By Jim Hynes
If you asked Maria Keenan how preparations for Homecoming are going, she just might reply, “which one?”
Keenan and her team of seven are busy putting the finishing touches on Homecoming 2010, of course, but she can already tell you a few things about 2011, 2012, and so on.
“Oh yes, we’re already talking about next year’s Homecoming, and the one after that,” said Keenan, Director, Alumni Relations, Homecoming and Special Events at Development and Alumni Relations. “Our reunion coordinator is already working with classes and volunteers preparing for next year and even 2013.”
Although it’s by no means all they do, you can be sure that one of Keenan’s team is working on something related to Homecoming on any given day, whether it’s finding a date, or a venue, or trying to recruit new class leaders or volunteers to sit on a committee, no matter what time of year it is.
Indeed, when you plan an annual event attended by 3,000-4,000 people, logistics becomes your life. And it’s logistics, this time in the form of hotel availability, that has pushed this year’s celebrations ahead a few weeks earlier than usual.
No problem for Keenan and her über planners, though. Homecoming 2010, which takes place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 (held in conjunction with Parents Weekend), is just about ready for lift-off, with some of its 85 or so events already sold out.
Highlights this year include Anniversary Dinners for alumni celebrating 5 to 75 years of graduation (Fri., Oct 1, 6:30 p.m.), the Beatty Memorial Lecture by Prof. Muhammad Yunus, a global leader in anti-poverty efforts and a pioneer of the use of micro-loans to provide credit to the poor (Sat., Oct. 2, 10 a.m.), and the annual Homecoming football game (versus Université de Sherbrooke), which kicks off with a pre-game Spirit Party on Forbes Field (Sat., Oct. 2, 11 a.m.).
Weaved in between all of this action are activities like the self-explanatory Lunch et Livres (with a trio of McGill-connected authors), and the popular Classes Without Quizzes, which return for a sixth year to examine everything from the History of Food to Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility.
Then there’s the perennially sold-out Leacock Luncheon. Moderated once again by resident McGill wit Derek Drummond, this year’s luncheon will feature National Post columnist and broadcaster John Moore as special guest speaker.
Yes, there’s something for everyone, and that’s the idea, says Keenan, who is organizing her 14th McGill Homecoming.
“I think overall the goal has always been to have as much representation as possible, a wide variety of programming that will be of interest to anyone and everyone, be they academics, jocks or people that are just looking to socialize,” she said.
By the look of the Events calendar, the Homecoming team has hit the nail on the head once again this year.
So do Keenan and her team of busy logistics experts ever run into nasty surprises, something all the organizing in the world couldn’t have foreseen? Sure, Keenan says, but not that anybody would notice.
“When things happen with Homecoming, usually it’s the organizers that see it and think, ‘Oh my God, it’s the end of the world.’ But usually it has no impact on the alumni’s enjoyment of the event. They are so happy to be back at McGill, to be reconnecting with their Alma Mater and classmates they haven’t seen in sometimes 40, 50 even 60 years. It’s very difficult to dampen that spirit.”
For more information on Homecoming 2010, including a link to the full list of events, visit: http://aoc.mcgill.ca/network/homecoming.
For Athletics & Recreation related Homecoming events, go to: http://www.mcgill.ca/athletics/aboutathletics/alumni/homecoming2010/.