The hugs and handshakes might have been missing but, from Toronto to Tasmania, the spirit of Homecoming was as strong as ever during McGill’s first At-Home Homecoming in September. The five-day virtual get-together recorded more than 6,000 event registrations by members of the campus community, and alumni, friends and guests from across 51 countries.
The ongoing constraints of the coronavirus pandemic dashed plans for a traditional in-person Homecoming but Alumni Relations assembled an agile team from across the University to participate in creating a 100 per cent virtual program. As a result, from September 22 to September 26, 2020, virtual events were streamed to thousands of viewers via the internet including class reunions and crowd favourites like the Beatty Lecture featuring Steven Pinker and the Leacock Luncheon with Dr. Joe Schwarcz, as well as a Town Hall with Principal Suzanne Fortier. Golden Jubilee graduates were treated to a special video complete with a musical tribute by McGill’s talented acapella group, Effusion.
Masterclasses covered a wide range of provocative topics hosted by the Faculties, while special interest panel discussions and presentations were featured by the McGill Women’s Alumnae Association, the McGill Black Alumni Association, McGill Young Alumni and the McGill Muslim Alumni Society, among others. Meanwhile, the At-Home Homecoming website served as a popular virtual meeting place, garnering more than 13,500 views as McGillians and visitors alike converged on the site to check out the events and plan their Homecoming participation.
All in all, the At-Home Homecoming received an enthusiastic response from participants who offered feedback on the virtual experience.
“This was an innovative way to keep the Homecoming tradition alive during the pandemic,” wrote one attendee.
“Even the coronavirus cloud has a silver lining,” wrote another. “This virtual Homecoming enabled those of us who live a long distance from McGill/Macdonald Campus to become connected. Congratulations to all involved.”
Most At-Home Homecoming events were recorded and remain available for viewing on the McGill Alumni website. At McGill’s 2020 Homecoming… all latecomers are welcome.