By Michael Weiskopf
Tufts’ Parents and Family Weekend will be held on Oct. 21 and 22, marking the first time in-person programming has been offered since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019. Programming will include tours of laboratories and galleries, panels with deans and lectures by professors, a significant change from the virtual programming of the past two years.
Parents and Family Weekend is hosted every year by the Tufts Parents Giving Program, a branch of the Tufts University Advancement Division focusing on parent engagement and philanthropy. Gina DeSalvo, director of the Tufts Parents Giving Program, explained that this year’s Parents and Family Weekend is especially significant because it may be the first time that many families have seen the Tufts campus in person.
“We are thrilled to welcome families back to campus to offer them the opportunity to experience the life of their Jumbo,” DeSalvo wrote in an email to the Daily. “This may be the first time some family members have ever stepped foot on Tufts’ beautiful campus and we are excited to offer them the chance to hear from our administrators, attend lectures from the outstanding faculty who are teaching their students, participate in open houses and also get a taste of the extracurricular activities our students participate in on a daily basis.”
In 2020 and 2021, Parents and Family Weekend was held entirely online. DeSalvo acknowledged that while the situation was not ideal, the university made the most of the circumstances.
“For the past two years, we developed a virtual parents and family weekend program that tried to mimic a bit of what families would experience during an in-person weekend,” DeSalvo wrote. “They were very successful with thousands of families tuning in. Families shared that they appreciated our efforts to show them what life was like on campus during what was a very different time.”
Throughout the weekend, families will have the opportunity to attend a wide range of spiritual programming with the university’s many religious communities, as well as a University Chaplaincy open house the afternoon of Oct. 21.
“Family and friends are invited to our gatherings throughout the weekend, from meditation to Jummah prayers to Catholic mass and Protestant worship,” Nora Bond, program manager of the University Chaplaincy, wrote in an email to the Daily. “Our chaplains and student groups are prepared to welcome anyone throughout the weekend. There will also be an Open House on Friday, so guests can tour the chapel and meet the chaplains.”
Bond said it’s important that families experience the resources available to Tufts’ students, regardless of their faith background.
“We are a resource for Tufts students, whether they have a religious and philosophical identity or not – we want family and friends to know that multifaith chaplains are here for their student in times of joy, sorrow, celebration, and uncertainty,” Bond wrote.
In addition to the University Chaplaincy’s programming, several professors are also offering lectures to discuss topics of personal interest. For example, Noe Montez, chair of the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, is giving a lecture on Oct. 22 titled “Hamilton and the Economics of Broadway.” Montez explained that the lecture will examine the popular musical “Hamilton” (2015) in the broader context of the theater industry.
“What I plan to do is to talk a little bit about how Broadway sort of imagines itself as the center of the theatrical ecosystem in the United States and what that means in terms of how the economics of theater work within the United States,” Montez said in an interview with the Daily. “I’ll be using Hamilton to talk about the commercial theater operating structures that exist on Broadway and to create a clearer sense of how money gets distributed and why and what that means with regards to what we’re seeing on stage when we go to the theater.”
Montez hopes that his lecture will offer parents better insight into who Tufts’ professors are and will prompt the attendees to think more critically about the media they consume.
“I’m hoping that they’ll learn a little bit more about what we do in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies,” Montez said. “I’m also hoping that the parents who attend my lecture might think a little bit more critically about the shows that they go to see and make some more informed decisions about what they’re watching and why.”
DeSalvo echoes the importance of the weekend.
“Parents and Family Weekend offers families and their student the opportunity to reconnect in person for possibly the first time since the academic year started,” DeSalvo wrote. “With the breadth of programming we provide, its also a way for families to bond over their student’s experience at Tufts in and out of the classroom.”