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Estimated 20,000 to return to Waco for homecoming activities

Nov. 12, 1999


Staff Writer

More than 20,000 people are expected to arrive in Waco this weekend for homecoming-- some traveling far, and others traveling only a few miles, but all are looking forward to coming back to visit friends and see how the campus has changed.

'People see it as an excellent opportunity to get together with old friends,' said Paula Price Tanner, alumni association assistant vice president for marketing and communications. 'People bring their kids and familiarize them with Baylor, too.'

A major part of the homecoming festivities are the class reunions. Tanner said there are more than 1,000 people scheduled to come in for the reunions, which are held every 5 years.

Tanner said that homecoming information is mailed to everyone who graduated in the classes that are scheduled to have reunions. A list of homecoming events is printed in the Alumni Association's biannual publication, The Baylor Line, which is mailed to nearly 75,000 alumni.

Of course, one of the main draws for homecoming is the football game. The Bears play the University of Colorado Buffaloes at 1 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium. But, there are events scheduled for the entire weekend, including Pigskin Review, the bonfire and parade, and a university-wide worship service Sunday.

'We encourage people to stay throughout the weekend, that's why we have events scheduled all the way through Sunday, and we're observing increasing attendance at special events during the weekend,' Tanner said.

One person in attendance at the events this weekend will be 1954 graduate Gloriana Parchman. She has been coming to homecoming for nearly 45 years.

'I think we missed the first years because we were in graduate school, but we've been coming ever since then,' Parchman said.

Parchman has an entire family of Baylor graduates, including her husband Leo, who was a yell leader at Baylor and also graduated in 1954, and her two children.

'We brought my daughter to her first homecoming when she was six weeks old, and my son when he was six months old,' Parchman said.

Parchman, who will arrive today, said she plans to have a busy weekend.

'We're going to an alumni association luncheon, and I'm having breakfast with a group of girls Saturday morning before the parade,' Parchman said. 'My husband was a geology student, so he will go to the geology open house, and the yell leaders reunion.

'But the best thing is seeing all of our friends,' she said.

She said she is looking forward to seeing the changes that have taken place at Baylor over the past year.

'We are very pro-Robert Sloan and putting students first. We can't believe the new [McLane] Student Life Center.'

Parchman said a lot has changed at Baylor since she attended.

'So many rules have been relaxed. We didn't wear slacks unless we were given a special permission slip. When I see the girls with shorts on walking around campus, I think it's great for them,' Parchman said.

Graduate Brandon Miller cautiously agrees that the changes on campus are good. 'The changes [in rules and the construction] are needed. The university has grown since the school cut off the enrollment cap. It worries me if we are lowering the academic standards, though.

'Baylor shouldn't worry about becoming an athletic powerhouse and becoming too large,' Miller said, but 'I'm proud of my university and of Dr. Sloan and the steps they're taking to prepare for the new millennium.'

Miller said one of the things he enjoyed most while at Baylor was the connection and the closeness that the school's size allowed.

While Parchman has been coming back for several years, Miller has only experienced two homecomings since graduating.

Miller will also be participating in his class' five-year reunion, but he said coming back is more of an obligation to him.

'Everyone assumes that you'll come back for homecoming,' Miller said.

He said he plans on going to Pigskin Review and the football game.

Graduate Pat Hardesty, who is hosting his class reunion, has not been back to Baylor since 1994, so he is looking forward to this weekend.

'It makes it sweeter to go back after you've been away for a long time,' Hardesty said.

He is looking forward to seeing old friends from school that he has not seen in sometime. He said he would be going to Pigskin Review. However, he will not be able to make the football game. He said he would be preparing for the reunion and other class events during the day.

Since it has been a while since Hardesty has been back to Baylor, he is excited about seeing all of the new construction and changes on the campus.

'I'm quite impressed with all the construction. There is a part of me that sort of misses the smaller atmosphere and familiar buildings though. But, some of the building were pretty decrepit even when I was there, so I'm sure new ones are needed,' Hardesty said.

When Hardesty attended Baylor, enrollment was around 6,000, now it's grown to more than 13,000.

'For people that lived on campus, it would be rare to walk across campus and not recognize 50 percent of the people. I like that a lot,' Hardesty said.

When the thousands of alumni come back and see the campus, growth and change will certainly be noticed. But, the small atmosphere is what will be remembered.

'I grew up in a very small place. Coming to a place the size of Baylor was a good decision,' Hardesty said.