This year’s homecoming went off without a hitch on Oct. 31-Nov. 2, welcoming back approximately 1,000 alumni to rekindle their love affair with the University and all that it once offered them. Although Chris Watters and Heather Dawson, who were in charge of organizing the weekend through Alumni Relations, expected lower numbers due to colder weather and the weekend falling on Halloween, Watters said that “it was all a big success.”
From the night of Oct. 31 to Sunday afternoon there was a nonstop calendar of events, from sporting events, to alumni get-togethers, to opportunities for alumni to meet current students and see what the University has accomplished since they have left. Among the festivities offered were special privileges extended to the student and faculty-elected Homecoming Hosts.
The six Homecoming Hosts were selected through a rigorous process that seeks to involve current students in order to bridge the gap between the alumni and the student body. The six hosts were Brett Walter ’15, Jen Lassen ’15, Erica Gaugler ’15, Colin Hassell ’15, April Htut ’15, and Caesar Vulley ’15.
The selection process for hosts begins in September each year, when faculty and staff are asked to nominate seniors they feel would best represent the University. There is a screening committee who then alerts the nominees of the application process. The numbers may drop drastically from the nominations to the applications, due to several factors, including decreased student desire to become a host, as well as needing to be on campus for homecoming, which can exclude student-athletes. From the pool of applicants, the screening committee chooses 12 and then the student body is asked to choose six seniors to become the Homecoming Hosts.
Dawson said that the hosts’ primary role is to interact with the alumni over the weekend, which was accomplished at a number of different events that the Hosts attended, including the Midwest Dueling Piano concert with alumni, the pre-football game tailgate on Nov. 1, the football game, and the College of Engineering Alumni Association and Bucknell Engineering Alumni Association Dinner.
The tailgate featured food and refreshments, as well as 10 different interactive stations that highlighted a variety of departments, including the School of Management, the Bucknell Professional Network, and the Sociology and Anthropology Department. Students managed the stations as an effort to keep the alumni informed about recent changes on campus and to connect current students with alumni who may have been involved in these organizations or departments during their time at the University.
Hosts also attended a lunch with University President John Bravman prior to Homecoming.
“We got to interact with him in a private setting, talk about our careers and goals, our likes and dislikes, and generally got to know him and the other hosts in an intimate setting … I left our lunch with a primed motivation for developing myself as an individual, particularly in being able to talk and unite a variety of people with different backgrounds, different interests, and different personalities,” Gaugler said.
Hosts are expected to use the connections they have made this weekend and throughout the rest of the year to serve as a link between the alumni network and the student body.
“[I’m] convinced that no other University cares as deeply about their alumni as Bucknell does,” Lassen said.