U of S : Communications : OCN : Sep 5, 1997
|Hats off to the 90th Anniversary Employee Event Committee - Bruno Konecsni, Howard Nixon, Jan Niekamp, Lynn Guina, Joan Tilk, Jacquie Griffiths, Kara Exner, Melana Soroka, Deb Shutiak, and Ron Marken - for making the Picnic happen!|
Beneath a sunny sky full of puffy white clouds, 1,000 or so faculty, staff, students, and youngsters turned out on June 18 to help mark the University's 90th anniversary in the form of a campus picnic in the Bowl.
Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the picnic-goers responded to the University's invitation to forget work for a while and celebrate the institution's achievements.
Employees, dressed casually for the occasion, gloried in the warm sun and availed themselves of soft drinks and jumbo-size hot dogs (both for the bargain price of $1) as well as a total of 1,100 cup cakes and a big birthday cake produced for the occasion by the willing workers in Food Services.
But the focus and feature of the day was the nine-piece, pick-up band made up of the following campus musicians:
Everyone agreed that the band - which practised once a week for eight weeks prior to the event and played more than 50 popular tunes mainly from the '50s, '60s, and early '70s - was the perfect mood creator for the outing and everyone was impressed at its musicianship and energy.
Konecsni, the main mover in organizing the band, says that in his 22 years here, nothing the University has ever done concerning employee recognition matches the kind of positive feedback he has received on the picnic.
Konecsni says a typical comment he received was, "Was it ever nice just to have a moment to sit down, relax, enjoy the day, and realize that this was done to recognize my contribution to the University's welfare and progress."
Michael Hayden, History Department, who chaired the steering committee for the 90th Anniversary committee, says he's delighted with the happy outcome of the picnic. "Our hope was to find something that would involve as many members of the University community as possible, something which everyone - students, faculty, staff, whatever - could be involved in and be comfortable with."
The idea for the picnic, he says, came from the 90th Anniversary Committee, but the Human Resources Division embraced it and was instrumental in planning the details. Broadcast personalities Brad Grass (STV) and Ramblin' Dave Scharf (C95) skillfully co-emceed proceedings, taking care not to over-interrupt the music of The No-Name, One-Shot Wonders, as the band dubbed itself.
About the only break the band got (or wanted!) was a pleasant interlude of a cappella singing provided by the Library Meister Singers, consisting of Robin Bunz (Health Sciences Library), Bryan Fredrickson (Law Library), Camellea Konkin (Vet. Medicine Library), Eldeen McFaull-Stein (Main Library), and Kathy North (Education Library). In a brief, eloquent speech to everyone near the end of the picnic, Acting V-P Peter MacKinnon - who actually sang with the band during its last two numbers - referred to all the previous University communities who have helped to make the University the highly respected institution that it is today.
|Dean/Acting V-P Peter MacKinnon cut the birthday cake. Near the picnic's close, MacKinnon spoke to the crowd about the University's world-wide reputation and how it has grown, through talented and committed personnel, from humble beginnings on the grassy prairie.||What's a picnic without hot dogs and a soft drink? Lynn Guina, of Conference and Catering, says that 2,400 jumbo hot dogs were purchased, with more than one often going to a customer - doubtless because of the bargain price of $1, including a soft drink. About 1,100 birthday cup cakes were also handed out free of charge, and 100 or so picnicers also got a piece of a big birthday cake, complete with the University's 90th anniversary logo on top.|
Bruno Konecsni, who organized the pick-up band and played in it, says he can't think of any similar campus event that has drawn such positive feedback.
"George [Ivany] called me the following Monday morning at 8:30 to say he has never received so much positive feedback on anything he's ever done here as president. He said he had received 40 or so e-mails from all sectors of the campus expressing appreciation of the event."
Many others, he adds, noted how pleasant it was to get together as employees - not as CUPE, not as faculty, not as ASPA - and enjoy each other's company in such a warm social setting.
The response of Dave Bocking, of Computer Science, Konecsni says, is typical: "I saw him a week later and he said to me as I met him, 'I can't believe it, but I've still got a smile on my face! I don't really know why, but it just felt so good to be acknowledged for my contribution."
Guitarist-singer Nowell Seaman, who has played professionally since he was 13, says the Bowl gig "was a blast," adding that he "wasn't prepared for the degree of positive feedback" the afternoon of music, sunning, and socializing generated.
President Ivany confirms the positiveness of the response.
"I infrequently get a positive e-mail message about something that's happened on campus. But this particular event has generated more responses than anything we've ever done of this nature in terms of faculty members, CUPE people, ASPA people, basically bothering to send an e-mail mesage to say that this was a good event, thank you very much, we feel that the University is at least trying to acknowledge that we're here, we're important, and we hope you do it again."
What about that - might it be held each year?
"Oh, I think anything that gives that kind of morale boost and gets that kind of positive feedback from the troops is very likely to happen again."