day coordinator, Magri wants incoming students to get to know Rochester by volunteering in the community.

Wilson Day was established in 1972 as an annual event dedicated to the memory of University trustee, alumnus, and benefactor Joseph Wilson. It featured seminars, concerts, and speeches by luminaries in the fields of literature, economics, and medicine. In 1988, Theresa Guentner ’90 suggested that the day focus more on service to the community. Since then, Wilson Day has evolved into a day of community service for students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

An exhibition on the history of Wilson Day—including a collection of Wilson Day T-shirts—will be on display in the University of Rochester's Rush Rhees Library this fall. In this photo, the Wilson Day T-shirt from 2006. (Photo by Brandon Vick)

An exhibition on the history of Wilson Day—including a collection of Wilson Day T-shirts—will be on display in the University of Rochester’s Rush Rhees Library this fall. In this photo, the Wilson Day T-shirt from 2006. (Photo by Brandon Vick)

For the past 25 years undergraduates have put on their Wilson Day T-shirt and dug into a variety of projects—washing chalkboards, painting houses, landscaping, playing bingo in nursing homes—anything that non-profits, schools, and charities in the community may need.

The student-run event also serves as one of the principal community builders during orientation. Eastman students take part in a similar effort—George Eastman Day of Service—also during orientation for freshmen and transfer students.

For the second straight year, students returning from their Wilson Day site will have a chance to explore other volunteer opportunities in Rochester—at the community service fair, cosponsored by the Community Service Network. The club’s activities range from working with refugees in Rochester to service trips to Honduras.

Also new, an exhibit about the history of Wilson Day will be on display in Rush Rhees Library through Meliora Weekend. The exhibit will include items such as photos, brochures, press clippings, correspondence, and other planning documents. Items were collected from the University Archives and from alumni.

Wilson Day 2013 will be held Thursday, Aug. 29. Learn more at www.rochester.edu/College/rccl/service/wilsonday. The Eastman School’s George Eastman Day of Service is Friday, Aug. 30.

Fast Facts: Wilson Day 2013

The annual day of community service for incoming freshmen is Thursday, Aug. 29.

New this year

An exhibit about the history of Wilson Day will be on display in Rush Rhees Library through Meliora Weekend. Honoring Joseph Wilson The 25th anniversary of the Wilson Day community service initiative pays homage to Joseph Wilson, founder of Xerox Corporation. Wilson graduated from the University in 1931, and later served on the Board of Trustees, becoming board president in 1959 until 1967. Wilson Boulevard, Wilson Commons, and Wilson endowed chairs are just a few of the many symbols that honor Wilson’s legacy on the River Campus.

This year’s organizations include

Rochester Parkour (participating volunteers on Wilson Day will take part in a one-hour parkour workshop) Rochester Science Museum and Center
Seneca Park Zoo
Blooming Optimists
Also, this year will mark the return of the Urban Exploring Wild Goose Chase. Campus group Urban Exploring will be arrange a city-wide scavenger hunt for 50 students on Wilson Day.

Share your experience

Share your Wilson Day 2013 experience at #WheresWilson and check out www.facebook.com/groups/wilsonday and www.rochester.edu/whereswilson.