Rock Chalk Around the World

Jayhawks celebrate Homecoming virtually amid COVID-19

Always Jayhawks | Homecoming
Photograph by Dan Storey

The University celebrated its 108th Homecoming Sept. 28-Oct. 3 with the theme “Rock Chalk Around the World,” a fitting nod to the importance of strengthening connections with Jayhawks near and far in 2020. The week culminated in the KU football game against Oklahoma State Oct. 3 in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, several traditional Homecoming activities were replaced this year with digital events, including a weeklong game of bingo, which drew nearly 400 Jayhawk participants, and a virtual scavenger hunt, both of which were played via the KU Alumni app. More than 200 students and alumni also participated in Kyou Networking Week, a series of 11 online events in a variety of professional fields, hosted by the Alumni Association and its Jayhawk Career Network.

A Facebook Live event, featuring a performance by the Marching Jayhawks and a celebratory flyover by Team KC, rounded out the week and took the place of the annual Homecoming parade. In addition, the student-led Homecoming Steering Committee delivered “Homecoming in a Box” packages, which featured an assortment of T-shirts, cups, stickers and pens, and provided grab-and-go lunches for students on Home Football Friday at the Adams Alumni Center.

During the KU football game, two senior students, Elaine Pope of Overland Park and Adrian Romero of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, were announced winners of the 30th-annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (Ex.C.E.L.) Award, which provides an annual $250 scholarship to students. Nominees were selected on the basis of leadership, effective communication skills, involvement at KU and in the Lawrence community, academic scholarship and ability to work with a variety of students and organizations.The Association also honored Katy Wagner, a pre-medicine senior from Topeka, with the Jennifer Alderdice Homecoming Award, which recognizes students who demonstrate outstanding loyalty and dedication to the University. The award honors Alderdice, g’99, who led student programs for the Alumni Association from 1999 to 2009.

“This year’s Homecoming didn’t quite look like what we are used to, but that didn’t stop students and alumni from joining in the week’s activities no matter where they were,” says Megan McGinnis, the Alumni Association’s assistant director of student programs. “We had wonderful participation in each event, and we were excited to provide opportunities for both students and alumni to celebrate their KU pride.”

This year’s celebration was sponsored by the KU Bookstore and Truity Credit Union and supported by Crown Toyota, Volkswagen.