Free Education Draws Alumni Back

This weekend, the PSU alumni department will see the fruit of 10 months of preparation as the 2001 homecoming unfolds. All day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 27 speakers and lecturers will lead seminars in the Smith Memorial Center, all available free of charge.

Robert Kennedy Jr., the guest speaker for this untraditional homecoming, will speak during the only two paying seminars. As a noted environmental advocate, Kennedy Jr. will address the topic Our Sustainable World.

Other selected professors and lecturers will speak on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from Oregon’s musical history to the expedition of Lewis and Clark’s black slave, York, to the postmodern values of television shows to the nature of editorial cartooning.

As the annual homecoming event, the “PSU Weekend” is specifically designed to reunite alumni students. The alumni student attendance rate always proves high since 75 percent of PSU’s alumni students live in the Portland metropolitan area.

But anyone from outside of PSU is also welcome to attend. PSU Weekend has been so popular among Portland community-dwellers themselves that the event has been called “PSU’s gift to the city” by The Oregonian.

Compared to the alumni and community-dweller turnout, not many PSU students themselves take advantage of the event, as marketing and events coordinator Trish Turchiarolo-Vanoni observed.

“There’s not a huge student pull,” she said, adding that the PSU Weekend is “just one more class to students.”

Instead, students prefer to keep their weekends free to catch up on homework and sleep.

“Students don’t really want to come at 8:30 in the morning on Saturday,” she said.

Fortunately for students who want to sleep in, seminars continue until past 6 p.m. Though only a small proportion of students will attend, Turchiarolo-Vanoni estimates that PSU will receive a large turnout overall. This is based on previous homecoming turnouts.

“It’s our biggest event,” she said. “Up to 1,600 people have shown up for the PSU Weekend in the past.”

The large turnout is partially due to the alumni department’s heavy advertising. Approximately 60,000 brochures about the event have been sent out to alumni students. A sign across the sky bridge informs travelers along Broadway Avenue of the event. And brochures have been distributed to many students through their departments.

The advertising alone for the event has required thousands of dollars. But the greatest expense for the alumni department has been to pay for Kennedy Jr.’s appearance. Costs include hotel and airfare charges. An alumni department brainstorming committee consisting of PSU students and staff decided one year ago to invite Kennedy Jr. as the PSU Weekend guest speaker. Plans are already underway to select next year’s speaker.

For more information on this weekend’s events, call the PSU Weekend hotline 503-725-4949 or log on to