Families Weekend '96 has record guest attendance

by Amy Nunnikhoven

Families of Rice students set a new record for attendance at Families Weekend. One thousand eight hundred family members came to visit Oct. 3-6. A record percentage of the guests were extended family and friends rather than parents.

Rice first hosted a series of events targeted at students' families about 15 years ago. What began as "Parents' Weekend" only had around three events until four years ago when the Families Weekend Committee added, among other events, the campus lecture series and a campus-wide party. Panel discussions at each college recently replaced an assembly on student life.

"We have tried to let parents experience as complete a picture of college life as possible," Associate Director of University Events Jennifer Harding said. In 1993, the committee changed the name from Parents' Weekend to Families Weekend to indicate the inclusion of other family members and guests.

Some of this year's highlights were the Tailgate Barbecue, the showcase of the Gardiner Symonds Teaching Laboratory, the Leadership Rice panel discussion, brunch in the colleges and the Rice vs. University of New Mexico football game. Cultural presentations included the Wiess One-Acts, the Rice Players' The Madwoman of Chaillot and a concert by the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra.

"My assessment of the weekend is that it was very successful," Harding said. "It really showcased the best of Rice for the families and guests. It shows them that Rice has more to offer than academics."

Brown College freshman Wendy Van de Kerckhove's mother, Carole said, "It gave me a feeling for the kind of life that my daughter was leading after she had settled in and an opportunity for me to see that things were going OK for her."

The Families Weekend Committee, whose members include students, college masters, Harding and Vice President for Student Affairs Zenaido Camancho, will begin designing next year's program after Homecoming.

They will consider feedback from parents and students and attendance figures in deciding what to change.

This item appeared in the News section of the October 18, 1996 issue.

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