As we are entering the final weeks of the fall semester and the 2023 WVU Football season, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude, appreciation, and humility when reflecting on the extraordinary success of our recent Homecoming week celebration. Our beloved alma mater has always held a special place in our hearts, and this year's Homecoming festivities served as a poignant reminder of the unique connections and cherished memories that continue to bind us together.
I’ve had the honor and privilege to have experienced WVU Homecoming celebrations throughout the years, and I must say, Homecoming 2023 was unparalleled. In this recap, I’ll delve into all of the reasons why this year stood out, and if you’re an alum who’s considering a trip back to Morgantown for Homecoming, I wholeheartedly urge you to come back home and join us next year. While the Homecoming football game is always a highlight, the week was filled with events and activities that brought together the alumni community to celebrate our Mountaineer traditions. I extend my sincere gratitude to all of our University partners and friends who contributed to making Homecoming 2023 special. For those of you who couldn’t make it back to campus, I’d love to share several highlights of the week.
For those of us on campus, Homecoming isn’t just a weekend; it is a weeklong celebration. To kick off the occasion, the Alumni Association team hosted Alumni Truck pop-up events, spreading cheer to students, faculty, staff and alumni. The spirit stops at Health Sciences, Evansdale, and as a part of Mountaineer Friday in the Mountainlair, included warm greetings, themed giveaways and plenty of pepperoni rolls to snack on. Early in the week, Mountaineer Great Da’Sean Butler also invited our alumni to come back home and reminded us of our shared connection to something much bigger than ourselves in this video.
This Homecoming was especially significant as the WVU Alumni Association celebrates its 150th year in service to the graduates of West Virginia University. The occasion was marked both in person and virtually. On social media, we took a look back at the moments that made us Mountaineers, reminisced about our favorite memories of campus, and celebrated with alumni through the camaraderie of shared stories from our days as students. On campus, the Erickson Alumni Center was lined with 150 year banners and giveaways throughout the week featured branding focusing on a century and a half of service. As we reflect on the past 150 years of the WVU Alumni Association, and the vibrancy of our history, these moments remind us that the bonds we've forged are not only about our shared past but also about the future we are building together. I encourage you to watch this video that takes a look back at 150 years of the moments that make us Mountaineers.
As Friday arrived, alums began crossing into West Virginia in time to join friends and classmates on High Street for the Homecoming Parade. As we do every year, the Alumni truck was in the parade along with our 2023 Homecoming and Alumni Service Award winners, who were led by our parade grand marshall, Farai Simoyi (‘05). Our team had the chance to speak with Farai before the parade and talk about her time at WVU, how she found her purpose in Morgantown and what leading the 2023 Homecoming Parade meant to her. It’s a fantastic piece, and I encourage everyone to check it out on our YouTube channel.
Another highlight of the week was our special HAIL! West Virginia pregame at The Erickson Alumni Center. In coordination with the President’s Office and the WVU Foundation, we expanded the event and created a new Homecoming tradition. It was a unique opportunity for alumni to catch up with fellow Mountaineers, hear a special presentation from Provost Maryanne Reed, be introduced to the Homecoming Award winners by Alumni Association Board of Directors Chair Tracy Schoenadel, meet a few new friends, and enjoy delicious food all before the game. A special thanks to Athletic Director Wren Baker, the WVU Dance team and alternate Mountaineer mascot, Braden Adkins, for stopping by to greet our guests. I was thrilled to see so many alumni from near and far in attendance, and I hope everyone relished the experience.
Simultaneously, several tailgates and engagement events were also underway across campus, hosted by the WVU Black Alumni Association and Center for Black Culture, the College of Law and the School of Medicine, among others. I had a chance to stop by the Black Alumni Tailgate and Fish Fry to catch up with some familiar faces, greeting alumni of all ages
One of the most heartwarming aspects of Homecoming week is the way it unites generations of graduates from diverse backgrounds and fields of study. The events, the football game, and reunions were not just about nostalgia but about connecting with one another, sharing stories, and learning about the incredible journeys our alumni have embarked on since their time at WVU. It is a powerful testament to the lifelong relationships that are formed within our home among the hills.
As we headed into the afternoon on Saturday, fans made their way to the football game. And, although the outcome of the game was not what we would have liked, there were plenty of highlights throughout the day. Our 2023 Homecoming and Alumni Service Award winners were honored at halftime. Looking out at the crowd and seeing a sea of gold and blue applauding each recipient is something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives; thank you to all who were in attendance and helped us honor each of these selfless and outstanding alumni. These individuals have made significant contributions to their alma mater and our Mountaineer community, and I am so proud to have them as part of our alumni family. They are a testament to our shared values and the power this University has. I hope that their examples inspire all of us to continue to make a positive impact on those around us.
Just as quickly as it started, Homecoming Week came to a close. Thank you again to all of our alumni who made this year’s Homecoming a memorable one. My gratitude also goes out to every alum, current student, faculty and staff member who contributed to making Homecoming Week a remarkable and meaningful experience. It is a testament to the enduring spirit of our community and the dedication of all those involved. Your presence, whether in person or virtual, reverberated throughout the week, and we are profoundly thankful for your support. I’m already looking forward to next year’s celebration as we begin the next 150 years of service to our beloved alma mater.
Kevin Berry ('94, '95)
WVU Vice President of Alumni Relations
CEO of the WVU Alumni Association, Inc.