Let me first acknowledge the obvious: the spring semester did not end the way any of us expected. It was full of highs and lows, celebration and frustration, joy and sadness, excitement and uncertainty. We felt all those emotions here in the Pastides Alumni Center and, based on the calls and emails we’ve received from alumni, we know you did too. More on that later.
Most importantly, we welcomed thousands of new graduates into the alumni ranks, more than 5,000 of whom walked across the stage during in-person commencement ceremonies at Williams-Brice Stadium. Additionally, 1,000 alumni from the class of 2020 returned to campus for their own in-person recognition, also at WBS. I know you will join us in celebrating these new Gamecock alumni so be on the lookout for information about upcoming events where you can congratulate them—in person!
That’s right, in-person Alumni Association events are back. As COVID conditions continue to improve across the country, we have started getting people back together, following CDC and local guidance and ready to pivot if needed.
In May, we held a successful Grad Dine lunch for 2021 graduates and their families here at the PAC and a welcome home Grad Fest celebration for the returning class of 2020. Several of our affiliate groups have hosted networking and social events. I’m also pleased to report that the Pastides Alumni Center is fully open for business as the hospitality industry rebounds. Rehearsal dinners, weddings and corporate events have all returned.
I want to highlight two upcoming events that may interest you:
You’ll find much more on our full calendar, including information about the Gamecocks on the Road Tailgate Series for each of the away football games. Also, save the date for Homecoming 2021, October 15-17. We’ll have more information soon on plans for that weekend.
Throughout the summer and fall, we are also hopeful that you can join us to say a heartfelt thank you and welcome home to President Emeritus Harris Pastides and Patricia Moore-Pastides as he serves as Interim President and, by virtue of that service, on the Alumni Association Board of Governors. Although they did not go far, we are fortunate to have their experience and willingness to come out of retirement to lead the university in the months ahead. I know they will be a calming presence and keep us all moving forward as we look toward the next chapter in our university’s history.
Finally, as I mentioned before, we’ve heard from many of you with your thoughts on the events of the past month, the presidential transition, the upcoming presidential candidate search process and, as we always do, various other issues pertaining to operations at the university. Thank you and keep the comments coming. I ask that you please remember, with more than 300,000 alumni, there are nearly that many individual opinions. The role of the Association is to serve as a conduit and provide a pathway so that all can be heard—not necessarily to take Association positions on specific university issues. We make sure your voices are heard and we are looking at ways to improve the input and feedback process.
Friends, I’m excited about the months ahead and I hope to see you soon as we continue to celebrate 175 years of service to Gamecock alumni.
Forever to thee,