Every Spring, the Atkinson community comes together to celebrate Brownwater, a two-day event held that serves an end of the year celebration.
This year, the events kicked off Friday morning with a round of golf at the Salem Golf Club. Then, Friday evening was Casino Night. Professors and staff are dealers and each of the attendees were given fake cash to play poker, roulette, blackjack, and other games. At the end of the night, we had the opportunity to bid on items in a silent and live auction. Some of the prizes up for grabs this year included Dean Mike Hand offering to be an assistant to a student for the day, surfing lessons with Professor Jameson Watts, whiskey tasting and dinner with Professor Romana Autrey, and a cash prize of $200 provided by Professor Qiming Wang.
Saturday commenced with the annual float of the Mill Stream (the event the weekend is named after). The stream flows through the center of campus, providing entertainment not only for those floating, but also for campus visitors and undergraduate students. Though the stream is only about a foot of water, it goes underneath several bridges and underneath a street. Not only did I have to look out for the pipes under the bridges while I floated, but also a lot of spiders.
After the float, we had a barbecue and the weekend concluded with the first-year cohort versus second-year cohort soccer game. First-years were coached by Melissa Joe, our Atkinson Student Association President, and second-years were coached by Qiming Wang. Enthusiastic announcements were provided by former Willamette soccer players and Atkinson students Quinn Mello-Bastida and Joseph Plaster. First-years were victorious: 6-4.
One of the key differences between Atkinson and other business schools, evident not just this weekend but the entire year, is how involved our faculty and staff are in student life. They serve not only as teachers, but also as mentors, coaches (not just for soccer, but as career and life coaches too), and friends. They are incredibly generous with their time and genuinely care about connecting with students. It’s events like Brownwater that remind us that Willamette is not just a school, but also a community.