By Abbey Watson
Connection: everyone craves it, everyone seeks it and everyone aims for it whether they realize it or not. At Harding, connection happens every day; from hanging out in the student center after chapel, to club meetings, to dining with a friend in the cafeteria, there are always people making memories.
Homecoming is the opportunity for anyone to look back on those memories and to come home again to be with those friends who are like family. For the parents of both current and future Bisons, Homecoming is a way to feel a part of their kids’ lives and to get a glimpse of the connections that are possible at Harding.
“For alumni, it’s a time to come back and remember and to share the memories with classmates,” Liz Howell, vice president of Alumni and Parent Relations, said. “We have something for everyone, from a petting zoo to inflatable games for young alums who have small children.”
Whether the alumni and parent relations staff is planning for the Heritage Circle Banquet — a time to induct the graduating class from 50 years ago — or the Black and Gold Banquet — an event of over 700 alumni — or a reunion for the class of ‘78 in President Bruce McLarty’s backyard, Homecoming is about the connection.
Getting everyone back to campus, however, requires a lot of planning and organization.
Heather Kemper, event and project director for Alumni and Parent Relations, said the planning behind Homecoming is about constant contact.
Kemper said they send out about 60,000 postcards through the mail to alumni, parents and friends of Harding.
“We work on it for months, many, many months,” Kemper said. “We were sending out letters and working on things last spring. It’s easily a six-month long process. It’s definitely something we’re always thinking about.”
Andi Haney, director for Generation HU, a department focused on the graduates of the last 10 years, has been planning the young alumni events for Homecoming as soon as the school year began. No matter the weather, the alumni and parent relations staff said they are equipped with helpful hands to make Homecoming happen.
“The good thing about Harding is, if something does happen the day of, there are always people across campus in different departments willing to help you and make it run well,” Haney said.
Throughout all of the hard work and countless hours spent planning for Homecoming, it is special to come back, according to Kemper.
“I understand life is busy,” Kemper said. “We’re all busy, and we think we don’t have time to carve out. Even just coming back to campus for a few hours is pretty significant. It’s an accomplishment to come back.”
Haney said it is important for both the young and older alumni to come back.
“It’s just another way for us to show that we love them and we’re thankful that they attended Harding but to also let them know they are still apart of the Harding family,” Haney said.