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Tents, welcome banners, and red-and-white balloons are popping up all over BU’s campus as Alumni Weekend kicks off. Alums from around the world will gather through Sunday, September 27, for more than 100 events on the Charles River and Medical Campuses.
“Two highlights are a chance to roll up your sleeves and dig into archaeology and the 100th anniversary barbecue celebration of Braves Field, known to BU alumni as Nickerson Field,” says Steve Hall, vice president for alumni relations. The weekend will also feature receptions, award ceremonies honoring distinguished alums, lectures, films, panels, career workshops, and a variety of celebratory brunches, lunches, and dinners. “There really is something for everyone,” Hall says.
Two alums will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards, the University’s highest honor, at a luncheon Saturday at the George Sherman Union: Robert K. Jackler (MED’79), an otologist-neurotologist who specializes in complex ear diseases and who founded the interdisciplinary research group Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising, and Sarah Degnan Kambou (SPH’84, UNI’94), president of the International Center for Research on Women and a recipient of the Perdita Huston Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. The recipient of the 2015 Young Alumni Award is Lisa A. Wong (CAS’00, GRS’00), who is serving her fourth term as mayor of Fitchburg, Mass., and was first elected to that office at the age of 28.
Several schools and colleges will also celebrate some of their star alumni this weekend. Among the honorees is actress Uzo Aduba (CFA’05), who on September 20 won her second consecutive Emmy Award for the role of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Aduba, along with Broadway actor Greg Hildreth (CFA’05) and David Delmar (CFA’06), a designer and founder of volunteer-based Resilient Coders, will receive College of Fine Arts Inspiring Young Alumni Awards on Saturday.
The weekend will feature other luminaries as well. On Sunday, from 3 to 6 p.m., the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center will celebrate the life and work of author, activist, and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel (Hon.’74), the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and a CAS professor of philosophy and religion. Wiesel’s papers are housed at BU. Internationally known for Night, his 1960 work detailing his experiences as an inmate of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II, Wiesel has devoted a lifetime to making sure the Holocaust is not forgotten and championing human rights causes across the globe. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, and soon thereafter established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, an organization devoted to fostering international dialogue in the service of humanitarian causes.
Visitors to the Gotlieb Center exhibition Champion for Human Rights: The Life and Work of Elie Wiesel will see Wiesel’s papers, awards (including his Nobel Peace Prize), and manuscripts. To complement the new exhibition, the center has launched a website devoted to Wiesel’s archive, which contains videos of his many lectures at BU, making them available online for the first time. The event is being held at the Mugar Memorial Library’s Howard Gotlieb Memorial Gallery.
The entire BU community is invited to mark 100 years of Braves/Nickerson Field on Saturday. The Boston Braves played baseball for decades on what is now Nickerson Field, before moving to Milwaukee in 1953 (and Atlanta in 1966). According to BU Today, “It may be hard to imagine now, but for almost four decades this was home to America’s oldest professional baseball franchise. It was the site of the longest game (26 innings) in big league history, and the home field of Boston’s first black major leaguer, in 1950 (yes, almost a decade before Red Sox infielder Pumpsie Green). Fans watched up-and-coming pitcher Babe Ruth take the mound here in the 1916 World Series, and they watched him leave the batter’s box as an over-the-hill slugger during the Depression.”
The event will feature lawn games, face painting, and a photo area with a backdrop and props (including trophies from BU games), as well as performances from the BU Band and the James Montgomery (DGE’69, CAS’71) Band. Guests will take the field for virtual athletic experiences; through technology, they’ll have the chance to make soccer goals, score touchdowns, and hit home runs. The event, which runs from 5 to 7 p.m., is complimentary; the barbecue is $20 ($5 for children 12 and under).
Alums can prep for the barbecue on Saturday with a 3 p.m. panel discussion and a tour of Braves/Nickerson Field with Bob Brady, president of the Boston Braves Historical Association, Dick Johnson, curator of the Sports Museum of New England, and Phil Tate, a School of Education senior lecturer. The event starts at Rich Hall.
On Friday, alums can enroll in the daylong educational program Alumni College at Alumni Weekend. The archaeological immersion will include exclusive access to the College of Arts & Sciences Gabel Museum of Archaeology, behind-the-scenes lab tours with faculty members and PhD students, and a guided viewing of the Asian art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. More information is here.
A number of alumni networks will host receptions throughout the weekend. The BU Band Alumni Network, for example, will meet on Friday at 6 p.m. at the BU Pub and again on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. for brunch at Tavern in the Square, followed by a trip to the Allston/Brighton Parade, featuring the BU Marching Band. Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore (SED’87) will host BU’s Black Alumni Network reception at his home in Brookline on Friday at 6 p.m.
The weekend will also offer workshops for alums at all stages in their careers. “We always like to run a career track for people who are changing jobs or want to excel in their careers,” says Susan Richardson, director of alumni programs and events.
Expert counselors from the BU Center for Career Development will conduct an interactive workshop for mid-career professionals. Career coach Kim Bilawchuk (SED’03) will teach a session on overcoming job-hunting apprehension. And the Black Alumni Network will host a career panel and undergrad networking session, where alumni from various professional fields can make contacts and share their professional expertise with current BU undergraduates.
Among the other Alumni Weekend events:
“I think we have a really strong program this year,” Richardson says. “Alumni Weekend 2015 offers a good balance of social events and some really great educational experiences.”
A complete list of Alumni Weekend events is here.
Lara Ehrlich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.