Courtesy of Zach Frailey

Ashley Roth waves from The Village float during the 70th annual California University of Pennsylvania Homecoming Parade route last year.

Two area universities have switched to “Homecoming@Home” celebrations this year.

Waynesburg University kicks off its celebration today, while California University of Pennsylvania’s runs from Oct. 5 to 11.

“Homecoming@Home weekend will provide a great opportunity for alumni to reconnect with one another – from wherever they may be – as well as reconnect with the university and learn more about the latest from campus,” said David Floyd, director of development and alumni relations at WU in Greene County. “While the alumni office will certainly miss having alumni back on campus, we are excited to offer a full weekend of virtual programming that is available to alumni all across the globe.”

Ashley Wise, director of university relations at WU, said to preserve a safe, on-campus environment for their students and to ensure they protect their alumni and friends, the alumni office decided in July to move to an entirely virtual event schedule through the end of 2020, including homecoming.

Floyd said while this year’s homecoming is non-traditional, getting alumni together virtually offers unique benefits.

“One, it gives us the opportunity to reach a broader audience than our traditional in-person event, given that ease of attendance and flexibility for all alumni across the globe,” Floyd said. “Two, we know our alumni wish to stay engaged and know about the institution, and we certainly would not want to deny them the ability to do that.”

Plans for Cal U.’s 71st homecoming events have been in the works since the summer, with organizers noting they monitored COVID-19 restrictions to determine whether to have in-person or virtual events.

“This will be our first virtual homecoming and hopefully our last virtual homecoming,” said Ryan Barnhart, director of university development and alumni relations at Cal U. “But we wanted something the alumni can connect with.”

Tony Mauro, vice president of university development and alumni relations at Cal U., said homecoming weekend is one of the largest, if not the largest, celebration on campus during the year with a parade, a football game, the Vulcan 5K marathon and other activities.

But when the school opted to move to remote learning for the first semester, they decided homecoming would also be remote.

“We were looking for ways to keep the alumni engaged, celebrate responsibly in a virtual manner and partaking in homecoming,” Mauro said.

Waynesburg’s lineup begins today with a kickoff event and virtual campus tour, Campus Ministry Hangout with Josh Sumpter and trivia night with graduates from classes 2010 to 2020. On Friday, there will be an alumni faculty panel and virtual all-alumni celebration. The 24th Annual Waynesburg University Homecoming Virtual 5K Run & Walk, Class of 1970 Coffee and Tea with President Doug Lee and a WU Athletics Huddle with Coach Ron Headlee conclude programming on Saturday.

A link to register for the events is available at www.waynesburg.edu/community/events.

Cal U.’s online homecoming begins Oct. 5.

A full schedule of events can be found through calu.edu/news, but highlights include a virtual tour of the campus on Oct. 6, a collection of the best homecoming parade highlights posted Oct. 8 on the CUTV YouTube channel, a CUTV “Tribute to Homecoming” on Oct. 9, and a doubleheader of classic football games on Oct. 10.

The week closes Oct. 11 with a virtual 5K run/walk.

Cal U. is also offering “homecoming in a box” – a $25 package that will be delivered to homes and includes a themed T-shirt, pennant and face mask; tailgate menu, kids’ activities and a link to the Cal U. Ultimate Party Playlist on Spotify. Boxes must be ordered by Oct. 4.

Proceeds will benefit the Class of 2020 Scholarship as well as the Cal U. Food Cupboard, an area food pantry.

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