Henderson, Tennessee – (Dec. 1, 2023) – The Freed-Hardeman University community made “Time to Remember” Nov. 4-12 for its highly anticipated 2023 homecoming week. More than 2,000 alumni, parents, guests and students participated in events throughout the week, some keen to remember the past, and others eager to celebrate what it means to be a part of FHU today.
“There’s something very special about the bonds of friendship that are forged at Freed-Hardeman University,” FHU President David R. Shannon said. “Whether one has been away for one year or fifty, the FHU family loves coming home and we love it when they do!”
Festivities kicked off Saturday, Nov. 4, with the second annual Buster Bowl. This newer tradition pitted an FHU Lions football team – specially assembled for this occasion – against the Union University Bulldogs for a bit of friendly local competition at Jackson Christian School’s Southern Capital Fie
ld. With a final score of 62-12, the Lions claimed a Buster Bowl victory for the second straight year.
School spirit was on full display throughout a week full of student spirit competition events. Five social clubs went head-to-head in various individual competitions, testing their athletic, artistic and collaborative talents. The annual “Can It Up!” event also promoted community service as club members were encouraged to collect canned food items to create unique club “canstructions” which were put on display in the Burks Student Center. Thousands of cans of food were later donated to the Tennessee Children’s Home.
At the end of the week, the Amy Glass Spirit Award rankings were: 3rd place – Chi Beta Chi, 2nd place – Omega Chi and 1st place – Phi Kappa Alpha.
“Phi Kappa Alpha worked really hard this year on homecoming,” junior PKA officer Caymin Ladd said. “We put our best foot forward, and we’re really honored to win the spirit trophy that honors our hard work.”
Another highlight event was the crowning of the 2023 homecoming king and queen in a special ceremony after the basketball games. This year, Elijah Brewer, a senior communication and public relations major from Lexington, Tennessee, was crowned king, and Julie Gann, a kinesiology major from Huntsville, Alabama, was crowned queen.
Elijah is the son of Cory and Summer Brewer. During his time at FHU he has been involved with Xi Chi Delta, Remote Area Medical, SGA, COMMA, the office of admissions and the Makin’ Music Showband. He says that he most appreciates the growth that Freed-Hardeman fosters in people. “The person I was freshman year wouldn’t recognize the person I am today, and I know many people who can say the same. Spiritually, mentally, socially, even physically – this place can change you for the better, but you have to let it.”
Julie is the daughter of Mark and Sheila Gann. As a student, she has served as both a CDT student coordinator and as part of the Pi Epsilon steering committee. “The thing that I appreciate most about Freed-Hardeman is that I am not just a number like I would be at other colleges,” she said. “FHU cares about every soul whether that person be a student, faculty or staff, and I have felt that throughout my four years here.”
Saturday morning, Nov. 11, Professor Matt Barker’s Small Group Communication class hosted the third annual FHU 5K for the Children in order to benefit the Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. Approximately 110 runners participated in the race, and the class reached their goal to raise $10,000 for this cause.
Also on Saturday, the fifth annual Legacy Pinning Ceremony was held in order to recognize the freshmen and transfer students who possess strong family ties to Freed-Hardeman. New students whose parents or grandparents also attended the university were invited to participate. Family members shared personal messages and advice while symbolically passing on the torch to the second, third or even fourth generations of FHU students.
Freshman Ella Hardin, whose family connections with Freed-Hardeman stretch back to the 1930s, said that she feels honored to be a fourth generation FHU student. “I hope that there are many more generations to come,” she said.
A special 40th anniversary reunion of the FHU Sonshine Singers invited past members of the group to reminisce over food, devotional time and, of course, song. Reunion attendants represented three different iterations of the group under directors Winston Harless, Keith Danley and Gary McKnight.
Participant Darren Griffin, of Nashville, Tennessee, was a part of the Sonshine Singers from 1989-91, and he has many positive memories associated with his time in the group. “Sonshine Singers bridged the gap of the social clubs for us,” he said. “You forge close friendships when you spend that many hours rehearsing and traveling with a group of people.” Griffin also said that he and his former classmates were able to pick up right where they left off when they reconnected over homecoming weekend. “It’s weird that whenever you leave a place, everything seems to freeze in time from when you left.”
Additional activities throughout the week included food trucks, tailgating, a Chorale concert and several FHU Theatre performances of “A Christmas Carol,” while fresh events such as Maroon Madness and a block party in the commons ensure that there is plenty of room for traditions both old and new.
“What was once homecoming weekend has become a week-long celebration of our beloved alma mater and the ties that bind us,” FHU Director of Alumni Engagement Chris Ramey said. “The uniqueness of homecoming is it provides a place for everyone — alumni, students, parents, faculty and staff. I love seeing all of these groups come together to enjoy all things FHU!”
Freed-Hardeman University’s mission is to help students develop their God-given talents and deepen their faith by providing them an education founded in faith, scholarship and service. With locations in Henderson and Memphis, FHU offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees.