Family Weekend brings parents, University together

Family members gather for a picnic before the football game Saturday as a part of Family Weekend. || Kristen Allen/The News

Family members gather for a picnic before the football game Saturday as a part of Family Weekend. || Kristen Allen/The News

Murray State welcomed the parents of many students during Family Weekend, a yearly tradition, on Friday and Saturday.

Re’Nita Avery-Meriwether, director of student life, coordinated Family Weekend for the second year in a row. She said it is an important tradition because many students don’t travel home each weekend.

“Family weekend is important to the student families,” Avery-Meriwether said. “For them sometimes this is the first time they have seen their son or daughter since they have arrived at school.”

Events this year included informational sessions for the parents, Alpha Omicron Pi’s Mr. MSU pageant, a welcome reception, residential college brunches, a family picnic, a fanfare concert provided by the music department, trolley tours, a tailgate dinner and football game.

More than 2,000 people were registered for Family Weekend this year and even more than that attended the weekend activities.

“We have a registration page that we have parents to sign up so we can get a count of how many people will be attending Family Weekend,” Avery-Meriwether said. “We also coordinate with the different offices the informational sessions, so we (organize) that with the presenters and then, getting schedules together for the weekend, putting the bags together for the parents and making sure that they enjoy Family Weekend.”

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, has served on the Family Weekend committee for several years. He explained how the tradition has changed over the years.

“Family Weekend has been a part of Murray State for a number of years,” Robertson said. “When I came here 20 years ago, it was then called Parent’s Weekend, so I guess it has had a long history. We changed it to Family Weekend soon after I arrived because we recognized that it’s not just parents that come back, for older students it could be spouses, it could be children coming back, it could be grandparents coming back, it could be brothers and sisters, so it’s really more of a family thing.”

Family Weekend is perhaps most important for freshmen students because for some, it’s the first time their families really get to see how involved the campus is.

“We certainly want our parents and other family members to feel a part of this educational process,” Robertson said. “We want them to feel included in the University and what’s happening at (Murray State). I think it’s important for students when their families do come back to campus as a way of connecting again particularly for freshmen. A lot of the time it’s the freshmen and sophomore parents that tend to come back.”

“I would have paid more than $5, I guarantee you that; I would have given $20 a ticket (to see) that,”

– Chuck Taul, parent from Harned, Ky., said.

The Annual Fall Fanfare Concert is a popular event at Family Weekend each year and is always considered a favorite for parents and students.

Mike D’Ambrosio, associate professor of music, coordinated the concert this year. He said the concert brings all of the University music ensembles together.

“It’s a really fun concert where many ensembles chip in and put together this large one-hour concert,” D’Ambrosio said. “We have our symphony orchestra, our symphonic wind ensemble, our jazz orchestra, University chorale and number of chamber groups as well.”

Chuck Taul, from Harned, Ky., said he enjoyed the concert because his son, Cole Taul, is a sophomore music education major who sang in the choir.

“I would have paid more than $5, I guarantee you that; I would have given $20 a ticket (to see) that,” he said.

Taul said he will continue to visit Murray State on Family Weekend every year.

Said Taul: “It gives (parents) a chance to come down and to make sure (their children are) alright.”

Story by Dominique Duarte, Contributing writer.