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Rice families flock to campus

By Hallie Jordan     10/1/09 7:00pm

The campus buzzed with activity and new faces last week as more than 2,300 guests participated in this year's Families Weekend. This number is an increase from last year, when 1,975 guests visited campus for the weekend.The two most highly-attended events were filled to capacity: all 700 tickets were distributed for Friday evening's reception at the Museum of Fine Arts and all 1,300 tickets were sold for Saturday's pre-game barbecue. The events were capped because of limited space.

"I was pleasantly surprised with the enthusiasm of families and the high attendance to the planned events," Amber Makhani, chair of the steering committee, which helped plan the weekend, said. "I truly believe that there was such a great diversity of events planned that there was something for everyone to enjoy, no matter how old or young they were, or their interests."

Director of Reunions and Special Events Jennifer Harding said despite the two events filled to capacity, there was room for most guests who wanted to attend other scheduled events.

Martel College sophomore Claire Meyer attended the MFAH reception and barbeque with her parents, who are from New Jersey.

"I really enjoyed the weekend," Meyer said. "It felt like my parents had a good exposure to what my schedule is like this semester."

Registration at the Brochstein Pavilion Friday morning served as a starting point for families, allowing them to observe the average campus Friday scene from the glass confines of the building, Harding said.

Families Weekend was designed for students' families to experience some of what they do on a regular basis, Makhani, a Martel sophomore, said.

"I hope that families left Rice thinking that their students were learning and growing in one of the best environments they could," she said.

Each year, the committee selects a general theme for the weekend that emphasizes a particular quality of the university, Harding said. This year's theme, "Rice Students. Global Citizens.", focused on Rice's international outlook, Harding said.

Each day of Families Weekend also had themes around which the events were scheduled. Thursday and Friday were academic days, Saturday was a social day and Sunday was a study day with few events scheduled.

In addition to meet-and-greets with college masters at the residential colleges, guests also had the opportunity to meet with members of the administration.

"It was a pleasure, and the well-attended coffee with President Leebron and Ping Sun gave Friday a nice energy," Harding said.

The organizers of Families Weekend have been planning the event since April, Makhani said.

"I truly feel that the faculty and staff and organizations on campus that were involved in making Families Weekend a success did a wonderful job in furthering the idea that the opportunities at Rice are virtually boundless, which means that I think we accomplished our goal," she said.

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