Trixie Meteyer ’67: Experiencing Rochester again and again
Trixie Meteyer ’67: Experiencing Rochester again and again
Since the pandemic hit, this alumna has attended dozens of virtual events presented by the University of Rochester
Back in 1964, when Trixie (Sanborn) Meteyer ’67 was a freshman, she went to a lecture presented by Dexter Perkins, a prominent American historian and University of Rochester professor. Listening to him reminded her of something her father would tell her: “Experts in their field should be able to distill their knowledge in a way that any intelligent person can listen to it, get something out of it, and enjoy it.” For Meteyer, Professor Perkins did that years ago, and many other experts have done that since.
Since the pandemic hit, Meteyer has attended dozens of virtual events hosted by the University and presented by faculty, alumni, and guest scholars. “Before the pandemic, I played a lot of bridge and went to a lot of talks, lectures, and Eastman concerts,” she says. “Now I look forward to these virtual events—I know I’ll always learn something new.”
“Lifelong learning is such a part of the culture of the University of Rochester,” says Karen Chance Mercurius, associate vice president for Alumni and Constituent Relations. “The pandemic has allowed us to expand our academic offerings into a virtual space. This has given people–no matter where they live–access to so many educational growth and personal enrichment programs. We are thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response from our alumni and friends like Trixie and want everyone to know that we will continue virtual lifelong learning opportunities far beyond the pandemic.”
Last year, Meteyer didn’t even own a computer. If she needed to check email, she would just go to the library down the street. Then in the spring of 2020, one of her daughters sent her an iPad and her other daughter encouraged her to get high speed Internet access. Her world has changed a lot since then.
“I look at every email from the University, and I sign up for everything that intrigues me,” she says. “I put the events on my calendar and often structure my days around them.”
Some of Meteyer’s favorite Experience Rochester virtual events are about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Recently, she participated in the “Slavery, Race, and the Black Lives Matter Movement” lecture that featured Steven Hahn ’73, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and history professor at New York University.
“I watched it live and then watched the recorded version of it—it was that compelling,” she adds. “I told my 84-year-old cousin about it, too. Her church was doing a Black studies program and I knew she’d be interested in seeing it, which she was.” After that event, Meteyer even went out and bought one of Hahn’s books, something she often does after attending these events.
Meteyer also watched “Will American Democracy Survive COVID-19,” which aired live in April 2020, for a second time. “It was so interesting to watch Professor Primo’s lecture again now, a few months after the election,” she says. “A year ago, he predicted that one possible outcome of the 2020 elections would be that the results were contested. He really hit the nail on the head with that one.”
For Michael Scharf’s webinar on “Our Youth’s Mental Health in Challenging Times,” Meteyer sat in her car, in a parking lot, on her way home from a trip to New Hampshire. “It was only afterward that I discovered that my daughter, Lisa, from the Class of 1995, had listened to it, too,” says Meteyer. “She lives in California with her husband and 10- and 12-year-old children and was happy for all the advice she could get. We had fun comparing notes about the program.”
The webinar “George Eastman & Rush Rhees: Choosing Music to Build the Community,” with Vincent Lenti ‘60E, ‘62E (MA), an Eastman piano professor and the school’s historian, resonated with Meteyer, too. She spent the early years of her career as a librarian but for the last 50 years she’s been a professional church organist. Many years ago, David Craighead, then a professor of organ at Eastman and since deceased, gave her Lenti’s book, For the Enrichment of Community Life: George Eastman and the Founding of the Eastman School of Music. Listening to Lenti’s talk reminded her of her undergraduate years. She was a music major on the River Campus who took music lessons and theory classes at Eastman.
Watching “A Conversation with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum”—part of the University’s REAL Conversations lecture series—also struck a chord with Meteyer. “I became aware of Beverly Tatum in May 2019 when Keuka College awarded her an honorary doctorate and she gave a lecture that I attended,” she says. “ I got to sit and chat with her, and she autographed a copy of her book for my daughter, Karen, who is also a clinical psychologist.” Tatum is president emerita of Spelman College and author of the best-selling book, Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race.
Before the pandemic
Meteyer has always been very engaged with the University. Prior to the pandemic, she regularly attended University lectures. She particularly enjoyed the annual day-long Rochester Forum events at the Memorial Art Gallery that included faculty lectures and a sit-down lunch.
Two years ago, Meteyer participated in the University’s Day of Service, which involved gardening at 540WMain near the Susan B. Anthony House downtown. “President Mangelsdorf was volunteering at the same event,” says Meteyer. “It was an honor to meet her. She’s a clinical psychologist just like my daughter, Karen, which made it especially interesting for me.”
Meteyer adds that she laughed when she saw the list of alumni who’d be there—the next oldest person was from the class of 2002. “That didn’t matter to me, though,” she says. “I enjoyed getting to work with other alumni and I loved meeting current students—they are so engaged and impressive.”
The most wonderful trip ever
Meteyer hopes that once it is safe to do so, the University will return to doing its day trips to Niagara on the Lake for the Shaw Festival in Canada. “I so loved those trips,” she says. “A friend and I would ride the bus together, have lunch with the group, and then see a wonderful play. Those were always great outings.”
“I also took the most wonderful trip ever to Europe with the University’s Travel Club,” she adds. “David Eisenhower was our guide at the beaches of Normandy and Professor Russell Peck was the Celtic authority who shared his knowledge in Dublin, Wales, and through the Scottish Hebrides, Orkney Islands, and Edinburgh. I will never forget that trip.”
For now though, Meteyer says she’ll continue to sign up for the University’s virtual programs. “I learn something from every virtual event I go to.”
Meteyer’s other favorite Experience Rochester talks
- “Lessons of the House—Frederick Douglass: Conversation and Special Viewing,” with Jonathan Binstock, the Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director at the Memorial Art Gallery
- “Suffrage Stories from the University’s Rare Books and Special Collections” with librarians from the River Campus libraries
- “American Democracy and the 2020 Election,” with Gretchen Helmke, a Rochester political science professor
Last summer, the University of Rochester launched Together for Rochester, a one-year campaign to make life better for the University community and the world. Offering alumni, parents, donors, and friends engaging lifelong learning programs is a key component of the campaign. Learn more about our Experience Rochester and REAL Conversations programs.
— Kristine Thompson, March 2021