Kansas University alumni now have three special occasions to lure them back to Mount Oread homecoming in the fall, Alumni Weekend in the spring and commencement in May.
Last year, the KU Alumni Association tried something different with its first-ever Alumni Weekend scheduled before commencement. Alumni activities previously were planned to coincide with commencement.
The change was a "huge success," said Donna Neuner, director of membership services at the alumni association.
By separating the two functions, more attention could be given to the 25-, 40- and 50-year class reunions during Alumni Weekend, she said. The alumni were in a more relaxed atmosphere, she said, where they could enjoy the campus and take time to reminisce.
"They liked being on campus when classes were in session," she said.
To promote involvement in continuing education, the alumni association this year will try to schedule workshops from the various schools on campus at times when visiting alumni can attend them, Neuner said.
THE ASSOCIATION also is looking into establishing reunions for individual schools. That would increase the chances for graduates from a particular year to know other alumni of that year, Neuner said.
Another planned improvement for Alumni Weekend this year, scheduled for April 24-25, will be the awarding of Distinguished Service Citations at the All-University Supper.
"Last year, the committee who chose the nominees wasn't used to the new, earlier date, so the nominees hadn't been announced," Neuner said. Previously, the dinner was held on the Friday night of commencement weekend.
Overall, she said, the alumni enjoyed the chance to return to KU when their activities didn't have to be scheduled around graduation and homecoming events.
But homecoming still will include its annual picnic for alumni, just as it has for the past eight years. The picnic is held under a tent near Memorial Stadium before the game.
"It's just grown so much over the years," Neuner said. "Sometimes I think all the people must get annoyed with the long lines, but they don't seem to mind."
HOMECOMING weekend also is becoming a time for 10-year reunions to take place, she said.
"The Class of 1981 saw that that's when the Class of 1980 had their reunion and have already contacted us about holding theirs during homecoming," she said.
This year's homecoming football game on Oct. 19 features KU vs. Iowa State. Because KU has only five home games this fall, homecoming this year is combined with Parent's Day.
Neuner explained that homecoming is more of a university-wide celebration than just an activity of the alumni association. And she noted that commencement events focus more on the graduating seniors than the returning alumni.
With the designated Alumni Weekend, the association can accommodate those alumni who want their own time on campus to explore and remember, Neuner said.
"We're willing to accommodate the alumni at any time, but this gives them a specific time."