Lawrence University welcomed alumni and families to campus over the weekend for the annual Blue & White Homecoming Celebration.

The festivities included a tailgate party at the Banta Bowl in advance of the Saturday afternoon football game, the retiring of the No. 71 in honor of the late Joe Patterson ’69, receptions and happy hours, and a performance in Memorial Chapel by the Boston Brass.

In addition, faculty members welcomed visitors to their classrooms, the Viking Hall of Fame celebrated seven new inductees, and students took part in the Homecoming Dance.

Students dance with Blu during the Homecoming Dance in Warch Campus Center.
Students dance with Blu during the Homecoming Dance in Warch Campus Center.

It was a festive weekend that kicked off on Thursday with the 10th annual Giving Day, a one-day philanthropy event that raised more than $1.62 million for the Lawrence Fund.

Matt Baumler, associate vice president of Alumni and Constituency Engagement, called Blue & White Homecoming a celebration of togetherness for those who love Lawrence.

“We brought together our students, faculty, and staff with alumni, family, and friends,” he said. “We both built and celebrated the community we call Lawrence.”

Rain may have dampened the grounds during the weekend, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm. The mascot Blu was a constant presence, providing photo opportunities for campus visitors and students. There were campus tours, a family dinner, Bingo, karaoke, and lots of Lawrence apparel that helped paint the weekend blue and white.

Students dance at the Homecoming tailgate party at Banta Bowl before Saturday's football game.
A Homecoming tailgate party at Banta Bowl, with plenty of dancing, preceded Saturday's football game.

Among the highlights was a Saturday night performance in the Chapel by Boston Brass with the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band. For more than 30 years, Boston Brass has delivered a blending of classical arrangements, jazz standards, and original brass compositions.

Members of Boston Brass worked with Conservatory students for three days before bringing their talents to the Chapel stage as part of the 2023-24 Performing Arts Series. More than 100 Lawrence musicians joined them in the performance, a cause for celebration all its own.

“It is a rare and wonderful opportunity for both of our bands to be featured along with the Boston Brass on the Performing Arts Series,” said Brian Pertl ’86, dean of the Conservatory. “I can’t think of a more exciting way to kick off the first band performances of the year than to do it with a world-famous brass quintet.”

Matthew Arau ’97, associate professor of music and conductor of the Symphonic Band, said the three days spent with the quintet was an amazing experience, all leading into the Memorial Chapel performance.

“The Boston Brass led a clinic on music entrepreneurship, held an open rehearsal to demonstrate how to rehearse chamber music, met with students over lunch, and joined the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble for rehearsals prior to the jaw-dropping and electric performance,” Arau said. “Students commented on how cool it was that in addition to being phenomenal musicians, the members of the Boston Brass were also just really good people.”

Kieran McDermott, a sophomore, celebrates with family during Bingo in Warch Campus Center, part of Blue & White Homecoming Weekend.
Sophomore Kieran McDermott celebrates with family during a game of Bingo in Warch Campus Center, part of Blue & White Homecoming Weekend.

It was a fitting exclamation point to a weekend celebrating Lawrence’s past, present, and future.

Prior to the football game, former teammates and classmates of Joe Patterson joined his family on the field for the official retiring of his number. Patterson, who passed away in August 2022 at the age of 74, left an indelible mark on Lawrence, on and off the football field. An All-American lineman who was drafted into the NFL by Vince Lombardi (then of Washington), Patterson joins Chuck McKee ’68 (No. 22) and Scott Reppert ’83 (No. 35) as the only Vikings to have their numbers retired.

Coach Tony Aker joins members of Joe Patterson's family on the field to celebrate the No. 71 being retired.
Coach Tony Aker (center) joins members of Joe Patterson's family and friends on the field before Saturday's football game to celebrate No. 71 being retired. (Photo by Paul Wilke)

Along with the retired jersey was the celebration of a new endowed scholarship in Patterson’s name.

“Everywhere he went, people loved Joe,” said Mary Mattke ’71, Patterson’s wife. “They wanted to support this effort.”

The Lawrence University Alumni Association Board of Directors was on campus in the days leading into Homecoming, adding to the excitement of the weekend.

“It’s a community I am beyond grateful to be a part of,” Baumler said.

See photo gallery from Homecoming Weekend here. 

See video from Homecoming Weekend here.