Owen Donohue | Staff Writer
Homecoming weekend this year brought students and alumni together to connect and share their love for Duquesne. Last Monday through Wednesday, Duquesne celebrated its history during the 6th annual Heritage Week, which commemorates the university’s 140th birthday and deep rooted Spiritan tradition. The energy on campus lasted through the weekend as alumni and their families visited Duquesne.
The homecoming weekend kicked off Friday with a Welcome Mass, reunion lunch for the class of 1968 and a president’s dinner. Sigma Lambda Phi, Sigma Tau and Sigma Phi Delta hosted reunions for their alumni Friday evening.
Sarah Sperry, the assistant vice president of alumni engagement, the department that helped coordinate 2018 homecoming events, estimated that between 1,000 and 1,500 alumni attended this year.
Alumni were given campus tours on Friday and Saturday mornings. For the class of 1968, which celebrated its 50th year since graduation, Duquesne has changed quite a bit. The Rangos School of Health Sciences and the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences have since opened. Gumberg Library opened in 1978, and construction of the Power Center concluded in 2008.
The class of 1968 is symbolic of a turning point in the university’s history. The campus had been growing quickly through the 1960s, thanks to efforts by Father Henry J. McAnulty, who served as president from 1959 to 1980. In 1970, the school was embroiled in a financial crisis from the rapid expansion and students ended up raising enough money to keep its doors open. As Duquesne increases its reputation, academic opportunities and amenities, alumni and faculty notice a definitive and tangible change.
“Fifty years ago, people would not call Duquesne’s campus beautiful. It is beautiful now. It’s quite a nice thing to show off to our alumni,” said Sperry. “Whether you are first year out or 50 years out, we want you to feel proud of your alma mater.”
On Saturday morning, students, alumni and families participated in the Homecoming 5K Run at South Shore Riverfront Park. The event was sponsored by the Delta Zeta sorority in support of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which provides hearing aids to people who cannot afford them.
Later that morning, students and alumni crowded A-Walk for the much anticipated Autumnfest, a yearly celebration sponsored by the Duquesne Program Council (DPC). The DPC is a student-run organization that is responsible for bringing entertainment and recreational activities to campus. A number of organizations had set up booths on A-Walk and the Mellon Hall patio with food and entertainment while the Dukes faced off against the Bryant Bulldogs on Rooney Field. The DPC handed out hundreds of homecoming T-shirts to students and alumni.
The Duquesne women’s volleyball team beat St. Louis 3-0 on Saturday afternoon. That evening, alumni and friends gathered in the Union Ballroom for a dueling piano concert and enjoyed food from various cultural neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. Classic Pittsburgh fare like pierogies and kielbasa reflected the ethnic European heritage that the city is known for.
Next year’s homecoming is already being planned, said Sperry. It is scheduled to take place during the weekend of Oct. 25, 2019.