Memories of homecoming reach back to the earliest days of high school. Always synonymous with football, dances and a whole weekend of fun, the concept falls from its true meaning in the collective minds of students in high school and college alike. This weekend, therefore, affords a perfect opportunity to rediscover this meaning with a simple question: who are the alumni?
As a cross-section of the university’s 72,000 living alumni fills the campus this weekend, from the most elderly to the most vivacious, it is important to consider a broad and deep perspective on their great significance to the university, and the strong identity they share with the student body. The Dee J. Kelly Alumni Center and various buildings named for the prominent figures in TCU history are more than assemblages of metal and brick: they are living monuments and testaments to the formative role of alumni in this university’s mission.
Financial contributions are a cornerstone of TCU’s alumni support. TCU dedicates an entire department and a vice chancellorship to the maintenance and development of these types of alumni contact. Through active alumni participation, TCU is able to generate funds for academic scholarships that spur the visionary growth of an intellectual culture. Initiatives like The Campaign for TCU, which has raised more than $335 million, overflow with the generosity of past students. The TCU Board of Trustees, which is composed of alumni and community leaders, exerts important oversight in university investments and endowment.
It only makes sense that alumni should play a role as shareholders in TCU’s present and future, as their niche shifts from student of the university to investor in the mission of the university. The dedicated investment of thousands of alumni has guided the university to a well-planned and well-managed endowment that has survived and grown through its investments, even in the midst of economic turmoil. Alumni investement and dedication extends far beyond money. Many current TCU students have extensive family connections with the university. Whole families bleed purple, and dedicate hours and educations to the provision of a values-centered experience. A truly connected and renewed community comes from this foundational sense of family.
Extensive alumni networks form and develop within and beyond Fort Worth. These groups give back on a personal level through sustained contact, support at sporting events, special campus programs and experiences such as Homecoming Weekend. Professionally, alumni return to TCU to infuse their knowledge and expertise into the colleges from which they graduated, such as the Neeley School of Business with its annual Leadership Week.
Who are the alumni? Alumni only exist because they were once students themselves. They have shared the same experiences: the same walks to class, the same fun and the same excitement that comes form being a Horned Frog as current students do today.
As the purple-clad faithful tailgate, move between buildings and fill the stadium, it is important to remember that they are completely bound in identity to the transcending ideals of TCU. As the “Go Frogs!” cheer echoes between sides of the football stadium, or as right arms raise in a salute to “mem’ries sweet, comrades true,” see your true comrades in the ranks of TCU alumni.
Pearce Edwards is a sophomore political science major from Albuquerque, N.M.