Alumni University offers vacationers educational option

American consumers want more bang for their vacation buck today, and increasingly that means more vacationers are seeking "enrichment" alternatives to complement their fun. Today's adventurers may find their most fulfilling leisure experience can be found in the classroom.

Emory's Alumni University, which has just completed its third year, is riding the crest of this newest leisure trend. The program brought more than 150 participants to campus June 23-28 for a schedule of events that promised intellectual enrichment and old-fashioned fun for the entire family. The number of participants at this year's Alumni University, "The Revolution of the Mind Continues: Global Games," is more than triple that of last year, according to Alumni University Director Cliff Cockerham.

The program caters to travelers who say they want more active leisure time, shorter vacations and all-inclusive travel packages. Participants in Alumni University attended classes and participated in community activities, while children and teens enjoyed tennis, baseball and sports fitness camps, or the Culture Camp sponsored by the Carlos Museum. A special program was designed for Eagle Hatchlings, those children ages 3-7.

They chose from classes that explored topics ranging from Hamlet to jazz history to creating their own Web pages for the Internet during the morning, and engaged in dialogue and roundtables with faculty members and deans in the afternoon. Evening fare included choices such as a jazz concert, Braves game or dinner with the University president.

And then there's the social aspect of mingling with professors, deans and former classmates for discussions and meals together during off hours. Heady debate often results--which becomes many participants' favorite aspect of the week. The sense of community they find in an academic setting is something they carry with them for years, said Cockerham.

Participants such as Rita Charak '58C of Western Springs, Ill., said that "the people and the ideas were stimulating." Frank P. Dannelly '57T of Evergreen, Ala., said the week made him recall "the many happy hours" he spent on campus at the theology school. Other alumni used the week as an opportunity to do their own personal college recruiting. Martha Ann Todd '77C of Greenville, Ga., said that the week offered "an opportunity to begin to introduce my daughter to Emory in a realistic way."

Alumna Judith Moore '65C of Fayetteville, Ga., found her "life changing" experience when she participated in the 1994 program. "I was at the point of facing middle age and wanted to change the direction of my life," she said. "My old dreams were renewed that summer, and I've been writing again after taking the literature courses and savoring that important time for reflection that's possible on a college campus." Another alumnus called his experience "a feast for the intellect and just plain fun."

The week provides a chance for entire families to be together in dorms, cafeterias, classes and evening cultural and social events, said Cockerham. Many say it beats packing up the family station wagon and heading to the relatives for their annual holiday.

-- Joyce Bell

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