U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu ’70, ’98 (Honorary), a cowinner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Physics, will deliver the keynote address during this fall’s Meliora Weekend.
An esteemed scientist, educator, and public servant, Chu, a former member of the Board of Trustees, is one of the nation’s most prominent champions for an energy strategy that invests in alternative and renewable energy, ends the nation’s addiction to foreign oil, and helps stop global climate change.
He’s one of several high-profile policymakers, scientists, scholars, and entertainers who fill a multiday lineup of activities for the ninth annual edition of the University celebration.
About 6,000 alumni, family, students, and friends are expected to attend the weekend, held October 8 to 11, which features dozens of reunion activities for alumni of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, the School of Nursing, and the Simon School.
The weekend also features student performances and family-friendly activities.
Headlining the entertainment is comedian Bill Maher, the star of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, who also starred on Comedy Central’s Politically Incorrect from 1993 to 2002. In the homecoming football game, the Yellowjackets take on Susquehanna University, one of several athletic contests during the weekend.
“The programming is so phenomenal, you can’t go wrong,” says Los Angeles resident Jane Zimelis Cohen ’67, who plans each autumn around traveling to Rochester for Meliora Weekend. She and her husband, Larry Cohen ’66, have never missed a year. Cohen, director of marketing for the American Cancer Society’s California Division, to this day talks excitedly about her opportunities to chat with Hillary Clinton and Bill Cosby in past years.
But the weekend, more than anything, gives her a chance to reconnect with the staff, the deans, and the old friends she sees only once a year.
“No matter what physical change there has been at the University, the people who interact with alumni on behalf of the University do a fabulous job of making you feel like this is still your place.”
The schedule, which is available at www.rochester.edu/melioraweekend, draws on Rochester’s expertise and innovation, including discussions on “The Future of Medicine,” led by Mark Taubman, acting CEO of the Medical Center; and “The Future of Music,” with Eastman Dean Douglas Lowry and the Ying Quartet, Eastman’s Grammy Award–winning quartet-in-residence.
President Joel Seligman will present “Presidential Perspectives on the University of Rochester Today.” Paul Burgett ’68E, ’76E (PhD), vice president and general secretary of the University, will discuss the University’s history; and noted law professor Arthur Miller ’56, ’08 (Honorary) will lead an alumni-filled panel in a discussion of “The Price of Fame and Celebrity.”
A highlight for stock-market watchers is the “Presidential Symposium on Great Issues of the 21st Century: The Future of Financial Regulation.” Hosted by University trustee Hugo Sonnenschein ’61, a president emeritus and the Adam Smith Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, the symposium will address whether a new financial regulatory system can be designed to avoid the financial market turmoil of the recent past, whether scandals and failures such as those involving Bernard Madoff and AIG are destined to occur again, and whether the nation has created an economy in which some firms are, as the popularized phrase goes, “too big to fail.”
The panel includes Richard Breeden, founder and chairman of Breeden Capital Management; E. Gerald Corrigan, managing director of Goldman Sachs; Mary Schapiro, chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; and Richard Thaler ’74 (PhD), the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
“This is a unique opportunity for generations of alumni, current students, and parents to come together and celebrate the notion of Meliora—that those who experience the University of Rochester are themselves ever better for it,” says Kevin Wesley, the executive director of alumni relations. “It gives everyone a chance to celebrate where the University has been, and where it’s going.”
Adds Jim Thompson, University senior vice president and chief advancement officer: “Many universities have homecoming celebrations, but like the University of Rochester, Meliora Weekend is in a class of its own.”
Robin L. Flanigan is a Rochester-based freelance writer.