Alumni Weekend Gets a New Recipe

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An ancestor to the food carts? The Quick Lunch Café appears to have served the State Street crowd nearly a century ago. Courtesy of UW–Madison archives #S07626.

Annual event takes the focus off class reunions and puts it on learning and food.

Badgers who return for Alumni Weekend this year will have the chance to meet up with friends they haven’t seen since their student days: guerrilla cookies.

In a reboot of its annual all-alumni event on campus, WAA is re-creating the classic confection as it takes the emphasis off of class reunions and instead promotes learning events and campus experiences for all grads and friends of the university.

“We want Alumni Weekend to be more inclusive and accessible to all alumni, no matter what year they graduated,” says Sarah Schutt, WAA’s director of alumni lifelong learning and coordinator of the alumni weekend program. “We’re trying to recognize the various points of connection that alumni feel for the UW so that they can celebrate and remember their student experience.”

Previously, the weekend’s main event was the reunion for those Badgers who had graduated a half-century earlier. But as the UW’s classes grew larger through the 1950s and beyond, alumni appeared to feel less connection with members of their graduating classes. Attendance at the events showed a steady decline over the last decade.

To replace the class reunion, this year’s series of events will highlight campus achievements and Madison and Wisconsin culture.

These include UW Showcase, a learning event that Schutt says will feature faculty whose research “shows the breadth of exciting work occurring on campus,” a Friday night fish fry, and a member breakfast prior to the athletic department’s annual Crazylegs run.

But the signature event is a Saturday night food-and-beverage tasting called Madison’s Main Course: Quintessential Cuisine Past and Present. Inspired by the suggestions from WAA members for foods that represent the student experience, Madison’s Main Course will offer the chance to sample campus-area favorites — burgers, brats, pizza, and more from the restaurants that surround the UW.

As part of the event, Alumni Weekend organizers will resurrect several foods that have disappeared from the Madison scene, including guerrilla cookies (popular in the 1970s) and recipes from Rennebohm’s drugstores, which disappeared in the 1980s.

To learn more, visit uwalumni.com/alumniweekend.

Published in the Spring 2012 issue

Tags: Alumni, Campus history, Food

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