September 23, 2012

‘Grander Experience’ Draws More Cornell Alumni to Homecoming 2012

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Cornell’s 2012 Homecoming boasted not only a win for Cornell’s football team but also more alumni than in previous years, according to event organizers.

“Homecoming is one weekend that the entire Cornell community can come together and celebrate the spirit of Big Red,” said Terry Hahn, director of affinity programs, which aims to connect alumni to Cornell events.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, launched Homecoming Weekend with a speech on the power of technology in society for a packed Statler Auditorium on Thursday. Friday night marked the 2012 Homecoming Pep Rally and the University’s first ever Laser Light Show and Fireworks Show —  events that Hahn said she hopes will become an annual tradition for the Cornell community.

The Cornell marching band kicked off the rally by playing the alma mater, “Far Above Cayuga’s Waters,” while accompanied by proud alumni singing the words of the hymn from the stands. The rally drew a large crowd who stayed to watch Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 kick a field goal to donate $1,000 for the United Way of Tompkins County, a nonprofit organization.

On Saturday morning, students, alumni and Cornell fans went to the annual pre-game tailgate before the start of the game — in which Cornell beat Yale, 45-6.

Hahn said that Homecoming organizers tried to continue “build[ing] Homecoming into an event for the entire community to celebrate Cornell.”

“We offered more family-friendly events and we made a specific outreach to the local community to invite them to come up to campus to enjoy the weekend and celebrate with students, alumni, faculty and staff,” Hahn said.

This year’s Homecoming drew more alumni than previous years, Hahn said.

“We had approximately 3,000 alumni register for Homecoming through the Alumni Affairs registration site. However, we know that there were many more taking part in activities across campus,” Hahn said.

One alumnus, John Rhee ’12, co-president of the 2012 Alumni Class Council, said he returned to Cornell for Homecoming Weekend to cheer on the football team and reunite with friends.

“It was definitely a grander experience this time around,” Rhee said. “I think Alumni Affairs and Development invested a lot more in drawing back alumni.”

Rhee said that, as an alumnus, Homecoming was more meaningful to him not only because he could come back for the weekend to relive his college years, but also because the University invested more time and effort into making the weekend a memorable experience.

“I think this is really important, since Homecoming is a way to remind alumni how important Cornell was as part of their lives,” Rhee said.

Andro Zunic ’15 said he was impressed by the school spirit on campus during the weekend.

“You can just feel the atmosphere on campus,” Zunic said. “There is just something about it that brings all Cornelians even closer together.”

Hahn said that plenty of collaboration is necessary to making the weekend a success.

“We work closely with various departments on campus to ensure that events are marketed and executed well and that all participants are kept safe during the weekend,” Hahn said. “The planning process is year-round and we have already started making arrangements for Home­coming 2013.”

Rhee was among the many alumni that took note of the increased efforts to make Homecoming memorable this year.

“I was surprised and im­pressed by how many different tents and fun events [the University] organized this year,” he said. “Just on Facebook leading up to Homecoming Weekend, there were so many notifications on all of these competitions and events to make the days leading up to Homecoming much more exciting.”

Despite the challenges posed by the inclement weather, organizers said Homecoming was a success, with large crowds showing up with Cornell spirit at the events leading up to the game and to cheer the Big Red football team to victory on Saturday.

“We were impressed with how many people were willing to brave the weather to show their support for Cornell,” Hahn said. “Anytime our football team wins by a score of 45-6, we will consider it a successful day.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated the sex of Terry Hahn, director of affinity programs. Hahn is a woman, not a man.

Original Author: Lucy Mehrabyan

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