Chancellor's Friday Letters

Reconnecting at ‘home’

Reconnecting at ‘home’

February 25, 2011

Dear Friends,

Good Will Week…

Coming Home…


Over time, and at different universities and colleges, these terms have been used to define an annual pilgrimage back to campus principally for alumni and their families.

Who started this tradition at America’s universities?  Does it matter, and if so, why?

Turning first to the authoritative source of Jeopardy, with substantiation by another incontrovertible source Trivial Pursuit, credit is given to the University of Missouri for establishing this tradition in 1911 or so; although the good folks at Baylor and Illinois cry foul and insist that they were first.

However, Harvard-Yale have been inviting alums back to their fall football game and associated academic and social events since the 1870s.

And in one of the oldest “UCs” in the world, Portugal’s University of Coimbra – established in 1290 –homecoming started in the 19th century as a welcome to new freshmen. The Recepção ao Caloiro, as it was called, had many elements that today we would consider inappropriate hazing.

Modern homecoming weeks – and the one at UCR is no exception – center activities around a sporting event, and hold gatherings, rallies, bonfires, lectures, and other social and academic events, large and small, to re-kindle the spirit of being “back in college.”

On a personal note, this tradition fit perfectly well for me when I returned to campus on Tuesday. The first thing I did was go to the Bell Tower and join students in singing a rousing Happy Birthday to our mascot Scotty, as we officially kicked off UCR’s Homecoming Week.

Check out our schedule of homecoming events for today and tomorrow and please join us.  http://rside.ucr.edu/

You will find hikes to the ‘C’, theater, lectures without quizzes, wine tasting, cooking, and botanic garden tours … let alone a bonfire, basketball game, and a student concert extravaganza, called HEAT.

I have learned about several great homecoming stories over the years at the University of California, Riverside.

Unfortunately, for a family-friendly letter, I can’t write about some of them.

But one story that I can report gives me a smile every time I think about it. It involves the ‘C’ up on the Box Springs Mountain behind campus.

Over the years the gold ‘C’ has turned plaid, been buried, served as the half-way point of great hikes, and the place where romance has been kindled. This story is about one late night during finals not so long ago, when someone turned the ‘C’ into a ‘C-‘, only to have our then-Dean of Students climb up with his spouse and turn it into a ‘C+’.

In addition to the fun, pride, and rekindling of memories, Homecoming serves a useful purpose to our campus.  It allows us to reconnect with those who were students in the past, to learn about their lives, careers and families.  It provides another source of validation for the work we do here, to see how a UCR education has allowed people over the decades to live their promise in life.

Homecoming also serves as a motivational opportunity for our current students, to meet with alums and see first hand, how the hard work of today will turn into a full and rewarding personal and professional life going forward.

Warm regards for a great Highlander weekend,


Tim White, Chancellor

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Thanks for Their Sacrifice
Military Appreciation Night is 7 p.m., Saturday, March 5, at the UCR men’s basketball game, which means a military identification is enough to get in free. During halftime, my wife, Karen and I will be joined at center court by our military and veteran students to announce the launch of the Operation Education scholarship and support program. Help us pack the stands that night.

Blue Sky Thinking
UCR’s air quality research – targeting emissions, transportation systems and atmospheric processes – has prompted countless changes in state and federal laws over the last 20 years that have helped clear the air we breathe. For an in-depth analysis of the progress in air quality, look at the Winter issue of UCR Magazine.

Are we Graphene Valley?
UCR’s academic leadership has been making strategic hires of faculty members with expertise in new materials like graphene, a sheet of carbon just one atom thick. Like silicone, its value lies in conducting electricity in computer chips, electron lenses, mirrors, interferometers and resonators, revolutionizing an entire industry. We can’t yet call this the Graphene Valley, but we are earning outside confirmation that UCR is making rapid progress on this innovative front.

Read a profile of Jeanie Lau, one of our most prolific graphene researchers:

Find out what else is going on at UC Riverside: http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

More Information

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