Queen’s alumni joined in on Homecoming festivities this weekend, treasuring moments with old friends.
Beginning on Oct. 20, nostalgia was in the air as Queen’s University welcomed 1,836 alumni from across 54 returning classes to celebrate alumni whose graduation years ended in ’8 or ’3. Alumni and community members attended the Grant Hall Meet and Greet and the Fall Harvest Festival.
For Queen’s Advancement, Homecoming events serve as an opportunity to re-engage alumni with the university. This year Queen’s advancement wants to raise $72 million.
“You never want to get in the way of people connecting with one another and the nostalgia that they are all feeling, it’s an incredibly powerful emotion throughout all of Homecoming,” said Karen Bertrand, vice-principal (advancement), in an interview with The Journal.
Alumni have a lot to offer to the university, including promoting Queen’s reputation within their professional circles, financing new initiatives, and volunteering with groups on campus. For Bertrand, re-engaging alumni with their alma mater is an important part of Homecoming.
When he didn’t attend his 20-year reunion, Robert Knoop, Sci ’73, got calls from old classmates.
“I was given so much pressure that I started attending the 25th, the 30th, and 35th,” Knoop said in an interview with The Journal during the Homecoming Meet and Greet.
Knoop traveled from Washington state, and was motivated by his classmates Bruce Jeffries and Mike Lewis, who Knoop called the glue holding their class together. Since he lives in the United States, Knoop treasures moments spent among familiar faces and buildings.
During Homecoming, alumni classes can contribute to fundraising initiatives to support students, professors, and specific projects. The recent Richardson Stadium renovation was almost completely funded by donations from alumni.
The memory of Queen’s for alumni is as powerful and long-lasting as the relationships they build here. Following Homecoming weekend, Knoop will ship Jeffries and Lewis bottles from his daughter’s winery, which is a tradition in their friendship.
During a past Homecoming, Knoop and his old housemates visited the house they used to live in and were welcomed by the new group of student residents. Watching students enjoy Homecoming is exciting for Knoop and his friends, who remember the shenanigans of the weekend fondly.
“To see some of these kids living in some of these [houses]. I guess the only good news is [that] any rot in the wood is stopped by all the alcohol,” Knoop said.
For Sue Fraser, Sci ’94, Homecoming is a chance to visit her daughter, a third generation Queen’s student.
“It was heartbreaking and exciting all at the same time to think that she’s here doing the same things I did 30 years ago,” Fraser said in an interview with The Journal.
When alumni donate, they’re able to choose where their contribution goes. The most popular choice is to support students, like Fraser’s daughter, so they have the Queen’s experience many remember to this day.
Though Fraser expressed some concern about the unsanctioned street parties which historically take place over the weekend, she remembers feeling safe while partying in the University District back in her day.
“I wish there were more organized events they could participate in,” Fraser said.
Fraser will spend the weekend reconnecting with her old roommates and joining in on the Queen’s spirit.
There are a few different ways the University is encouraging alumni to donate. One initiative allows alumni to donate online when they register to attend Homecoming. $18,000 was raised through alumni registration as of Oct. 6.
Advancement also receives donations from alumni who return to campus and realize they want to give back.
“Donations play a really important role for Queens and it’s really about how those donations help move forward our strategic priorities,” Bertrand said.
At the Fall Harvest Festival, Jennifer Wyman, Nurs ’93, and her friends stood in a circle, sipping on hot chocolate, and took photos with a “Queens U” sign, propped between two pumpkins.
Though Queen’s campus looks a little different with new buildings and residences, Wyman and her friends agreed the campus is as beautiful as they remember. They’re happy to be back connecting with their old classmates.
“It’s a chance to reconnect with people from your past who you spent so much time with during your university experience,” Wyman said in an interview with The Journal.
After finishing their cups of hot chocolate, Wyman and her friends walked over to the Campus Bookstore to buy some Queen’s swag to celebrate the rest of the weekend in tricolour outfits.
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