October 02, 2009

‘Showtime at Southern’ is Homecoming theme

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- It’s Showtime!

Time to grab the maroon gear and come celebrate homecoming Saluki style. “Showtime at Southern: Homecoming 2009” at Southern Illinois University Carbondale promises to be a memorable early October week filled with fun activities welcoming former students, celebrating the University yesteryear and today and honoring special alumni, including Richard “Dick” Claxton Gregory.

Gregory, a St. Louis native courted by more than 100 universities, accepted a track scholarship to SIUC and the distance runner was captain of both the cross country and track teams at SIUC. He became the first black student athlete to win the outstanding athlete of the year award in 1953.

But, Gregory didn’t rest on his athletic laurels. He served in the U.S. Army and went on to be an author, actor, comedian, philosopher, recording artist, nutritionist, anti-drug crusader and activist. The SIU Alumni Association lifetime member was active in the Civil Rights movement, advocating nonviolence. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert Kennedy and countless other political figures, performers and activists were among Gregory’s close associates. He ran for president himself in 1968.

He has written 15 books, including his first, the million-plus selling autobiography “Nigger: An Autobiography by Dick Gregory with Robert Lipsyte.” His latest is “Callus on My Soul: A Memoir.” Gregory also recorded numerous albums and appeared in films and on television many times. An entrepreneur, his comedy utilizes social satire. He founded “Campaign for Human Dignity” in 1992 to fight crime in St. Louis neighborhoods and has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame in honor of his accomplishments.

Gregory and Lillian, his wife of 50 years and mother of his 10 children, return to Carbondale as grand marshals of the 2009 Homecoming Parade. Gregory strived to enhance integration in Carbondale, and the University and the Varsity Center for the Arts (VCA) are sponsoring several activities bringing Gregory and his message to the community.

The VCA, located in the former Varsity Theater, will honor Gregory as the first inductee into the VCA Hall of Fame during a 3:30 p.m. ceremony Oct. 8. Dr. Marsha Ryan, chair of the Varsity Campaign Steering Committee, will offer remarks and youths from the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale will sing. The VCA will unveil a commissioned painting by Najjar Abdul-Musawwir, SIUC associate professor in the School of Art and Design, during the ceremony. Both the painting and the reading of a commissioned poem by Allison Joseph, associate professor of English, are tributes to Gregory. The ceremony, at the building where Gregory once had to watch movies in the balcony, is open to the public.

The SIUC College of Liberal Arts and the VCA are also sponsoring a presentation by Gregory at 10 a.m. Oct. 9 in the McLeod Theater at the Communications Building. “SIU: Then and Now” is open to students, faculty, staff and the community. Thanks to a VCA benefactor, the first 100 students showing a valid SIUC student ID card will get a free copy of “Nigger: An Autobiography by Dick Gregory with Robert Lipsyte.”

Gregory is one of the University’s 2009 SIU Distinguished Alumni Award recipients. The SIU Alumni Association will honor Gregory and four other accomplished alumni on Homecoming weekend. The Gregorys will participate in a number of other private or invitation-only activities and events during homecoming weekend. They’ll also be enjoying time with old friends including Harvey Welch, the retired SIUC vice chancellor for student affairs, who was Dick Gregory’s college roommate, and wife Trish.

Along with Dick Gregory, SIUC honors as its 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients: David Lloyd Briscoe, Benjamin “Benny” Dunn, John S. Heakin and Col. Joe E. Johnson. Find out more about these men and their accomplishments at http://news.siuc.edu/news/September09/091409ala9021.html.

Beginning Oct. 5, there’s plenty going on: movies, a comedy show, receptions, Homecoming court election, a parade, and even an attempt to break a world record. Of course there’s great Saluki football too. Here’s what’s happening during Homecoming 2009 week on the SIUC campus and around the Carbondale community:

Monday, Oct. 5

• Homecoming kick-off, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Free Forum Area. The Student Programming Council Homecoming Committee sponsors this event, which features free food, special performances and give-a-ways.

• Homecoming king and queen elections. Online voting starts at 8 a.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 6

• Homecoming king and queen elections, online voting.

Wed., Oct. 7

• Homecoming king and queen elections, online voting.

• Laser Tag, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Student Center Ballrooms. Student Programming Council (SPC) presents this free game for students.

• World record attempt, noon at Student Center Roman Room. SPC and Silkworm are sponsoring this event as they try to break the record for the most T-shirts worn by one person at a time. Organizers believe the current record is 237 and they’ll try to top that. Afterward, they’ll be giving away the T-shirts as long as they last.

Thursday, Oct. 8

• Homecoming king and queen elections, online voting ends at 8 a.m.

