By Hunter Epperson ~ Copy Desk Chief
The University of Lynchburg will celebrate its first homecoming since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on Oct. 15-17.
The three-day celebration will offer its guests sporting events, many other outdoor activities, and Hornet to Hornet panels.
Director of Alumni Relations Heather Garnett stated, “It is a huge team effort. Almost everyone on campus has a piece or pieces in making Homecoming a success.”
She also stated, “Each year we have improved and added events. We did not offer an in-person Homecoming in 2020 due to Covid, so everyone is very excited about coming back this year. When you add up the attendance at all the events—the alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and guests we expect over 1,500 people will be on campus over the weekend. The purpose of Homecoming is to welcome alumni back to campus. It provides a common weekend for alumni to return to campus to celebrate their Reunions, to see each other, to reconnect with alumni, faculty, staff, and students. While the tailgate was always an outdoor event, we moved all our other events outdoors. Masks will be required for anyone who is not vaccinated.”
Garnett continued, “We kick off the weekend on Friday, Oct. 16, with an Alumni Board meeting. That evening we have the Alumni Achievement Awards dinner where we will recognize seven outstanding alumni and one Sports Hall of Fame Team of distinction.”
Garnett expressed further enthusiasm for Homecoming Weekend, stating, “On Saturday, Oct. 17, there are many moving parts, and the day will be filled with excitement! In the morning, alumni and fraternities and sororities get together, alumni who have purchased a tailgate spot in the parking lot from Carnegie down to Psychology will be setting up their tailgates, we will name the Dillard Theatre for a long standing Theater faculty member who is deceased, we will have our First African American recognition event, a band called Radio Sparks will play in the Dell for four hours, there will be a 20 x 30 foot tent set up in the Dell for students so they have a place to hang out, there is a complimentary tailgate tent with food in the Dell, there will be a judging of the best tailgate decorations and food, there is a pinning ceremony for students and alumni who have family members who also attended Lynchburg and there is more! We even have an event on Sunday to recognize our first African American graduate. We will be naming the Helen Mundy Witt room posthumously. Dr. Witt died in January 2021.”
Sports are an integral part of the Lynchburg homecoming celebration.
Garnett stated, “This Homecoming tailgate will be a great chance for students to enjoy being outside, hanging out together, and meeting alumni. Faculty and staff have been invited and will be attending various events. Parents have registered. There are three ODAC games as well as alumni athletic games….campus will be busy. Dining Services will be helping with food at multiple events. The tailgate is a giant enclosed ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) area. There are three entrances, all students will need to bring an ID to get into the lot.”
Garnett also noted some of the challenges guests might face. She said, “One challenge is parking. Having a large group of alumni return to campus and offering multiple alumni events offers an exciting weekend but finding places to park is tricky. We will be shuttling alumni from the DPT parking lot to help reduce the stress of finding parking on campus.”
Departments will also host Hornet to Hornet panels across the curriculum featuring alumni. Executive Director of Career Development Beverly Reid said, “On Friday, October 15, we will be holding our Hornet to Hornet panels and networking receptions. At 3:00 pm, about 20 majors will be holding panel discussions featuring alumni from those majors who will talk about what they have gone on to do with their major, how they got into the field they are in, and to give good advice to our students. This is a great event for anyone considering a major or minor, looking for a job or internship, or considering going to graduate school. Immediately following at 4:00 pm, there will be receptions in each area where students, faculty, staff and students can all network together. The reason that this is so important is that these events are an excellent way for students to see the possibilities in their majors and make the contacts they need to succeed.”
“I am always happy when we can bring everyone together. It is a magical weekend. Alumni will take countless photos and reminisce, reconnect, and plan their next visit. I hope that all students will celebrate their time as students and look forward to their return to campus as alumni. I hear over and over we are all one big family. Homecoming is one opportunity to bring our hornet family together,” said Garnett.
If you are interested in attending the University of Lynchburg’s Homecoming 2021 Weekend, please visit Homecoming – University of Lynchburg to register.