By Jonathan Petty, MAM/Director of Communications—
PLAINVIEW – The theme of “Home” will have new meaning for Wayland Baptist University alumni in 2021 as its annual homecoming transitions to a virtual event due to ongoing COVID concerns. Slated for Feb. 19-20, 2021, the now-spring celebration will offer options to connect alumni using technology as well as offer some traditional parts of the weekend virtually.
“When we decided in December 2019 to move our celebration to the spring, we didn’t even know what the Coronavirus was. So we thought for sure we’d be clear to hold our traditional homecoming on our Plainview campus by February 2021,” said Teresa Young, director of alumni relations. “It became evident recently that might not be the case, so we’ve opted for a virtual event we’re calling ‘[email protected]’”
Young noted that the use of technology and moving of class reunions and other gatherings to the Zoom platform can mean that more alumni will be able to participate since the challenge of travel is removed. Many events will be livestreamed or released as premieres at a set time on the homecoming weekend schedule.
Another new offering for the virtual homecoming event is the “Homecoming in a Box,” which can be mailed to the first 200 alumni requesting one. The boxes will contain goodies designed to help alumni and their families enjoy the weekend events together and exhibit their school spirit, even if they are not on the Plainview campus.
“We are really excited about the opportunities that this new format allows us to offer and hopefully involve many more alumni than our traditional weekend does,” Young said. “This way alumni who live too far to make the trip or who have other barriers to attending can still be involved. Hosting our class reunions via Zoom will open doors for many more to celebrate these milestone anniversaries as well.”
Several aspects of the traditional homecoming event are on the lineup for 2021 in virtual format via the Internet: the recognition of alumni awards will still take place on Friday night, Feb. 19, and the Athletics Hall of Honor induction will be Saturday morning, Feb. 20. The chapel panel discussion will be offered during the traditional chapel time, 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Reunions on Zoom will be scheduled during the weekend, and sporting events will be live-streamed through the athletics website.
In addition, the weekend will offer some new activities for alumni to get involved in various ways. The Legacy on the Links Golf Classic will help generate additional funds for the Alumni Loyalty scholarships, and the virtual Pioneer 5K Fund Run will allow running or walking enthusiasts – or those who aspire to be – to compete for awards wherever they live and support the university at the same time.
Other new offerings include a “Painting with Pioneers” event via Zoom where alumni can create their own masterpiece with instruction from alumnus Charlotte White of California. A retired military alumni reunion, hosted by alumni board member Jack De Forrest, will be featured via Zoom. And a special info and networking session for alumni and their teen children, future “legacies” at Wayland, will be available as well. The School of Music will also feature a variety show to showcase the talented students and faculty on campus.
“We think we’ve added some great new offerings for our alumni to be able to participate in homecoming in some way that is meaningful to them and involves their whole family,” said Young. “This is a great time to take advantage of the virtual format and experience a little of the Pioneer tradition together even apart. We especially hope our alumni of other campuses will join us to get a little taste of our traditions with their families.”
A full listing of events and activities with details can be found on the alumni website at www.wbualumni.com/homecoming. For questions, contact Young at [email protected] or (806) 291-3600.