Alumni celebrate their alma mater at weeklong festivities
University of Manitoba alumni came back to campus, celebrating their alma mater during Homecoming this year. With over 40 events over the course of the week, U of M grads had plenty to celebrate.
Many of the highlights took place during Homecoming weekend, such as the Bison’s football game, the Homecoming dinner, various luncheons and of course the spectacular launch of the Front and Centre campaign at halftime of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers game.
On Saturday, October 3 the enthusiastic crowd at the Bomber game cheered when it was announced that $215,294,636.30 had been raised. A week later, with the announcement of $150,000,000 in support from the Province, that total rose to $365,294,636 – a significant milestone on the road to the campaign’s ambitious and transformative $500 million goal.
Former NFL player, philanthropist and Bison alumnus Israel Idonije was on hand to officially launch the Front and Centre campaign.
“Donations that will support graduate and undergraduate students; donations that will advance research – impact not only here in Manitoba but in the entire world; donations that will give students and faculty a place and space of pride,” Idonije said during the on-field announcement. “These donations will transform not only our university, but our entire province.”
An on-field performance precluded the announcement with a celebration of Manitoba and the role the U of M plays in the prosperity of the province and people in it. The halftime show began with 250 volunteer performers rolling out Manitoba’s rivers, grain fields, cityscapes and winters, bringing the Front and Centre campaign to life in an exciting display of colour, music and fireworks.
Later that evening the annual Homecoming dinner took a celebratory tone as classmates reconnected. Many faculties were represented by the reunion groups, but none more raucous than the engineers. (The program was interrupted more than once for the faculty rally song.)
The theme of the dinner itself was “From Farm to Table” and featured fine fare from local producers – which can symbolically represent the growth and nourishment of U of M grads in Manitoba.
“For me, the U of M challenged me and helped me elevate my game,” said Winnipeg mayor and U of M alumnus Brian Bowman as he reflected on his time as a student. “This community and who we are as a family is so connected to this institution.”[rev_slider homecoming-2015]
On Friday, October 2 the herd trampled the Regina Rams with a 34-19 win in the annual Homecoming game. Ranked sixth in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the Bisons won their second consecutive Canada West regular season game. The difference may have come down to a massive home-side rally with hundreds of alumni cheering from the stands.
Earlier in the week U of M grads took part in 21 reunions at both campuses. The faculty-specific events provided alumni with a chance to catch up with old classmates and revisit those times that brought them together. They also served as a great opportunity to share stories with fellow alumni from different graduating classes and hear from current faculty members about the exciting developments taking place on campus.
On Oct. 1, special events were held to mark the transition of the Human Ecology faculty’s departments of Human Nutritional Sciences, Family Social Sciences and Textile Sciences into other academic units. Alumni took part in tours of the Human Ecology building, and attended a ceremony where speakers paid tribute to the accomplishments of the faculty and its alumni. A plaque commemorating the 105 year history of the faculty, previously named Home Economics, was unveiled by the Honourable Janice C. Filmon, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, who is a graduate of the faculty, and President David Barnard.
Among other significant Homecoming events were the 30th anniversary of Engineering Access Program (ENGAP) and the 40th anniversary of the Access and Aboriginal Focus Programs (AAFP). ENGAP has been described by its graduates as life-changing and has helped more than 100 Indigenous students graduate with a BSc. in Engineering. Likewise, the AAFP is critical to both the U of M and the wider Indigenous community. The holistic approach of the AAFP ensures that students’ emotional, personal, academic and financial needs are met with support that is balanced by cultural backgrounds.
The Desautels Faculty of Music’s annual Homecoming Concert highlighted its breadth and talent. The audience was treated to performances ranging from classics by Rachmaninoff to the virtuosity of Paganini, the ever-popular Piazzolla, and jazz and opera favourites.
The Homecoming activities wouldn’t have been possible without student involvement from the U of M’s Student Volunteer Program. From intimate, faculty-specific events to the Front and Centre announcement, these volunteers collectively put in over 100 hours of time.