October 14, 2016
Thanks for making Ignite-the-Night Homecoming 2016 so successful! I appreciate all the behind-the-scenes planning, hard work, and volunteer effort that went into making it a memorable week. Returning alumni and guests commented on the beauty of the campus, the energy they felt here, and their optimism for the future of Mines. They enjoyed their experiences and the week’s activities rekindled old relationships and reinforced their passion for Mines.
While Homecoming is always a bit of a blur because of the packed schedule of meetings, events, presentations, conversations, surprise encounters, and meals, it always creates deeply imprinted memories. I will remember Ignite the Night 2016 for:
Wednesday: The standing ovation and “Bill, Bill, Bill” chants from the audience, as Bill Nye The Science Guy entered Lockridge Arena. It is magical when Mines students let it loose for their science heroes. I hope we never lose that part of our culture.
The challenge from Bill Nye to our students to change the world and to not be complacent about it – using America’s “Greatest Generation” to illustrate that rapid societal and technological change is possible. The clean water and renewable reliable energy societal grand challenges that he highlighted resonated strongly here – Mines can be the world-leader in those areas.
Thursday: Celebrating the successful conclusion of the Transforming Lives campaign with students, faculty, donors, and campaign leadership was an uplifting experience. About $500M in support was raised during this campaign. Transforming Lives will be remembered for physically transforming our campus (e.g., Clear Creek Athletic Complex, Starzer Welcome Center, CoorsTek building, etc.), adding top faculty (new endowed chairs), and generating hundreds of scholarships for Mines students. The Transforming Lives campaign wrap-up video featuring Mines students explaining the impact in their own words was moving. I remember feeling so proud to be part of the Mines family when I watched the video and know the audience did to. I hope we always have that great sense of pride in Mines – it is something that sets us apart from other universities.
Friday: This was a day of firsts. The alumni M-Climb, Boots-n-Barrels, and the bonfire that may be the lasting impression for many. The Mines community has a unique love for fire and fireworks (or anything that explodes), and this Mines-scale bonfire was one to be proud of – as evidenced by the large and spirited crowd that was drawn to it.
The bonfire idea came from our students, and was the inspiration for the Ignite-the-Night theme. I hope that it becomes a lasting Homecoming tradition and that we always listen to the students for their ideas on how to best celebrate being Mines.
Saturday-Sunday: Breakfast with the Class of 1966 at the president’s house – they are a fun bunch and such proud alumni. I can only imagine what they were like back in the 60s. Then the parade – and Blaster deciding at the corner of 17th and Illinois that he didn’t want to walk any farther (until he finished making the point that he wanted to be at the front of the parade and won’t tolerate second billing). After that, tailgating and football. The Orediggers took down an undefeated top-10 opponent in a nail-biter. There were also opportunities to watch and cheer on our volleyball and soccer teams, with our Orediggers dominating all contests. Our teams are so easy to cheer for as we know how hard they work to balance and be successful in both their academic and athletic pursuits. I hope that Mines athletics continues to be a key component of the student experience and that the academic and professional success of our athletes remains the focus of the program.
Overall it was a great week with old and new traditions, and an opportunity to show off our campus and community, and celebrate Mines’ past, present, and future. Thanks again for all of your contributions to make Ignite-the-Night such a success.
Best wishes for a relaxing Fall Break.
Paul C. Johnson, Ph.D.
Professor & President
Colorado School of Mines