ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – If you drive by McMurry University and notice a big hole in the ground, it’s not because the school is being remodeled. Instead, McMurry is preparing to bring in at least 400 alumni to the university over the weekend – up 50-60% from last year, along with its students to celebrate homecoming during this centennial year. 

McMurry said it will be celebrating with some of its oldest traditions, including the infamous bonfire – which is the reason for the hole. 

This centennial year has been a big year so far for McMurry. The university has reported its largest enrollment count in more than 10 years, its alumni and friends invested the highest amount of dollars raised in school history; $15,452,726, and a new building at the school is being constructed. 

Third-year student and traditions chair of McMurry student government, Hayden James told KTAB/KRBC he’s seen more student activity and vitality this year than any before. 

“I think, now, people are yearning to step outside of that dorm room,” explained James. “From an MSG (McMurry Student Government) perspective’ I was an MSG last year as well, and this year, we have more members than the past three years that I’ve been here.” 

To that same affect, Director of Alumni, Katelyn Scott said she believes this has to do with the lingering effects of the pandemic going away. 

“Students are getting more involved and excited to be doing things together, whereas before it was like, ‘should we or should we not be in big groups,’” Scott pondered.

Whatever the case may be, Scott said it’s the alumni that’s seemed more active, with more pre-registrations for homecoming than before. She said this has all to do with the centennial year.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of student activity this year, as well as alumni, because of that,” predicted Scott.

As the school moves into its next century, Scott said it’s doing so with ample momentum. If the founders of McMurry could see what the university is now, Scott said they’d think it’s come a very long way.

James said he also hopes many students will show up to homecoming with McMurry pride. 

“I would like to see the students come out in numbers, and I think that’s what we’re expecting to happen.” 

The community is also invited to homecoming events. The main events are listed below: 

  • Opening Ceremony 

Friday at 2:30 p.m. Wah Wahtaysee Park 

  • Celebrating Together Festival 

Friday from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., we’ll take it to Wah Wahtaysee Park, street-festival style with music, games, demonstrations, hands-on learning, arts and crafts, and local food vendors! 

  • Homecoming Coronation 

Friday at 8:00 p.m. Wah Wahtaysee Park 

  • Bonfire & Pep Rally 

Friday at 8:30 p.m. Wah Wahtaysee Park 

  • Lawn Jam Concert 

Stick around after the bonfire and pep rally for a live musical performance under the stars by Gillian Smith, a country rock artist. 

  • Celebration Procession 

Show your McMurry spirit and pride on a walking parade around campus on Saturday morning 10:30 a.m.— or line up along the route to cheer!  

  • War Hawk Tailgate 

Saturday at 11:00 a.m., join fellow McMurry students, alumni, and friends at War Hawk Tailgate Village on the lawn behind Jay-Rollins Library to enjoy lunch before the football game.  

  • War Hawks vs. Texas Lutheran  

Saturday at 1:00 p.m., kickoff Wilford Moore Stadium 

  • McMurry Theatre Presents Disney’s Beauty and the Beast 

Performances are Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 21 at 10 a.m., Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m., and a Sunday, Oct. 23 matinee at 2 p.m. 

Click here for more information.