Utica College’s highly anticipated Homecoming Weekend kicks off on Oct. 2, bringing back favorite events, as well as introducing new special events.
Like UC, Homecoming is undergoing many changes this year. These changes are the addition of two special events: Leading By Example: An intergenerational alumni event for women of color and a tribute to Professor Emeritus Raymond Simon.
In honor of Ray Simon turning 100 years old on Aug. 12, Kim Landon, professor emerita of journalism, has coordinated an event celebrating the man who founded the public relations and journalism program at UC.
This celebration not only pays tribute to the founder of the program but also positions the Raymond Simon Institute for the future.
“His 100th birthday provides a pivot point for us to honor our past and turn toward the future,” Landon said. “There is a lot to honor in what he did, a lot to recognize, and he is very deserving. We’re so fortunate to still have him here.”
The event takes place on Oct. 3, and invites students and alumni to come together to network, mingle, and pay tribute to Simon.
Many prominent public relations and journalism alumni will be attending this event. Rob Flaherty, the senior partner, CEO and president of leading public relations firm Ketchum will be in attendance. Also, founding member and former White House correspondent for USA Today, Richard Benedetto will be at the event.
Ray Simon’s tribute will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3 in the Library Concourse from 7-10 p.m.
This year’s Homecoming is on track to become the college’s biggest yet. According to Mark Kovacs, director of alumni and parent relations, Homecoming has had more than 1,000 preregistrations, which is an alltime high.
“More pre-registrations and more networking options are the biggest changes over the past few years,” Kovacs said. “There are also many changes to the schedule compared to last year, too. Those include various affinity reunions, different entertainment, and bringing back the carnival among others.”
One of the hot topics for this year’s Homecoming is the new Sports and Recreation Dome. The dedication for the dome was a big part of the promotion of Homecoming but was postponed until the morning of the inaugural Jen & Todd Hutton Invitational Meet on Dec. 12. This postponement caused some disappointment among students such as Jennifer Melvin, a sophomore accounting student at UC.
“I am disappointed, because I thought the dome was supposed to be done before school, and it’s still not done,” Melvin said. “I don’t think the school should have gave dates to when the dome would open. By having dates, it gets everyone excited and then it doesn’t end up opening.”
Some of the UC community may be disappointed, but Landon and Kovacs agree that the visual impact of the dome will be enough to impress guests.
“I would expect that some people might be a little disappointed because they won’t be able to go into it and really tour it,” Landon said. “Quite frankly, my feeling about it is I think that you can’t stand there, look at that thing, and be disappointed because it is pretty awesome to just see it.”
As with every Homecoming, sporting events will be a huge draw for students, alumni and faculty. The first game of the weekend kicks off with the women’s soccer team facing off against Nazareth College.
Other games include the men’s and women’s lacrosse alumni game and reception, men’s soccer, and many other matches. Also, the Pioneers’ football team will go head-tohead against Ithaca College in Gaetano Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 3.
“I want students, alumni, families, faculty/staff, and friends to have a fun-filled weekend where they enjoy themselves,” Kovacs said.
Photo: The first 1,000 people to register for Homecoming will recieve these specially
designed gloves. Photo by Jamie Callari