School Is Back in Session at Alumni College 2015


At the beginning of every summer, the University of Texas campus empties as students move out of their dorms. As they leave, a group of new and excited students move in—but not the kind you would expect. They are all UT alumni.

For three days every June, alumni are invited back to campus to relieve their university experience in the form of Alumni College. The Texas Exes lecture series highlights the best aspects of the college experience—the beautiful campus, a first-class education, and plenty of school pride—and all without the stress of tests and cafeteria food. And the lectures are rigorous.

“I just presented a whole-semester’s worth of information. So you are at the same level of some of my students,” social work professor Catherine Cubbin said after her talk, “Social Inequalities in Health: Race, Class, and Residential Segregation.”

This year, topics ranged from problems in health care to sports innovation, and some of the material was foreign to the audience. But what made the professors great was their ability to fascinate and excite their students.

Anthropology professor Christopher Kirk had the audience cheering as he talked about primate fossils in West Texas and his own discoveries in Big Bend National Park.

“If you guys want to get up and leave, I won’t blame you,” Kirk joked as he delved into a story about finding an intact lower jaw on a dig, but an audience member adamantly shouted “No!” in response.

English professor Elizabeth Richmond-Garza led a similarly exciting session entitled “From Jack the Ripper to Facebook: Victorian Double Lives and Their Modern Legacy.” Her lecture compared the idea of a double identity in Victorian England and the present day. She compared tweets to Oscar Wilde’s so-called “Oscarisms,” his famous quotes that typically contained fewer than 140 characters.

“I know as an English professor I’m supposed to hate Twitter,” she said. “But I think it’s quite an accomplishment to say something in 140 characters or less.”

Attendees like Joyce Wilkenfeld, BS ’90, Life Member, gave rave reviews of Alumni College.

“I’ll definitely come back next year,” Wilkenfeld said. “In two days I’ve learned so much!”

Susan Yerkes, BA ’75, also had a positive experience.

“I decided this was one of things that I wanted to come to every year as long as I could possibly move,” she said. “Education is about making people think and giving them a forum in which to discuss their ideas and make the world better.”

Photo by Anna Donlan.


Tags: , , ,


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment