Amidst banners protesting the dissolution of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Schoellkopf Field and heavy rain, hundreds of Cornell alumni returned for a weekend of activities centering around Cornell’s first home football game.
“Homecoming is what it sounds like: it is a time to come back,” said Margaret Gallo ’81, director of class and alumni affairs. Homecoming weekend attracts a variety of alumni: from the students affiliated with fraternities and sororities, having graduated within the past 10 years to much older alumni with a strong sense of class unity.
Usually returning alumni live with a 150-mile radius of Cornell, but there are large numbers of people that return from New York City and Boston. “There are people that stay just for the day and alumni volunteers that stay for the entire weekend,” said Cathy Hogan ’70, assistant director of class and reunion programs.
Although football is a major attraction of alumni weekend, reasons for returning vary. “Quite a few people come back to see what’s new, see the campus in action and meet with professors,” said Hogan. The only other time alumni get to return to the campus is the reunion weekend In June, after most students have gone home.
Younger alumni tend to return to fraternities for formal and informal activities. “Lots of recently graduated alumni talk about what jobs they have, where they’re living and what they’re up to,” said Brenna Haliday ’03, Kappa Delta sorority representative.
There were also a variety of activities for alumni not associated with Greek life. The Dairy Bar was open longer hours to accommodate alumni, the Plantations gave tours and the Undergraduate Admissions Office offered information sessions for the children of alumni.
The Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni service award was also presented this weekend to Lilyan Affinito ’53, Alice Berglas ’66, John Kirschner ’51, Joe and Nancy McAfee ’63, William Robertson ’34 and Charles and Patricia Stewart ’50 for their service to Cornell’s long-term volunteer activities. Candidates were proposed by other alumni and amount of donated money to the University were not taken into consideration during the selection process.
Although activities generally do not change from year to year there has been one major addition to homecoming this year: the Life Sciences Forum.
Kraig Adler, vice provost for Life Sciences, Prof. Carl Batt, Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Food Science and Prof. Brian Crane, chemistry and biology spoke to about 100 alumni in the PepsiCo auditorium in Ives Hall about the “revolution” happening in the fields of biology, chemistry and technology. They also spoke about Cornell’s proposal to spend $500 million in the next few years to keep abreast of this revolution and make the life sciences more appealing to students.
For members of fraternities and sororities homecoming weekend was an opportunity to connect with Cornell traditions. “They have some interesting stories to tell,” said Alan Suzuki ’03 a representative from Phi Kappa Tau. Fraternities and sororities had tailgate parties, formals and alumni board meetings to interact with students.
However, aside from fraternity members and student volunteers, there was not much interaction between alumni and students. Bob Clark ’52 has come to homecoming nearly year since his graduation and enjoys being on campus and seeing other alumni. However, his interactions “are mainly alumni to alumni,” he said.
And homecoming weekend largely escaped the attention of students not interested in football.
“I definitely saw lots of old people walking around, but I didn’t really interact with them. I felt like I didn’t have anything to say to them,” said Erin McNellis ’04.
Archived article by Matthew Vernon