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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Knox Community Gathers for Homecoming and Family & Friends Weekend

Despite the chilly temperatures, there was an unmistakable sense of warmth in the air at Knox College during the Homecoming and Family & Friends celebration. The weekend was full of events—from campus tours, to photo opportunities, to class receptions.

A sense of nostalgia swept the campus as the community welcomed alumni, students, and friends for a weekend of spirited celebration. Saturday morning began with an opportunity for community members to discuss the future of Knox College with President C. Andrew McGadney and members of the leadership team during the Knox Today panel. Prairie Fire Athletics hosted multiple soccer matches and a Homecoming football match against Cornell College for those brave enough to bundle up in a blanket and cheer on the purple and gold.

During Convocation, the Class of 1973 received the Ralph Walter Prize, which recognizes the Reunion class with the highest giving participation in the last fiscal year. A total of 122 class members (35%) donated a total of $965,730. Knox Service Award winners Valerie Blevins ’86, Maurice McDavid ’10, and Eric Z. Williams ’85 were officially recognized, as were Fifty Year Club Scroll of Honor recipients Michael Armstrong ’70, Jeanne Franks ’71, and Nancy Schmid Stanley ’64.

Around campus, the Knox community shared their memories and reasons for attending the celebration. Here’s what they had to say:

Richard Williams, Jr. ’73 gathered with fellow alumni in the Ford Center for the Fine Arts Saturday morning prior to Convocation. He returned to campus to celebrate his 50-year class Reunion and to catch up with friends, including Franks, who received a Knox Service Award. During his stint at Knox, Williams participated in a number of on-campus groups from sports to choir and says he is always happy to be back on campus. “As an African American student from the 1960s and 1970s, I pride myself on the fact that I immersed myself in the total Knox experience. This place is important to me,” Williams, Jr. said.

Keith Marran ’94 and Kathy Arfken ’93 met up to visit the Whitcomb Art Center (WAC) and to meet with Knox peers across campus. Marran pointed to his appreciation for the strong art programs on campus and the connections he built within. Arfken was excited to take part in the architecture tours held around campus. “We were both theater majors, so anytime we can reconnect and go back to see Harbach is special,” Marran said.

Will Culbertson ’03 didn’t have to travel far to visit, as he now lives in Galesburg with his family. He says he tries to come to Knox whenever a special occasion arises. This year, he took part in his 20-year Reunion and made an effort to meet up with old friends. He was excited to invite his Knox peers to see his new home and reconnect. “Campus is as beautiful as ever. With all of the fall colors, it’s just really special to be here,” Culbertson said.

Doug Smith ’03 was excited to bring his 8-month-old daughter to campus for the first time to celebrate Family & Friends Weekend. Smith met his wife, Abby Yoder ’04, on campus before moving to St. Louis. Being able to bring his daughter to campus made this trip back to Knox even more special than any time before. “This is home. Knox was the single best decision of my life. It taught me how to think, helped me find my career, and brought me together with my wife. I’m so fortunate to have come here,” Smith said.

Mary Ann and Sharon Goens-Bradley were delighted to spend the weekend visiting their fourth-year student, Kaijex. This was the family’s first Homecoming together since Kaijex enrolled at Knox. Mary Ann was impressed with opportunities Knox provided for families, including a tour of Green Oaks, watching Kaijex perform with the choir, and more. “I felt like this was one of the first times I’ve been able to truly enter Kaijex’s world and see everything they’re a part of,” Mary Ann said. “We already have plans to come back next year.”

Hannah Basil Bryant ’13 and her husband Caleb Bryant journeyed to campus for Hannah’s 10-year class Reunion and to help set up the Knox Littles gathering early Saturday morning. The event was an opportunity for alumni with young children to meet one another’s families. Hannah and Caleb brought their daughter Ruth to campus for the event. “It’s so fun to welcome our daughter to campus and let her be a part of this. It's exciting to see the next generation of Prairie Fire,” Bryant said.

Bill Bevis ’03 joined the community on campus alongside his children, Charlotte and Eden, to enjoy Family & Friends Weekend. Making the trip from their home in Wisconsin, he says it was his first time back in well over a decade. Seeing the renovations to Alumni Hall and the Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center, as well as the many new shops around Galesburg, was a particular highlight for him to point out to his family. “Having my family here is pretty great. I want to show them all the places I lived in around campus and just give them a good look at Knox,” Bevis said.

Alyssa Main Pacheco ’19 read part of her creative writing work live during the Knox is Lit Book Signing and Open Mic event in WAC. As a Gale Scholar and first-generation student, she says it felt like a full circle moment to perform in front of a full house of Knox community members. “I felt like this represented the most authentic version of myself. Being in my hometown and my alma mater, it was really emotional,” Main Pacheco said.

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Printed on Sunday, April 21, 2024