The First-Ever Gustavus Virtual Homecoming

We gathered together, wherever we were, as Gusties.
Posted on October 5th, 2020 by

Virtual Homecoming 2


Gustavus held its first-ever Virtual Homecoming on Saturday, September 26. With the campus closed to visitors due to the COVID pandemic, and the MIAC having postponed fall sports until spring, celebration pivoted to online and at-home activities. Though there was no football game, the weekend was full of events connecting Gusties far and wide to their alma mater.

Virtual Homecoming included many of the same events as a conventional, on-campus homecoming. There were presentations by Gustavus faculty, activities for kids, guided tours of campus sites, and a chance to visit with President Bergman. These events drew hundreds of participants, including a number of participants who would not be able to visit the Gustavus campus in ordinary circumstances. Gusties from across the U.S. as well as in Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Mexico signed in to Zoom meetings.

The day began with a service of remembrance, recognizing alumni, faculty members, and staff who passed away in the last year. Led by Chaplain Grady St. Dennis ’92, the service was especially fitting in these challenging times.

Of course, the aim of Homecoming is connecting. A session with former football coach Dennis Raarup ’53 brought together dozens of his former players. Beloved faculty members greeted former students who watched their online presentations. When political science professor Richard Leitch included well-used jokes in his presentation on contemporary China, his former students chuckled, groaned, and shook their heads.

A highlight of the day was the Virtual Homecoming Tent, hosted by President Bergman. The tent featured a virtual variation on the “Gustie Pub,” which is usually set up on campus during Homecoming. Instead of sampling the products of Gustie-owned breweries and distilleries, visitors heard from the owners themselves. Owners of BET Vodka, Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, Castle Danger Brewery, Spiral Brewing, and Bent Paddle Brewing Company––all Gustavus alumni––plus representatives from Gustavus partner Chankaska Winery, explained the origins of their respective companies and shared stories about making craft beer and spirits.

Some of the day’s conversations and interactions were light, and some sessions tackled heavier topics like the importance of environmental sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion at Gustavus.

Alumni who participated appreciated the chance to connect from afar with their alma mater. Some suggested continuing to include an online component as part of future Homecoming weekends. One distant alumnus was so impressed that he called the following day to make a gift to the Lund Center renovation and expansion project.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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