Despite new buildings on campus, a move to Div. I and the constant flow of students, one thing at ACU will always remain the same- Homecoming.
Reflective of ACU’s culture as a whole, homecoming week seeks to unite people on common ground, primarily focusing on past and present students.
“We really want to tell the story and continue the nostalgic events that have happened here,” Samantha Adkins, assistant director of alumni relations.
Adkins who has worked in alumni relations for 13 years said the tradition itself has changed over the past 110 years, but the essence of it remains constant.
In the 1950s homecoming consisted of many of the same events hosted today. Established in 1953, the homecoming queen tradition allowing students to recognize an outstanding woman on campus campus each fall is here to stay. In later years (1959) coming home court was also created to allow those past homecoming queen’s to revisit ACU campus and pass their crowns.
Reunion meals, most often on the lawn between buildings during the warm West Texas afternoon, helped reconnect ACU exes. Also located around campus, social clubs competed with one another for the best exhibition, or display, losing sleep the week before to ensure a club win with their crafty designs.
A staple part of the week, clubs would also have breakfasts to promote intergenerational community among the members.
Of course, homecoming would be a amiss without football. Moving from venues like Rose Park and even playing one game on ACU, then ACC, property, the Wildcats finally settled in Shotwell Stadium in 1960.
Fast forwarding to the ’70s and ’80s, alumni relations improved upon certain events, such as creating a carnival to feature competing club booths and games to inspire more community involvement.
Additionally, events like Freshman Follies, Chemistry Club and intramural competitions surfaced to offer more entertainment.
In the 1990s, the regular exhibitions in the mall area of ACU changed into a parade featuring the social clubs just marching behind one another down campus court. Eventually, as seen today, the clubs integrated competition into the event, creating the floats than can be seen rolling down Campus Court come Saturday morning, It has also drawn people from the general Abilene public to participate in the festivities.
Most recently, in 2004, the alumni relations office decided to created Jamfest, a concert featuring completely student artists, to bring entertainment to campus for current students and the surrounding community.
Jama Cadle, assistant director of alumni relations, said changes will continue to be made so as to maximize the tradition.
“We really try to keep in mind all oof our audeinces,” she said. “We want people to come back and celebrate the reasons they came to ACY and celebrate the people who’ve hopefully continued to be really important in their lives.
“It’s a great chance to reconnect with old friends and to be back on campus and see things have changed, but see that the heart of this place is never going to change,” Adkins said.