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Rochester Traditions

Boundless festivities at Meliora Weekend 2023

October 8, 2023
Six University of Rochester students hold up a seventh in front of the giant letters on the quad during Meliora Weekend 2023.QUAD GOALS: A favorite pastime for many during Meliora Weekend involves snapping a group photo with the giant letters spelling out the University’s motto—and this year was no exception. Smile, members of the Class of 2025! (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

The annual fall celebration combining reunion, homecoming, and family weekend welcomed thousands to campus for four days of activities, get-togethers, and programs.

More than 10,000 people—including alumni, students, families, employees, and community members—registered to attend this year’s Meliora Weekend at the University of Rochester, which took place October 5–8. The traditional fall event combines reunion, homecoming, and family weekend and offers guests an array of opportunities to learn, socialize, celebrate, and reminisce with their extended Yellowjacket family.

Elijah Barnard leans against giant letters spelling "E-L-I."

(University of Rochester photo / AJ Pow)

LIVE UP TO YOUR NAME: Elijah Barnard ’24, a microbiology and economics major, posed with an apt portion of the Meliora letters as they were being installed on the Eastman Quadrangle before Meliora Weekend kicked off.

Aerial drone shot of Meliora Village on the Wilson Quadrangle during Meliora Weekend 2023.

(University of Rochester photo / AJ Pow)

IT TAKES A MELIORA VILLAGE: The Wilson Quadrangle was transformed into Meliora Village, the campus hub for many of the weekend’s performances, games, meals, and meet-ups. (University of Rochester photo / AJ Pow)

Meliora Weekend 2023 keynote speaker Judy Woodruff in a red dress at a podium against a black background.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

FROM WASHINGTON, DC, TO ROCHESTER, NY: “For all the years I’ve been covering American politics, I’ve been reminded again that I still have a lot to learn,” said Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent and former anchor and managing editor for the PBS NewsHour. During her keynote address in the Palestra, she reflected on her decades-long career as a journalist and shared her predictions for the upcoming presidential election year. She said, “It’s time to fasten your seat belts. We’re in for a wild ride over the next 13 or 14 months.”

Joe Testani and David Figlio seated in front of a room during a Q-and-A session.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

STRAT CHAT: During a Q&A with Deputy to the President Joe Testani (left), Provost David Figlio discussed the University’s new strategic plan, Boundless Possibility, the main roadmap for the institution. “Sarah [Mangelsdorf] and I think about the strategic plan being a direction rather than a directive,” Figlio said. “And we’re all moving in that same direction because the schools and units are interested in the same thing: making sure the people of the University of Rochester are the most successful they could possibly be.”

University of Rochester Yellowjackets football players in uniform heading toward the field.

(University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

GO, JACKETS! The University of Rochester faced Union College for the weekend’s big game in Fauver Stadium. The Garnet Chargers eked out a 21–17 win over the Yellowjackets, who demonstrated persistence until the end with a couple of big fourth-quarter stops.

Chimamanda Negozi Adichie delivers a lecture at a podium during Meliora Weekend 2023.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

‘WRITING CHOSE ME’: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah, Purple Hibiscus, and We Should All Be Feminists (among other works), shared her perspectives on growing up in Nigeria, moving to America, writing her books, and other topics to a packed house in Strong Auditorium. “I do think that storytelling makes a difference—that when we tell a story about something, there’s a greater likelihood of touching that part of us that is universally human,” she said.

Triptych of photos featuring students during Meliora Weekend decked out in special gear.

(University of Rochester photos / Kurt Brownell)

GEARED UP: Each year at Meliora Weekend, undergraduates in Arts, Sciences & Engineering get to claim their class-specific Rochester traditions giveaway items. This year’s gear included a mascot heritage banner, baseball hat, knit soccer scarf, and—for seniors—a much-coveted vintage “R” sweatshirt.

Jessica Guzmán-Rea in front of a podium with both arms raised and a mural of Paul Burgett behind her.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

AN ENDURING LEGACY: The Paul J. Burgett Intercultural Center, named in honor of the late musician, scholar, and University leader, marked its 10th anniversary. “Our role in the Burgett Intercultural Center is to encourage critical self-reflection, celebrate joyous occasions such as today, help navigate typical situations or unfamiliar systems, and to support our students as they grow in pride at the University of Rochester,” said center director Jessica Guzmán-Rea. At the celebration, Courtney Thompson Jr. ’18 read aloud a proclamation by Rochester Mayor Malik Evans ’02 declaring October 7, 2023, to be “Dr. Paul J. Burgett Day” in the City of Rochester for his lifelong commitment to learning and inclusion.

