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Back 2 Bellingham Alumni and Family Weekend is May 13 to 16

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Call it a mega-reunion.

Two colleges, several student groups and some of the biggest academic departments on campus are just a few of the 28 reunions happening May 13 to 16 during Western Washington University’s Back 2 Bellingham event.

Add gatherings for a dozen or more student groups, throw in a headlining keynote speaker or two, and it adds up to be the biggest event the Alumni Association has ever put on, says Chris Roselli (’99), an assistant director of the association who is coordinating the event.

“I regularly hear from Western alumni that they want to come back to Bellingham,” Roselli says. “This weekend is designed to give our alumni not only a chance to enjoy the city they love, but ultimately remember their days as a student, reconnect with their friends and classmates and relive their Western experience.”

Huxley College of the Environment and Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies are both celebrating 40th anniversaries that weekend. Each college will host reunion parties on the opposite ends of campus Friday, May 14 and continue all weekend long with speakers and other gatherings.

Meanwhile, the weekend will be filled with reunions and events for groups ranging from Associated Students governing boards to the Ethnic Student Center and Residential Advisors.

Other gatherings and activities will be open to all alumni, such as an All Alumni Celebration in Wilson Library, a Downtown Bellingham Bash and boat cruises on Bellingham Bay. There will also be afternoon and evening activities for kids in third- through eighth-grade to enjoy on their own.

And WWU parents will be on campus, too, for the annual Showtime Family Weekend.

Headlining the weekend will be a keynote speech by author Timothy Egan, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for non-fiction. His talk is sponsored by Huxley College for their 40th anniversary celebration and open to the campus community. Egan will be introduced by U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee.

With Egan’s historical perspective on the interplay between people and the planet, he seemed like a fitting speaker on a weekend marking the 40th anniversary of Huxley College, says Brad Smith, dean of the college.

“The college mirrors the growth of the current environmental movement,” Smith says. “Huxley was formed the same time as the first Earth Day, and the same year the Environmental Protection Agency was formed. We’ve been a part of that evolutionary development over the last 40 years.”

Meanwhile, the stories of Fairhaven College and its students will be a highlight of their reunion weekend, with speakers including Jerry Flora, WWU’s president at the college’s founding, President Bruce Shepard and Dean Roger Gilman (’73).

But the college is also collecting alums’ own stories and memories, both in the form of oral histories that students will record that weekend and trivia questions to share at the celebration.

“We’re trying to highlight the accomplishments of alumni,” says Amy Keeling (’07), Fairhaven’s outreach coordinator. “It’s mainly just a chance to reconnect with everyone and make it really fun.”

Faculty-led seminars open to alumni will also give graduates a chance to reacquaint themselves with “that intense intellectual engagement with other people thinking through a problem,” Gilman says, “an experience that characterizes a Fairhaven College education.”

For information on all 28 Back 2 Bellingham reunions and 100-plus activities, visit www.wwualumni.com/b2b.

Tickets to Timothy Egan’s talk will be free, but are required for entry. Get them by signing up for Back 2 Bellingham at www.wwualumni.com/b2b.

A limited number of tickets may also be available at the WWU box office. Call (360) 650-6146.