In keeping with our Presidential visits to Rochester series, on October 20th, 2011, former President Bill Clinton spoke at the University of Rochester’s Meliora Weekend.
This morning at the University of Rochester’s Meliora Weekend — sporting my new Media pass kindly offered just a few minutes before by University Spokesperson Sara Miller — I spotted UR’s President Joel Seligman. Five years ago, President Seligman had introduced — as I and a packed Kodak Hall watched — President Bill Clinton as the 2011 Meliora Keynote Speaker.
Today, I wondered what President Seligman most vividly recalled 5 years later — what President Seligman called one of his most exciting experiences. First, President Seligman remembered that Clinton had just flown back from China. He’d had only a few hours sleep but his irrepressible energy shone through.
On the podium, President Seligman asked what were Clinton’s 10 favorite novels or novelists. The question was sparked by President Seligman’s memory of JFK once being asked to name his top ten favorite books.
For Clinton, Gabriel Garcia Marquez was first. Clinton then rattled off nine more without missing a beat. (President Seligman says Sara can provide the full list.) Later, President Seligman mentioned to Clinton he was surprised none of the Russians were named. Oops, winced Clinton, I should have said Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and the Margarita
Master and the Margarita is also one of President Seligman’s must reads. And what Great Books is President Seligman now reading? A recent translation of The Iliad by Peter Green. And always a biography. Currently it’s Richard Ellman’s Oscar Wilde. President Seligman says Wilde is even better than Ellman’s James Joyce.
To older people, five years doesn’t seem like such a long time. But for Yuki Gonzalez ’17 working a Meliora booth in Wilson Commons, the last five years have been life transforming. 5 years ago, living in Paraguay, Yuki had never heard of Rochester, NY, much less its university.
But a Peace Corp volunteer helped Yuki fill out applications for American universities. And — undertaking a great adventure — here he is in Wilson Commons, a very different person from the teenager in Paraguay. Yuki and I agreed life is probably not that dramatically different for Clinton and Seligman (as President Seligman said he’s still here) and myself than in 2011. But who knows what adventures are in store for Yuki before his own reunion, Meliora Weekend 2021?
Meliora Weekend 2016 is already off to an auspicious start. President Seligman expects number to top previous records set in 2011.
Already, yesterday, in The sky announces the Moon Dress landing at Meliora Weekend, you witnessed the aerial debut of the Moon Dress.
First year student Sarah Wise recently began learning the carillon. She was thrilled to tout the wild bells. Sarah took the M pic, capturing the secret Talker hand signal known only to the magazine staff.
on the carillon, see “Ring out, Wild Bells”
More on the day see: Score one for love at Meliora Weekend
In When President John Quincy Adams visited Rochester on July 27th and 28th, 1843 and toured Mt. Hope Cemetery, the grave of Nathaniel Rochester.
In On Abraham Lincoln in Rochester from Michael Nighan, a plaque and a train station.
In Memorial Day, 1892, when President Benjamin Harrison dedicated the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument in Washington Square Park with Frederick Douglass. And Occupy Rochester, Benjamin Harrison, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in the same park Occupy would occupy.
In FDR’s first visit to Rochester as a national candidate, September 23rd, 1920. And the League of Nations., Rachel in Washington Square Park.
In 45 years ago when President Nixon visited Rochester. And 3 days later when East High School erupted in racial violence a media briefing at the Landmark Hotel in Pittsford.
In 27 years ago today when President George H. W. Bush visited Wilson Magnet High School, a signed chalkboard.In A seat at the President’s table three years later, soup and a grilled cheese sandwich at Magnolia’s.