• Varsity Center for the Arts Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 3:30 p.m., with Dick Gregory as the first inductee. The ceremony is open to the public.

• “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” film, 7 p.m. in the SIUC Student Center Auditorium. Tickets are $3 for adults, $2 for students.

• Homecoming Comedy Jam, 8 p.m., Student Center Ballrooms. The SPC Comedy Committee sponsors this showcase of hilarity and laughter.

Friday, Oct. 9

• Dental Hygiene Professional Seminar, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Student Center Auditorium.

• “SIU: Then and Now,” presentation by Dick Gregory, 10 a.m., McLeod Theater, Communications Building. Open to SIUC community and the public.

• Class of 1959 brunch, 10-11:30 a.m., Old Main Lounge, Student Center, followed by guided tour of campus and Carbondale departing from front of Student Center at noon.

• SIU Alumni Association and SIU Foundation luncheon, noon-1:30 p.m., Ballroom D, Student Center.

• Distinguished Alumni Recognition Reception, 2:30-4 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge at the Student Recreation Center. The SIU Alumni Association sponsors this celebration of the University’s 2009 Distinguished Alumni.

• Technology and Innovation Expo, 3:30-5 p.m., Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road.

• Half-Century Club reception, 5:30 p.m. in John Corker Lounge followed by dinner at 6:15 p.m. in Ballroom D, all at the Student Center.

• Alpha Phi Alpha Step Show, 6:06 p.m., Shryock Auditoriums. The SIUC Pan-Hellenic organizations perform their traditional step routines in this show with Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity as sponsor.

• “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” 7 p.m., Student Center Auditorium. Tickets are $3 for adults, $2 for students.

• Alumni band group, reception for Marching Saluki Alumni at 7 p.m. in Cambria Room at the Student Center and alumni cheerleader and mascot reunion at 7 p.m. at Mississippi Flyway in the Murdale Shopping Center.

Saturday, Oct. 10

• Homecoming parade, 9:30 a.m., downtown Carbondale. Dick and Lillian Gregory are grand marshals for this event featuring bands, marching groups, floats and much more.

• Tailgating breakfast, 10 a.m.-noon, University Museum.

• SIU Alumni Association Big Tent and Tailgate, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., east side of McAndrew Stadium courtesy of SIU Alumni Association. Also Saluki Row tailgates on the lawn north of the basketball arena.

• Wesley Foundation Alumni Reunion at the Wesley Foundation, 816 S. Illinois Ave., 11 a.m., with special invitation for the class of 1959 but welcoming all alumni from 1955 to present day.

• Homecoming football game and coronation, 2 p.m., with the Salukis taking on the Illinois State Redbirds. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children. Homecoming royalty coronation is at half time.

• Alumni Marching Saluki Dinner at Spinoni’s, 501 E. Walnut St..

• 38th annual Miss Eboness Pageant, 6:34 p.m., Shryock Auditorium with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. as sponsor.

• “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” 7 and 10 p.m., Student Center Auditorium. Tickets are $3 for adults, $2 for students.

In addition to the many homecoming activities, various University facilities will have special hours, offers and discounts. For instance, SIU Alumni Association members will enjoy free use of the Recreational Sports and Services facilities including the Student Recreation Center and the boat rentals at the campus lake boat dock. Hours are 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 9, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. -Oct. 10 and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 11. Call 618/536-5531 or look online at www.siu.edu/rss for more information. There’s special pricing for bowling and billiard games at Student Center Bowling and Billiards too. Hours are 9 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Oct. 9, 10 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Oct. 10 and noon-11 p.m. Oct. 11. For details call 618/453-2803.

Stop by the University Museum as well during homecoming week. “Remembering Old Main,” a collection of items from the long-gone Old Main Building, is on display, along with exhibits featuring fossils, miniature pioneer dioramas, an Oglala Sioux buffalo robe and Jennifer John’s photographs in the “Movement and Light” display. Be sure to view the School of Art and Design’s metalsmith show and check out the rest of the museum’s exhibits, including the Africana art and poetry. It’s open 10 a.m-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday that week. See www.museum.siu.edu (click on current exhibits) for details.

There’s also a reunion of the Beta Chi Chapter of Phi Kappa Tau set for Oct. 9-11 (see http://www.bxpkt.com/ for details) and the Class of 1959 is having its reunion with special activities on Homecoming weekend. Homecoming 2009 also marks the 20th reunion for the Marching Salukis Alumni Band Group; mascots and cheerleaders will gather too.

For more information about “Showtime at Southern: Homecoming 2009,” call 618/536-3393 or look online at www.siucstudentcenter.org/homecoming or www.siualumni.com.