Homecoming 2009 at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke drew a record crowd of 4,843 to Grace P. Johnson Stadium to watch the Braves defeat Webber International 30-3.
On Friday night, alumni gathered to celebrate the reunion of the Class of 1959. Later Friday, nearly 1,000 attended The Stylistics’ performance at the Givens Performing Arts Center. On Saturday, a huge crowd of nearly 2,000 alumni and students gathered to tailgate before the game.
It was a weekend of memories, but for the institution, Homecoming was an intersection of the past and future as it reveled in many years of growth and a search for a new leader.
In interviews during Homecoming weekend, alumni and community leaders reflected on the past and future.
Mary Alice Teets, Class 1958: “The University needs to continue to achieve excellence. It needs to continue to appreciate its past as we move forward together. I am confident in this search committee, and I look forward with optimism.”
Randall Jones, Class of 1972: “Continued growth should be in our future. We will need funding for the Foundation and endowment. That will be a key to making our programs exceptional. The last 10 years have been good ones, and we are poised for a successful future.”
Ron Sutton, state representative: “My hope is that the next chancellor has the same vision for growth (as former Chancellor Allen Meadors). Those are tough shoes to fill, but I have confidence in the search committee and in UNC that they will find a good individual to lead this University.”
Bill Mason Jr., Class of 1980: “This is a wonderful weekend. They should do the right thing and find a chancellor to keep this University moving forward. Chancellor Meadors got things going, especially football.”
Johnny Hunt, Class of 1977: “The sky is the limit for UNCP. With everybody working together like they are now, we can do anything.”
Bob Caton, former trustee and football supporter: “If you told me 20 years ago I’d be here on a Saturday, I’d have said you were dreaming. Now is the time to get our football team into a first class conference.”
Pete Ivey, Class of 61: “I would like to see more alumni involvement. I have friends who have never returned to their alma mater after graduation. They would like what they see.”
Chancellor Charles Jenkins in an address to the Class of 1959: “I recall a conversation I had with the late Chancellor English Jones. He said this is a ‘university of opportunity.’ I agree with him.”
The stands around Lumbee Guaranty Field seemed sparsely populated as kick-off neared. Then, tailgaters flooded in to pack the house.
UNCP rolled up 499 yards of total offense, and held visiting Webber International virtually motionless in the second half to extend its home winning streak to 10 games.
The win capped a perfect home season – the second straight at Johnson Stadium. UNCP’s last loss in Pembroke came in the form of a 10-7 setback to West Virginia Wesleyan on October 13, 2007.
Jamal Williams booked 138 yards of total offense, hauling in seven catches for 65 yards, rushing three times for 27 more and throwing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jamelle Banks in the third quarter.
Cory Smith completed 22-of-30 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown, while Rashon Kennedy ran for 72 yards.
“We came out defensively and allowed them on the field way too long in the first half,” said head coach Pete Shinnick. “I really challenged them at halftime and (Webber International) only got 53 yards in the second half.
“That was really my expectation,” he continued. “I thought that, if our guys played with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, they could get that done.”
The dinner honoring the Class of 1959 included a wide-ranging group of alumni with a special group of Lumbee Elders who were honored for participating in a University research project.
Class of 1959 – From left: Dr. Waltz Maynor; Ms. Mary Jane Bryant; Ms. Lucille Clark; Ms. Patsy Baker; Dr. Tommy Schwartz; Ms. Carol Oxendine; Mr. James Hunt; Ms. Shelby Rogers; and Mr. William Sampson.
Lillian Teen Harris ’48 was one of them. Her son, James Harris ’74, was there too.
“My mother was the first in our family to go to college, and she pushed education for all three of her sons who also graduated,” Harris said. “This University makes a huge difference in the lives of families.”
Dr. Louise Cummings Maynor ’65 said she would never have gone to college if not for Mary Livermore, the library’s namesake.
“I was one of 12 children growing up in the St. Annah community, and we could not afford college,” Dr. Maynor said. “I lived with Ms. Livermore. She had a tremendous sense of mission.”
Dr. Maynor went on to get a doctorate in English and retired last year from a career teaching college English.
Chancellor Jenkins took the group on a trip down memory lane, recalling 1959 as the year Buddy Holly recorded his last song, Hawaii and Alaska became states and Elizabeth Taylor was married again.
“At the University, Walter Gale was president, Herbert Oxendine was dean of education, Adolph Dial was teaching history and Jim Ebert (who was in attendance) had recently joined the faculty,” Chancellor Jenkins said.
Chancellor Jenkins said the University has made a difference to the community.
“Only 14 cities in North Carolina have a UNC university,” Chancellor Jenkins said. “This institution has made a positive impact here.”