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Meliora Weekend returns in style—and in person

October 2, 2022
Four women pose for photos on the IOR letters on the Eastman Quad.GATHER ROUND: Sheri Stanger ’87 (second from left)) poses for a photo with daughter Megan (second from right), first-year roommate Ann Sweeney (right), and down-the-hall roommate Laura Heberle ’85 (left). (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

In a return to tradition, the University’s annual celebration welcomed thousands of alumni, students, family members, and guests to campus.

More than 6,000 members of the University of Rochester community came together from September 29 to October 2 in person for the first full-fledged Meliora Weekend since 2019. The traditional fall event—which was postponed in 2020 and modified in 2021 to accommodate COVID-19 health and safety protocols—combines reunion, family weekend, and homecoming into four days of gatherings, activities, celebrations, performances, and conversations.

Aerial view of the MELIORA letters with people posing for photos on and near them.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

LOVE LETTERS: The giant letters spelling MELIORA on the Eastman Quadrangle remained a favorite stop for the weekend’s visitors to snap and share Instagram-worthy group shots.

 

People shooting hoops and milling about with tents and Wilson Commons in the background on the Wilson Quadrangle.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

VILLAGE PEOPLE: The Wilson Quadrangle was transformed into Meliora Village, a hub of activities and programs, including carnival games, food trucks, and live music.

 

Steven Chu stands at a podium with a slide deck in the background.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

CALL TO ACTION: During the University Symposium, Nobel laureate and former US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu ’70 reflected on the obstacles to achieving a sustainable future—from the pervasive “use once, throw away” consumption mindset to the need for cutting-edge energy storage technologies. “This is our home. We have to preserve it,” he told the audience in the Palestra while noting potential solutions, including recent advances in synthetic biology and lithium batteries.

 

Concert performers on stage at Eastman Theatre in Kodak Hall.

(University of Rochester photo / Kurt Brownell)

CHEERS TO THE NEXT 100 YEARS: Meliora Weekend was the capstone of the Eastman School of Music’s Centennial Celebration. Signature events included the Rochester premiere of The Brightness of Light, written by alumnus Kevin Puts ’94E, ’99E (DMA), at Eastman Theatre in Kodak Hall. The concert was performed by the Eastman Philharmonia (conducted by Neil Varon) and featured Assistant Professor of Voice and soprano Nicole Cabell ’01E and baritone Rod Gilfry, with text from the letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Steiglitz.

 

Michael Hasselberg delivering a talk on stage with blue and yellow balloons behind him.

(University of Rochester photo / Greg Francis)

MEDxROCHESTER: During his MED Talks presentation, Michael Hasselberg ’07N (MS), ’13N (PhD), founder of the UR Medicine telepsychiatry program and of Project ECHO, which uses technology to provide health care at a distance within rural hospitals, identified the key ingredient missing in early attempts to attract people to telemedicine clinics. “It occurred to us that telemedicine is ineffective without the biopsychosocial model. We realized it all comes back to Rochester and George Engel,” he said. The School of Medicine and Dentistry’s MED Talks feature Medical Center faculty who are at the forefront of scientific discovery and innovations. Hassleberg was joined by Roberto Hernandez-Alejando, who discussed the latest advances in addressing stage IV colon cancer, and Maiken Nedergaard, who shared her research about how brain waste products are removed during sleep.

 

Woman juggles hula hoop with four flames attached to it.

(University of Rochester photo / Greg Francis)

HIGHLIGHTS: Current and former members of the Strong Jugglers, the University’s official student juggling club, put on a dazzling display in Dandelion Square during the 10th Annual Fire Juggling Show.

 

Eastman School of Music performers with an accordion, trombone, and other instruments play outside.

(University of Rochester photo / Luke Juntunen)

ANNIVERSARY JAMBOREE: The Eastman School of Music celebrated its centennial year with concerts, dinners, discussions, and even a block party on Gibbs Street in downtown Rochester.

 

Four elderly people gather around a table to look at library memorabilia on display.

(University of Rochester photo / Greg Francis)

MINER MEMORABILIA: Members of the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Class from 1972, marking their 50th reunion, browse materials housed in the Edward G. Miner Library as part of their campus tour and other weekend celebrations.

 

Two blurry people holding hands and roller skating on a red and green checkered rink.

(University of Rochester photo / Adrian Kraus)

HOW WE ROLL: The Goergen Athletic Center hosted a late-night skating party, complete with roller rink, dance music, and glow lights.

