Queen's University

MiniU/Spring Reunion weekend another huge success


Hundreds of alumni re-lived memories at MiniU/Spring Reunion weekend.

Paul Chi Pang Siu, Comm’05, travelled from Hong Kong to be with his class for their five year reunion. “I’m looking forward to the weekend; it’ll be interesting,” said Mr. Siu when registering on Friday afternoon. “I think being back on campus will bring back a lot of good memories.”

Jackie Lewis, ArtsSci’11, and Kathleen (Beaumont) Hill, Arts’50 Jackie Lewis, ArtsSci’11, and Kathleen (Beaumont) Hill, Arts’50.

Volunteer Jackie Lewis, ArtsSci’11, greeted Kathleen (Beaumont) Hill, Arts’50, as she entered the registration room. Ms Hill travelled all the way from Vancouver to attend her reunion because of her loyalty to Queen’s. “I told my kids you can go to any university you want as long as it’s Queen’s,” she said with a smile. “Not only did all of my children come here, but all their friends did too.”

The weekend offered a wide variety of open houses, tours and MiniU sessions.

Over 60 people attended Friday night’s “Great Astronomical Discoveries from Great Astronomical Observatories” session. Physics professor Stephane Courteau gave the attentive audience an overview of major milestones in astronomical discoveries and advances in technology, as well as a tour of the Queen’s observatory.

Melanie Hall PhD student and observatory coordinator Melanie Hall (right) gave participants a firsthand look at the Queen's observatory.

"This was our first time here, we didn't really know what to expect so we picked some lectures that sounded interesting,” said Alexandra Ardern, BComm '81, who attended Professor Courteau’s session with her mother Elsie MacBeth. “Everything has been just great. Everyone is just so passionate about their topic that it's made everything really interesting."

High praise for the sessions continued throughout the weekend. Sociology professor David Lyon explained to his audience what we need to think about when we’re “Living in a Super-Surveilled World.”

“I thought this lecture was really interesting in how it flowed based on the audience's questions and comments,” said Gloria Isnor, who isn’t an alumni, but thought MiniU sounded interesting. “It was great how he really used the entire audience to shape the lecture, and was able to talk about everything they asked.”

MiniU appealed to a number of local residents, and they took full advantage of the weekend.

“Last year for dad's 80th birthday I bought him a weekend pass and we both enjoyed it so much we came back this year,” said Brett Kops who was once again attending with his father George Kops. “As a Kingston resident, it's a real eye-opener to see what Queen's does. The lectures have been very good and the topics are all different from last year.”

Les MacKenzie Professor Les MacKenzie delivered his "Last Lecture on Earth" to a full Ellis Hall.

On Saturday afternoon, Anatomy and Cell Biology professor Les MacKenzie packed Ellis Hall for his Last Lecture on Earth “Human Monster’s: Fact or Fiction”. He broke the audience into groups trying to define monstrosity, and then brought everyone together to separate the fact from fiction in the genesis of the human monster.

"I really enjoyed the lecture, it was disturbing and reassuring all at once,” said George Jackson, Political Studies '85. “It was really interesting when he got into the idea of monstrosity as physical or mental. I'd never thought about it that way. I also thought he was just a really great speaker, really interesting, and the audience participation was fun."

The participants weren’t the only ones enjoying the session. The people giving the lectures were having fun too. Biology professor John Smol presented two sobering topics over the weekend “Arctic Environments” and “Human Activities, Water Pollution and Environment Change.”

John SmolProfessor John Smol explained how changes in the arctic have an extreme impact on the rest of the world.

"I've been involved with MiniU since it started, and I got involved for so many reasons,” said Dr. Smol. “Public education is really important and these are issues that people need to know about. I think there was also a demand for an educational aspect to Spring Reunion. People wanted to have these kinds of lectures and tours, and I think it’s a great fit. And the people who come out to these events are so interesting, and have a lot of great questions, it's just a lot of fun for me to do."

The tours and demonstrations throughout the weekend were also well attended and enjoyed. Registration for the tour of the Anatomy Museum filled up quickly and Charles Graham supplemented a tour of the remarkable facilities on campus with an overview of his groundbreaking cancer research.

"The lecture was great, and the professor was very charismatic and informative,” said Shawn Butler. “We really learned a lot.”

Other participants echoed the praise. "I did my Occupational Therapy degree here 20 years ago, although the lab wasn't in this building then,” said Anne Robertson. “This is my first time back, and it's a pretty neat experience."

Herb StaceyBruce Alexander, Comm'60, Chris Nowakowski, Comm '60, and Ben Peco, PhysEd'02, listen to Herb Stacey explain the intricacies of the Queen's Centre.

The tour of the Queen’s Centre by Herb Stacey, Associate Director, Facilities and Business Development in Athletics and Recreation also impressed his crowd.

“When we attended football training camp about 80 of us lived in the small gym on metal bunk beds; it’s a different scene in here now,” said Bruce Alexander, Comm'60 and former Gael’s defensive end. “I’m impressed. It is just an absolutely fabulous facility.”

Recent graduates agreed. “It's fantastic, just beautiful,” said Ben Peco, PhysEd’02, after the tour. “It'll do wonders for athletes at the university and non-athletes as well. It’s just an amazing facility for the students and has plenty of amateur reach.”

Events took place outside of the campus buildings as well, as a number of departments and Queen’s organizations held reunions of their own to coincide with the weekend. In City Park, Camp Outlook held a 40th Anniversary barbeque. Camp Outlook was founded in 1970 by Queen’s medical students who recognized the therapeutic value of taking at-risk and underprivileged teenagers on wilderness trips.

Camp Outlook(Right to left) Carly Ainlay, Camp Outlook Board of Directors member, and former camp volunteers Kevin Parker, Richard Kicksee and Barb Parker enjoyed the Camp Outlook photo albums.

 Kevin Parker – a day tripper the first year the camp started – attended the barbeque to see his old friends. Not only did his days at Camp Outlook lead him to pursue a career in child psychology, he also met his wife there. “I hired her in 1971,” Mr. Parker said with a smile.

“In 1971 it just looked like a fantastic way to spend the summer,” added his wife Barb. “Little did I know where it would lead me.”

Across the campus, in the parking lot beside Tindall Field, an eager crowd gathered to see the Queen’s Formula SAE team’s race car in action.

“I saw the car on display at the Integrated Learning Centre and had to see something that that can go from 0-100 in 2.9 seconds,” said Bob Beamish, Sci’60. “The demonstration was excellent. But we’ve been having a great time all weekend. The weather has been lovely and re-convocating was really nice.”

Re-convocating was definitely a highlight of the weekend, and people from around the world packed Grant Hall to don the Queen’s hood and gown a second time.

Reconvocation Re-convocation was a popular part of the weekend again this year.

Janet Penny, ArtSci '85, was excited that her family could see her graduate the second time around. “I had the best years of my life here,” she said at re-convocation. “It’s important to take advantage of this kind of opportunity so my children can see what you can achieve. I want to show my kids that with hard work, they can graduate from Queen's too.”

With the overwhelming success of 2010, plans for next year are already in the works. You can follow the progress at www.queensu.ca/alumni/programs/events.html.

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Last updated at 9:31 pm EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
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