November 4, 2023 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Doug (’98) and Brooke (’01) Kruhm met as staff members in the office of Liberty University’s student-run newspaper, The Liberty Champion, after being introduced by faculty advisor Deborah Huff. They both lived on The Hill, a dormitory on main campus, and they were both studying in the related fields of broadcast journalism (Brooke) and advertising and public relations (Doug). More than 20 years later, the married couple returned to campus this weekend to revisit the sites of their college years and some of the people who made it special.
They are two of the over 11,000 guests who came to Liberty Mountain over this year’s Homecoming Weekend on Friday and Saturday.
The Jupiter, Fla., couple had never attended a Homecoming before and haven’t visited campus since 2005, but they chose to come this year to celebrate Huff’s retirement after 26 years, alongside other former Champion staffers, during a party on Saturday that also celebrated the paper’s 40th anniversary. This was one of many other reunions and celebratory gatherings held around campus this weekend.
Brooke reflected on her time at Liberty, when Liberty’s late founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, was walking the halls of campus and affecting spiritual change among the student body, and said those memories are cherished ones.
“The fun and the power that it was when it was such a small school, I have to tell you, to come back and see the growth is amazing and life-changing, to have taken those four years and made my spiritual life the anchor that it is now because of what I experienced at Liberty,” she said. “To have had a relationship with (Falwell) … to be able to have been here when he was making such an impact speaking at Convocations … I don’t think any of us realized then how important it was until after he left a legacy.”
“It’s great to see that the classes after (us) are living a lot of the same aspects of life that we did,” Doug added. “Mrs. Huff treated us so well. How many people here today made the decision to attend Liberty, and now years and years later we’re looking at the results of that decision. It’s great to be a part of something that’s larger than our individual selves.”
Even though it is the sixth or seventh Homecoming he’s experienced, Robert Ramos (’10), a business graduate from Raleigh, N.C., said he enjoys returning to see the changes to campus, enjoy the Flames Football atmosphere, and spend time with an community that feels like family.
“I love it here. The campus is very picturesque, the football team is awesome,” he said. “When I came here, so many of the buildings around us weren’t here or looked different, so to come back and see the transformation is always amazing. Even though you might not know a lot of people personally, there’s a camaraderie. I was in the (United States Army) for 23 years, and similar to that, the people here at Liberty are like family.”
Charles (’96) and Claudia (’21) Wigglesworth, from Daleville, Ala., have experienced Liberty at different parts of its history, due to Claudia not pursuing her degree until later in her life. Both studied through Liberty’s distance learning programs, with Charles earning a liberal arts degree and Claudia a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), but have been to multiple Homecoming celebrations and visit campus often.
“Dr. Falwell was preaching one Sunday and then they had the advertisement at the end of it about the School of Lifelong Learning,” Charles said. “I had been in the Army for about 25 years and said it’s time for me to finish my degree.”
“My husband got a degree from here way back when they sent you VHS tapes and you had to watch and send them back,” Claudia added.
Joseph Moneymaker (’21), who earned his degree in religion online, has traveled from Jacksonville, N.C., with his wife, Meredith, to attend every Flames Football game this season and visit their daughter, a current sophomore studying residentially. Even though he earned his degree away from campus, Moneymaker said he and his family have felt welcomed on campus with each visit, which contributed to them being a part of Homecoming for the first time this year.
“The online community made you feel like you were a part of Liberty residentially because there were so many opportunities for you to come to Liberty, like the football games or the military appreciation day at (Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre),” he said.
For those who checked in or registered on Friday, Homecoming guests were able to attend Convocation to hear from Dr. Tony Evans, enjoy carnival games and fare at the carnival, and enjoy the annual bonfire that took the bite out of the crisp November temperatures..
The annual reunion concert for Liberty’s Chamber Singers took place Friday night in the Center for Music and the Worship Arts, Concert Hall, and served as a tribute to the music group’s longtime director, Dr. Wayne Kompelien, who will retire at the end of the 2023-24 academic year after 36 years.
Saturday’s festivities began with an alumni breakfast hosted by the Office of Alumni Relations, which led into the Homecoming Parade, an alumni tailgate, and a Flames Fest tailgate, all building momentum toward the 6 p.m. kickoff of the Flames Football matchup against Louisiana Tech in Williams Stadium.
Before the game began, members of the Flames’ 1973 football team were recognized on the 50th anniversary of their season, and Liberty held a moment of silence in honor of former Flames Football head coach Morgan Hout, who passed away earlier this week. The Flames lit up the scoreboard for a 56-30 victory, and the announced attendance of the game was 21,647.