Festivities bring spirited alumni together

Shirley Dunlop and Fritz Richter are waiting for the Homecoming Parade to begin. These UM sweethearts met at the U 60 years ago, have been married for 58 years, are a part of the Homecoming Committee and graduates of UM in 1952 and 1953. Elizabeth De Armas//The Miami Hurricane

Shirley Dunlop sat beside her husband, Fritz Richter, in matching Iron Arrow jackets, as they waited for the Homecoming parade to start. The UM sweethearts smiled as they reminisced on their years as undergraduate students at the university.

Throughout Homecoming last week, the Alumni Association coordinated several events that brought university graduates, like Dunlop and Richter, together to celebrate Hurricane pride and be a part of the Homecoming tradition.

“We met here 60 years ago and made 58 years married last Sunday,” Dunlop said. “I enjoyed every minute of it and it’s always fun coming back.”

Dunlop graduated in 1952 with a Bachelors of Education. She played sports, was part of the Women’s Athletic Association, head of Pan Lily and one of the first women to be tapped into Iron Arrow in the late 1980s.

“I used to go to events and meetings and feel bad because I think this little lady did a better job in college than I did, and there she was no where near Iron Arrow,” Richter said. “Of course when the time came she got pulled out of the cracks in the floor.”

The Dunlop couple is still active on campus and has been part of the Homecoming Committee for the past nine years. They love working with the students and watching them put together Homecoming Week as they once did.

“Homecoming had more celebration back then and we had a lot of Greek life,” Dunlop said. “We had these beautiful floats and it was one big social event.”

Cynthia Cochran, the director of alumni programs, organized Alumni Weekend. She graduated from UM with a bachelor’s in 2001 and her master’s in 2006.

“Homecoming was a little different when I was a student,” Cochran said. “The reunion parties were all separate and we didn’t have what is Alumni Avenue, but I think the spirit and the feeling about the pride in being a Hurricane was the same.”

Many university graduates hold on to their memories of karaoke nights at the infamous Rat and tailgating festivities at the Orange Bowl Stadium.

“The knock-down of the Rat was rough,” said Alfonso Dager, who graduated from UM in 2007. “That place was a meeting point where we would watch games, have a drink between classes and it was truly an icon on campus.”

Dager was also involved as a student on campus. As an engineering major, he built Homecoming floats for the parade and was tapped into Iron Arrow, which he considers to be one of the best moments in his life.

“Quite frankly, the day I was tapped and inducted into Iron Arrow was one of the proudest and most humbling moments in my life,” Dager said. “To see the caliber of the other people that were tapped and to be a part of something that has been around since 1926, and will continue for years to come, means so much.”

Mike Levine, a 2006 UM alumnus, SigEp fraternity brother and co-chair of the five-year reunion is happy to be back on campus as one of three siblings who have all attended the university.

“I’m the oldest of three kids,” Levine said. “My brother went here, my sister went here and my brother’s back for an M.B.A., so there’s a lot of Hurricane pride.”

Other alumni have stayed friends since their time at UM. Ray Ciafardini, who graduated in 1978, visits campus about every two years.

Nelson Conde, who graduated in 1979, has kept in touch with Ciafardini since then.

“I was part of the Student Union and I see that some things change but some things don’t change,” Conde said. “I grew up a lot here and UM taught me that I could do things I never dreamed I could do.”