ASU homecoming set to ‘Rock the World’
Any person spending an extended amount of time in a particular place will have a personal connection with it for the remainder of their life; that certainly proves true for the thousands of alumni of Appalachian State University.
Many of those who spent their formative years on the campus of ASU will return to a place they consider home for this weekend’s ASU Homecoming. The series of events, anchored around the ASU football game against Samford University on Oct. 22, will allow alumni to reconnect with their colleagues and school through activities that include the “Under the Boardwalk Boogie” homecoming dance and the Appalachian Alumni and Friends Breakfast.
Brad Vest, associate director for student programs and a ’95 alumnus, has been involved with homecoming since he started working for the university in 1997. He believes that the success of the athletic department has brought many people back up the mountain, but he also credits the atmosphere of family as being the reason former students come back to ASU every year for homecoming.
“My favorite part of homecoming is seeing everyone come out and have a great time – seeing that we’re all one big Appalachian family,” Vest said.
Hank Foreman, vice chancellor for university communication and cultural affairs and ’95 alumnus, said the phrase “Appalachian family” is one he hears a lot, especially during homecoming.
“Students that come here feel at home here, as well as donors and people that have been involved with the university,” he said. “There’s a feel of ownership. Homecoming is a great time to be back at a place that meant so much to you.”
Patrick Setzer, executive director of alumni affairs and annual giving and a ’90 and ’98 alumnus, called homecoming “the marquee event” for Appalachian alumni. He said events like tailgating, the football game and pep rally have become go-to annual events for many.
“As alumni, we look forward to this event every year,” he said. “It’s a real special time for alumni and friends to get together and celebrate Appalachian. I think a lot of alumni, too, have formed traditions about getting groups together and renting cabins, starting a tailgate – doing things like that. They get together and see what they’re doing now, reminisce and talk about what they hope for Appalachian in the future.”
Setzer said alumni returning to ASU for homecoming renew old friendships and forge relationships with new members of the Appalachian family. This year, they will even have an opportunity to have an effect on the future of upcoming ASU students.
All the events of the 2011 Homecoming, from the parade to the “Don’t Stop Believin’” tailgate party, adhere to a particular focus: To “Rock the World” one Appalachian State student at a time. The theme for homecoming is meant to funnel Appalachian spirit into support for not only the football team, but ASU itself. This homecoming revolves around the Campaign for Appalachian, a comprehensive, multi-year fundraising effort that will be launched during the events leading up to the homecoming football game.
The Campaign for Appalachian facilitates the university’s goal to “make a difference in the world ... one student at a time.” For homecoming, that effort is translated into “rocking the world,” the Appalachian way.
Programs, services and scholarships that advance the education, skills and qualities of Appalachian students will be the recipients of funds generated by the campaign. The areas receiving emphasis will be scholarship, world focus, sustainability, entrepreneurship, and health and quality of life.
The opening event of ASU Homecoming, the sold-out Kansas concert with the Appalachian Symphony Orchestra on Thursday, Oct. 20, will be the first time people will be introduced to the campaign. The campaign will continue to be seen and heard about over the weekend, as it has been incorporated into the various activities scheduled on campus through Sunday, Oct. 22.
“People will get to know how the want to move the university forward,” Foreman said.
He said showing people how ASU plans to secure its future, in the midst of “tough” budget cuts, will be an exciting part of homecoming.
Homecoming provides an outlet for the Campaign for Appalachian message to reach a large composition of ASU supporters that includes students, parents, alumni and friends in the community.
“Homecoming draws thousands to the university, so it makes sense for use to share our campaign with this base while they are here in town,” Setzer said, adding that the campaign is a venue for everyone to support the total Appalachian experience for students in the years to come.
“This year provides us an opportunity to emphasis the importance of every member of the Appalachian family participating in providing support for the school, no matter the amount, through our Campaign for Appalachian,” he said.
Susan Pettyjohn, vice chancellor for university advancement, said the campaign will benefit every area on campus.
“The Campaign for Appalachian is going to make a major difference,” she said. “It’s their university, their alma mater. Their support will secure the future for the university. Their involvement will really make a difference.”
Foreman said alumni who to continue to be involved with ASU, whether it be through attendance of homecoming festivities or a donation to the Campaign for Appalachian, help “pay it forward” to the next generation Appalachian students.
“It increases the personal value of the Appalachian experience,” he said. “It’s positive to be connected to something throughout your life. We have a woman involved that graduated in 1938, and she’s still excited about Appalachian and what they’re doing for students. It’s great to be a part of a legacy outside of yourself that keeps growing.”
For the complete schedule and more information on ASU Homecoming events, visit http://www.homecoming.appstate.edu. Alumni information can be found at http://www.alumni.appstate.edu.