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Homecoming 2016: a recap

Homecoming 2016 kicked off on Thursday, October 6 with the first annual Nursing Reunion held at Fort Loudon Yacht Club.  Nursing alumni and friends stayed late into the evening and enjoyed the view on the water, reconnecting with friends, and even some dancing while the band played.  Alumni Board member and nursing alum Brooke Satkowiak remarked on the success of the event, adding “we hope to have even more nursing alums join us next year.” The advancement and alumni staff thoroughly enjoyed their time meeting everyone who attended and are already looking forward to next year’s event.

On Friday evening, the class of 1956 celebrated its 60th reunion along with the class of 1966 which celebrated 50 years as TWU alumni.  Class of 1966 alum Kay Walker helped bring one of the largest reunion events together by calling on classmates and encouraging them to attend.  Glenn Lowe Dining Room was filled with laughter and reminiscing as friends and classmates searched through old photographs and memorabilia.  Roy L. Patton, class of 1956 and WWII veteran, was the oldest attending member at 93.

The annual lip sync competition and the crowning of TWU’s Homecoming King & Queen took place Friday evening. Students, families, alumni and friends packed Townsend Auditorium to watch campus group perform their routines. The standing room only crowd enjoyed an evening of laughter and entertainment as student organizations competed to when this year’s title. This year’s top honor went to Alpha Zeta Phi, for their “Wizard of Oz” themed performance. Homecoming court included freshmen Bailee Plemmons and Kyle Blassingame, sophomores Hailey McClure and John Bell, juniors Chloe Nance and Todd Cox, and seniors Sonia Hernandez, Emily Green, Edra Gipson and Jacob Dorey. Seniors Mariana Perini and Chase Freeman were named this year’s queen and king.

Later on Friday evening, Greek brothers and sisters filled the Athens Area Council for the Arts event space with over 100 in attendance.  TWU alumni Hugh and Kay Walker, Shelley and Judy Griffith, Susan Buttram, and Judy Davis helped bring such a wonderful turnout through a letter campaign and social media sharing, and even decorated and filled the space with fraternity and sorority memorabilia going back over sixty years.  Greek alumni had such a great time that many stayed on to nearly midnight to reconnect and enjoy the company of their friends and new acquaintances.

While many enjoyed the great food and company at the Greek reunion, across town our Young Alumni event kicked off at Jenkins restaurant.  This event set another record for attendance with over 75 people enjoying entertainment and conversation with classmates and friends. 

On Saturday morning, we welcomed our Golden Club members to a breakfast at Old College.  Saturday’s homecoming activities were held in conjunction with Family Weekend and Preview Day, allowing campus to be bustling with activity and new faces.  The near perfect fall day was the backdrop for our annual alumni and student choir concert, lacrosse and basketball games,  tennis match, and alumni games. 

A ribbon cutting and open house was held for a new facility addition to campus. Reece Hall is the new home for the visual arts and communication studies programs. Reece Hall was filled with alumni, donors, and community supporters for this historical moment.  Guests explored the Muriel S. Mayfield Gallery and toured the new studio and classroom spaces for students. 

As more than 300 gathered under the big tent in Nocatula Gardens for BBQ and entertainment by September Song, TWU was proud to introduce the homecoming king and queen along with the court selected by their peers.  The tent also featured homecoming banners designed by student organizations.  Special recognition was given to Mr. Wayne Strickland, the oldest living TWU alum at 102 (and ½).  Mr. Strickland was a member of the class of 1935. After lunch many rushed to get their Burkett books at a special book signing with Dr. Burkett Witt. 

At the library, a special signing of Professor Dr. Chris Schutz’s book “Jackie Robinson: An integrated Life” was held after lunch along with the continuation of the Greek reunion.  The alumni basketball games enjoyed a great crowd as everyone enjoyed Mayfield’s Ice Cream and watched current and former players battle it out at Robb Gymnasium.  Saturday’s busy activities capped off returning to Glenn Lowe dining room to induct five members to the Athletic Hall of Fame and celebrate three outstanding alumni award winners. 

On Sunday, Keith Memorial Methodist church minister Rev. Dave Graybeal brought an enlightening message on the history and tradition of TWU in Athens and the strength of the university’s ongoing relationship with the Methodist church.  The TWU choir wowed the crowd and the weekend concluded as one alum appropriately stated, “the best homecoming I could ever remember!”

2016 Alumni Award Recipients

J. Neal Ensminger Distinguished Alumnus:  Richard “Dick” Burdette, ‘66

Outstanding Young Alumna:  Dana L. (Price) Moody, ‘05

Robbie Ensminger Friend of Wesleyan Award:  Dr. Samuel Roberts

2016 Athletic Hall of Fame Honorees

Jeff Lanning, ’95 - Baseball

Jason Sewell, ’93 - Baseball

Talley Caldwell, ’97 - Basketball

Jill Hitson, ’95 - Basketball

Shirley Shankle Woodcock, ’78 - Supporter