Like a caped crusader flying by, this year’s Homecoming week came and went quickly but brilliantly. By all accounts, it was a smashing success.
The Super Heroes theme appealed to all ages, inspired paraphernalia that included an MSU comic book and provided a unifying motif for parade floats as well as major events, including the Grand Awards Gala, the parade, the Green and White Brunch, the Homecoming Court, college and student events and especially the Grand Marshal of the parade.
Making everything happen were a group of unsung heroes from the MSU Alumni Association, University Advancement and other campus units. People from the City of East Lansing also played a major role.
I’d like to salute some of these unsung heroes, who year after year work hard to create memory making events for Spartans but seldom receive recognition.
Organizing Homecoming and the parade is Regina Cross, chair of the Homecoming Committee the past six years. A longtime program coordinator with the MSUAA, Cross has turned the parade into a monster event.
“Every year (since 2007) it has grown,” says Cross, MSUAA travel and events coordinator. “This year we had 165 groups entered.” The entries ranged from campus organizations to local businesses to music groups—including the Spartan Marching Band and a Korean drum band. More than 12,000 people attended.
Terry Braverman, former director of MSU’s Spartan Fund and a veteran broadcaster, teamed up with local news anchor Sherry Jones to announce all 165 groups. Several volunteers helped judge the parade.
The “Super Heroes” theme served to highlight this year’s Grand Marshal Geoff Johns, ’95, chief creative officer of DC Entertainment and an icon in the world of film and comic books. Maria Giggy, MSUAA assistant director, and Dave Giordan, designer for University Advancement, brought the Super Heroes concept to life—complete with intriguing characters, led by Sparty, cardboard cutouts and capes.
Kicking off the Homecoming events was the Grand Awards Gala, organized by MSUAA assistant Jennifer Decker and Lisa Wilton of Alumni and Donor Relations. This is where MSU formally honors alumni and friends. Distinguished Alumni Awards were awarded to Theda Assiff -MacGriff , ’49; Mark Fleming, DO ’99; G. Jay Gogue, ’73; Arthur Hills, ’53; and Alan J. Kaufman, ’70; the Philanthropist Award was given to Edward J. Minskoff , ’62; Hon. Ph.D. ’09; the Alumni Service Award was given to Greg Hauser, ’75, ’77; George Johnson, ’87; and Roger Tremblay, ’70, ’71; and the Distinguished Young Alumni Award went to Lauren Aitch, ’09, ’10; Tania Chopra, ’03, Ryan Sullivan, ’06; and Ben Williams, ’07.
Before the Homecoming game, Cheryl Denison, Ruth Mayercak and others from Gary Wilson’s Alumni and Donor Relations group staged the traditional Green and White Brunch at MSU’s Kellogg Center. Denison has been organizing alumni events since the late 1980s, when she first joined the MSUAA staff . Some 600 alumni attended the event, which featured President Lou Anna K. Simon, Athletics Director Mark Hollis, Football Coach Mark Dantonio, the Spartan Marching Band, the MSU cheerleaders and dance team, and the Homecoming Court. Entertainment was provided by Three Men and a Tenor, a quartet of Spartans who first met when they were members of the MSU Glee Club.
The Homecoming Court— made up of 10 diverse students who will really make you proud of this university—is selected and coordinated by Jodi Hancock, manager of MSU’s Engagement Center; Jane Olson, retired from MSU Residence Life; and Mathias Koller, of MSU Residence Life. This year’s court has received much praise from various quarters. I met some of the members at the Pentwater Parade and I concur.
The “Glow Green” tradition, where fans are encouraged to show Spartan spirit via green light bulbs during Homecoming week, was the brainchild of Sarah Skilling, alumni and donor relations coordinator for the Spartan Fund. She and Cross implemented it in 2011, complete with a social media contest.
Scott Westerman, executive director of the MSUAA, and Bob Thomas, assistant vice president for communication and marketing, University Advancement, head the units most involved with staging this traditional event.
Lastly, kudos to everyone else who helped contribute to the 2013 Homecoming. Thanks to Mark Dantonio, his staff and the football players for delivering a 42- 28 win over Indiana, the Big Ten’s most prolific scoring team. Every little bit helps to make the weekend a good memory for alumni.