Homecoming has kicked off for Illinois State, and alumni are returning for reunions and milestone celebrations. Along with the week’s activities, anniversaries are being celebrated for departments, clubs and buildings.

Hockey Club – 45 years
The oldest sports club on campus is still making the puck sing. Illinois State’s Hockey Club is celebrating 45 years. Club Coach Brian Corley isn’t surprised. “Hockey players are a passionate bunch. We’ll do anything to keep playing and enjoying the game.”

For Homecoming, the club will welcome back alumni for a special Alumni Hockey Game at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum. “The alumni are so important to us,” said Corley. “Our players want to know the story of the group. The alumni are more than history, they are an inspiration.”

The Club was founded in 1969 by Professor Dub Easton, who served as the first coach.  He was followed in coaching duties by Emil Ludy. “They are really two founding fathers of the team – with Dub in the 1970s and Emil in the 1980s,” said Corley, who took over 10 years ago. Officially, the club is part of Campus Recreation, housed in their competitive league. And under Corley, the team has become a force with a record of 197 wins, 91 losses and 23 ties.

“We’ve had some great recent success, qualifying for the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II Nationals for the past two years. Next year we will move to Division I, which is the highest level available,” said James Wayne, coordinator of Leadership and Special Programs for Campus Recreation.

Faculty, staff and alumni are invited to the Hockey Club events for the week, including seeing the ISU Redbird Hockey Club play over Homecoming weekend. The club has three games scheduled at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3; 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4; and 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5.

Environmental Health – 40 years
For Tom Bierma, the best part about his job is what has not changed over the years. “Ever since it began 40 years ago, the students who come into this major want to make a difference by protecting the health of the environment, and the health of people. I’m glad that has remained the same.”

An Illinois State alumnus, Bierma has also been a faculty member in Environmental Health for 30 years. He was one of the first to join the Environmental Health major when it started in 1974. “I saw an ad in the Vidette asking for students to sign up for a new major,” said Bierma. “When I read the description, I thought, ‘This is what I want to do,’ and I ran to [Program Director] Alvin Jacobson. They needed 12 students to make the major a go. I was number eight.”

Bierma returned to teach at Illinois State when his mentor, Heinz Russelmann, was in charge of the major. “Heinz ran the program from 1976 to 1995, so you could say he was really the father of where we are today.”

Alumni from the major are heading back to campus for a reunion celebration on Oct. 4. Some who cannot make it are flooding the Facebook reunion page with images and greetings. “We’ve had notes from alumni like Robert Carr, who is the chief of field services for UNICEF Tanzania, and many alumni who are working in Alaska and other states for the U.S. Public Health Department in areas like Indian Health Services,” said Bierma.

He noted that students will also be inspired by the nearly 1,000 alumni who serve in county health departments, government agencies, manufacturing and businesses across the U.S. “Some of my heroes are the alumni who work day-in and day-out to keep employees and the public safe,” he said.

Wilkins Residence Hall – 50 years
Wilkins Residence Hall was the first building of West Campus to open, followed by Hayne and Wright in 1965. “Homecoming will be a time to make those who lived there – as well as those who live there now – feel special with this milestone birthday,” said Rachel Kobus, marketing coordinator for University Housing.

image of Wilkins hallAlumni will be welcome to a Mingle and Memories reception with tours from 5 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 3. Kobus said visitors to Wilkins will see birthday décor and residents sporting T-shirts boasting of the anniversary.

“This is a chance for anyone who lived in Wilkins to see the changes that have taken place, along with a showcase of pictures from the past 50 years,” she said, adding that alumni may not be able to see their specific room, but will have a chance to see how the new rooms look. “We recently renovated in 2005, so those who have not seen the new building will be surprised.”

University Program Board – 10 years
Giving students the reins to choose entertainment and speakers was the aim of the University Program Board (UPB), which started 10 years ago.

“Programming for students and by students was the objective,” said Barb Dallinger of the Bone Student Center, who worked closely with UPB for years. “When students work together to create something, so much learning happens – planning, budgeting, assessment, marketing, communication skills and leadership development.”

Most of the events UPB plans throughout the school year are geared toward students, but many are also open to faculty, staff and the Bloomington-Normal community. “With those major events, there is an opportunity for everyone to be educated and entertained along with our students,” said Kate Piper, the UPB advisor.

The UPB Reunion will be after the Redbird Rendezvous formal from 9 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3. At 9:30 p.m. there will be a program that will look back into UPB’s history, and look to the future.

Find out more information on Homecoming.