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Homecoming and Family Weekend – A Vibrant Success

Despite starting out with a stormy Friday night, last weekend’s Homecoming and Family Weekend was a fun-filled time shared by all – students and their families, alumni, faculty and staff.

But even a stormy start can’t discourage RWU spirit. Many of the events held last Friday through Sunday saw record attendance, bringing together the campus community and returning alumni for this annual tradition.

Nearly 600 people turned out for Friday night’s much anticipated Casino Night and Midnight Madness pep rally, eager to try a hand at blackjack and the roulette wheel and to cheer on the winter sports teams. A warm, bright Saturday afternoon provided a festive atmosphere for the community to enjoy fresh-pressed apple cider and popped kettle corn, pumpkin painting, live music and dance performances, lawn games and much more at Autumn Fest. Fifty attendees volunteered to have their heads shaved in alliance with children fighting cancer for St. Baldrick’s Day at RWU, an annual fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any other organization except for the U.S. Government; this year, RWU raised about $10,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

At the Homecoming coronation, RWU President Donald Farish crowned Christopher O’Keefe and Annie DeWitt as the 2012 Homecoming King and Queen.

Well over 100 alumni returned to campus for the featured alumni events, such as the Second Annual Alumni Leadership Conference and the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation (SAAHP) Women’s Leadership Network meeting. A full crowd gathered under the alumni tent for an autumn-themed lunch and to pose for photos with the Roger Williams statue on D’Angelo Common. At the Alumni Leadership Conference, alumni heard about the success of the Alumni Supporting Admissions Program and how they can support current students through mentoring and internships; they also brainstormed ways to stay involved at the University in three breakout sessions led by students.

"What we were trying to show them is that we are gaining momentum in getting the important programs in place that they want to see,” according to Lisa Raiola, assistant vice-president of alumni relations. “The Alumni Leadership Conference is for our alumni volunteers to become engaged and to tell us how they want to become involved. It was a good two-way conversation all day long."

At the inaugural meeting of the SAAHP Women’s Leadership Network, 16 founding members, including students, faculty and alumni, developed a plan for the next three years; work will commence this fall with an internal study of women’s academic achievements and leadership roles in the SAAHP programs, with assistance in implementing the study from the marketing and web development departments.

Homecoming Weekend also saw the first awarding of the Brett Bergman ’11 Memorial Senior Merit Scholarship to a graduating senior from the Mario J. Gabelli School of Business who best exemplifies an entrepreneurial spirit. Family and friends established this scholarship to honor Brett Bergman’s passion for enterprise, love of learning and intellectual curiosity. The inaugural scholarship was awarded to Michael Lefebrve, a business management major who hopes to pursue a career in hotel and restaurant management.

But the weekend wasn’t all about work. There were also events to bring together the whole community to share in some laughs. Saturday evening’s performance featuring comedian Hal Sparks drew the largest crowd – nearly 1,000 attendees enjoyed the free stand-up performance.

“Just seeing the lively reaction of both parents and students proved that it definitely was a success,” said Director of Student Programs and Leadership Carol Sacchetti. In all, Homecoming and Family Weekend was a wonderful success this year. “I think that Homecoming and Family Weekend is a beautiful time for families to come back and see how the campus is a vibrant place to be.”

Click on the link below to watch a photo slideshow of Homecoming and Family Weekend 2012.