Unseasonable cold, steady rain and whipping winds couldn't keep thousands of Franklin & Marshall College alumni, students and their families from turning out for one of F&M's most storied traditions, Homecoming & Family Weekend.
"Turnout has been robust," said Donna Pflum, associate director of alumni relations. "I see smiling faces everywhere I go."
Inside a packed Alumni Sports and Fitness Center (ASFC), where Saturday's Tailgate party was held rather than on waterlogged Hartman Green, everyone was in a festive mood.
"We like it in here," said Joe Nolt '59, standing in the blue-and-white-decorated gymnasium, where the three-piece band Song Smith entertained the crowd. "It's more spacious and warm." Nolt was with his wife, MariAnne, and brother, fellow alumnus Sam Nolt '61.
Rain fell throughout the day Friday as the first alumni and families began to arrive for the Nevonian Luncheon and the Autumn Research Fair, where 80 students presented research projects they had been working on since the start of the summer.
Molly Cadwell, a senior American studies and environmental science major, focused her research on the successful effort to stop the building of a power plant that would have destroyed the natural surroundings on New York's Hudson River. She said the experience helped her define her post-graduate pursuits.
"It made me really excited to want to go into environmental policy, and made me realize that law school is the right way to go in that field," she said.
Bringing Together Generations
At Friday's Nevonian Luncheon — an intimate gathering of alumni who graduated 50 years ago or earlier — Hank Eberle '55, who played football and basketball for F&M, said he has been returning to campus for Homecoming for more than half a century.
"What I enjoy most is meeting the young students," he said. "I've met a lot of great athletes."
Friday evening's highlight was the Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner, during which six former Diplomats, one former coach, and a basketball team that set a national collegiate scoring record were inducted into the Hall. Honored were: Jerome Taylor '83, basketball and baseball; Anjali Rajkumar '02, women’s squash; Brad Ramsey '88, football; Wendy Somers '85, women's swimming; Ed Woge, women's cross country coach; Bruce Cobb '77, men's lacrosse; Robert Kaithern '75, football; and the 1952 men's basketball team.
"These athletes exemplify the spirit of excellence," said Patricia S.W. Epps, F&M's director of athletics and recreation. "They were dedicated and disciplined and became leaders among their teammates and in competition. Our teams today have the same spirit. I know the young athletes in our audience hope to one day stand on this stage, to be accorded the honor of being inducted into F&M Athletic Hall of Fame."
Something For Everyone
Umbrellas popped open Saturday morning as the rains persisted, but early risers shrugged off the showers to packed the Carolyn S. And Robert W. Wohlsen Center for the Sustainable Environment, which was hosting Kappa Delta's second annual all-you-can-eat flapjack event, Pinwheels and Pancakes.
"In spite of the weather, people are really showing up," said senior Erin Moyer, working behind the counter with several other sorority members, including senior Olivia Bendit, who sprinkled chocolate chips in the just-poured-batter of pancakes on the grill. "I'm responsible for making sure it's all gluten free," Bendit said.
At the African-American Alumni Council breakfast, Shadoe Tarver '10 introduced the five 2015 recipients of the Sydney N. Bridgett '15 Award: Patricia Millet Claybrook '84, Jinnie Cristerna '94, Henry Wiggins Jr. '55, Randy Wilkins '01 and Anthony Williams '79.
"Just like Sydney, the award is about celebrating the accomplishments of African-American alumni," Tarver said.
Prior to the Tailgate, F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield and a panel comprising two faculty members and a student gathered in Barshinger Center for Musical Arts to talk with parents about the College's mission, its academic programs and its dedication to collaborative scholarship.
"A liberal arts education empowers students to understand the world we live in and to create their lives," Porterfield said.
At the Tailgate party, tents were erected outside the ASFC, where academic departments and campus organizations set up tables to share information with inquisitive alumni and families. As students and alumni visited the modern language tables, Assistant Professor of French Carrie Landfried said people had packed the morning's Study Abroad panel discussion at the Joseph International Center.
"There is a lot of interest," Landfried said. "Having a good grasp of another language opens so many doors."
Memories Old And New
Among the various indoor events was an open house at WFNM, the campus radio station. Senior Nora Bryson, who has two radio programs, was in the DJ's chair, broadcasting. Her mother, Cathy Childs Bryson '83, who had a radio program when she attended F&M, looked on approvingly.
"We had to drag our records around," said Cathy Bryson, admiring the computer program her daughter used. "The cool thing now is we can listen online and hear her shows every week."
The rains ended a few hours before the football game on Sponaugle-Williamson Field, giving fans more reason to cheer as the Diplomats battled the Dickinson Red Devils for the coveted Conestoga Wagon Trophy. F&M's century-old rival captured the trophy 13-7, dealing the Diplomats their first defeat after starting the season 4-0.
Later that evening, at F&M's annual Tribute Dinner, Kelsey Leigh Reber, a senior biological foundations of behavior major and author of two novels, gave the student remarks.
"I knew that F&M would be an important step toward my dreams [and that] I would learn much in the liberal arts environment, filled with engaging, small classroom discussions and students with diverse passions," Reber told the large gathering of College supporters. "But what I did not know — what I never could have realized when I first applied — was that F&M would be so much more than just another step toward achieving my goals later in life. Rather, over the next four years, F&M would provide me with boundless opportunities to achieve my dreams no