Five University of Rochester experts on stage during a Meliora Weekend 2023 symposium.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

DIALOGUE ON DEMOCRACY: “The concern is today that parties are going to prioritize winning over the democratic process,” said political scientist Jamie Druckman (far right) during a symposium convening a panel of experts on the state of American democracy today. In addition to Druckman, who will be joining the Rochester faculty in 2024, the experts included (left to right) moderator Gretchen Helmke, faculty director of the University of Rochester Democracy Center, Payge Vukelic ’24, a current student; Shaun Nelms ’04W (MS), ’13W (EdD), the University’s vice president for community partnerships; and Jillian Youngblood, executive director of Civic Genius.

The lead singer, guitarist, and drummer from the Seven Wonders perform on stage during Meliora Weekend 2023.

(University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

BAND TOGETHER: During an open-air concert on the Wilson Quad, Rochester’s own Seven Wonders, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band, could be heard across the River Campus serenading guests with their takes on iconic hits such as “Dreams” and “Go Your Own Way.”

University of Rochester mascot Rocky reaches toward a stuffed version of him held by a guest at Meliora Weekend 2023.

(University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD: Rocky the mascot crossed paths with his Mini-Me.

Philip V. McHarris, Jordan Ealey, and Jeffrey McCune Jr. stand in front of signage that says "Department of Black Studies and Frederick Douglass Institute" and shows a statue of Frederick Douglass.

(University of Rochester photo / Kurt Brownell)

A ROCHESTER WELCOME: Jeffrey McCune Jr. (right) introduced the Department of Black Studies’ inaugural faculty members to the University community. Assistant professors Jordan Ealey (center) and Philip V. McHarris (left) joined the faculty a year after the department was established. “I’m very excited to be part of this new department and to further the knowledge of not only Black studies, but specifically Black feminist knowledge production,” said Ealey.

Lainie Ross speaking at a podium with blue and yellow star balloons in the background.

(University of Rochester photo / Jeff Witherow)

TALK MEDICINE TO ME: Lainie Ross was among the speakers during MED Talks, a series of innovative presentations from leading Medical Center faculty. Ross, the inaugural chair of the Department of Health Humanities and Bioethics, discussed how the biopsychosocial model—which was first developed at Rochester—is critical to the future of bioethics for both medicine and translational research.

Two women playing a giant Connect Four game in the Meliora Village.

(University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Giant Connect Four, chess, cornhole, basketball toss, and a high-strikers ring were among the games and activities guests enjoyed in the Meliora Village.

Gwen Greene surrounded by people and smiling with a birthday cake on the table in front of her.

(University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: During a luncheon in the Feldman Ballroom, University President Sarah Mangelsdorf (left) surprised trustee Gwen Greene ’65 (right) for her 80th birthday with a specially commissioned serenade courtesy of the Midnight Ramblers a cappella group.

Hasan Minhaj pumps his fist on the Palestra stage at Meliora Weekend 2023.

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

SATURDAY STAND-UP: Comedian, writer, producer, and television host Hasan Minhaj performed stand-up and answered questions for a crowd in the Palestra.

University of Rochester students and community members roller skating on a green-and-orange checkered floor.

(University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

LATE NIGHT SKATE NIGHT: On Saturday, the Goergen Athletic Center was converted into a retro-style roller rink.

Man juggling several items that are on fire while it is dark outside.

(University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

ALL FIRED UP: The Strong Jugglers put on a dazzling display for onlookers on the Wilson Quadrangle during their 11th annual Meliora Weekend show.

Four members of the University of Rochester School of Nursing Class of 1973 pose for a photo during a reunion luncheon.

(University of Rochester photo / Jeff Witherow)

FIFTY AND FABULOUS: Nursing alumni from the Class of 1973—including Martha Ball Pignataro ’73N, Elizabeth O’Brien ’73N, Sue Griffey ’73N, Michelle Young-Stevenson ’73N—celebrated their 50th reunion.

Woman smiles and holds a small dog in Meliora Village with guests around.

(University of Rochester photo / Kurt Brownell)

BOUNDLESS PUP-ABILITIES: Thanks for the memories, Yellowjackets! We can’t wait to do it again next year.

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Category: Campus Life