5 Meliora Weekends ago when President Clinton spoke. And Great Books with President Seligman

5 Meliora Weekends ago when President Clinton spoke. And Great Books with President Seligman

GREETINGS: Keynote speaker President Bill Clinton is greeted by Meliora Weekend–goers as he makes his way to Eastman Theatre. 10/20/11 (Courtesy: UofR)

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.


KEYNOTE: Americans have rid themselves of many prejudices, but there’s “one last remaining prejudice: We don’t want to be around people who disagree with us,” said keynote speaker Bill Clinton, the founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States. “Cooperation works in the real world, not conflict.” Clinton addressed a packed Kodak Hall for a 90-minute session that was also streamed to standing-room-only simulcast venues and a University-only webcast. 10/20/11 (Courtesy: UofR)

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.


Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 10/21/11

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.

Yuki Gonzalez ’17

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


Hard to resist a Media pass photo-op. Yellowjacket cheerleaders under the tent. 10/08/16 [Photo: Myles Duval]


secret Talker hand signal known only to the magazine staff. [Photo: Sarah Wise]


The Presidential Visits Series in its entirety: James Monroe to Donald Trump

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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