Pioneers Through the Years join commencement weekend

November 7, 2012

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — May 11 will be a special day at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and not just for the graduates from the College of Liberal Arts and Education. This year, for the first time, UW-Platteville Alumni Services will host Pioneers Through the Years – a celebration of Platteville alumni who graduated 40, 50 and 60 years ago – during commencement weekend. The events will be intertwined with returning alumni cheering on the new graduates before the commencement ceremony and following behind them in the procession.

Katie Friar, event coordinator for Alumni Services, believes combining commencement with Pioneers through the Years will make both events more meaningful. “It’s a time for the graduating students and alumni to reflect on their accomplishments,” she said. “It’s a connection we all share – we’ve all graduated from UW-Platteville.”

The first Pioneers through the Years, a reunion of the classes of 1952, 1962, and 1972, was held during summer 2012. This year, the classes of 53, 63 and 73 will be invited to return.

Kim Schmelz, director of Alumni Services, said that it is important to offer graduates from decades past the chance to revisit their alma mater. “Many haven’t been back since they graduated,” said Schmelz. “They can relive their commencement ceremony, and walking through campus can bring back so many memories.”

The two-day event will begin Friday, May 10, with a distinguished alumni and commencement recognition dinner. Saturday morning, before the LAE commencement ceremony, current students will show returning graduates how UW-Platteville has changed and present them with commemorative milestone anniversary pins. “We want everyone who attends to feel especially honored,” said Schmelz.

During the 2012 Pioneers through the Years, as well as in other reunions in the past, “it is with returning professors that alumni share the strongest connection,” said Friar.

“They’re like celebrities,” she said.  “As the alumni think about all they’ve accomplished during and since their time at UW-Platteville, they want more and more to express their gratitude to their professors.”

Inviting alumni to return and celebrate their accomplishments is not only a special experience for past students, but for present ones. “It’s important that they see how UW-Platteville has grown and changed,” said Schmelz. “And through the stories they tell, you learn a lot about the university. It gives you more pride.”

Pioneers Through the Years is sponsored by the UW-Platteville Alumni Association and the UW-Platteville Foundation.

Contact: Kim Schmelz, director of Alumni Services, schmelzk@uwplatt.edu; Katie Friar, event coordinator, Alumni Services, friarka@uwplatt.edu, (608) 342-1181.

Written by: Jacob Reecher, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, reecherj@uwplatt.edu

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