State colleges and universities welcome back parents, alumni

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After not being able to host in-person alumni and parent weekends last year due to the pandemic, area colleges and universities are welcoming guests back to campus for events this year. 

Quinnipiac University, with campuses in North Haven and Hamden, is hosting its first ever Bobcat Weekend Oct. 29 to 31. 

“It’s a combination of both our alumni and parents and families weekend into one weekend,” said Karla Natale, associate vice president for community partnerships. “We’re doing a variety of different programming appealing to both alums and families, from fun things like a Halloween picnic outside to a talk from faculty members about how to help your student if they are struggling.” 

In past years, the alumni weekend was held separately from the parents/family weekend.

“It’s two groups that there’s a lot of connection between ... but they don’t always get to interact or see each other so we thought it would be kind of a neat way to bring everybody together as one Bobcat family,” Natale said.  

Natale said in order to make sure this event is safe, many activities will take place outdoors. 

“People will be spaced out on our quad, we have smaller event capacities for certain events and for anything indoors, we require a mask,” Natale said. “If we have bad weather and something outdoors needs to be moved indoors, we have arranged larger areas where people will be able to space out more.”

Stephanie Reitz, spokesperson for the University of Connecticut, said the university held its family weekend Oct. 8 to 10. 

Families were able to attend sporting events, open houses and other events. When indoors, everyone was required to wear a mask. 

The University of Hartford’s Hawktober Weekend started Friday and runs through Sunday, allowing both alumni and families of current students to visit campus. 

“We are doing a huge variety of events from virtual to in-person on-campus ... which is super fun going from last year having everything be virtual to being able to offer so many options this year for our community,” said Katie Berube, director of university events. 

Programs include seminars about financial aid, information sessions about study-abroad and painting events. 

“Our big culmination of the weekend is our big jazz brunch which is happening on Saturday afternoon at Rosedale Farms,” Berube said. “There’s pretty much something for everyone. There’s athletics with a lot of games happening on campus, some art programming, some sit-down and learn more about the university programming.” 

Caitlin Trinh, senior director of alumni engagement at the University of Hartford, said they got creative with the schedule and programs for this year’s weekend to be able to safely accommodate as many people as they could.

“We thought about this hybrid model, where we would set up some virtual programs, which are obviously 100% safe, tune in from your home, enjoy the content,” Trinh said. “We set off some off-campus programs so we could take advantage of venues … and for those programs that are happening on-campus, which are predominantly programs for parents and families who, of course, are looking forward to seeing their students and the college community in action, we have campus visitor requirements.” 

Southern Connecticut State University’s Homecoming runs through Monday, with some events completely virtual and some being held in-person. Events like bingo and a paint night were held online and others like a drive-in movie were held outside in-person. 

“The alums got to pick one movie and the students got to pick another so we have two screens going at the same time so that we can engage different members of our community in something that is interesting to them,” said Greg Bernard, SCSU alumni relations director.

Bernard said tailgating was eliminated for safety reasons, but there will be a community tent and  “Owl Town” — an initiative he started. 

“Which is essentially different tents for a variety of different affinity groups, athletic groups, clubs, organizations, Greek life,” Bernard said. “This year, because of COVID, we wanted to do a soft launch and do a pilot launch of just focusing on the athletic teams … Essentially Owl Town is nine or 10, 20 by 20 tents specified for each athletic group. So if you’re an alum and you haven’t been back to campus in awhile and you played on the volleyball team, it’s awesome if you walk up to the field and you see a big tent with the volleyball alumni banner.” 




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