The York University Magazine

YorkU Fall 2014

The alumni magazine of York University

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Page 25 of 39

26 YorkU Fall 2014 Alumni s York prepared for thousands of students, faculty, staff, grads and community members to descend upon both campuses for Homecoming 2014, we dug into the archives to learn more about how this annual celebration began. In 1978, almost two decades after the University was founded, a group of administrators, staff, faculty, students and alumni came together and put forward the idea of an annual homecoming celebration – and among them was Steve Dranit- saris (BA '73). "Without a formal alumni program at the time, we searched for ways to bring our grads together and involve them in academics, athletics and student life at York," says a reminiscent Dranitsaris, who at the time was serving as student liaison officer at Stong College. "Though we were still a very young school, we wanted to invigorate the red-and-white spirit living within each of our grads and create a tradition like those enjoyed by other major Canadian universities." The idea of a homecoming was advanced thanks in large part to the efforts of the college masters and York's director of development at the time, Orval McKeough. With the ability to engage alumni and demonstrate to them the integral role they could play in the York community, a potential homecoming was building anticipation and excitement across the University. But with summer already in full swing, there was only a short time left to fit all of the pieces together. Along with varsity soccer team captain Ian Dawson and men's athletic coordinator, head football coach and former Toronto Argonaut Nobby Wirkowski, Dranitsaris found himself A at the helm of the University's first-ever homecoming celebra- tion. They jumped into high gear, rallying people across campus, solidifying events and working diligently with volunteers and student council leaders to get invitations out to the alumni in time. The inaugural York homecoming was centred on the Univer- sity's diverse college system, with each college having its own unique and traditionally tight-knit community of students and alumni. To support the more central homecoming events, each college was responsible for designing an individual program that would bring their students and grads together in celebration of York. Across the Keele campus, the colleges hosted a slew of barbe- ques, live performances, film screenings, wine and cheese recep- tions, and dances that entertained and brought together York students, both past and present. All of this was topped off by a campus homecoming parade, featuring floats from each college and a 60-student marching band, and the very first homecoming football game, which saw the York Yeomen (renamed Lions in 2003) take on the Waterloo Warriors. Among the key supporters at this first homecoming celebra- tion were the college masters and then president Ian Macdonald. They were active participants in all of the homecoming events, spending hours meeting, greeting and engaging with alumni guests. In total, more than 1,500 alumni attended the first Univer- sity homecoming celebration in 1978. "With the support of the colleges and administration and the passion of our students and volunteers, we were able to put Looking Back at York's First Homecoming york's first homecoming football game: Former University president (1974 to 1984 ) H. Ian Macdonald kicks things off

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