One hundred years ago, the Southwestern family gathered for the Universitys first Homecoming. Even without the assistance of e-mails or instant messaging, the University contacted a significant number of alumni and friends so that attendance was nearly 1,000. Published reports described the attendees as a whos who in Texas. A huge dinner on the grounds was enjoyed as participants joined in singing the popular hymn Blest Be the Tie That Binds in recognition of their close association with Southwestern. Alumni and friends posed on the downtown square for a photo that has now been immortalized on the wall of Georgetowns visitors center. It was truly an extraordinary event.
In 1909, William H. Taft was president of the United States, the population of the country was just over 90 million and a first-class stamp was two cents. The NAACP was founded under its first leader, W.E.B. DuBois, and American explorers Robert Peary and Matthew Henson reached the North Pole. Yale was the NCAA football champion, and the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Guglielmo Marconi for the development of the wireless (even though some believe Southwestern President Robert S. Hyer sent a wireless message before Marconi).
Southwestern University had few peers in Texas in 1909. Famous people like William Jennings Bryan visited our campus; the first literary societies in Texas, founded at Southwestern, were well-established and robust; and Professors Hyer and Cody had assembled a faculty, albeit still small in number, which was second to none in the Lone Star State. Even though the First World War was only a few years away and very difficult financial times lay ahead for our University, 1909 was a perfect time to beckon the Southwestern family home for a grand celebration.
Now 100 years later, Southwestern enjoys the admiration of its higher education peers in Texas and beyond. As the first and best national liberal arts college in Texas, we continue to lead the way through innovative programs like Paideia® and our leadership of NITLE, the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education.
Our alumni and friends continue to give Southwestern the resources and the inspiration to move forward and to challenge our students. None of our progress would be possible without you. Therefore, it is with gratitude and appreciation that I invite you to join the campus community for a Southwestern family celebration Nov. 6-8 commemorating the 100th anniversary of our first Homecoming.
See you there!
Jake B. Schrum 68
President, Southwestern University