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The Ultimate Homecoming

September 29, 2009


Marching Band trumpeter.

This year's Homecoming is set to be the best yet.

Photo: Patrick O'Leary

Academics takes its place with football in this year’s Homecoming celebration

By Mark Cassutt and Katherine Himes

When Thomas Wolfe wrote “you can’t go home again,” he didn’t reckon on a hometown that could boast a new stadium and a top research university.  

But this fall the University of Minnesota has all that, plus the first homecoming game on campus since 1981, the first in TCF Bank Stadium, and the first homecoming to feature academic-themed activities. No doubt about it: Homecoming 2009 will go down as the U’s Ultimate Homecoming.

Charged with designing events that showcase and benefit the U while generating a high level of participation from students, graduates, fans and residents, more than 300 students, staff, faculty, and community members spent two and a half years planning this once-in-a-lifetime homecoming experience.

The committee realized that homecoming is about more than football. They decided to make the U’s outstanding scholarship, research, and education part of the celebration. As a result, Homecoming 2009 features nearly 80 University departments, units, and colleges in what may become academic homecoming traditions.

Provost Tom Sullivan, whose office has been heavily involved in the planning and implementation efforts for these academic activities (which are led by co-chairs from University colleges) says homecoming offers a tremendous opportunity for exposure throughout the University and the state.
 
“I look forward to a terrific academic presence during Homecoming 2009,” he says. “This is our opportunity to showcase our great academic progress at the University during the excitement of football in the new stadium. I am impressed with the range of Homecoming events. From an open house and visit from the U.S secretary of agriculture to a scholarship and engagement showcase and a blood drive, Homecoming 2009 truly showcases the breadth of the U.”

Among the major academic events:

• TCF Bank Stadium Tours and University Open House—Sunday, October 4, 1-4 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium. This is the general public’s only chance to tour the stadium. More than 40 academic units will showcase teaching, research, and/or outreach through interactive displays.
 
• Freeman Lecture-Great Conversations—Monday, October 5, 7:30 p.m., Ted Mann Concert Hall. This special fall edition of Great Conversations will feature U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in a conversation that will enlighten, engage, and inform the audience. Deans Atwood from the Humphrey Institute and Levine from the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences will host the conversation.
 
• Student Scholar and Public Engagement Showcase—Wednesday, October 7, 1-4 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium. The University will host a student research showcase at the stadium in concert with Public Engagement Day. Art, design, and posters from University undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, as well as recent alumni, will be highlighted in one location for the first time in the U’s history. Also, faculty and staff will showcase public engagement activities and scholarship. Nearly 150 students and 40 faculty and staff exhibits will take part.

• Homecoming Parade—Friday, October 9, 7 p.m., University Avenue. As in the past, the parade down University Avenue will be a centerpiece of Homecoming. Parade-goers will see entries from the U’s academic community during this event, which now takes place on Friday night before the football game. All freshman-admitting colleges, as well as many other colleges and academic units, will be represented.
 
Also during Homecoming 2009: the University of Minnesota Alumni Association Awards Banquet (Thursday, October 8); Parents Weekend (October 9-11); and a strong academic presence on game day.
 
Homecoming 2009 also includes collegiate picnics, lectures, a blood drive, a volunteer project, a food drive in partnership with Rainbow Foods, and more. Nonperishable food items will be collected at the Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday events.

Homecoming 2009 is the culmination of efforts by seven University offices: Intercollegiate Athletics, the President’s Office, the Provost’s Office, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, University Relations, Student Unions and Activities, and the Foundation.

For more information visit the Homecoming Web site.

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