Westminster Family Members Come Home for President’s First Alumni Retreat
Westminster’s inaugural President’s Summer Alumni Retreat was a resounding success as 83 Blue Jays came home to campus July 29 to 31 to engage with their alma mater. Read below for a look at the event through the eyes of Serena Lowe ’97.
“They say you can’t go back … but that’s not true. I am finishing up an amazing 3 days at my undergraduate alma mater, Westminster College. The myriad of feelings, emotions of pride, and memories that I’ve shared this weekend have been overwhelming.
At this first-of-its-kind alumni retreat, I had the opportunity to reconnect with some of my all-time favorite faculty and academic heroes (Audrey Remley, Wayne Zade, Mike Amspoker, David Collins, Carolyn Perry, and let us not forget the larger-than-life John Langton). Being here to witness some of their lectures and presentations was beyond awesome! Also reconnected with Lucy and Pat Kirby and so many others.
The school’s new President has vision rare in today’s college leaders, and Westminster’s future is certainly looking bright. Having not been back here since 2004, I had not really had an opportunity to truly reflect on what a tremendous impact this school had on me and my future – my worldview, my passion for social justice, the values that frame my character, my career choice in public policy.
What a gift the day I got the call in 1993 offering me the Churchill Scholarship, thus bringing this amazing academic institution within reach. And what a treasure the friends I’ve made along the way due to my connection with the school … including one of my besties who I spent this beautiful weekend with, Leslie Hunt, being silly girls and sleeping in the old freshman dorms again. Such wonderful memories … thank you does not seem sufficient enough to show my appreciation!!”
Alumni, faculty, staff and students relived the Westminster experience, absorbing the best Westminster has to offer including inspiration from keynote speakers, powerful lectures by legendary faculty members, relaxing social events to catch up with friends old and new, tours of the campus and the community, meaningful conversation over meals, lodging in the residence halls, and much more.
Some participants came for the whole experience, reliving their college days with a stay on campus, while others just stopped by to hear a favorite professor one more time offer up a “last lecture.”
Highlights included the following:
- Motivational words on leadership from Dr. David Pendleton of Oxford University;
- A dose of inspiration from Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Network;
- Powerful lectures given by legendary faculty members, past and present, including professors Dave Collins, Audrey Remley, Mike Amspoker, Wayne Zade, John Langton, Kurt Jefferson, Kent Palmer, Bill Carner and Nate Leonard;
- A trip down memory lane (and the chimney) with Dean Pat Kirby;
- Visits to old haunts and new favorite hangouts in the Fulton Brick District, such as Sault’s Drugstore, 1851 Underground (formerly the Tap Room/Tiff’s Ugly Mug) and Bek’s;
- Tours of Fulton to see the progress of recent years at the Playhouse, the Art House and the Fulton Innovation Center;
- A world-class presentation on “Churchill the Artist” by Tim Riley, Director and Chief Curator of the National Churchill Museum;
- An evening of fun, relaxation and live entertainment at the President’s Residence, featuring David Pendleton and the Jays, a unique 4-member jam session reminiscent of Frank Sinatra; and
- An uplifting preview of Westminster and what’s to come by President Benjamin Akande.
The event was born from alumni feedback suggesting graduates crave a deeper connection with their college. Consistently, surveys indicate that alumni value Westminster faculty members and learning above all else. While the Summer Alumni Retreat was the first of its kind at Westminster, it surely will not be the last.
Thank you to Fresh Ideas for sponsoring the food for the entire event. And a big thank you to all of the Blue Jays who came home for the first President’s Summer Alumni Retreat.