All-virtual Homecoming and Family Weekend features new Herm, fun run/ride, TenTalks and much more

Our new Herm is anxiously awaiting his big reveal. Join us Friday, Oct. 16, at 7:30 on Facebook Live! (Photo by Rachel Holderman)

Newsflash! Wondering how the Great Herm Search of 2020 was going? Mark Oct. 16 on your calendar. Eastern Mennonite University’s new blue lion mascot will meet his fans during the first  day of the all-virtual Homecoming and Family Weekend.

If recent events are any indication, the annual celebration at EMU from Oct. 16-18 will stretch around the globe.

“We anticipate the virtual format will allow many who couldn’t otherwise attend to join us in our celebration of all things EMU,” said Jennifer North Bauman, director of alumni relations and parent engagement. “While it’s disappointing that we can’t gather in-person, we’re excited to connect with our alumni, students and parents in new ways.”

Registration is free, but still encouraged, as the links to some homecoming events will only be available to registered participants. 

The 2020 event includes old favorites like TenTalks, but also a virtual fun run/ride/walk (pick your transportation!) and a coloring and design contest judged by students and faculty in EMU’s Visual and Communication Arts Department. Enter to win prizes!

More on the coloring and design contest: Download the Royal Lion and Herm coloring sheets or draw on an 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper a different EMU mascot. Submit using this form or send by mail to Homecoming Contests 1200 Park Rd. Harrisonburg, VA 22802. Deadline for submission is Oct. 7.

Royals fans will also be introduced, virtually, to EMU’s new blue lion mascot. 

“After many good years of service, our ‘old’ Herm went into retirement this spring,” said Bauman. “Thankfully, the search went well over the summer and our ‘new’ Herm will finish up his intensive training just in time to be introduced at Homecoming.”

Herm will be among honored guests at the Friday evening opening celebration, joining President Susan Schultz Huxman and this year’s alumni award recipients.

This year’s Jubilee alumni gathering, a recorded program on Friday at 10 a.m., should interest even those who are not yet members with a look back on EMU (well, yes, EMC!) as it was 50 years ago. Featured interviewees include John and Kathryn Stoltzfus Fairfield ’70, Marty Kolb-Wyckoff ’70, and Everett Ressler ’70 (with Phyllis Pellman Good, class of ’70). Ressler will reflect on the 1969 fund drive – a collective event that mobilized students, alumni, and townspeople to build the Sadie Hartzler library – and was covered in an issue of National Geographic.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, registered participants can join discussions hosted by academic departments in biology, business and leadership, education, nursing, and Bible, religion, and theology. The Center for Interfaith Engagement also hosts a time of sharing.

Class reunions for those who graduated in years ending in 0 and 5 will begin at 11 a.m., except for the class of 1960, which will be on Monday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m.

The class of 1970, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their commencement, will host additional celebrations, including a memoir book for which each class member is invited to write a page. 

This year’s EMU TenTalk: “Lead together in crisis: health, economics, race” will broadcast vie Facebook live at 3 p.m on Saturday. The featured speakers are Jeff Boodie ’07, co-founder and CEO of the tech startup JobSnap; Jeannine Uzel MSN ’18, the director of public health nursing at the Virginia Department of Health; and Ram Bhagat GC ’19, manager of school climate and culture strategy for Richmond Public Schools. Click here to watch the 2020 TenTalks.

Saturday’s festivities will close at 7:30 p.m. with a live streamed concert from the EMU music department’s various ensembles. Then, on Sunday morning at 10:30, join alumni from all over the world to celebrate and pray together for the world and EMU in a homecoming worship service.