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Packed Agenda for Alumni Weekend

From lectures to hockey, classes to ceremonies, more than 100 events


Slide show by Nathaniel Boyle and Robin Berghaus. Photographs by Kalman Zabarsky, Frank Curran, and Jessica Sharp (COM’08)

An all-star cast of alumni, faculty, and guests will be on hand for Alumni Weekend 2009, and more than 100 social, educational, and reunion events are on tap.

The weekend started yesterday with the Howard Zinn Lecture Series and Scarlett Key awards ceremony and reception, and will feature a conversation with Bill O’Reilly (COM’75), host of Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor; the presentation of the Boston University Distinguished Alumni Awards; and more than a dozen Alumni College classes, including a session on the war in Afghanistan with Andrew Bacevich, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of international relations.

On the lighter side, there will be plenty of reunion luncheons and receptions, a men’s ice hockey game (with a ’50s-themed pregame party), and the presentation of alumni awards by individual schools and colleges, including a College of Communication Distinguished Alumni Award to legendary tennis writer Bud Collins (COM’09).

“Alumni Weekend 2009 is a milestone in Boston University’s history,” says Steven Hall, associate vice president for alumni relations. “For the first time, all 17 schools and colleges will host more than 2,000 alumni and their family members on both the Charles River and the Medical Campuses at the same time. When you get that many Terriers gathered, it’s powerful.”

Hall adds that in addition to a record 106 events, the programming is expanding this year to include the Distinguished Alumni Awards luncheon and the Inaugural President’s Panel on Energy. “We’re pulling out all the stops to ensure that our alumni make relevant connections, learn something new, and have a great time,” he says.

The Inaugural President’s Panel: Perspectives on Energy and Our Future will take place on Saturday, October 24, at 2:30 p.m. in the School of Management auditorium. President Robert A. Brown will be joined by three industry experts: Steven E. Koonin, undersecretary for science at the U.S. Department of Energy, Thomas M. Connelly, Jr., executive vice president and chief innovation officer at DuPont, and Philip Giudice, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.

“The development of alternative energy sources that will meet a large fraction of our energy needs is critical to the economic health of our country and to the environmental future of our planet,” says Brown. “My hope for the panel is that through the session with this group of experts we will heighten awareness and knowledge of this critical issue in our community. The panelists bring to us tremendous scientific, technological, and economic experience on alternative energy sources. I am confident that their presentations and the discussion that follows will serve this purpose well.”

Before joining the Department of Energy, Koonin was chief scientist for oil company BP Global, from 2004 to this past March. He spent most of his career at the California Institute of Technology, where he became a professor in 1981 and served as provost from 1995 to 2004.

Connelly joined DuPont in 1977 as a research engineer and has held a variety of positions, including vice president and general manager of DuPont Fluoroproducts and then senior vice president and chief science and technology officer. He was named executive vice president in 2006.

Giudice was senior vice president at EnerNOC, a start-up company that provides electricity demand management services to businesses, institutions, utilities, and grid operators, before joining the state Department of Energy Resources. He also was a senior partner and leader of the global energy utilities practice at Mercer Management Consulting.

The event is free and open to the public.

O’Reilly will talk with fellow COM Distinguished Alumni Award winner William Wheatley, Jr. (COM’70), former executive vice president of NBC News, on the topic A Bold Fresh Look at the Future of News tonight at 6 p.m. The controversial O’Reilly began his journalistic career at BU, as his book A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity details. COM will present this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards at the event, which takes place in the George Sherman Union Metcalf Ballroom, 775 Commonwealth Ave.

Saturday offers a full slate of activities. At the 63rd annual Alumni Awards ceremony and lunch, four alums will be recognized with the highest honor the University gives graduates. Boston University Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented to Martha Coakley (LAW’79), the attorney general of Massachusetts, Young-Jae Han (GSM’79), chair and CEO of the Korean paint company DPI Co., Thomas Insel (CAS’72, MED’74), director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Karen Mavrides (CAS’68), an investment consultant and corporate treasurer for Frank E. Basil, A.E., in Athens, Greece. Alexi Giannoulias (CAS’98), the state treasurer of Illinois, and Michael Medico (CFA’94), an actor and the founder and executive producer of the Hot in Hollywood benefit, will receive Young Alumni Awards. The event takes place at noon at the George Sherman Union Metcalf Ballroom, 775 Commonwealth Ave.

Alumni College classes will also be held on Saturday; there is time to take two classes in the morning and one in the afternoon. The cost is $10 for a class pass.

Afghanistan: The Other War will be offered only once, during the morning session. Three faculty members will discuss where the war stands now and where it might be headed: Bacevich, also a CAS professor of history, Thomas Barfield, a CAS professor of anthropology, and Charles Dunbar, a CAS professor of international relations. Stephen Kinzer (CAS’73), a former New York Times correspondent and currently a CAS visiting professor of international relations, will moderate.

Other classes in the morning session are The New Job Security; Safe Investing in Risky Times, with Zvi Bodie, BU’s Norman and Adele Barron Professor of Management; Reinventing an Industry: Apple and the Music Business; Twelve Months Later: The Face of Reform; The Future of Clean Energy: Challenges to Sustainable Energy Technology; and Customer’s Mindset: What Metrics Matter?

Afternoon classes are Try a New Language; Hamlet and Othello in the Arab World; A Bird’s-Eye View of New England; There’s No Business Without Show Business: Presenting as Performance; Getting In: Inside the Undergraduate Admissions Process; and Affording It: Inside the Financial Aid Process.

“We are thrilled to provide so many opportunities for our alumni and friends to become engaged in,” says Meg Umlas, executive director of alumni relations. “It’s a time for them to become reconnected with the institution and their fellow alumni. We hope this becomes an annual tradition — and not only for those alumni celebrating milestone reunions.”

A full schedule of Alumni Weekend activities is available here. Attendance is expected to be high. Visit the Alumni Weekend headquarters in the GSU Back Court to find out if tickets are available.

Cynthia K. Buccini can be reached at cbuccini@bu.edu.

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