April 18, 2013 10:25:32 AM
Carmen K. Sisson - [email protected]
The long blue line is coming home, with hundreds expected to celebrate Mississippi University for Women's homecoming, which kicks off today and continues through Sunday.
The annual event was extended to an additional day this year, with several new events, including tonight's parade, pep rally and bonfire, followed by a faculty music recital at Poindexter Hall.
For many alumni, it will be the first time they have seen the historic building since its $9.5 million renovation, which was completed in November. Poindexter is expected to take center stage again during a campus walk with MUW president Dr. Jim Borsig Friday.
Borsig said he enjoys strolling the grounds with alumni, because it gives him the chance to show off renovations and construction underway as well as hear their thoughts and memories. Last year, approximately 40 former students met Borsig at the Old Maid's Gate and walked with him.
He said campus is particularly beautiful this year with the flowers in full bloom, and a lot of work has gone into enhancing curb appeal.
The campus walk, along with activities like a Friday night concert by local sensation HanaLena and a 5K fun run Saturday, give everyone something to enjoy, Borsig said.
He will also update alumni on the announcement he made last homecoming regarding bringing athletics back to MUW.
"It's a great celebration weekend," Borsig said Wednesday afternoon. "For many, it's their one chance to be on campus during the year. It's really gratifying to me to hear the feedback from our graduates about how wonderful the students, faculty and staff are. I appreciate all those things every day ... the 'wow' factor of the university."
Carolyn Raspberry Kimbrough, of Greenwood, said she has been so excited that she keeps asking her daughter if it's time yet to pack the car and head for Columbus. As a member of the Class of 1963, she becomes a "Golden Girl" this year and is one of 40 expected to flock to campus from as far away as Colorado and Virginia.
The former student association president lists her time at MUW as one of the greatest accomplishments of her life.
"I have a passion for The W," Kimbrough said Wednesday. "It's my heart. It's what I love. We had wonderful, grand traditions that are still carried on, and I think that's the heart of the W. You don't forget it. It doesn't wash out of your life like a lot of things do."
She remembers days of friendship and hijinks.
As a resident of Calloway Hall, she and her dorm mates once stacked bricks on top of the roof of Columbus Hall so they could climb through a fourth floor window at Calloway. The floor, deemed dangerous due to its condition, was off-limits to students, which only piqued their curiosity more.
They discovered a room filled with enamel water pitchers once used by students to carry water from the well to their rooms. Kimbrough kept one of the pitchers and still has it today.
Another memory includes an incident which could have gotten her and the members of her class expelled. They decided to hold a "water ballet" in a reflecting pool that was in front of the art building.
Every night, they donned swimsuits -- which they covered with raincoats -- and sneaked over to practice their moves. Inevitably, they were caught by the campus police and told to leave. But the next night, they returned.
"We were going to have a big show, a real big production, invite a lot of people," Kimbrough said, laughing. "And we did it, too."
She said she and her classmates weren't willfully disobedient, just young, happy and creative, loving every minute of their time at MUW.
"We'd come in early from dates just to figure out what we were going to do next," she said. "We had good, clean fun. We had a good time, but we got a good education."
Former class president Barbara Austin, of Terry, is also a "Golden Girl" this year, and like Kimbrough, she remembers her share of frivolity.
Once, she and several others were called in for a lecture from then-dean of students Marguerite Goen about proper deportment for young ladies.
"We were frequently called in," Austin said. "After she gave us that lecture, she started laughing at us."
But she also remembers "the superior faculty" and the confidence she gained to take leadership roles, not only on campus but later in life.
"I love The W, and I always say I received an Ivy League education at a public school cost," she said. "We had a brilliant faculty when I was there. I loved my time at MUW. It's just a special place."
For a complete list of homecoming activities, please visit web3.muw.edu/alumni/events/homecoming2013.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.