Welcome Home Party for UBC alumni will be one for the books

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      (This article is sponsored by .)

      It's being billed as the Alumni Party of the Century.

      To celebrate its 100th anniversary, alumni UBC is hosting a Homecoming bash on September 16 unlike any other.

      The in the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre will feature 11 tasting stations with gourmet food prepared by some of the city's most celebrated culinary artists.

      Participating chefs and caterers include David Hawksworth, Angus An, Andrea Carlson, Chris Whittaker, Clement Chan, Welbert Choi, Jonas Hamre, Susan Mendelson, Geoff Rogers, David Speight, Timothy Yu, and Ian Zendejas. Their creations will be paired with B.C. wines and craft beer, including some from wineries and breweries headed by UBC alumni.

      Following sumptuous dining, the party will really get cooking with Vancouver house band Dr. Strangelove, which will perform songs from across the decades since alumni UBC was established a century ago.

      "We're going to have gold disco balls as part of the motif as well," said Steve Kennedy, director of marketing and communications with alumni UBC. "It's all about fun. It's all about connection."

      Alumni and their guests are encouraged to dress casually, taking their inspiration from their favourite decade of the past 100 years. And of course, UBC's colours of blue and gold are encouraged.

      Even the cocktails will riff on the past.

      "We're going to create a Century Bar, where we serve spirits reflecting drinks through the decades," Kennedy said.

      It’s the first time such an event will coincide with the September Homecoming on UBC’s Point Grey campus, and it's all being made available at the bargain price of .

      The alumni association has come a long way from its origins in May 1917, when it was formed by a small group of the university’s earliest graduates. It now includes more than 325,000 UBC grads living in 140 countries.

      That number is rising rapidly on an annual basis, because UBC's student body has grown with the expansion of the Point Grey campus and the addition of UBC Okanagan. According to Kennedy, this is resulting in a higher proportion of younger alumni UBC members than in the past.

      "It presents opportunities from the standpoint of being able to engage with them in ways that we couldn't in the past—through social media," he said. "In the past, we just had a mailing address and an email address, and that was the end of the story."

      The association aims to create 100,000 new connections in its centenary year, and its website suggests 10 ways alumni can take part. One of them is through a Global Alumni Map, where alumni can post their pictures, profiles, videos and UBC stories, and find out where their fellow members are living in the world.

      "That's one of the ways that we're encouraging people to feel pride—and recognize and celebrate the power of our global community," Kennedy said.

      The association is also launching “100 Dinners” to celebrate the centenary. This involves facilitating 100 such gatherings around the world, with the goal of having 1,000 dinner participants by May 2018.

      If someone lives in Brussels, for example, and wants to organize a dinner for fellow UBC alumni in a local restaurant or even in their own home, this person could contact alumni UBC for help in reaching out to other alumni based in that city.

      "If 100 Dinners is successful, we see it as something that we can continue from year to year," Kennedy said.

      This year, alumni UBC will host its annual Alumni Achievement Awards at the Hotel Vancouver to pay homage to where the association was founded. The black-tie event honours major achievers in eight categories.

      Then there are class reunions, which grads can find out about on the alumni UBC website.

      The nerve centre for forging many of these connections is the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre. It’s a three-story, 41,700 square-foot building that opened in September 2015 in the heart of the Point Grey campus.

      The vision of alumni UBC is to create a global alumni community "for an exceptional UBC and a better world". Its multi-purposed mission is to reach, inspire, and engage alumni by facilitating their lifelong enrichment through nourishing pride, empowering personal growth, supporting professional development, and enabling contribution.

      "We're not an institution," Kennedy emphasized. "We're a self-governing association."

      (This article is sponsored by .)