Coming home

“It’s important to reminisce about your early days in college,” said Robert Langen, who graduated from Waterloo College in 1948. Attending the Founders’ Luncheon last Sunday, Langen was one of countless alumni that returned to Laurier for Homecoming weekend.

The Founders’ Luncheon, hosted by Laurier Alumni, brought together alumni that graduated 50 or more years ago. Among those that attended was Dwight Kellerman, the university’s oldest graduate from the class of 1937.
Speaking on the tradition of homecoming, Kellerman considered his days as a student expressing, “I used to go to some of the football games but I was never an athletic person.”

Although it has been some years since class of 1948 graduate Fred Janke has returned to the campus, he maintained the importance of the homecoming tradition, explaining, “It’s really good to keep in touch, especially to hear Max talk and keep us up to date on what’s happening with the university.”
Despite receiving updates on changes to the university, Laurier’s founders all remarked on how different the campus is.

Langen, who watched much of the change occur first-hand in his 37 years as a professor, said, “There was greater exchange between professor and students and greater attention paid to the student individually than can occur today with the larger groups in classes.”

Class reunions were also being held over the course of the weekend, notably by the class of 1985, which celebrated its 25th homecoming.

Although the Laurier they went to as students was much more similar to the campus today than for those who attended the Founders’ Luncheon, the class of ‘85 still remarked on the ever changing face of the university.

“In the atrium in the Peters building there used to be a circle where we all sat at before we went in to class,” said Mike McKerlie, who helped organize his reunion.

“That’s gone and there’s a coffee house in there now.”

Listing some of the other redesigns he noticed, McKerlie expressed his displeasure in realizing the students’ union removed the pool tables that were previously housed in the Fred Nichols Campus Centre. “That’s where I used to go everyday during accounting class,” he said.

While the appearance of the school has changed, much of student life has stayed the same. Remembering intramural sports, women’s powderpuff and notably the long lines at the dining hall, Susan Nichol remarked, “We used to say that WLU stood for ‘we line up’.”

Reconnecting alumni with one another was the key to having a successful turn out for the reunion, explained Dawn Edwards-Peart, who volunteered to co-ordinate the event by getting in touch with her classmates. She expressed the challenges of finding people who have moved far off, as she herself did to Calgary.

Edwards-Peart did reveal that she had additional reasons to return, stating, “My daughter is coming here next year so I’m really excited about the school.”

Her daughter’s class, similarly to those that have graduated in recent years, pose the challenge for future alumni events as the groups becoming increasingly larger.

Bridget McMahon, director of alumni relations and annual giving, was optimistic about future alumni events. “I think we’d be in a wonderful position if we had too many founders in this room,” she said, referring to the senate and board chambers.

Harold Russell, class of 1958, maintained that it is the fond memories at the university that keeps bringing alumni like himself back every year. “This university is almost a century around and we have a lot to be proud of,” he said.

“[Homecoming] gives us a chance to
focus on those traditions.”