Homecoming 2019 Features Alumni Awards, Science Center Dedication

Houghton College welcomed alumni, their families, and friends to campus on Friday, October 4 and Saturday, October 5 for its 2019 Homecoming and Family Weekend.

Alumni Award Ceremony

Friday morning featured the Homecoming Legacy Chapel, honoring the accomplishments and impact of Houghton alumni around the world.

Thomas and Phyllis Farver jointly received the Alumni of the Year Award, Houghton’s highest honor for alumni. Tom (Class of ’64) is a Professor Emeritus for the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California Davis, where he taught biostatistics for 38 years. Phyllis (née Fleming, ’65) serves as a board member for the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis, and is actively involved with volunteer work there.

Carmen McKell and Dr. Van Kelly each received a Distinguished Achievement Award. McKell is the president and co-founder of Avrij Analytics, and is well-respected as a leader in the data science field. Kelly is a computer scientist and software engineer who currently teaches at Yeshiva University after a fifteen-year career in the private sector.

Author and 2013 graduate Laura White received the Young Alumna of the Year Award in recognition of her successful fantasy trilogy Heartstone, published under the pen name Elle Katharine White through the Harper Voyager imprint.

1949 alumna Laura Fancher received the Christian Service Award for her decades of nursing work with the Special Care Unit at Highland Hospital, where she continues to volunteer regularly today.

Diane Emmons was honored with the Alumni Appreciation Award for her volunteer work in Houghton’s Alumni and Community Engagement Office, and for her active involvement in the Houghton community throughout her life.

Homecoming Weekend Events

Friday afternoon, a group of distinguished local professionals held a public discussion panel entitled “Alzheimer’s: Our Nation’s Next Epidemic.” Bob Van Dyk, president and CEO of Van Dyk Health Care, as well as a member of the Class of 1975, was the plenary speaker at the event.

The annual Collage concert and homecoming dance were held Friday evening, followed by men’s and women’s athletics events on Saturday.

Saturday’s “Hands on Houghton” festival, held at the Kerr-Pegula Field House, featured activities for all ages, including cornhole games, arcade basketball, a ball pit, and a balloon artist. Guests could pose with humorous props and costumes at a green-screen photo booth, courtesy of Houghton’s communication department.

Alumni with special anniversary years—counted in intervals of five, all the way up to alumni from the Class of 1984, who celebrated their thirty-fifth class reunion this year—gathered to reunite with former classmates at special lunch and dinner events held on Saturday.

This year’s Homecoming weekend included the dedication ceremony for the newly renovated Paine Center for Science. Over the summer, Houghton College invested in the creation of laboratory classrooms for the recently launched major in electrical engineering, the Robert and Elizabeth Van Dyk Data Science Analytics Suite, the Dr. and Mrs. Edward Savolaine Science Honors Suite, and made functional and cosmetic improvements to the building itself. The project was funded entirely through generous gifts from alumni and friends as part of IMPACT: The Campaign for Greater Houghton.

The weekend also featured an open house for the Houghton College Equestrian Center. The Equestrian Center’s new indoor riding arena, constructed in 2018, is another strategic campus enhancement initiative funded through the IMPACT campaign.