Friday, October 21, 2022
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
And starting today, they will begin where they ended years ago but won’t let go! They won’t let go of the memories, the friendships, the trials and tribulations that made them who they are today. I am talking about the arrival of many of our dearest alumni, friends, benefactors, supporters, Order of the Golden Shillelagh members and others who are returning to Rolla for this weekend’s MinerFest Homecoming celebrations. We welcome members of our eight academies, whose unceasing support for our students, their projects and their scholarship has fueled the successful education of generations of Miners who, in turn, have become supporters, advocates and guardian angels of the next generation of students. As our “trusted advisors, true believers and advocates,” our academy members, along with our other alumni, serve as our beacon and our guide on the side.
Interestingly, and according to the NCAA, homecoming, this beautiful national tradition, actually started in Missouri and has become perhaps the most cherished of our academic and athletic reunions. Homecoming at S&T is filled with activities and events for our graduates, current students, faculty and staff to connect with one another. Of course, the spotlight during homecoming is on our student-athletes, whose GPAs are even higher than our general student population’s. In addition to their stellar academic achievements, many also have established great records of their own. These include two-sport standout Tamara (McCaskill) Gibson, the all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball who also holds the school record for outdoor high jump; Nathan Swadley, who holds school records in shot put, discus and hammer throw; and Tyrone Smith, a track and field standout who competed in three different Olympic Games.
During homecoming, our thoughts turn to fall sports. This weekend will be action-packed for the Miners and their fans. Beginning tonight and continuing on Saturday, our women’s volleyball team plays host to two Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) rivals: Maryville University at 6 p.m. today and McKendree University at 3 p.m. Saturday. Also on Saturday, the Miners football team plays McKendree at 1 p.m. for our annual homecoming game. We salute our energetic Athletic Director Melissa Ringhausen and her coaches and staff for working diligently to put our Miner athletics on the map again.
You see, the first game in Miner football history was played in 1893 and the first touchdown was scored by G.W. Smith in 1894. Two decades later, in 1914, under head coach Tom Kelly, the Miner football team compiled a perfect 8-0 regular-season record and outscored its opponents 540 to 0! Interesting to say the least.
Beyond the realm of athletics, our MinerFest Homecoming is also a time to honor and recognize our alumni and friends whose support and guidance we value. We welcome them today during the Miner Alumni Association Legends Luncheon, and later this afternoon we honor several legendary donors who are making our new front door to campus, the Arrival District, a reality.
We say thank you to Tim and Kay Bradley, Mike and Joyce Bytnar, Preston and Mandy Carney, Gary and Judy Havener, Joe and Sally Rupp, Jeff and Pat Sheets, Steve and Betty Suellentrop, Tom and Carol Voss, Nucor, and many others whose generous gifts to S&T have contributed to our Arrival District project.
Finally, every S&T homecoming is an opportunity for some of our most engaged graduates to provide further support and guidance to keep this wonderful university on its upward trajectory. Our Miner Alumni Association Board of Directors will meet tomorrow, and several of our academies and advisory groups have already started their get-togethers to conduct business, learn about the latest exciting developments from their home departments, provide their valuable input, and enjoy the camaraderie.
This weekend, we look forward to reconnecting with our returning alumni and friends to remember and celebrate what endures and jettison what is no longer relevant or important. Our alumni are here to appreciate old friends, make new friends, and look for the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of new generations of students and soon-to-be Miner alumni themselves. The kind of impact that recipients truly feel, not just through our words but through their connections with other Miners across generations. And what people sense and feel is what they will remember the most. And what they remember they will become – the next generation of impactful Miners.
Welcome home, Miners! We hope you will have fun and build fond new memories.
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