Michael Tinkler, assistant professor of art, is giving directions to a group of marble columns with a bullhorn. “We don’t have enough room for the entire Parthenon,” he tells them, surveying the Quad in front of Coxe Hall, “but I think we can do it half-size!” The columns, or rather, the Parents Weekend attendees, begin to disperse to their designated places, forming a scale model of the Parthenon, complete with a statue of the goddess Athena. It may be a cool, fall day in Upstate New York, but it’s hard not to feel a touch of warm Mediterranean Athens this morning.
After the temple collapses (on orders from Tinkler rather than from Ottoman gunpowder) a group remains behind to discuss ancient Greek architecture, with tangents into history and politics. It’s a microcosm of the liberal arts experience, a fact not lost on Christine Boyaval P’09, who traveled from Rhode Island for Parents Weekend. “This is wonderful,” she said, “with this kind of teaching you become totally engrossed, it pulls you in.”
If the standing-room only crowds were any indication, the mini-colleges were among the most popular events this weekend. They featured a wide range of faculty discussing a diverse set of topics, from Tinkler’s Athenian architecture course to Iva Deutchman of the Political Science faculty on “Modern American Conservatism” and Kristy Kenyon of the Biology faculty on “From Egg to Embryo: An Introduction to Development Biology” to Don Spector of the Physics faculty on “What Makes a Weapon a WMD?”
Before the mini-colleges, parents met with President Mark D. Gearan for the Presidential Report to Parents, an update on the success and growth of the institution. The ranks of attendees proved this fact; there were 880 total registrations for Parents Weekend, the largest tally in the Colleges history.
Other events included a Family Casino Night, HWS Cabaret, athletic competitions in field hockey, football and sailing; tours of the new Katherine D. Elliott Studio Arts Center, the Salisbury Center in Trinity Hall and the Finger Lakes Institute. It was a weekend that offered parents a glimpse into the daily life of the institution and a taste of liberal arts at the Colleges, where learning is something that can happen anywhere at any time, whether you’re wandering through the ruins of Athens or the streets of Geneva, N.Y.