Highlights from Alumni Fall Weekend
This October I had the pleasure of returning to Brown as an official alumna and joined the rest of the A4 Board for Alumni Fall Weekend. In the ten months since I graduated, Brown is not quite the same place I left: President Ruth Simmons announced in September that she would be stepping down, and the Third World Center has a new director. Despite the sense of change in the air, I was still happy to be back in Providence, walking across the Main Green and scoping out my old student haunts.
The A4 Board started Friday night with the Taste of Rhode Island Welcome Reception, and later dinner with alumni and BAA staff at the Iron Wok. We began Saturday morning sporting brand new A4 t-shirts designed by Brian Lee ’06. After a round of discussion with alumni leaders over breakfast, we broke up to attend one of three alumni sessions on career, campus, and admissions.
The highlight of the weekend was an A4-hosted lunch with Mary Grace Almandrez at Pakarang on South Main Street, followed by a special presentation with Mary Grace about her vision for the TWC. Coming to Brown from the University of San Francisco, Mary Grace was the result of a yearlong search to replace Dean Karen McLaurin-Chesson ’74. I’d heard good things about Mary Grace from students and staff, and I immediately liked her from the start. At the front of the room Mary Grace smiled and welcomed alumni before sharing what she learned about the history of the TWC and her commitment to students and to TWC.
We were back in the afternoon to convene the A4 annual board meeting, presided over by A4 President Eric De Los Santos ’89. The weekend closed with the Alumni Recognition Ceremony, honoring former A4 and BAA president Joseph Fernandez ’85 who passed away in December 2010. To honor his memory, the BAA has created a new award, the Joseph M. Fernandez ’85 Award, to be given to an individual who has worked to bring diverse alumni together to make a positive contribution to the University community. The evening ended with a surprise honorary Brown Bear award to President Ruth Simmons, the first ever awarded to a non-alumnus. The weekend was an eye-opening experience: I learned so much about my fellow alumni and what changes were taking place at Brown. I am glad that I had the opportunity to reconnect so soon after my graduation. I look forward to attending Alumni Fall Weekend next year and hope to see you there as well.