When the Association of Emory Alumni (AEA) announced
earlier this semester that, beginning in 2004, its annual Alumni
Weekend would be moved from the third week of September to the weekend
preceding Commencement, the change was met with a less-than-enthusiastic
response by the Emory student newspaper.
Editorials in The Emory Wheel came out against the move, saying
among other things that students were not consulted during the process.
Just a short time later, though, any perceived controversy had blown
over, and the paper’s editorial stance had switched to promote
“There never was a groundswell of opposition,” said
Bob Pennington, vice president for alumni affairs and special development
programs. “There were a couple people who chose to rise up,
but we are very pleased with the way things have come out.”
The plan to move Alumni Weekend to the spring began more than a
year ago. From there, AEA had to leap through several hoops to make
the change a reality. First it had to go to the AEA Board of Governors,
then to the Commencement Committee chaired by Vice President and
Secretary of the University Gary Hauk.
From there, a host of individuals and organizations reviewed the
plan, ranging from President Bill Chace and interim Provost Woody
Hunter, to the Facilities Management Division and the Student Government
Association, to the Emory Police Department. All of them signed
off on it.
Students had several opportunities to speak up on the subject, Pennington
said. Public meetings were held and student groups were involved
in the signing-off process on the plan, and several student leaders
attended an informational dinner at the Miller-Ward Alumni House.
Pennington said the reasons behind Alumni Weekend’s move to
spring are manifold: Programming is broader and more flexible in
the time approaching Commencement; the weather is friendlier; and
the schedules for prospective attendees are better in the spring
than in the fall. All of these issues, Pennington said, should result
in higher attendance for the event.
A LearnLink conference explaining the justification and process
behind Alumni Weekend’s move debuted in mid-April, clearing
up any confusion caused by earlier stories. Once the conference
debuted, published criticism of the move disappeared.
Although the conference appeared after the first oppositions were
aired, its creation was not a response to them, said Allison Dykes,
AEA’s associate vice president for operations. A conference
detailing the issues was planned all along, it just hadn’t
hit the web. Since the conference was created, no posts have been
critical of the plan.
A proposed schedule posted to the LearnLink conference sketches
out a variety of programming geared to include graduates, alumni
and their families. One of the new events is a concert in the Schwartz
Center for Performing Arts that will feature students and alumni.
“It’s our hope that we can create some alumni events
that undergraduates will be excited to participate in, as well,”