Bringing the Family Together

By JoAnn Lloyd | Video by Matt Yoon

Photo by Owen Main

What do you get when you combine Homecoming and Parent and Family Weekend? Increased attendance, expanded programming, and an unforgettable experience for the whole family.

That was the goal when Ellen Cohune, assistant vice president for Alumni Outreach, and Tessa Stevens Espinoza, director of Parent and Family Programs and Commencement, created the new Mustang Family Weekend, a blend of the two popular annual fall events.

The redesigned event, held Oct. 22-25, attracted more than 1,620 families and some 6,500 individual guests — a nearly 16 percent increase in attendance over last year’s Parent and Family Weekend.

“By partnering together, we united the entire Mustang community of alumni, parents and families back on campus to celebrate Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing tradition,” Cohune said. “By combining forces, we were able to offer more than 70 events over four days to all Mustangs.”

Designed for parents and families of current students and alumni, the weekend showcased the entire range of Cal Poly’s unique academic, cultural, social and practical contributions through reunions, class demonstrations, student performances, faculty lectures, athletics events, special tours and social activities.

Cal Poly Talks – a faculty lecture series fashioned after the popular TED talks — were given on a multitude of subjects ranging from religious anxiety to law, ethics and Instagram.

Another crowd favorite was meeting the live Cal Poly Mustang mascot, Chase, and the Mustang herd.

The first-ever Legacy Lunch was held to honor those who have made Cal Poly a family tradition. Alumni with two or more family members who attended Cal Poly were invited to the new event. The winning legacy family with the highest number of Mustangs boasts 16 Cal Poly graduates.

The weekend would not have been complete without the traditional football game and tailgate activities, including the Mustang Corral Barbecue and the pre-game parade to Spanos Stadium known as the “Stampede.” Sports fans cheered as the Mustangs played rival Portland State. After a valiant effort, the Mustangs lost in a last-minute play.

Additional events included a rally with music, food and festivities for the whole family; Cal Poly’s Got Talent student showcase; and Classes Without Quizzes, focusing on such topics as cybersecurity and wine and religion.

Festivities concluded Sunday at Brunch with the President, where President Jeffrey D. Armstrong welcomed about 75 former Cal Poly Alumni Association board members and guests in recognition of their service.

The weekend was full of firsts, and that includes how the Homecoming king and queen were selected. This year, each college nominated two students to the court. Their photos and videos were posted on social media, and alumni, students, faculty and staff voted.

When the votes were tallied, Bo Oelkers and Myra Lukens, both College of Engineering students, were named king and queen, respectively.

By all standards, the weekend was deemed a success and many attendees are looking forward to returning. “My son has graduated, so I will attend in the future with him as an alum,” said one parent. “ I love Cal Poly.”

Plans are already underway for Mustang Family Weekend 2016. Mark your calendars for Oct. 20-23; you won’t want to miss out!

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