A crowd of more than 675 people gathered on the campus of Cleveland Chiropractic College (CCC) Oct. 10-12 for Homecoming 2014. The “No Place Like HOMEcoming,” theme utilized a “Wizard of Oz” motif, and by the end of the weekend, the Continuing Education Units (CEU) had transformed some in attendance, just like the characters in the classic 1939 movie. The visitors likely realized a brain, enlightened with new wisdom, courage enhanced to introduce new treatment techniques into practice, and a heart infused with a greater passion to aid those in need.
Guests arrived on campus and entered the building via a specialized “yellow brick road,” to further promote the “Oz” theme. They were greeted by life-sized images from the film, which helped to create a little movie magic on campus.
Sharing the venue with Cleveland alumni, students, faculty and staff was the Kansas Chiropractic Association (KCA). The group once again held their annual convention in tandem with the homecoming festivities. Also on site were 29 vendors offering information about products or services, and some of the most renowned speakers in chiropractic.
Dr. Carl S. Cleveland III, president, welcomed the capacity crowd on Friday morning and introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. James Chestnut. Additional speakers throughout the weekend included Dr. Ty Talcott, Dr. Mark Charrette, Dr. Evan Mladenoff, Dr. Mark Pfefer ’85, Dr. Stephan Cooper ’04, Dr. Evan Gwilliam, Dr. Calee McClure ’00, Dr. Jeff Lavell, Dr. Steve Gould ’89 and Dr. Gerald Clum. The speakers addressed a wide range of topics, including electronic health records, stress management, extremity adjusting, patient protection and the Affordable Care Act.
Sarah Hilliard, director of alumni services, was the coordinator of Homecoming 2014. She was happy with this year’s event and said “everything running smoothly” was the reward for the months of planning it entailed to bring it to fruition. Of all that took place throughout the weekend, she was most pleased with the influx of new attendees.
“The best part of the weekend was seeing so many new faces on campus,” Hilliard said. “We loved having our alums here that hadn’t yet seen our new campus. It was delightful to see the pride on their faces as they came home for the first time.”
Dr. Clark Beckley, vice president of campus and alumni relations, said the weekend in its entirety was a tremendous success that offered ample time for all involved to laugh and learn.
“There was a positive atmosphere all weekend,” Beckley said. “The educational programs were all well received and the social events went great!”
At the conclusion of the events on Friday, alumni and friends of the College converged on the Dining Hall for frozen custard and conversation. A happy hour gathering followed the sweet treats, as alumni reconvened at an off-campus establishment for a bit of revelry and remembrance. The conclusion of the seminars on Saturday offered another opportunity to socialize, as there was a Reunion Happy Hour held for doctors celebrating an anniversary year.
Classes from 1954, 1964, 1974, 1984, 1994 and 2004 were recognized, and representatives from each year were present. Some reflected on their time at the College, and shared what their career has meant to them in the years since graduation.
Dr. Cleveland also took a moment to introduce two special alumni in attendance Saturday evening. Dr. Ed Newcomb ’54, a long-time faculty member at the College, who returned for his 60th class reunion. Also recognized was Dr. Larry Hutchings, a 1970 graduate of Cleveland Chiropractic College-Los Angeles, and a former faculty member at his alma mater. He and his wife drove from their home near Salt Lake City to attend Homecoming.
Keeping with the recognition theme for the evening, the Cleveland Alumni Association presented its annual “Alum of the Year” award. Last year’s winner, Dr. Kay Carver ’71, announced the 2014 recipient, Dr. Rosemarie Wilson ’92. Both doctors were then captured in a photo for posterity, with past “Alum of the Year” winners who were in attendance.
Other alumni news from the weekend included a lucky day for CCC alum Dr. Joe Jones ’03, who won an iPad Mini after his name was selected in a drawing. Jones was one of nearly 100 alums that participated in a reader survey about the Clevelander alumni magazine conducted by the Office of Communications. The survey responses will be used to enhance the publication during its upcoming re-design. It was hoped that with reader input, the magazine will continue to be a solid offering of Cleveland happenings for many years to come.
Student reaction to the Homecoming events was positive.
“I enjoyed listening to Dr. Chestnut,” Chris Miller said. “He had a strong chiropractic philosophy backed up by so much research. It was refreshing to listen to him be so positive about the future of chiropractic and how much we can and do to help our patients.”
Fellow student, Marina Mangano, felt the weekend was a valuable experience.
“I liked meeting Cleveland alums and having a chance to discuss things with recent graduates,” Mangano said. “I was also proud to see students taking advantage of free lectures during the weekend. They are clearly invested in their education if they chose to sacrifice a weekend to be at the sessions.”
The overall significance of the weekend, and the importance of Homecoming for students cannot be overstated. It provides an opportunity to make contact with current practitioners, which could open the door to an opportunity after graduation. But it goes deeper than that, it touches the core of why they are pursuing the profession.
“It revitalizes the passion to be a chiropractor, because it’s easy to get lost in the workload of classes and tests,” Miller said. “After every Homecoming, I am reminded of how great our future being a chiropractor is going to be, and I can’t wait to graduate and start treating patients.”
Hilliard was encouraged by the feedback she received about the weekend of events. For an event this large, the planning can become unwieldy and the results are sometimes unfavorable. Fortunately, that was not the case in this instance as attendees seemed be pleased with nearly everything from the presenters to the “Wizard of Oz” theme.
“I have yet to hear a negative comment,” Hilliard said. “The big statement I’m getting most often is, ‘This was the best Homecoming yet!'”
Relishing the blend of friends and education that made it an outstanding event, attendees can look forward to the next Homecoming celebration, scheduled for Oct. 9-11, 2015. If that event goes as smoothly as its predecessor, it will likely offer its own challenge to be considered the “best Homecoming yet.” But with 2014 still fresh in our minds, next year seems like a distant place that for now, might as well be “Somewhere, over the rainbow…”