Friday, May 13, 2011
In the month of May, the SC State University campus is full of exciting moments. Graduating students are preparing for Commencement and looking for new opportunities, while alumni return every year for Alumni Weekend. Alumni Weekend is held the first weekend in May. It officially began in 1987.
“We are ecstatic by the number of class reunion participants and alumni who returned on Alumni Weekend,” says Adrienne Clinton, director of alumni relations. During this year’s Alumni Weekend, 11 classes were featured. The reunion classes were 1931, 1936, 1941, 1946, 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981 and 1986. The class of 1986 served as the Silver Class, representing 25 years since graduating from the University. The class of 1961 served as the Golden Class, representing 50 years since graduating from the University. This year, a mother and son duo both returned to the University, Col. Kenneth Hubbard, a 1986 graduate, and Miriam Hubbard, a 1961 graduate of the University.
Alumni Weekend begins on a Friday and ends on Sunday morning. The weekend consists of many events for all reunion classes to enjoy. On Friday, classes reunite and become acquainted with the University by registering and mingling with classmates. “Friday is full of excitement. It is when the alumni come back to the University for the first time in years,” says Iva Gardner, reunions manager and annual fund manager. “When the classes reunite as they are registering, it is kind of like a huge family reunion; they are hugging, kissing and handshaking. It will actually overwhelm you,” Gardner says with a smile. In 1987, “the classes were actually very small,” stated Gardner. In 1999, Gardner was hired to serve as the reunions manager, responsible for contacting classes and managing class reunions. Since 1999, the classes have grown tremendously.
On Saturday, a campus tour takes place, where the reunion classes are able to get a glimpse of many of the new establishments and residential halls that they once occupied as students at the University. Lowman Hall, a historical landmark constructed in 1917 as a men’s dormitory by the University’s faculty and students, sparked a huge interest for all of the reunion classes this year. “Alumni were really excited with Lowman Hall because it once stood as a dormitory; now it serves as office space,” echoes Gardner.
Saturday also included a major event, the Alumni Honors and Awards Banquet. “During the Alumni Honors and Awards Banquet, we recognize the generosity of the graduates of SC State University. To give at the level at which they have given signifies confidence in the University as well as a desire to give back,” Clinton says. Throughout the banquet, reunion classes presented checks to Dr. George E. Cooper, president of SC State University, and Anthony Holloman, vice president of Institutional Advancement. This year, the Silver Class of 1986 generated $14,000 and the Golden Class of 1961 generated $452, 785, including the $300,000 check presented by Congressman James E. Clyburn, a 1961 graduate of the University.
Gardner loves working with alumni and enjoys the experiences. She shares a profound story of an alumna that noticed her old dormitory. On Sunday morning after the farewell breakfast, held at the J.W. Washington Dining Hall, an alumna looked outside and saw her old dormitory, Bradham Hall, and immediately began to sing aloud the Alma Mater. “It brought back those memories that she had as a student living in that dormitory; you could feel a sense of pride at that moment,” said Gardner.
Clinton, a 1997 graduate of SC State University, shares that same sense of pride. “Alumni come home to reflect on the past and embrace the future of our Alma Mater,” stated Clinton. “It’s a time to reminisce about the good old days, a time to renew old acquaintances and a time to give back.”