My first Meliora Weekend

Meliora Weekend has been on my radar since I joined the University in February of this year. It was described to me as a combination of homecoming, reunion, and general festivities. I’ve been nervous, as I knew I would have many commitments—some at the same time—pulling me in different directions. Still, I was excited to have the experience.

Now that Meliora Weekend has come and gone and I’ve had the requisite time to decompress and reflect, I can confidently say it is among my most rewarding University experiences to date. I credit this largely to two things: the people and the programming.

Rochester has an incredible community, and I continue to be amazed by how welcoming it has been. Throughout the weekend, I was stopped multiple times by people I met on my travels who wanted to chat. There were also several times I was at an event and pulled aside by people who wanted to introduce themselves. This may not seem noteworthy, but I assure you it is. 

The weekend’s programming was thoroughly impressive. Even though there were many events I wasn’t able to attend, I was in awe of the scope. The River Campus Libraries used the occasion to dedicate and officially open the Mary Ann Mavrinac Studio X. In addition to recognizing the many people who made this a reality, the event allowed attendees to try virtual reality goggles and other assorted extended reality (XR) technology. That might not seem like a big deal, but I’ve had several conversations with people who had only heard of XR. I got to see some of these people utterly blown away by the experience. Until you have had one of these immersive experiences, it will be difficult to understand this technology’s potential in research, teaching, and learning. It can’t recommend trying it enough. 

I also have to note the reception that was held to introduce me to the Rochester community. Although I’m grateful it was organized, these events always make me uncomfortable, because I typically feel attention belongs elsewhere. For me, the focus should be on the work of the library and the way it serves the students, faculty members, and staff. Yet, once again, I was warmed by the conversations. It was truly a joy to hear about people’s library experiences and how happy they were to be back on the River Campus.

I left Meliora Weekend with a full heart, and more importantly, a clear mind. Some of you might relate to this—lately, the pandemic has taken the form of mental clutter; it’s not negatively affecting me in any specific way, but there’s a strong awareness of it. The weekend had a cleansing effect. I felt more like my pre-pandemic self than I have in a long time.

When I started at Rochester, I saw “Meliora” primarily as a point on the horizon, something we are striving to achieve. Now, I also see it as kind of salutation and way of wishing someone well. And with that, there’s only one way to close.


Kevin Garewal
Vice Provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean
University of Rochester Libraries