Nice to See You, Face-to-Face

During a break in the pandemic, alumni returned to campus for in-person events.

Charles Holley and his son Hunter laugh as they sit together wearing their team sweatshirts

Celebrating Badger spirit: Charles Holley ’88, JD’91 (left) and his son, Hunter, share a laugh at the Homecoming Multicultural Tailgate. Dave Stremikis

As pandemic restrictions eased, the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) held several events in person last fall, to the delight of alumni and friends.

In October, some 120 alumni gathered for their 50-year reunion. A week later, 2,300 Badger grads and fans attended the Homecoming Block Party, and more than 500 participated in a pep rally. The next day, the Multicultural Homecoming Tailgate and Watch Party drew 230 enthusiastic Badgers, and 416 attended the Multicultural Homecoming Yard Show. Another 500 alumni and donors celebrated a successful wrap-up of the All Ways Forward comprehensive campaign.

Other events drawing in-person participation were Home Game Fridays in Alumni Park and Wisconsin Idea Spotlights, including one on UW–Madison LGBTQ+ milestones and another on gene therapy.

Executive Director Sarah Schutt of the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) says that it was a joy to once again welcome alumni back in person. “While our staff did an amazing job of quickly switching to virtual events back in the spring of 2020, we were all anticipating the day when alumni could return to those in-person interactions that just add a richer dimension to learning, socializing, and celebrating Badger spirit.”

WFAA is still offering many virtual learning and enrichment-event options. Homecoming, for instance, boasted nearly 100,000 video views.

But it’s clear that Badgers still value experiencing events together.

“It was a thrill to return to on-campus events this fall,” says Pete Christianson ’71, JD’77. “I attended the 50th anniversary celebration for the Class of 1971. Two weeks later, it was the celebration of the successful conclusion of the All Ways Forward campaign. Neither event would have been as much fun if done virtually!”

Christianson is now trying to figure out which WAA trip to take in 2022. He says it will be “the perfect way to observe and celebrate a return to normal.”

Published in the Spring 2022 issue

Tags: Alumni, Athletics, homecoming, waa

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