Alumni Weekend goes virtual, leaving crowds at home

The logo for this year’s virtual Alumni Weekend at Miami. <em>Photo provided by the Miami Alumni Association</em>‍<br>

The logo for this year’s virtual Alumni Weekend at Miami. Photo provided by the Miami Alumni Association

By Massillon Myers

Miami University’s Alumni Weekend will look a little different this year than in previous years, but the Alumni Association is hoping to provide a unique and valuable experience. Events will be held June 11-13 on a variety of online platforms.

A few days after President Gregory Crawford announced that Miami would be moving to a virtual commencement, the Alumni Association decided that for the first time, Alumni Weekend would be going virtual as well. The process began with putting together a team of 15 from the Alumni Association led by Emily George Beliveau.

“It’s been a really interesting journey navigating a somewhat unknown territory for me,” said George Beliveau, associate director of alumni relations. “We’ve hosted a lot of really great webinars and virtual alumni retreat but never had a three-day event that is totally online.”

Miami’s Alumni Weekend is one of five “Impact Weekends” for the city of Oxford, including Move-in Weekend, Homecoming, Family Weekend and Graduation. Due to Alumni Weekend being virtual this year, far fewer people will be visiting Oxford than in past Alumni Weekends, which has an impact on local businesses, according to Kim Daggy, executive director of Enjoy Oxford.

“It’s not the academic year, so normally we’re hustling and bustling with other events going on,” Daggy said. “That’s part of being a fun college town. We have great venues and amenities that bring in visitors and guests can experience our town. From swim meets and camps at Miami for kids, parents come in, drop them off and stay overnight and then come back and pick them up. So, this is a huge impact overall for lodging, restaurants, and retail for sure.”

To connect with alumni all across the world, different platforms will be used such as Instagram and Facebook in addition to the online webinars.

“I tried to diversify the different ways that we’re going to host the event,” George Beliveau said. “So, we’re going to have a webinar one night, we’re also using Instagram Live, Facebook Live, we’re trying to see where people are heading the most and use this year as a benchmark because I’d like to make this consistent from year to year for folks that can’t come back to campus.”

As of Tuesday, 1,100 people were registered for the various events. For the events hosted on Instagram and Facebook Live, registration isn’t necessary so it’s hard to know how many people will tune in for those, according to George Beliveau.

Registration for the other events is open to anyone, even people who aren’t Miami alumni.

“Registration is open for anyone. We invited incoming freshman or first year students to join us, it’s open to community members, and parents,” George Beliveau said. “My mom and grandma are even joining all the way from New Hampshire and I didn’t even go to Miami — everyone is welcome to participate.”

Some of the events include Miami trivia, a wine tasting webinar, and virtual yoga, but according to George Beliveau, there will be something for everyone.

“I tried really hard to make sure that there was something for everyone and that it represented our 220,000 alumni,” she said. “Continuing education was really important too, that’s one of our missions of lifelong learning here at the Alumni Association.”

Although alumni weekend won’t be on campus this year, as it was in this scene from last year’s celebration,, Enjoy Oxford Executive Director Kim Daggy said she hopes alumni come back to campus in smaller groups to reconnect all while following safe-distancing guidelines. Photo courtesy of the Miami Alumni Association

Although nothing will be happening on campus, Daggy said that people are still welcome to come back to campus to connect in smaller groups, as long as precautions are taken to adhere to Gov. Mike DeWine’s safe-distancing orders.

“I hope alumni come back in smaller groups or smaller reunions or make day trips which is one of the first things that will revive tourism and the economy,” Daggy said. “We’ve had stories of alumni out there that were missing Bagel & Deli and drove several hours just to get a Bagel & Deli sandwich. There are still things happening, we just have to keep safety a priority and follow government guidelines. We’re all in it together.”