Homecoming 2016, bringing together the classes of 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011, saw the arrival of several thousand alumni to celebrate a wide range of activities, including a thrilling 21-17 win by Bison football over Castleton University (Vermont). This year’s homecoming was the first for President Roberta J. Cordano, and the last for outgoing GUAA President Alyce Slater Reynolds, ’76 & G-’78.

Festivities began Thursday, October 27, with Cordano and Mary Baremore hosting a celebratory breakfast at House One for the classes of 1956 (celebrating its 60th diamond anniversary) and 1961; the Class of 1966, which had the largest golden anniversary turnout on record with 72 attendees, came together for breakfast at the “Ole Jim.”

As part of the First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare speaker series, a panel of alumni moderated by Deaf West artistic director DJ Kurs, ’98 discussed their involvement in Shakespeare productions at Gallaudet and professionally. First Folio! exhibit tours were provided at the Washburn Arts Building during Homecoming.

In the evening, a spirited pep rally, held at a packed Field House, flourished with a variety of class colors worn by students and alumni. Cordano, wearing a Gallaudet football jersey (No. 1), inspired the audience to root for the Bison. “This is your home,” said Cordano to a cheering audience. “Gallaudet will forever be our home. Let’s give all the spirit we can!”

Reynolds also revved up the crowd, reminding students that as future alumni, they would always remember the fun they had as students and the importance of showing class spirit. The crowd was introduced to the new Bison Song team members: Bridget Berrigan, Tessa Lewis, and Irisa MacAulay.

On Friday, October 28, another record was broken as 75 alumni were inducted during the Alumni Emeriti Club’s annual ceremony at the Gallaudet University Museum in Chapel Hall. The portrait hanging of President Emeritus Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, Cordano’s predecessor, followed in the museum.

During their golden anniversary luncheon, the Class of 1966 proudly announced that they surpassed their goal of raising $50,000 for its endowment fund, a goal set some time ago.

College Bowl Challenge XI pitted the Gallaudet University College Bowl team (Jason Antal, Jehanne McCullough, Gabriel Paulone, and Ethan Sonnenstrahl) against the alumni team (Philip Bravin and Don Bangs from the Class of 1966, and Antony McLetchie and Angela Trahan from the Class of 1991) in Swindells Auditorium at the Kellogg Conference Hotel. Emceed by Deborah Bravin Skjeveland, ’93, over 300 enthusiastic alumni and friends watched the College Bowl team win the challenge. During intermission, GUAA awarded Reynolds its second-ever director emeritus title for her 22 years on the GUAA board (the first was given to Gerald “Bummy” Burstein, ’58). Outgoing board members Terrance Berrigan, ’78 (treasurer), Mary Lynn Lally, ’66 (home region), Ramesh Phadke, ’81 (member at large), and Louis Jay Schwarz, ’68 (east region) were also recognized for their service to GUAA.

Capturing Deaf Heritage Day, an all-day event sponsored by the Center for Deaf Documentary Studies (CDDS), in collaboration with the Gallaudet University Archives and the Office of Alumni Relations, gave alumni and friends a chance to digitize photographs and documents for preservation. Also offered were presentations covering topics related to preserving and creating artifacts, emphasizing the cultural importance of personal collections, and encouraging the preservation of deaf heritage through a variety of mediums, including video.

The Bison women provided strong performances in volleyball and soccer. A crowd of 425 watched Gallaudet volleyball defeat Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Virginia) in straight sets. Between the second and third sets, Gallaudet Athletics recognized members of the 2006 women’s volleyball Sweet 16 team on the 10th anniversary of that historic run.

It was a heartbreaking end to the 2016 season for women’s soccer at Hotchkiss Field. In front of a Senior Day crowd of 257, Trinity Washington University defeated the Bison in overtime, 4-3.

Over 600 alumni enjoyed the pre-game bash, held at the Kellogg Conference Hotel Ballroom, late Friday night, highlighted by the Bison Song performances of Mel Carter representing the Class of 1966, and Jon Kovacs and JoAnn Virgadaula representing the Class of 1991, along with the announcement by Virginia Borggaard, ’66, and Daphne Cox, ’82, of the Dr. Frank B. Sullivan Memorial Foundation establishing an endowed fund, the Dr. Frank B. Sullivan, ’41, Memorial Fund for Business Achievement and Student Entrepreneurship. A $25,000 check was presented to Cordano on behalf of the foundation.

On Saturday, October 29, the 99 attendees from the Class of 1991 celebrated its 25th silver anniversary breakfast. A long line of alumni attended the House One open house, each greeted by Cordano.

Homecoming Day activities picked up in the afternoon with the Class Parade around Hotchkiss Field, followed by the football game against Castleton. A crowd of 3,844 watched Gallaudet earn its first Eastern Collegiate Football Conference win of the season and second win overall in exciting fashion.

With one minute remaining and Castleton on Gallaudet’s 10-yard line, the Bison defense kept the Spartans out of the end zone. Three plays later, Mason Gooch and Louie Akuffo made the game-saving tackle on the 1-yard line as time expired.

At halftime, Homecoming 2016 laureates were awarded to DT Bruno, current SBG vice president, and Mekayla Walker.

Following the game, various classes and organizations held their own reunions; the Rathskellar community celebration was held at the Jordan Student Academic Center. The 2016 Alumni of Color Reunion, where Edgar Palmer, ’78 & G-’03, executive director, Office of Diversity and Equity for Students, welcomed alumni back home to their alma mater. Cordano was also on hand to welcome everyone. A lovely evening of dinner and dancing followed.

Other Homecoming activities included tours of College Hall and the President’s Office, campus tours, the Gallaudet University Museum, and the Archives. Anniversary class reunion photos were taken on Friday and Saturday morning at the Chapel Hall steps.

The Office of Alumni Relations thanks all who were involved in Homecoming 2016, and now looks forward to welcoming the classes of the classes of 1947, 1952, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002. 2007, and 2012 for Homecoming 2017

Are you ready?

Photos by Zhee Chatmon, Danielle Seiss, and Lorian Jones

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