Alumni House offers activities for students

By Becca Clemons

On a large campus like UK, students can often overlook buildings that may provide them with valuable resources.

The Helen G. King Alumni House, opened in 1963 and named for the first permanent director of the UK Alumni Association, is one such building that both UK students and alumni can use.

The house, located at the corner of Rose Street and Euclid Avenue, is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and frequently accommodates student and alumni events during and after hours.

Jill Smith, associate director for clubs and programs for the Alumni Association, said a lot happens at the King Alumni House and through the Alumni Association that students don’t know.

“For students, it’s hard to realize the importance of alumni,” Smith said. “[The Alumni Association’s] not just about giving money—we’re trying to make students understand that.”

On the first day of school, a welcome back picnic was held at the Alumni House, where more than 500 students attended and received free food and prizes, Smith said.

The Alumni Association’s upcoming Legacy Brunch is held every year for children of UK alumni, in conjunction with family weekend. A “chillout” event is scheduled for spring dead week.

In addition, Wildcat Wednesday is hosted in the house the second Wednesday of every month during the school year from 8 to 11 a.m. Free coffee and doughnuts are provided for all UK students, and they can enter to win door prizes and sign up to receive free business cards to use at career fairs, Smith said.

“The whole goal of that program is to get students into our building and get them thinking about the Alumni Association,” she said. “We want students to realize it’s their house too.”

A reception for December graduates will be held in the Alumni House, as will the Alumni Association’s annual Senior Salute in March. For last year’s event, 1,400-1,500 graduating seniors stopped by to pay parking tickets, order caps and gowns, and listen to guest speakers, Smith said.

Team Wildcat, an organization that replaced the Student Athletics Council, is a group of spirit leaders for all varsity sports. Members of Team Wildcat must be members of Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow, the Alumni Association’s student group, Smith said. Team Wildcat arranged a bus trip to the UK-Ole Miss football game earlier this year and are taking a group of students to the UK-Notre Dame basketball game in Louisville.

“Team Wildcat helps to lead the student section of all varsity sports—not just football and basketball,” Smith said.

STAT currently has about 1,600 student members, Smith said, and a goal of the organization is to give students a chance to experience alumni involvement while they’re still at UK.

Benefits for students who are members of the Alumni Association include discounts at around 60 businesses in the Lexington area, international studies and French senior Kelly Hinkel said.

Hinkel works at the Alumni House and said she gets to meet a lot of people through Alumni Association events, like the Tailgate Tent before UK’s homecoming game Saturday.

What many students don’t know, Smith said, is the King Alumni House can be used by anyone. Any group can rent an area of the house for meetings, receptions or ceremonies. Many fraternities and sororities use the building for events, as do groups from UK colleges, Smith said. Smith said the parking lot in the back of the building is often a selling point for groups to use the house for events.

The house also contains two guest suites that visitors, such as parents or visiting faculty, can use as a place to stay on campus, Smith said.

She said the Alumni Association has a program coordinator dedicated to student programming, aimed at getting more students involved with the association.

Members from 62 active alumni clubs across the country work out-of-state college fairs and offer students from their areas scholarships to UK.

A purpose of the King Alumni House is to keep alumni connected to the university and its students, Smith said.

“We’re glad to have students in our building all the time,” she said.