Since the founding of the Alumni Association in 1888, there
has been a reunion in Storrs every June. But the tradition of
Homecoming didn't begin until the 1920s.
Originally part of Commencement
weekend - including, at times, a baseball game against alumni - the
annual reunion has been a time when selected classes of graduates
are urged to come back to campus to remember old times, rekindle
old friendships, and view the changes on the Storrs
In the 1920s, however, the Alumni
Association found the need to bring back alums in the fall as well
- and Homecoming was born.
Even before the official start of
Homecoming in 1925, there were fall "reunions" held in
1922 and 1924. The first of these was announced in one of the first
issues of the alumni newsletter, The Connecticut Alumnus, the
forerunner of today's UConn Traditions magazine.
Alumni were urged to attend the
annual football game versus Rhode Island, and cheerleaders led a
parade of students and alumni to the football field. But the
Connecticut "Aggies" (we didn't become the Huskies
until 1934) lost the Nov. 18, 1922 game, 12 to 7.
Another fall reunion was called for
two years later - also at the annual football game versus Rhode
Island. And it included another alumni and student parade that
formed in front of Old Main - the three-story wooden structure that
was the main college building from 1890 until 1929 - and marched to
Gardener Dow Field behind Hawley Armory. The football field was
then about where the Babbidge Library is today.
After one lap around the football
field, the parade of alumni and students went to the bleachers to
watch Connecticut defeat the Rams 22 to 0. It ended
Connecticut's first undefeated football season and Sumner
Dole's second year as head coach.
By the fall of the next year, the
Alumni Association was ready to announce a new tradition of
"With the fall of the year and
the opening of school there comes to every college man or woman the
thought of football and the desire to return to their Alma Mater to
witness at least one of the important football games of the
season," said a front-page article in the September 1925 issue
of the Alumnus.
"The Homecoming Day is not put
on for the student body, faculty, or football team, but for
you," said the Alumnus. "And you won't want to miss
your own Homecoming Day this fall for several
The main reason cited was the annual
football game versus Massachusetts Agricultural College (today
University of Massachusetts) - "sure to be a thriller,"
noted the Alumnus.
Hundreds of alumni and former
students returned to their Alma Mater on Oct. 17 to celebrate the
first annual Homecoming Day. Hundreds of returning alums was a
considerable success, considering that, by 1924, the
then-Connecticut Agricultural College had fewer than 700 graduates.
Student enrollment in 1925 was 516, with about 50
The first official Homecoming
included a ceremony presided over by President Charles L. Beach to
lay the cornerstone for the Community House at the Storrs
Congregational Church. The building would serve as a central
location for student activities and events until the early 1950s,
when the Student Union was built.
The result of the first Homecoming
football game was not a joyous one for Connecticut: Massachusetts
won the game, 13- 0.
There is no mention of an
alumni-student parade for the 1925 event, but that evening
"the co-eds held a dance in honor of the returning alumni,
many of whom remained on the 'Hill' until a late
hour." At the time, much of the small campus was along the top
of the rise up from Route 195, and students and alumni referred to
Connecticut Agricultural College as "the Hill" during the
first six decades of its existence.
Over the next decade, Homecoming was
usually held in November, generally the weekend of the
Connecticut-Rhode Island game. In the 1930s, it was held in
conjunction with the campus observance of Armistice Day, the day
marking the end of World War I.
The first combined
Armistice-Homecoming Day was Nov. 4, 1933. It included a memorial
service to remember the seven Connecticut alumni who died during
the First World War. It also served as a memorial service for
President Emeritus Charles L. Beach, who had died Sept. 15. The
combined event continued for about five years.
Since the 1950s, Homecoming has been
held in late October, and has included a variety of events,
including the annual parade through the campus.
Mark J. Roy