By Gerard Flanagan, news writer and photographer, Office of University Communications
So much has changed about Campbellsville University since Sharon Hedrick attended as a student 50 years ago.
Numerous new facilities, such as Ransdell Chapel, the School of Nursing and the new press box at Finley Stadium, dot the campus Hedrick once walked as a student.
Even the name of her alma mater has changed, with Campbellsville College becoming Campbellsville University in 1996.
And, the Badgett Academic Support Center (BASC) Banquet Hall, where Hedrick was inducted into the Golden Heritage Club, once served as the school’s cafeteria.
The Golden Heritage Club Induction Ceremony was one of many events that highlighted the 2023 Homecoming at Campbellsville University. The Golden Heritage Club is for alumni who graduated from Campbellsville University at least 50 years ago.
“It’s amazing now, the growth,” Hedrick said. “Now, if you wait two or three weeks to drive by here, there’s something new. I love this place. My heart is here. It’s family, and it’s a special, special place.”
This year’s Homecoming theme was “A Reason to Roar.”
Ashley Fox, Campbellsville University’s director of alumni relations, said Homecoming is more than a tradition – it is also a family reunion.
“We were excited to see generations of alumni and friends come together to celebrate our shared legacy and give a ‘reason to roar,’” Fox said. “As the Alumni Director, it’s a privilege to witness the enduring pride and loyalty our alumni have for Campbellsville University.
“Homecoming is a testament to that unwavering support.”
Fighter Tiger football fans had plenty of reason to roar in celebration as the Fighting Tigers improved their record to 2-2 with a 37-27 win over Union College at Finley Stadium in their first Homecoming game under new head coach Jacob Russell – also a Campbellsville University alum.
Bre Miles, senior from Chapman, Kansas, was crowned the 2023 Homecoming Queen at halftime of the football game. Miles represented the Campbellsville University archery team. Miles is a double major in criminal justice administration and Christian missions.
“Winning Homecoming Queen was truly a blessing,” Miles said. “When they announced my name, I was flabbergasted. I froze, and Mr. Bernie, my escort, turned to me and said, ‘You won!’ I gave him the biggest hug. I was thrilled, and my heart was racing!
“I couldn’t believe that they called my name. Saturday was definitely a special day, not because I won, but because I felt the love and support from my Campbellsville family. I am so honored to be a part of a beautiful tradition.”
First runner-up was Regan Adams, a junior from Bonnieville, Ky., who is majoring in social work. Adams represented the Carver School of Social Work. Gabrielle Medeiros, a junior from Woodbridge, Calif., was named second runner-up. Medeiros, who is majoring in business administration, represented the Campbellsville University wrestling team.
The freshman representative was Macy Brown from Michie, Tenn. She is majoring in Marriage and Family Therapy and represented the freshman class.
The Class of 1963 reunion was held Thursday in the Betty Dobbins Heilman President’s Home.
“The best part of the afternoon was hearing stories from the 1960s and learning about the incredible lives and careers of influence they have had,” said Dr. Joseph Hopkins, president of Campbellsville University.
“It was a time filled with laughter and tears as we reflected upon the impact of this place and the special people that are our legacy.”
During the Golden Heritage Club Induction ceremony, Hopkins told the soon-to-be inductees, “We thank you for what you’ve started. You helped us get here. You are part of this as a student who carries on this legacy.
“We’re grateful also that many of you choose to give back as an encouragement that you’re on our side and you’re cheering us on.”
At the Homecoming Alumni Reception and Awards Ceremony Friday evening, Ashli Watts was named the 2023 Distinguished Alumni.
Watts, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce since Nov. 2019, is a 2004 graduate of Campbellsville University.
She also holds a master’s degree in public policy and administration from the University of Louisville.
Watts joined the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in Nov. 2012.
Watts is a member of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees. She also serves on boards for Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, the University of Louisville President’s Advisory Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of State Chambers and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), where she was also named a 40 under 40 in 2020.
She resides in Frankfort with her husband, Ryan and two children, Emma and Carter.
Murrell Young was named Honorary Alumni at the awards ceremony Friday.
Young served as an engineer for the Kentucky Department of Transportation for 30 years and worked privately as a licensed surveyor for 40 years. Murrell reached the rank of captain while serving in the Army National Guard.
Young has been a Sunday School teacher at Good Hope Baptist Church in Taylor County for 60 years and a deacon for 50 years. He was a charter member of the university’s President’s Club in 1979 and became a member of the Centennial Circle this year.
Young has two sons, Dr. Todd Young, a math professor at Ohio University, and Troy Young, an instructor of mathematics at Campbellsville University.
Past Homecoming Queens were also recognized at the awards ceremony.
Hopkins told the past Queens and those in attendance, “We’re honored to have you back here and join us in this incredible legacy called Campbellsville University.”
Several events highlighted Homecoming Day on Saturday.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) took first place in the Homecoming float competition, with the Carver School of Social Work and CU Online tied for second.
The annual Homecoming Car Show drew 64 cars.
“It was a great day for a car show,” Stan McKinney, adjunct professor of journalism, former chair of the Department of Mass Communication at Campbellsville University, said. “Those who attended seemed to have a great time.
“As usual, a great variety of cars, trucks and motorcycles were present.”
On Saturday, a reunion for former workers in the Office of Public Relations/Office of University Communications was held at Winters Dining Hall. The reunion also celebrated Joan McKinney’s February retirement after 42 years working in those offices. She retired as director of university communications.
“The PR/Communications Reunion was one of the nicest events ever!” McKinney said. “We had almost 70 people attending, including alumni, their spouses and their children. It was wonderful to see the students with whom I worked for 42 years.
“They told stories, as did I, of us working together.”
Women’s volleyball alumni also returned for a reunion on Friday in the Athletic Fieldhouse. They also saw their former program defeat Georgetown College in four sets at Gosser Gymnasium.
“It was great to have our alumni back on campus and at our match,” Peyton Johnston, head women’s volleyball coach, said. “With me only being here for three years, I really enjoyed getting to meet some of our previous players and catching up with those I already knew.
“CU’s alumni make this university shine! The women’s volleyball program cherishes any opportunity to connect with them. The current athletes understand the legacy and need to continue it, so it was great for them to see and meet the returning alumni.”
Other Homecoming activities included an alumni swim meet held on Sept. 16.
“It was delightful to host the swim alumni for our intra-squad meet,” Casey Bradstreet, head swim coach at Campbellsville University, said. “I had a blast watching everyone interact and compete together again.
“I loved being able to see each one, catch up a little on life and then spend some time chatting over a meal together after the meet. I know others wanted to come, and I hope they can visit soon. It was truly a pleasure to see all the Tigers together!”
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university that offers over 100 programs including doctoral, master, bachelor, associate and certificate programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.