Homecoming hits new heights

Last weekend, Carnegie Mellon held its annual Homecoming weekend. Yet, unlike previous years, this year’s celebration included a number of new events for alumni and students, such as a party at the Fence, comedian appearance, dance at the University Center, and capital campaign kickoff.

The festivities kicked off with the Fence party, celebrating its 85th anniversary since the original fence as well as the 15th anniversary of the new fence, erected when the old one collapsed. Dana Weinstein, sophomore business administration major and coordinator of the event, said that turnout was much larger than expected with over 50 students in attendance, all of whom seemed to be having a good time.
Weinstein said the Fence party was central to promoting student involvement in the Homecoming activities.

“This year, our student Homecoming committee added a number of activities for students to make them more aware of Homecoming weekend, and have events for students and alumni. For the Fence party, we gave away water bottles with candy and student Homecoming schedules inside, and invited many student organizations to interest students in this year’s Homecoming activities,” she said.

Other student events included comedian Bill Burr, the annual Chili Cook-Off, the Homecoming football game, and a dance in Wiegand Gym.

Mallory Elbert, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, thought that the dance went very well.

“The dance was a lot of fun and full of excitement. I think those that put it together did a very good job and I hope to see things like it in the future,” she said.

Trisha Quan, a junior computer science major, was impressed with this year’s schedule.

“This was a big step up from last year. There really was so much more of a Homecoming presence and it was great,” Quan said.

The headlining event of Homecoming was undoubtedly the B There event, which kicked off the university’s capital campaign.

“B There marks an exciting time in Carnegie Mellon’s history. It is a celebration of the university’s past success and bright future,” said Kenneth Walters, spokesman for the university. “As part of that celebration, the university is announcing the public phase of its $1 billion campaign that focuses on the comprehensive needs of the university. Friday night’s kick-off event was a great opportunity to bring the Carnegie Mellon community — faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, and friends — together to share in the celebration.”

As of the B There event Friday, the university had raised over $550 million toward the $1 billion, which will already provide a number of endowed scholarships, fellowships, and chairs, which ensures continuing the growth and presence of the university.

The campaign officially began in January 2006, although it was only this past month that the final target of $1 billion was determined.

The event was emceed by alumni Zachary Quinto, who plays the role of Sylar on Heroes, and Aaron Staton, who is Ken Cosgrove on Mad Men. University President Jared L. Cohon made a speech highlighting the role of the campaign in the future of the university.

Students, staff, alumni, and families enjoyed live music provided by four alumni bands as well as the Tim Ruff trio of current Carnegie Mellon students. Throughout the night, there was an open bar and a varied display of food, including Chinese noodles, caramel apples, and Greek salad. The night ended with a fireworks display over the skies of Hamerschlag Hall and the Mall between Baker and Porter Halls and Wean.

Corey Werner, a junior humanities and arts major, went to many Homecoming events, but thought that the campaign kickoff was definitely the best.

“The atmosphere was really exciting - seeing current students hanging out, connecting with Carnegie Mellon alumni, and enjoying music was definitely the highlight of the weekend,” he said.
Walters noted the importance of the event.

“By reaching our $1 billion goal, which is the largest fundraising goal in university history, we will be able to provide more endowed scholarships for students and endowed chairs for faculty,” he said.

The B There event was a perfect complement to Homecoming, Walters said.