Party on the Plaza: Return to the Renassaince (POP) is one of Newman University’s largest annual fundraising events. Organized to connect students and donors to each other and to the university, the event focuses on raising money specifically for student scholarships.
The event is typically held on Founders Plaza in early fall welcoming more than 500 attendees. However, due to worldwide health concerns, the 2020 event has been postponed.
The POP planning committee debated whether or not to move the event to an online format but ultimately decided the experience would not be fulfilling for attendees.
Senior Development Officer Beth Fatkin said, “We think that POP is a great way for sponsors to get on campus and connect with students that are receiving scholarships due to their generosity. We do not think that connection could be replicated online.”
The committee wanted to do its best to protect the health and welfare of attendees during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We deemed having a huge in-person event too risky,” Fatkin said. “We want everyone to come together again, on campus, but only when we know that it is safe.”
Director of Alumni and Campus Events Laura Hartley had been helping plan the large event for months. The committee discussed putting unique safety measures in place that would have still allowed the event to take place but with the unpredictability of the virus, the planning committee felt it best to postpone.
“We are excited about planning for the postponed Party on the Plaza and when we do get the OK that it is safe to have it, I know it will be a bigger and brighter celebration,” said Hartley.
Board of Trustees Chair J.T. Klaus also has high hopes for the future party.
“‘Rescheduling will be dependent on the ability to really let people come and have a good time,” explained Klaus. “Life has too many disappointments right now, so we want to get it right. It used to just be about the weather. Now, we have to make sure it will be safe, as well as fun for everyone in attendance. Our advancement committee chair, David Borho, as well as our POP planning committee, have already secured the greatest prizes, auction items and party ideas I have ever seen in recent years. It will truly be a ‘Return to the Renaissance’ in more than one way when we bring back the party. Meanwhile, we can leave the plague behind us.”
Klaus encouraged past year attendees to not miss out on the coming party saying, “This will be the one you do not want to miss.”
The advancement team and fundraising committees have devised an alternative to raising much-needed funds with the help of some local businesses. The committee plans to make a special announcement in the near future.
Klaus also mentioned that now the committee will have time to “amp up” an already great party plan for the popular event.
“Some things are just so important that getting them right beats having it now. Being surrounded by great planners on the committee and living in a supportive community makes that easy,” he said.