Visitors to Homecoming and Family Weekend 2023 grab a bite outside University Commons on Saturday.

Relive the Homecoming highlights with our 2023 recap

With so much to see and do all over campus this past weekend, you probably got your steps in.

Crowds of EMU Royals — whether alumni, family, friends, students, faculty or staff — gathered together for Homecoming and Family Weekend 2023 at 48 events over three days. A total of 529 people registered for those events.

Sixty-eight alumni attended the 50th anniversary Class of 1973 reunion, with 206 attending other reunions stretching from 1958 to 2013. Nine members of the oldest class (1958) reunited by Zoom. According to an email from Advancement Office, 169 people registered for the Music Celebration Concert, 180 registered for the opening breakfast and 127 registered for TenTalks.

The most viewed event on Facebook was the Writers Read with Kate Baer, followed by TenTalks at second and the Music Celebration Concert at third.

Check out our Homecoming and Family Weekend 2023 photo galleries!

It would have been impossible to see everything the weekend had to offer, but we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the homecoming highlights, in case you missed it.

  • Music Celebration Concert: An Evening with Madeline Bender helped kick off the Homecoming festivities on Friday night. Madeline Bender ’93, an accomplished soprano who’s performed all across the world, provided audiences at Lehman Auditorium with a smorgasbord of musical entertainment. Click here for a longer writeup of the event. A recording of the event can be viewed on the EMU Facebook page.
  • Nearly every seat in the Suter Science Center lecture hall was filled on Saturday, with everyone in attendance on the edge of those seats as they listened to some amazing stories from three EMU alumni at TenTalks. The event, which is modeled after TED Talks, tasks three luminaries with 10 minutes each to impact, influence and inspire the crowd. This year’s speakers were Ryan Gehman ’16, Kevin Ressler ’07 and Madeline Bender ’93. Click here for a longer writeup of the event. A recording of the event can be viewed on the EMU Facebook page.
  • Kate Baer ’07 (right) took the Lehman Auditorium stage on Saturday night to read from her collection of poems, answer questions from the crowd and dispense life and writing advice, all while showcasing her razor-sharp wit. Click here for a longer writeup of the event. A recording of the event can be viewed on the EMU Facebook page.
  • Roughly 250 generous donors and contributors filled Yoder Arena on Friday evening to celebrate another banner year of philanthropy. The five student storytellers recognized at the Donor Appreciation Banquet shared their journey of transformation at EMU thanks to donor giving. Click here for a longer writeup of the event.
  • Saturday started off with a bang at the Homecoming Celebration Breakfast held at Yoder Arena. The ceremony honored the recipients of its alumni awards: Andy Dula ’91 (right), Paul and Lisa Zendt Shelly ’89 (left) and Basil Marin ’10 (center). It also recognized this year’s Hall of Honor inductees: Miranda White Terry ’08, Jamie Fraysher Runner ’09, Luke Yoder ’08 and the 2003 women’s basketball team.
  • Due to the threat of rain, Fall Fest was moved into the gym, where children barreled down inflatable slides, launched themselves into the air in the bounce house and won prizes from a table of giveaways. Several food trucks fed visitors outside the gym as a cart inside scooped Italian ice into cups. While his three children colored with crayons at a nearby table, Luke Yoder, one of the athletes honored earlier that morning, said it was his first time returning for Homecoming. The Iowa resident said it was fun catching up with friends from his class and seeing all the places he had fond memories of.
  • Across the hallway from the gym, people packed the athletic suites to honor Roland Landes and his wife, Darlene. Both were present to receive the recognition. Landes, a legendary coach who helmed the most successful men’s cross country and track teams in school history, served EMU from 1967 to 1998 as coach, assistant professor of physical education and as supervisor of auxiliary services. His tenure includes coaching five different teams in four sports from 1967 to 1983, finishing with a career record of 223-141 for a 0.613 win percentage. His son and daughter spoke about his character, their favorite memories of him and how much of an impact he had on them and the broader EMU community.
  • President Susan Schultz Huxman and Mayor Deanna Reed spoke to a group of women in the President’s Reception Room about the mission and goals of Royal Women for EMU. The group, led by the visionary trifecta of Reed and co-chairs Louise Hostetter ’79 and Kay Nussbaum ’78, is a new women’s philanthropy and networking initiative to inspire visible leadership, bold investments and empowering networks to impact EMU’s future. Its goal is to raise $70,000 for student scholarships, of which $20,000 will be used for immediate impact grants and $50,000 will go into an endowed scholarship fund to create lasting impact for EMU students.
  • Inside the Black Box Theater, Jackie Font-Guzman, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, led a conversation about the DEI efforts on campus. She said that 43.6 percent of the incoming class self-identifies as either Black, Indigenous or Persons of Color. Thirty-five percent of students at EMU are first-generation students. “So knowing that, we have a responsibility to make sure that when our students come here, when our staff comes here, when our faculty comes here, that they really feel like they belong, and they feel like this is their space,” she said.
  • Later, DEI staff met with students and alumni to discuss the creation of an LGBTQ+ advisory board. An advisory board typically might provide support and accountability to faculty and staff and can also offer strategic direction to some of the efforts moving forward. Nicole Litwiller, who facilitated the event, described the meeting as “an inaugural conversation” and brainstorming space. “We want to hear all your voices and incorporate them into how this advisory board gets created,” she told attendees gathered at the old Common Grounds location.
  • Upstairs at the Common Grounds coffee shop, a platter of mugs invited former employees to step behind the counter and make their own favorite drinks. Returning to campus for her 15-year reunion, Aubrey Kreider ’08, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was in the mood for a hot chai and thanked the current crop of baristas who helped make it for her. “They ended up making it for me because everything is totally different,” said Kreider, who worked at Common Grounds for four years. “All the technology’s been upgraded, and obviously, since it’s in a different space, I didn’t know where anything was.”
  • Across campus at Lehman Auditorium, Chamber Singers alumni shared their favorite memories from their time on the choir and joined in song together.
  • A pop-up swag shop inside University Commons sold apparel and other wares to passersby. Cassidy Walker, a junior and Royal Ambassador helping man the booth, said well over 100 items had been sold about three hours into being open. She said the blue EMU crewneck was a bestseller. “I almost bought myself a college parent shirt because I’m like the mom of my friend group,” she said.
  • Dymphna de Wild, JMU arts professor, showcased her collection of artist books, digital photographs and collages on Friday during a reception at the Margaret Martin Gehman Gallery for her “Solace of Silence” exhibition. Some of her works included pictures of found objects atop freshly laid snow and a sprawling book of coffee filters that have been turned into art.
  • Saturday saw some success on the pitch with the EMU men’s soccer team besting Ferrum 6-0. The women’s soccer and field hockey teams each lost to Roanoke by a score of 0-4.
  • The denouement of the weekend arrived Sunday morning with the Homecoming Worship Service held at Lehman Auditorium. The Chamber Singers led congregants in song and the recipients of this year’s alumni awards addressed the crowd. Click here for a longer writeup of the event.

Photos by Macson McGuigan, Jon Styer/At Ease Design & Consulting, and Rachel Holderman

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