The Green is filled for the outdoor Dela-bration.

Old friends, new memories

Blue Hens fill campus for annual Alumni Weekend festivities


1:10 p.m., June 11, 2015--Flush with old friends and new memories, the seventh annual University of Delaware Alumni Weekend was a record-setting event, with more than 6,000 Blue Hens returning to the Newark campus June 5-7.

This year marked major milestones for the University, as the campus bid farewell to two of its most iconic residence hall complexes, Rodney and Dickinson, as well as to the president who helped establish this annual celebration seven years ago. 

Campus Stories

From graduates, faculty

As it neared time for the processional to open the University of Delaware Commencement ceremonies, graduating students and faculty members shared their feelings about what the event means to them.

Doctoral hooding

It was a day of triumph, cheers and collective relief as more than 160 students from 21 nations participated in the University of Delaware's Doctoral Hooding Convocation held Friday morning on The Green.

Growing in popularity each year, Alumni Weekend affords former roommates, classmates and professors the opportunity to meet and share memories of UD while creating new ones. 

“Since 1998, I hadn’t been to one UD event. This year, I’ve already been to three,” said John Choi, a member of the Class of 1998. “I’m motivated now to reach out and meet people, to make connections.”

Choi’s sentiment reflects the University’s overarching strategy to increase alumni engagement and expand Blue Hen networks.

With dozens of events – including the open air Dela-bration on the Green, college receptions, reunions, tours, a Kid Zone and a 5K run – Alumni Weekend had something for everybody, regardless of age or interest.

“I love coming back to UD, staying connected and seeing all of the change on campus,” said Melanie Mitchell, a 2005 graduate who donned a hoodie that read, “I may live in California, but I graduated from Delaware.” 

To recreate their college experience, more than 2,200 attendees opted to spend the weekend in University residence halls. 

Reunions were held for the classes of 1965, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. Together, members of all reunion classes raised more than $4 million for their alma mater. 

Attendees Ron Moore, George Gianforcaro and Paul Hagerty understand the importance of reunions. Four of their children were born within weeks of each other in the summer of 1998, and they brought all of the newborns to a UD football tailgate just months later. 

The three best friends and 1991 engineering graduates are in the process of planning their 25-year reunion for 2016. 

“This is one of the highlights of our year,” said Moore. “We love UD.” 

About the Alumni Weekend events

Following an early evening of college and affinity receptions, Alumni Weekend officially kicked off with the sold-out, eagerly anticipated Dela-bration on The Green. 

An open air event with games, photo booths and great food and drink, Dela-bration was a night to remember. Barcelona, a party band from Philadelphia, played three hours of live music while alumni and friends gathered around the giant screens, vibrant lights and throngs of dancing Blue Hens.

“This school rules. I love you guys,” one alum posted on Instagram, with a shot of The Green. Another tweeted, “I sometimes think about where to go if I were to go to grad school, and then I realize I can’t go anywhere that isn’t UD. #BlueHensForever.”

The Dela-bration wasn’t limited to Newark, with Dela-bration Nation events hosted by alumni clubs in Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Chicago.

Friday’s events also included receptions hosted by the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Arts and Sciences; Health Sciences; Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics; Earth, Ocean, and Environment; Education and Human Development; and Engineering. 

“UD is a special place,” said Linda Justice Myrick, a Double Del who graduated alongside her husband Steve in 1977 with a chemical engineering degree. “Retired professors still come to events. They are world-renowned chemical engineers, and they don’t have to look at nametags. It is truly a family atmosphere.” 

Popular happenings on Saturday, June 6, included the University of Delaware Alumni Association Wall of Fame ceremony and reception at the Roselle Center for the Arts, reunions, presentations and the Kid Zone with an “Under the Sea” adventure at the Early Learning Center.

In Mitchell Hall, President Patrick Harker discussed the challenges and opportunities facing UD and higher education during a State of the University address, where he was joined by Provost Domenico Grasso who introduced the University’s new strategic plan, Delaware Will Shine, to weekend guests.

Returning Blue Hens had the chance to visit the UD Botanic Gardens, tour different parts of campus and participate in several interesting academic programs offered by UD alumni, faculty and staff.

Saturday also included a “Farewell, West Campus” event, on the grounds of the now-closed Rodney and Dickinson residence halls.

On Sunday, June 7, alumni and their families and friends participated in the seventh annual Blue Hen 5K Run/Walk, which featured a course along White Clay Creek. Younger visitors enjoyed the Kids Fun Run held prior to the regular race.

“Alumni Weekend is a chance to catch up with friends,” said Michelle Mahaney Scott, a graduate of the Class of 1990. “I came two years ago just to run. Last year we ran and did the Dela-bration. Now, we’re doing everything!” 

Click here for a compilation of social media posts about the weekend. 

About the Office of Development and Alumni Relations

The Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) engages donors, alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff and students in a lifelong relationship and fosters a tradition of philanthropy to strengthen the University of Delaware’s legacy as one of the great public institutions of higher education in America.

For more information about DAR, visit the website or call 302-831-2341.

Additional articles and resources

UD in Photos

Storify site

State of the University presentation

Alumni Wall of Fame

President Harker hosts Champagne Brunch

Blue Hens bid farewell to the Dickinson and Rodney residence hall complexes

Problem-based learning workshop

Photos by Evan Krape, Kevin Quinlan, Wenbo Fan and Doug Baker

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