Alumni and Razorback fans return to campus readily in the fall for football games. Based upon their interactions with campus during this time, they assume the Alumni Association is busiest in the fall. However, the spring semester and particularly the period from spring break to commencement is the busiest for the Association.
First, our hearts go out to our colleagues at the University of Alabama, our alumni in the Southeast and all individuals who have been in the path of the recent severe weather this spring. In today’s technologically equipped world, we have seen many firsthand accounts of encountering the storms and especially the aftermath they leave. From our own state, we have witnessed damage and praised escape. Even “The Hill” was not safe from these storms as we witnessed never seen before flooding in Fayetteville and around Northwest Arkansas. The University closed operations this past Monday at 3:30 p.m. because many roadways were impassable. Hopefully, we have seen the end of it!
Underneath all this wild weather, the staff of the Association and the University as a whole have been putting the finishing touches on the semester and celebrating achievements and our newest graduates. In fact, on any given night when you drive by the Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House, you will see that it is hopping. We saw a record 140 individuals participate in our annual ring ceremony at the Alumni House earlier in April and other units around campus have held year-end banquets and honor programs. The Alumni House even served as the gathering place for interested alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members to representatives from the Board of Trustees to give their input on the selection of a new leader for the University of Arkansas System. The house will continue to remain this busy through commencement when we will welcome more than 3,400 of our newest alumni to the family. We will then open the facility to our members for rental over the summer months.
While the Alumni House is the epicenter of activity, we also have had meetings and events off campus and around the nation and world in this past month. During this wild semester, we have also replaced four staff members. We were delighted to welcome Heath Bowman, Deb Euculano, Rachael Nassar and Julie Preddy to the staff during the past month. These individuals joined us just in time to help conduct meetings, events and activities for alumni and students. Among those events was another record-setting Black Alumni Society Reunion. By all estimates, more than 1,400 alumni and friends of the Black Alumni Society joined in the many activities that stretched over the course of an entire week.
So the staff is hanging in there and I encourage you to give them your thanks the next time you come into contact with one of them. Everyone who works at the Arkansas Alumni Association loves our alumni and continually wants to help connect and serve the University of Arkansas Family. This wild period of the year makes it hard, but our staff members go above and beyond as often as possible to be of service to our members and all alumni. Now everyone can understand why I take my annual vacation every year after commencement, find a beach in Mexico and unplug. Because once June hits, we will be gearing up for another exciting year – and one that we hope includes National Championship dreams and Final Four wishes!