Whether reminiscing over “house moms” at residence halls or listening to professor-led panels, Bearcats of all generations found several ways to reconnect on their old stomping grounds Thursday through Sunday.
At Alumni Weekend 2016, past graduates sat in on classes to find out how college has changed over the years, watched the induction of outstanding former athletes into the Athletic Hall of Fame and headed off-campus for excursions downtown and beyond. They learned about how the university has advanced since their departure and mingled with current students, faculty and staff. In the evening, they reconnected at celebratory dinners and mixers, where some joked they were happy they could recognize their former classmates.
At one event, current sophomores held an informal discussion with alumni about their careers. The sophomore year is an important one for students because they are encouraged to declare their major. Kevin Alexander ’19, who already declared a major in creative writing, said the discussion was helpful because he’s still trying to figure out his minor.
“I think it relieves some anxiety I have about careers and the career search,” he said. “It’s the freedom to talk to someone who not only has experience, but who is also on a similar path. They can maybe forecast what’s ahead in your life.”
The class of 1966 may have set an attendance record for a single group, with over 80 members celebrating their 50th reunion. The group organized special tours, get-togethers and a rousing dinner where they sang the university’s alma mater and the “Bearcat Fight Song” accompanied by kazoos.
Adam DuVander ’01, president of the alumni association, said returning home to Willamette is “a great reminder of the importance of lifelong learning.”
“The critical thinking and focused communication used in my daily life were skills I first learned here,” he says. “Between my many friendships and the foundation of education, I feel the impact of Willamette on my life every day. Coming back to the place where it started really enhances that feeling for me.”
More than 500 alumni registered for the event, making it one of the best-attended Alumni Weekends. James Lippincott, executive director of alumni and parent engagement, says, “The alumni engagement team sincerely thanks the campus community for making our alumni feel so welcome.”