This year, Knox College welcomed over 1,000 alumni back to campus for Homecoming 2013.
Especially important this year was the Class of 1963, celebrating their fiftieth reunion.
“That’s Roger Taylor’s class,” Associate Director of Alumni and Constituent Programs Jennifer Gallas said. Other members of the class have been very successful, and many are on the Board of Trustees.
“It was just a real mover and shaker class,” Gallas said.
The Class of 2008 celebrated their five-year reunion, which was also significant.
“This is the first time they’ve really come back as a group. They’re welcome to come back any time obviously, but it’s special to have people come back,” Gallas said.
Gallas is also in charge of organizing the ten-year reunion, which brought in a few more members.
“Ten year is difficult, because it seems like a lot of people are having babies. They’ve gone to grad school, they’ve gotten married and they’re having babies. So some of them bring their babies with them and we have some young families on campus.”
Filling up a week of activities, Homecoming Week culminates by welcoming back alumni for a weekend. However, the process of planning Homecoming was much more involved than that. Knox College starts preparing for the next Homecoming in spring term, talking to reunion classes and organizing special events like mixers and reunions.
Homecoming saw a lot of special events, including a choir reunion and 5K at Lake Storey.
Despite it being an annual event, the Homecoming Convocation was a highlight this year.
“Convocation can get really rowdy and a lot of fun. They play a lot of songs from the [fifty-year reunion] era Ñ a lot of surf songs. I think students are really amazed when they come to that and see that the alumni really have a lot of fun. It’s just very joyful and very Knox,” Gallas said.
On the other side of things, Student Homecoming saw a lot of changes as well.
Usually, the Homecoming Committee, led by Assistant Director of Campus Life Kathleen Drake is a committee made of representatives from campus organizations.
This year, Campus Life opened the event to anyone interested, allowing anyone to get involved.
“It was a really a student-driven week,” Drake said.
Homecoming Week allows students to get excited about Homecoming before alumni get on campus, and Drake emphasized the importance of this week.
“It’s about just giving students more and more opportunities to get involved and connected to the institution. Because as an alum, you’re going to remember the events that you liked the most. That’s why you come back to Homecoming and are active. It gets students excited and getting that Knox College pride,” Drake said.
Historically, Homecoming Week hasn’t existed at all, and in recent years Knox has tried to “continue to grow it,” according to Drake.
For alumni, “growing it” means a lot of different things.
“I think we have one of the most packed homecoming schedules for any college, especially such a small college. We’ve doubled the amount in the last 12 years or so and I think that’s because we have people with such an affinity for Knox that they want to come back for the weekend and it’s just kind of fun. People just get so excited. It’s fall, the campus is pretty and there’s just a certain feeling to it,” Gallas said.
This year, the college emphasized the relationship between alumni and current students and worked to merge Homecoming Week and Homecoming Weekend.
“That’s one of the things that alumni have told us. They want to talk with current students. So that’s another opportunity,” Gallas said.
One way of effectively achieving that relationship is through the Alumni Ambassadors Ñ 30 to 40 students who help with the events and talk with alumni.
“I don’t know how we ever got through homecoming without these people,” Gallas said.
Knox worked to increase the morale of students and alumni, working to get both Knox students and Knox alumni excited about Homecoming.
“[These alumni] love Knox so much and you can just see it in their faces when they come back. People really make an effort to make a connection and keep a connection. They love the school, and they want to see people coming back and having a good time,” Gallas said.