More than 2,500 attendees—including nearly 1,100 alumni, 500 family members and hundreds of current students, faculty and staff—celebrated Homecoming, Alumni and Family Weekend this past weekend, taking part in more than 100 events scheduled throughout four days.
The weekend marked the first time Homecoming, Alumni and Family Weekend combined into one event, aiming to bring together all members of the Case Western Reserve community.
The strong programming schedule combined with the addition of Family Weekend into the mix led to the highest numbers for Homecoming/Alumni Weekend ever; in fact, the numbers more than doubled the attendance of last year’s event, said Christopher Vlahos, associate vice president of university alumni relations.
The long weekend kicked off Thursday night with the Blue Block Party, celebrating the grand opening of Uptown and Toby’s Plaza, an outdoor gathering space donated by alumna Toby Devan Lewis. Lewis was on hand for the dedication, as were community leaders including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.
The event featured samplings from some of Uptown’s newest—and soon-to-come—establishments, such as Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream, Constantino’s Market and ABC the Tavern. In addition, the event helped to showcase the innovation of Case Western Reserve University students and alumni such as Sarah Morrison (CWR ’96; GRS ’96), whose MorrisonDance company members performed for guests; and Ian Charnas, Bernadette Marconi and Jonny Hall, who created 500 motion-activated fireflies that lit up the sky.
On Friday, amidst a full schedule of events, the Alumni Association of Case Western Reserve University announced the recipients of the 2012 Alumni Association Awards. More than 100 individuals were nominated, Vlahos said. “Our vision for the awards is we select recipients so we can tell the world, ‘Look at the quality of alumni we’re producing,’” he said. Award recipients were: Julie Gerberding, winner of the Distinguished Alumna Award; Claudia J. Coulton, recipient of the Professional Achievement Award; vic gelb, who received the Newton D. Baker Distinguished Service Award; John Massie, recipient of the Daniel Clancy Alumni Service Award; and F. Kurtis Kasper, winner of the Young Alumni Award.
In addition, a School of Medicine alumni event was held during which alumnus Michael D. Eppig and his wife Ruth committed $1.5 million to help fund a new medical education and research building that will serve as the School of Medicine’s headquarters. The gift came on the heels of last week’s announcement that the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation each committed $10 million toward the building.
Other events throughout the day included the Grand Lecture: A Dramatic Breakthrough in the Quest to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease, led by researchers Gary Landreth and Paige Cramer; a welcome reception with President Barbara R. Snyder for families, parents, students and alumni; and a THINK forum with alumnus Rich Sommer, who plays Harry Crane on AMC’s Mad Men and who during the weekend received the President’s Award for Excellence from President Snyder.
“The success of Homecoming is due to a shared vision across campus,” Vlahos said. “Every school did their part in coordinating and communicating about the opportunities of Homecoming.”
On Saturday, the morning kicked off with the Stephanie Tubbs Jones 5K Race for Education, followed by the annual homecoming parade, at which the Carlton Road Community Council took home first place. Second place went to Juniper Residential College, followed by the Case Footlighters in third. Mistletoe Residential College nabbed the award for most spirited parade participants. (Earlier in the week, the Office of Undergraduate Studies took home its own award for most spirited, winning the office/residence hall decorating contest.)
At the football game, which the Spartans narrowly lost to Wittenberg College 14-10, junior James Silay and senior Gabby Pruchno were crowned the 2012 Homecoming king and queen. This game followed up another close game on the field Wednesday night: the women’s Powder Puff football game, at which the junior class beat the seniors, 14-12.
To close out the weekend, the seventh annual Stephanie Tubbs Jones GospelFest Concert Celebration was held at John Hay High School on Sunday, followed by the University Program Board’s fall concert with headliner B.o.B.
The combined event—Homecoming, Alumni Weekend and Family Weekend—created an energy that surrounded campus unlike any other year, said Rick Bischoff, vice president of enrollment management. Families were able to take part in events such as the Homecoming parade and football game—spirited events they would not have previously had a chance to take part in.
“This is an experience we could have never duplicated without the combined event,” Bischoff said. “By combining the events, we get more people on campus and more activities in the schedule. I can’t wait to see how we are able to build on this experience for next year.”
Sound off: What was your favorite part of Homecoming Week? Tell us in the comments.