Grandparents and grandkids galore: MSU hosts Grandparents University
The MSU Alumni Association hosted its 12th annual Grandparents University this week, bringing in more than 1,300 attendees from around the country.
“The goal is to really just bring grandparents and grandchildren together, get them on campus and have them make memories that are going to last a lifetime,” said Amy Carnahan, the event’s director.
This year's 1,300 event slots sold out in just a few hours, according to press release from the MSUAA. 461 families of grandparents and kids ages 8-12 registered to stay and eat in Holmes and Akers halls from Tuesday morning to Thursday afternoon, attending four class sessions, evening programs and a tailgate-style cookout on Wednesday evening.
The program cost is $235 per child and $340 for adults, Carnahan said. The event has grown from its inaugural year, which brought in 200 participants.
“I wish more schools would do this," said attendee and grandmother Teresa Fodale. "It’s really wonderful, I compliment MSU on this."
This is the 10th year Teresa and her husband had made the trip from Commerce Township, Michigan, to attend the program. She sat in the lobby of Holmes Hall after arriving Tuesday morning, next to her two granddaughters, Alyssa and Katherine. They are the sixth and seventh grandchildren the Fodales have brought along with them, and as the youngest, they will also be the last.
Katherine will turn 13 this year, so this was her last year. Alyssa only has next year left to enjoy. Both have attended since they were eight. Asked what they will do once they all age out, Katherine was quick to answer.
“We’re gonna volunteer!” she said.
The girls were looking forward to going to their classes--violin, gardening, one about flavors, and another in the planetarium.
“They love it, they love it,” their grandmother said. “And this is a wonderful program. Oh my God, we tell all our friends.
“It’s the experience of collegiate life in the dormitory, in a cafeteria...”
“Without your parents,” Alyssa added.
MSU alum Dick Huntington was attending for his first time. He only had to travel from Hart, Michigan, about a two-hour drive, but his grandson Carter Parsons had come all the way from Ogden, Utah to join him.
They were playing putt-putt out in front of Holmes Hall, waiting to head off to their first class session. Carter explained how impressed he was by MSU as he struggled to sink his ball on what seemed to be a remarkably difficult hole.
“It’s really big,” Parsons said. “We have a college in Ogden but it’s pretty small. There’s no roads anywhere.”
About 70 percent of the grandparents who attended this year were MSU alumni, Carnahan said. Most of those who weren’t had a child who was, and about 10 percent came just because they are fans of the program.
Grandparents University is modeled after a similar event of the same name held annually at the University of Wisconsin, she said.
The event gives grandparents a rare opportunity to learn alongside their grandchildren, Carnahan said. And it means more to those who are not able to see their grandkids as much as others due to distance or circumstance.
“It might be, you know, one or two times a year that they get to see each other,” Carnahan said. “And for them to want to share that with us, that’s really special.”