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Homecoming Weekend declared a success

October 10, 2014

The merger of Homecoming and Family Day was a complete success and will most likely be repeated in the future, said Paul Shepherd, director of Student Life.

The weekend featured all of the things students, family, faculty, staff and alumni have come to expect for each individual event; but they were combined because the events had a lot in common and could benefit each other, something Shepherd said he emphasized to everyone going into the weekend to make people more comfortable with the idea.

Kenzie Joy, a student at UW-River Falls, plays the guitar and sings for Falcon’s Got Talent on Friday, Oct. 3, to open Homecoming Weekend.
Kenzie Joy, a student at UW-River Falls, plays the guitar and sings for Falcon’s Got Talent on Friday, Oct. 3, to open Homecoming Weekend. (Jack Haren/Student Voice)

“The individual components of the event weren’t really that different at all,” Shepherd said.

The merger also brought together what Shepherd called the “Falcon Family,” which he explained is made up of the students, the alumni and all of their families. “We thought that [this event] was kind of a cool way to bring everybody together,” Shepherd said.

Daniel McGinty, director of Alumni Relations, said that he believes merging the two events together really benefitted the alumni because there were more events for them to take part in with their families, such as tours and exhibits.

McGinty said that merging the two events did not negatively impact the alumni events in any way and that the merger was received well.

“I never had one single complaint from the alumni,” McGinty said.

Between the students, the alumni and all of their families, Shepherd said he wouldn’t be surprised if about 1,000 people were on campus for Homecoming Weekend to participate in everything from face painting to viewing Senate Cinema films to cheering on the Falcons at the football game.

Despite the possibility of an increased number of people, there was the same number of event staff as in past years when the events were done individually.

Shepherd reported that it worked out OK, though, because the staff was made up of student interns, the office of Student Life, and other professional staff. He said they all worked really hard and put in a lot of hours over the weekend to pull it off and make the events run smoothly.

Shepherd said that so far the event staff has had no negative feedback surrounding the amount of hours they put in and there doesn’t seem to be a need to increase the number of event staff in the future if the events are combined again, which they very likely will be.

“We were pretty happy with how it worked out,” Shepherd said.

Of course, before deciding whether to combine the events again in the future, the office of Student Life plans to collect some information from participants to see what people thought went well and what they might do differently to make the experience better for everyone.

Ivan Pecel, also known as ‘Ivan the Juggler,’ from Los Angeles, California, entertained UW-River Falls students on Saturday, Oct. 4, during Homecoming.
Ivan Pecel, also known as ‘Ivan the Juggler,’ from Los Angeles, California, entertained UW-River Falls students on Saturday, Oct. 4, during Homecoming. (Jack Haren/Student Voice)

Shepherd said that Chancellor Dean Van Galen emailed him and had very good things to say about the event. Other people have given similar positive feedback, one calling it “an amazing weekend of activities.”

“All indicators so far point to everyone thinking it was very successful,” Shepherd said.

Even though the feedback has been good, Shepherd said he wants to hear from those people who thought maybe the combination of events was not the best, so they can make adjustments for next year.

Steven Tessier, a student at UW-River Falls, said that he felt that it was a little unorganized, and that his parents have come to Family Day for the past three years when it was an individual event, but this year they chose not to come.

“There just wasn’t much to do, other than the football game,” Tessier said.

Going into the event, Shepherd said he heard some concern from students about bringing their families to Homecoming, because there is usually alcohol involved and that’s not something they wanted their families to be exposed to.

Shepherd realized that this was a concern and hoped that because the combined event would be more high profile, students would be less likely to partake in that particular behavior. He said that as he walked around campus during the weekend and there did seem to be less of it this year than in past years.

“I think it was a really great energy on campus all weekend,” Shepherd said.

Overall, it looks as though the events will be combined again. Shepherd and Mc- Ginty both said they are excited to see what will happen with it in the future.