Opening celebration of Alumni Center makes Homecoming 2015 historic
By Steve Seepersaud
Signs across campus saying, "Welcome Alumni" have been familiar fixtures at previous Homecoming weekends, but Homecoming 2015 was unique because the message was attached to a permanent place where graduates can feel welcome when they return to Binghamton University.
More than 100 alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends attended the Oct. 10 grand opening of the Alumni Center, located in Old O'Connor Hall. The ceremony celebrated the conversion of the former student residence into a contemporary space for alumni gatherings and events for students. The opening was the main event of Homecoming 2015, which had a total attendance of nearly 1,000 alumni.
It was a glorious day for the campus community to celebrate together. The Binghamton Crosbys capped the ceremony with their rendition of "In the Rolling Hills of Binghamton" — our alma mater. The previous day's dark clouds and rain gave way to abundant sunshine and blue skies; it seemed the conditions were ordered up perfectly for the Homecoming Saturday.
"What a historic day for Binghamton University to celebrate the opening of our Alumni Center," said Jim Broschart, MBA '92, vice president for advancement. "We have great traditions at Binghamton University and tremendous pride in those traditions. That level of pride is strengthening every day along with the University's success. Each and every time you come back to campus this is your home. So, it's only fitting that we have this celebration during Homecoming."
Heidi B. Goldstein '81, Alumni Association president, said the Alumni Center's location in the heart of campus makes a strong statement about how much the University values its network of former students. She wants all alumni to know how much the University needs their continued support, and that their relationship with Binghamton is intended to last for a lifetime.
"[After I graduated], I had never given a thought to the benefits and responsibilities of being an alum, or how the University's reputation is measured by achievements of its graduates," Goldstein said. "Years later, I was back on campus with my husband and two daughters for my sister's graduation and the idea of Binghamton always being part of who I am began to sink in. Something in my heart connected me to Binghamton, and I never lost touch."
University President Harvey Stenger recognized the Alumni Relations and Physical Facilities staffs for their creativity in developing the Alumni Center, and said he was happy that Old O'Connor Hall and other buildings in the original Dickinson Community weren't torn down.
"These buildings have a lot of memories in them and a lot of life in them," Stenger said. "To put the word 'old' in front of them respects the fact that they were at one time residence halls that many alumni lived in."
"For me, this is so much more than an old residence hall," said Steven Bloom '78, chair of the Binghamton University Foundation Board of Directors. "This was my home for five of the eight semesters I was here. I built friendships and I had experiences that are forever with me. So, it's meaningful to see this become the Alumni Center. But, it's only a building. What makes this place so special in my mind? It's the people. It's the history and the culture."
The Alumni Center hosted the weekend's opening reception on Friday evening, attracting a crowd of nearly 200 alumni and friends.
Julia Lucia '14, a master's degree candidate in student affairs administration, shared her appreciation for alumni who give their time to help current students, and said the Alumni Center makes her feel even more proud to be an alumna and student at Binghamton.
"I have gained a new appreciation for Binghamton and all it does for students and alumni," Lucia said. "The new Alumni Center gives us all the resources and opportunities to connect with students and each other and back to the campus. The welcoming feeling of this campus is truly palpable. We all have our favorite places on campus...I have a feeling that the Alumni Center will be my favorite place very soon."
See photos from Homecoming weekend at the Alumni Association's Shutterfly site.
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