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Dickinsonians Gather for Virtual Homecoming & Family Week

Dickinson Archway

Weeklong event creates opportunities to connect, celebrate, learn

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

During a fall semester like no other, Dickinson families and alumni recently came together for 2020’s Virtual Homecoming & Family Week. Held Oct. 12-16, the weeklong celebration was an energized mix of tradition and innovation that joined Dickinsonians from around the world remotely to renew friendships, spark new connections, learn together and show their Dickinson spirit.

Music fans cut a rug during a lively online concert by the Dickinson College Faculty Jazz Ensemble. Dickinsonians also got active during this year’s unique Run for Steph, a 5K run/two-mile walk that raises awareness about the dangers of drunk driving and supports the McAndrews Fund for Athletics. (Instead of running or walking on campus, this year's registrants shared their solo running/walking experiences on social media, using the hashtag #RunForSteph). Also benefiting the McAndrews Fund: a weeklong silent auction of coveted items and experiences, including Dickinson swag.

Dickinsonians of all ages enjoyed a virtual, live tour of the night sky on Thursday night. Rob Webb ’05, a high-school physics and astronomy teacher, and JoEllen McBride ’04, an astrophysicist, used live views of the sky and a screen-share of Starry Night planetarium software to demonstrate where to find planets in the night sky and how to find constellations and the Orionid meteor.

For everyone who’s wondered what those quirky Dickinson traditions are all about, Jim Gerencser ’93, college archivist, was there to help. Streaming live from his office in the archives, the former Dickinson history major explained the origins of the college colors and alma mater, why Dickinson sports teams are called the Red Devils, the mermaid story and more.

The lifelong learning continued with two events centering on sustainability. Attendees learned about climate pragmatism, and the multiple strategies and technologies it embraces, during a livestreamed lecture by Armond Cohen, founder and executive director of the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and recipient of the 2020 Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism. Dickinson also hosted a virtual discussion on environmental justice in Pennsylvania, featuring Saleem Chapman (City of Philadelphia), Veronica Coptis (Center for Coalfield Justice), Adam Cutler (Fox Rothschild LLP) and Horace Strand (Chester Environmental Partnership) with Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Heather Bedi moderating.

President Margee Ensign and her leadership team delivered a livestream update on the college, including current plans for the spring semester and an explanation of the decision-making process during these challenging times, on Wednesday evening. 

Friday was the time to let that Dickinson flag fly during the Dickinson College Spirit Day online event. Dickinson alumni, students, families and friends around the world donned their favorite Dickinson apparel and posted photos of themselves on social media with the hashtag #DsonProud.


Published October 19, 2020