The origins of Oktoberfest date back to 1810, essentially as a large wedding reception for Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Bavaria. Legend has it that 40,000 people gathered to celebrate the union over glasses of beer and horseracing. The revelers, having enjoyed themselves thoroughly, committed to doing it again the next year. Thus, a tradition was born.
Dr. Emily A. Messa, associate vice chancellor and associate vice president, Office of Administration, and other attendees weigh in on the importance of bringing the celebratory spirit of Oktoberfest to the UH campus.
"Similar to the original tradition of Oktoberfest, in fall 2018, the University held an Oktoberfest tailgate, which was incredibly successful. Employees raved about the food and camaraderie of the event for an entire year," said Messa. "Memorable activities such as this unite people in an informal way and create memories."
A tradition of fun
As the saying goes, college makes up some of the best years of your life. For UH employees, working on a campus environment means they are no exception to the fun. Faculty and staff events such as this unite attendees by providing a shared memory that's unique to their experience working at UH.
"The annual faculty/staff tailgate and football game gives employees a chance to connect and engage with each other in a fun, celebratory way - outside of the normal office setting," said Courtney Stein, wellness & engagement programs administrator. "It allows faculty and staff to interact, unite and demonstrate their shared support of the UH Coogs!
Oktoberfest attendees Pammy Moore and Brianna Johnson joyously describe their experience at this year's tailgate.
Pammy Moore, an administrative assistant for Houston Public Media, detailed the anticipation of attending the tailgate and establishing a tradition of taking a photo with UH President Renu Khator.
"In education, traditions that bring people together for celebration and solidarity are important," said Moore. "Oktoberfest brings different departments together to not only celebrate UH but also to connect with other staff members."
The Oktoberfest tailgate not only provides an opportunity for faculty and staff to escape their workspaces, but it's also a chance to expose our families to the spirit of UH.
Brianna Johnson, the assistant business administrator for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, echoed that sentiment.
"As a proud staff member of the UH community, I am proud to say that I work for an organization that encourages a good work/life balance and is a family community," she said. "I love being able to bring my daughter to work for faculty/staff events."
"Faculty and staff are the heart of any university campus. It is important to support faculty, staff, and our families by providing fun ways to connect outside of the work environment," said Emily Messa. "We need to nurture the heart of our campus so that we can all continue to support one another and our students."
Faculty and staff-oriented events are important to keeping morale high and for reinforcing the notion of the UH community. UH employees are an integral part of the University community -working tirelessly to facilitate a safe and healthy environment where student success can thrive.
A cultured campus
The coming together of students, faculty, and staff from all walks of life and all areas across campus is a reflection of the city of Houston. The University lies in the heart of one of the most diverse cities in the nation and is ranked as the second most diverse urban research institution in the United States.
Courtney Stein proudly affirms UH as having one of the most diverse student bodies in the country. The same can be said for notable UH faculty and staff who have come to the university from countries as far as India, Germany, and China to name a few.
"Oktoberfest is one thing that is celebrated all over the world and embraces a diverse and international culture," said Gaston Reinoso, associate vice chancellor/vice president for Human Resources.
There's a sense of community that is uniquely UH and uniquely Houston. It's no surprise that an event like this is held on our campus.