University to welcome alumni for inaugural reunions
Texas A&M University-San Antonio is hosting its first-ever reunion weekend June 28-29 for the classes of 2014 and 2009.
The five- and 10-year reunions will include class photos, mock classes, campus tours, appearances by favorite professors and an opportunity to stay overnight in the dorms.
The main goal is to expose alumni to the current student experience, said Mary Kay Cooper, director of alumni engagement.
Some have never visited the main campus, she said. Many took classes at Palo Alto College, Brooks City Base and other locations.
“Historically when you have class reunions of any sort, they’re really all about memory and nostalgia and history and, you know, ‘Remember when we did XYZ in the library?’” Cooper said. “Well, for the vast majority of these people, they didn’t go to school here. This campus didn’t exist. These buildings didn’t exist.”
The Madla Building was the first to be built on the main campus in August 2011.
The class of 2009 has about 319 members; the class of 2014 has about 1,130 members, Cooper said.
There are expected to be 50 alumni and their guests — a total of 120 attendees, Cooper said.
“These kinds of events not only bring them back to show them that the university they graduated from is still the same life-changing place it was five years ago or 10 years ago … but it’s even better,” Cooper said.
All attendees live in or near San Antonio, with Bulverde the farthest an alumnus is traveling from. About 85 of 120 attendees are staying in Esperanza Hall and will start checking in at 5 p.m. Friday.
Students who serve as Jaguar Ambassadors will give a campus tour at 6 p.m. Friday, followed by a pizza party at 7:30 p.m. in the second-floor gameroom of Esperanza Hall. Cooper said she hopes alumni enjoy the pool table, darts, pingpong and other games.
“That’s my hope, if they’re going to experience a ‘day in the life,’” she said.
Alumni who arrive Saturday register at 7:30 a.m. outside the Vista Room of the Central Academic Building. Breakfast is at 8 a.m. in the Vista Room and after, guests will attend two 45-minute mock classes they have picked.
The subjects for the mock classes, taught by A&M-San Antonio faculty, are Intro to Latinx Literature, education, psychology, history and marketing. The sessions are at 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Alumni and guests will have lunch at 11:30 a.m. in the Vista Room, watch a video greeting from A&M-San Antonio President Cynthia Teniente-Matson and take class photos. A second campus tour is at 1:15 p.m.
Alumni can also reconnect with some favorite faculty and staff members, whom the university invited to the reunion based on alumni’s feedback.
2019 marks the university’s 10th anniversary as a stand-alone institution. Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 629 May 23, 2009, to recognize A&M-San Antonio as such.
Students who graduated before December 2009 are actually graduates of Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
“Technically, Jaguar alumni, it’s anybody who graduated December 2009 up to the present and continuing on into the future,” Cooper said. “So if it was before December 2009, you’re a Kingsville grad.”
However, she said some prefer to be Jaguars instead of Javelinas.
“If they want to be considered a Jaguar, I consider them a Jaguar,” Cooper said.
Cooper reflected on her beginnings with the university and starting from the ground up.
“I started here October 2016, so there was not an alumni office prior to me,” Cooper said. “There wasn’t a director; there was no one who had the full-time job of engaging our alumni until I got here. … The 10th anniversary really was a perfect time to start.”
The budget for Alumni Affairs is $25,000 for the current fiscal year, which runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, Cooper said. The cost for the reunion weekend is $7,314, primarily for the meals and overnight stay at Esperanza Hall.
Chartwells, the on-campus caterer, is in charge of food services for the event. Guests can expect a variety of items: eggs Benedict, grilled chicken skewers and supreme pizza, to name a few.
The event is free to all alumni and guests. This circumstance is unique to most class reunions.
“It’s more important to me and to the university that we bring alumni back to campus, keep them connected to each other,” Cooper said. “And as time goes on, we’ll be able to baby-step them into small charges for events and things like that as appropriate.”
The reunion weekend will showcase A&M-San Antonio in a way that Jaguars will never forget, Cooper said.
“It’s almost like I want to show the place off,” Cooper said. “I want them to walk off this campus after the weekend’s over feeling more pride in their institution than when they walked on campus.”
Jazmine Marie Prieto and Jesus Vazquez contributed to this story.