By Benjamin Smith
Rider University is gearing up for a weekend of family fun during the university’s annual Family Weekend, which begins today on both the Westminster and Lawrenceville campuses.
Family Weekend is “a community building event” that encompasses “all pieces of campus life,” Director of Campus Life David Keenan said. Both faculty and alumni are encouraged to participate in the events, which are designed to round out the entire Rider experience, according to Keenan.
Scheduled events include the crowning of the 2011-2012 Cranberry King and Queen, choir performances, a men’s basketball exhibition game against East Stroudsburg University and one of Rider’s favorite events, Bronc Bingo.
Students are anticipating the festivities and the chance to reconnect with family.
“I’m very excited,” freshman Samantha Patllitto said. “I haven’t seen my parents in a few weeks so it’s going to be really great to see them. Also, I get to sing at family weekend with the Rider Vibes so that’s going to be a lot of fun as well.”
The crowning of the Cranberry King and Queen is a deep-rooted tradition for Rider.
“[Former] President Andrew J. Rider was also an agriculturalist who became one of the largest cranberry growers in New Jersey, earning recognition as the ‘Cranberry King,’” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Steven said. “Rider University’s colors, cranberry and white, are in recognition of this aspect of President Rider’s career.”
The weekend includes several different celebrations including the Leadership Development Program’s (LDP) induction ceremony and the Founder’s Day Program, which will celebrate some of Rider’s standout achievers.
The program teaches leadership through academic and experiential learning. LDP students graduate with a certificate in leadership after fulfilling the requirements of the program. The LDP will induct 50 new members who were accepted into the program during the spring and fall semesters. The ceremony will mark the first year that students from Westminster will be inducted into the program, according to Laura Seplaki, director of LDP.
“We are proud to state that business, liberal arts, education, science and the arts are all represented within our membership,” Seplaki said. “This year’s inductees have already made significant leadership contributions to both their communities at home and Rider, and we are looking forward to helping them hone their skills.”
Sophomore Keira Aukamp is one of the new members.
“[LDP is] a unique experience where I can gain leadership and community service experience,” Aukamp said.
The Founder’s Day Program honors the top 1 percent of seniors, juniors and sophomores from each of Rider’s six academic colleges (the College of Business Administration; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the College of Education; the College of Continuing Studies; Westminster Choir College and the School of Fine and Performing Arts) as Andrew J. Rider Scholars.
The award, based competitively on students’ grade point averages, is one of the highest academic honors a student can achieve while an undergraduate at Rider University.
First established in 1975, the Andrew J. Rider Awards Ceremony has taken place every year since. This year, 61 students will be honored at the ceremony at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Joel Phillips, professor of composition and music theory, will give the faculty address and Carolynne Lewis-Arévalo, a senior psychology major, will present the student address.
One of the scholars, junior Kelly Sandefur, is honored to be recognized at the ceremony.
“Being recognized during the Founder’s Day ceremony is a great honor and one that I will cherish,” Sandefur said. “With the support of family and friends I have been able to balance the demands of being a student athlete and this weekend I get to reap the benefits of such an accomplishment.”