Grads enjoy weekend Reception

Not many students get to say they have hung out in the president’s backyard.

However, their chance to do so came Sunday morning, when the President’s and Chancellor’s Reception was held in the gardens of The President’s House at 711 W. Florida Ave. in Urbana.

Graduates and their families were invited to the event — featuring a jazz band, food and a chance to get a photo taken with University President B. Joseph White and Chancellor Richard Herman— at no cost.

“It’s really nice to get to take a picture with the president and chancellor after four years when we go to such a big school,” said Erinn Mitchell, a graduating senior in LAS.

Although the event took place bright and early — from 8 to 9:30 Sunday morning — students and parents lined up across the front of the house and to the driveway to take photos with White and Herman.

“It’s an honor to be here, and we love gardens,” said Mitchell’s mother, Bonnie Mitchell.

For some parents, the reception was one of the last chances to experience campus life before their sons and daughters graduated.

“We haven’t gone to a lot of football games or Dad’s Weekends or anything, so this is our last chance to experience anything like that, since this is our last member of the family in school graduating,” said Laurel Soler of Glenview. “It’s a chance to have a more personal moment with the University instead of crowds and traffic.”

For others, the event was a chance to see just what The President’s House is like.

“I wanted to see if the artwork inside the house was any good,” said Tom Phelan, a 1980 graduate of the University attending with his daughter.

As the action at the reception began to wind down, guests began to prepare for the rest of the day’s activities and events.

“I’m excited to graduate … I’m going to law school after this year,” said Megan Kreminski, a graduating senior in LAS.

Although some graduates were worried about the current economy, Kreminski said she feels safe for now.

“I have three years to figure out what to do, and hopefully the economy gets better,” she said.

Graduates were out in force across campus on Sunday, most in their blue caps and gowns.

Joseph Brom, a senior in Engineering, was on the Quad with his parents Sunday afternoon taking photos. Brom and his family chose not to attend the campus-wide graduation at Assembly Hall that morning, opting to attend only the Engineering ceremony.

“You don’t really get recognized. You just stand up and sit down, so I didn’t really think it was worth it,” Brom said.

Although Brom is excited to be moving on to graduate school at Penn State University, his younger brothers know an era is coming to a close.

“This is the last summer he’ll be spending at home and then he’ll be living somewhere else for the rest of his life,” said Brom’s brother, Paul.

Many parents and students appreciated the intimacy of the departmental convocations.

“It was very personalized for a school of this size,” said Peggy Staehlin regarding the Chemistry department ceremony.

In the end, Convocation Day was a bittersweet one for many graduating students.

“I’m excited about finally finishing my degree,” said David Reif, a graduating senior in LAS. “But I’m not excited for everything changing after four years.”