The University of Kansas will celebrate its 107th Homecoming Oct. 19-26, culminating in the KU football game against Texas Tech Oct. 26 in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
The KU Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Leadership Board will coordinate the week of Homecoming activities. Association staff members leading the effort are Ally Stanton, director of student programs, and Keon Stowers, assistant director of student programs. KU’s Homecoming tradition began in 1912.
Homecoming leaders will meet throughout the spring semester to select a theme and finalize the schedule of activities, which will include competitions for student organizations, community service activities, reunions, the Homecoming parade and pep rally, and the selection of 10 student finalists for the Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (Ex.C.E.L.) Awards. The winners will be announced during halftime of the football game Oct. 26.
With masses of students milling outside the Adams Alumni Center at 5:15 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10—15 minutes before Finals Dinner was scheduled to begin—Ally Stanton, director of student programs, opened the doors at 1266 Oread Ave. and welcomed the crowd inside.
“The food was ready,” she said, “so why not?”
Within minutes, students were flashing their cell phones to show their Student Alumni Network membership cards—or downloading the KU Alumni app to activate their memberships—and dashing upstairs to feast on a scrumptious barbecue meal provided by Bigg’s BBQ.
During the two-hour event, students were also treated to 15-minute aromatherapy massages and were invited to visit with therapy dogs John Wayne, Siena and Layla, who were stationed in the lobby, where they shamelessly flopped over for belly rubs. Students also received snack bags provided by HyVee and Jayhawk bag tags, which enable students to receive prizes when worn on campus.
Gwendolyn Sibley, a Garnett junior who’s majoring in English and rhetoric, arrived at the center for the free food but was delighted to discover therapy dogs were on site. “I’m so happy they’re here,” she said. “I’m allergic, but I can pet them for like five minutes.”
The annual tradition continues to grow in popularity, and Stanton, j’10, g’12, estimates that nearly 600 students attended this year’s event. “We host so many events throughout the year, all of which feature free food, but there is something special about Finals Dinner,” she said. “We simply want students to enjoy dinner with other Jayhawks and to be able to take away the planning of one meal during a hectic and oftentimes stressful week. It’s the simplicity of giving students a space to take a breath, recharge and refuel.”
Students are also encouraged to stop by the Adams Alumni Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during finals week for a quiet space to study. Free coffee and a snack bar will be provided by HyVee.
Far above the golden valley, the University of Kansas will celebrate its “Home on the Hill” as the theme for the 2018 Homecoming celebration. KU’s 106th Homecoming begins Sunday, Sept. 23rd and culminates in the KU football game against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Sept. 29.
The theme is selected by the KU Alumni Association and the student-led Homecoming Steering Committee. Ally Stanton, director of student programs, and Keon Stowers, assistant director of student programs, will coordinate the week’s events with the five-member committee.
Students on the steering committee include:
Allyson Bellner, a sophomore majoring in Biology
Ashley Dunn, a junior majoring in communication studies
Logan Hotz, a junior majoring in mathematics and economics
Mary Claire McLaughlin, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and business administration
Rebecca Seldin, a junior majoring in strategic communication
As Homecoming preparations continue, the Alumni Association will post details about specific events at www.homecoming.ku.edu. Jayhawks also can follow the Alumni Association on Facebook and Twitter.
Ally Stanton, j’10, g’12, directs student programs for the KU Alumni Association, including advising the Student Alumni Leadership Board. Previously, she represented the KU Office of Admissions helping to recruit future Jayhawks to campus. The former KU softball student-athlete also spent time as a graduate assistant for the KU Leads program within KU Athletics where she helped advise the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and facilitated leadership programming and retreats. Ally can still be found on the ball diamond, playing slow pitch for the 2016 Lawrence Parks and Rec Co-Ed Lower League Champions, the Squids in Space.
I became a Jayhawk because…
I visited campus for a KU softball camp and the feeling I had on campus was magnetic. When I returned home to St. Louis it felt like Jayhawks were coming out of the woodwork to tell me and my family all the great things about KU. It became a no-brainer to become a Jayhawk after that.
How has KU propelled you into your current career?
When I returned to KU in a career capacity, all the people who were there for me as a student immediately became helpful colleagues and friends. Jayhawks want to help other Jayhawks regardless if they are students, graduates, faculty or staff.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Allen Fieldhouse on a non-gameday afternoon. We occasionally had plyometric workouts in the Fieldhouse as a team, because there are lots of stairs to run up and down in that place. The lights were always off, so our only light leaked in from the windows at the top of the building, making super-dramatic shadows inside. It all felt very special and secret, and you’d forgot how much your body was just dying from the workout.
My favorite KU memory is…
Coming back to work here after spending some time away working at another institution. That first week back in Lawrence was wonderful. That feeling of ‘coming home’ was exciting and reaffirming.