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Campus gathers for Welcome Back Picnic to kick off academic year

By Ashlyn Fransen '24
Published September 19, 2022
Categories: About Eckerd

Interim President Jim Annarelli speaks with students at the picnic. Photo: Penh Alicandro ’22

On Sept. 7, 2022, Eckerd College interim President Jim Annarelli, Ph.D., hosted the first all-campus event of his presidency: a Welcome Back Picnic.

Round tables draped in white were skirted by chairs under the GO Pavilion, relaxing reggae streamed through the speakers and countless smiling faces of the Eckerd community mingled while members shared a Caribbean-inspired meal. Students, faculty, staff, trustees, and members of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute gathered to celebrate the new academic year.

“My goal was to create a fun and relaxing community event and take the opportunity to especially welcome new members to our community and for everyone to meet someone they’d not met before,” Annarelli explains.

What better way to bring a family together than over a meal? Bon Appétit Dining Services planned the menu and catered the event, including a special array of desserts. A live band, The Steely Experience, gave a feature performance at the picnic. The steel drum and DJ duo have performed at Kappa Field Day and the Festival of Cultures on campus in the past, and they have become a fan favorite among Eckerd students. Their pop covers with a reggae twist and interactions with the crowd created a festive atmosphere.

Professors sat next to students, chatting about classes, summer jobs and life on campus. Relationships with and among students are taken very seriously at Eckerd, and this event is yet another example of how the relationships among faculty, students and staff are fostered in a casual, warm environment.

Students enjoy a Caribbean-inspired meal served at the picnic. Photo: Penh Alicandro ’22

“It was so nice to see President Annarelli’s face in the crowd. I walked away feeling refreshed and excited about this semester,” says Sophia Koshansky, a junior marine science and animal studies student from Kings Park, New York.

Many departments collaborated on the planning and execution of this event—including the President’s Office, Campus Activities, ITS, Facilities, and Dining Services.

“Multiple students, faculty, staff, ASPEC members and trustees have expressed enthusiasm for the delicious food, the wonderful music and the opportunity to gather in an informal, celebratory way,” Annarelli says.

This connection with our community reminds us once again why Eckerd is such a special place to call home.

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