University of Northern Iowa celebrates 100 years of Homecoming

One hundred years ago, the first Homecoming was held at the University of Northern Iowa, and it was both exactly the same and completely different from the celebration planned on campus this week.

It was built around a football game, with UNI, then known as the Iowa State Teachers College, taking on Parsons College, a well-respected football foe. It featured a pep rally and picnics, much like the events and gatherings that will be held on campus this year.

But the football game was played on a field where the Rod Library now sits. The decades-old tradition of Campaniling, where couples gather beneath the Campanile on Friday and exchange kisses at the stroke of midnight, did not occur because the Campanile did not yet exist.


University of Northern Iowa - 100 Years of Homecoming


Much has changed and much has stayed the same as UNI celebrates 100 years of Homecoming with a series of events and competitions that culminate in UNI football facing Youngstown State at 4 p.m. Oct. 5 at the UNI Dome.

Hopefully, the outcome is the same as it was 100 year ago. The first Homecoming went well. Teachers College defeated Parsons College on a muddy field, 14-0. About 225 alumni, and a large number of students, enjoyed the pep assemblies, meals and game. Considering that the program was put together very late, students deemed the whole event a great success. But just a week after the first Homecoming, they stressed that "It is not too soon to begin laying plans for the next one."

While Homecoming is now a widely recognized, and expected, college tradition, in 1920, it was still in its fledgling phase. Just eight years before, Iowa and Iowa State held their first Homecoming, and UNI students recognized the work that would be required if the tradition was to take hold.

Clearly, their work was successful, because Homecoming is still going strong today. Highlights of this week’s celebration include:
  • Pep rally with Panther Pride Cry finals starting at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4 in the West Gym.
  • The long tradition of Campaniling will continue at 12 a.m. Friday, Oct. 4 at the Campanile Plaza.
  • The Panther Pacers Homecoming 5K starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Campanile Plaza. Register by Oct. 2 to guarantee a shirt. Registration is $20 by Oct. 2, $15 for ages 12 and younger and $25 the day of the race.
  • The Alumni Welcome Tent will be open from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Alumni House on 1012 W. 23rd St.
  • The Homecoming Parade starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5
  • The Panther Fan Zone Tailgate will start at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at the south end of the McLeod Center parking lot.