Bob Beagle, URI President David M. Dooley, and Alumni Association Executive Board Vice President Louise Thorson, M.B.A. '85, are pictured at the Alumni Association annual meeting held in June 2011.
During the past month, I had the pleasure of participating in a number of interesting and important events in the Alumni Center. Each of them showcased how the Center has become a vibrant home for on- and off-campus groups.
The first was the inaugural get-together of our Alumni Writers Affinity group. URI alumnus, and well-known author Tom Verde '81 was the featured speaker. Tom shared with the group his diverse professional experiences while providing “tips” on how to pursue writing as a career or a hobby. The group was composed of alumni and friends from all ages, people brought together by their passion for writing and their affinity to URI.
One of the evolutions in alumni programming that I have seen during my 30-plus years in Advancement is a gradual shift from geographically-based alumni groups to what we call “affinity” based groups. These affinity groups bring together people based on common personal and/or career interests, offering opportunities for learning and for networking. While they won’t displace groups that form in geographical regions around the country and the world, they have become increasingly popular as a complement to our alumni programming. At URI our affinity gatherings include ROTC, Journalism, Political Science, the Gay and Lesbian community, and various job settings (such as the Rhode Island Department of Transportation).
The second occasion was a “community sing” put on by the children from URI’s Child Development Center (CDC). Nearly 25 pre-school youngsters treated our Advancement Division staff to a noontime concert of favorite children’s songs, several of which were done in foreign languages. The children yelled with delight when they got a surprise visit from Rhody the Ram who joined them in singing “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.” Since it was a gorgeous spring day, the youngsters had a picnic on our Alumni Center patio. URI’s CDC is a wonderful educational laboratory for students preparing for careers in pre-school or elementary education. Getting around campus to do “community sings” is a valuable exposure to campus life for pre-schoolers.
When we built the Alumni Center nearly four years ago, we envisioned it as a “home away from home” for our alumni. We also envisioned it as a warm, welcoming place where on- and off- campus groups could gather for meetings, receptions, or other kinds of events. In that vein, Commencement weekend brought many alumni and friends into the Center, for formal gatherings or just “stop in” visits. One especially satisfying gathering was our fourth annual Legacy Brunch for graduating students, whose parents and/or grandparents are URI alumni, and their families. It is gratifying for us to honor the graduates, while at the same time paying tribute to the fact that they come from a "Rhody family.” It is also gratifying to see how proud our alumni are of their URI degrees, and how excited they are that their offspring have carried on the tradition.
Hardly a day (including weekends) goes by without some kind of program, event, or meeting in the Alumni Center. In addition to the meetings and activities held by members of the Advancement Division (we are all housed in the Center), other special activities have recently included the Harrington School of Communication and Media Advisory Council, the Alumni Association Executive Board, South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce meetings, President Dooley’s Advisory Council, and the URI-South Kingstown Town-Gown annual meeting. On-campus meetings include faculty and staff dealing with issues ranging from the budget, to human resources, to facility planning, to the bi-monthly student Public Relations symposium, to the “Senior Send-off” (sponsored by the Alumni Association).
Spring is a wonderful time on university campuses. But no campus is more beautiful or inviting than our own Kingston campus. The recently completed landscaping makeover surrounding the President’s House, Green Hall, Swan Hall, and encompassing the Quad has further enhanced the campus. This is a great time to visit URI. We hope that you can do so. If you do, please make sure that you stop by the Alumni Center on Upper College Road, where you will always be warmly greeted.
For more information about
Advancement at the University of Rhode Island, please contact:
Bob Beagle, Vice President for University Advancement
73 Upper College Road
Kingston, RI 02881-2011
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