 

Football player with arms raised while fellow players and supports cheer in the background.

(University of Rochester photo / Adrian Kraus)

GAME ON: The Yellowjackets played Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute during Saturday afternoon’s homecoming game at Fauver Stadium, with RPI’s second-half surge leading the visiting team to victory.

 

Michele Noris on stage at the University of Rochester's Meliora Weekend.

(University of Rochester / J. Adam Fenster)

STORYTELLER-TURNED-COLLECTOR: Peabody Award–winning journalist and author Michele Norris discussed race and identity in America while delivering the weekend’s keynote address. In 2010 Norris founded The Race Card Project, which invites people to share candid six-word stories about race. “We bring to the surface things that people don’t often say out loud. There’s power in sharing a story, even if it’s a difficult one,” she said. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

 

David Primo on stage in front of a PowerPoint screen with the headline "Benefits of disagreement" and a photo of John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty" book cover.

(University of Rochester / Adrian Kraus)

AGREE TO DISAGREE: “The clash of ideas is the foundation for college education, and without that you can’t have a functioning university,” said David Primo, the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professor and a professor of political science and of business administration, during an Experience Rochester event about disagreement in a democratic society. “Universities need to make disagreement a priority,” he added.

 

Three people wearing badges and having a conversation in a sunlit room.

(University of Rochester photo / Greg Francis)

MEET-AND-GREET: School of Nursing students and alumni connected during the Dean’s Lunch and poster session. Attendees heard from Lisa Kitko, the new dean of the school, and learned about current student research projects.

 

Tony Kushner in conversation on stage at the University of Rochester's Meliora Weekend.

(University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

THE WRITE STUFF: Award-winning author, playwright, and screenwriter Tony Kushner, whose mother attended the Eastman School of Music, joined Nigel Maister, the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director of the University of Rochester International Theatre Program, for a wide-ranging conversation about theater, film, music, art, and politics. “I am fascinated by the question of when history calls and people, for whatever reason, are unable to answer the call,” said Kushner, who wrote Angels in America and Caroline, or Change, as well as the screenplays for Steven Spielberg’s Munich, West Side Story, and Lincoln. (University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

 

Jeffrey McCune Jr. at a podium between two retractable banners featuring images of a Frederick Douglass statue.

(University of Rochester photo / Greg Francis)

EMBRACING BLACK SCHOLARSHIP: In September, the University’s Board of Trustees approved the creation of the Department of Black Studies. Since arriving at Rochester in 2021, Jeffrey Q. McCune Jr. (above), the director of the Frederick Douglass Institute, has worked with University leadership to realize the goal. “Today, the University of Rochester joins the community of institutions that embrace Black life, Black culture, and Black issues as very serious subjects of academic study,” said President Sarah Mangelsdorf.

 

Walk Off the Earth performs on stage under pink and purple lights.

(University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

CHART-TOPPERS: Walk Off the Earth, the multiplatinum indie pop band, headlined Saturday night’s outdoor concert on the Goergen Field.

 

David Figlio, Sarah Mangelsdorf, and Lizette Pérez-Deisboeck seated on stage in front of a screen with the University of Rochester seal.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY: During a conversation in Strong Auditorium moderated by University Trustee Lizette Pérez-Deisboeck ’87 (right), Provost David Figlio (left) and University President Sarah Mangelsdorf (center) shared the latest institutional news and updates, emphasizing the unique role of preeminent research universities like Rochester in fostering successful citizens and societies.

 

Audience members seen from behind looking up at man and woman on stage at the Eastman School of Music.

(University of Rochester photo / Lauren Sageer)

EASTMAN EXCELLENCE: The Eastman School of Music held a 50th Reunion Medallion Ceremony in Lowry Hall, where Dean Jamal Rossi (left on stage) honored 13 graduates from the Class of 1972, including Christina Lenti ’72E, the parent of two Eastman graduates.

 

Four people taking a selfie at sunset with the city of Rochester skyline in the background.

(University of Rochester photo / Greg Francis)

SUNSET SNAPS: Alumni from the School of Medicine and Dentistry, the Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the School of Nursing gathered to celebrate the Meliora spirit—the first time a celebration of this kind was planned for the three schools together.

 

Two people seen from behind give each other a side hug with a dog at their feet on the Eastman Quad.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

MELIORA MEET-UP: See you next year, Yellowjackets!

 

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