Homecoming 2020: Remembering the past, honoring tradition, looking to the future

CIU Alumnus of the Year Dr. Danny McCain (Photos by Kierston Smith)
November 10, 2020

By Alex Brickey and Joshua Ford

CIU Student Writers

Homecoming is about memories — especially those involving former professors.

“I got to put a pie into Dr. (Bryan) Beyer's face,” said Heather Christensen remembering one of the more humorous moments of her time at Columbia International University.  

Christensen was among those who returned to the CIU campus to reminisce with former classmates at Homecoming 2020.  She graduated from CIU with a bachelor’s degree in Bible in 1993 and master’s degree in Educational Administration in 1997. As Christensen mingled with friends she noted that the campus has changed quite a bit, but the important things have not.

“I like that they're still emphasizing the same core values,” Christensen said. “I loved the Chapel (and) I liked hearing godly speakers come and share their lives with us. I really enjoyed my friendships with the professors that I had.”

CIU alumni representing nearly 50 years of CIU heritage came from various parts of the United States and beyond.  

Dr. Danny McCain was honored as the Alumnus of the Year. McCain, from the Class of 1974, founded the world renowned International Institute for Christian Studies (now Global Scholars), initiating Christian studies projects, and recruiting and equipping Christian academics in public universities internationally.

McCain noted the impact of the late professor Buck Hatch and former president Robertson McQuilkin on his call to 30 years of mission work, mostly in Nigeria.

God has given me the greatest profession in the world because I get to learn and seek out truth!” McCain said emphatically, talking about his time teaching religious studies at Joss University and establishing Christian education programs in public schools in Africa.  

He also described being almost killed three different times during home invasions and kicked in the face because of the gospel.

“If you want lots of success, you have to have a lot of losses,” McCain said.  

Intercultural Studies major Will Beers, a senior, called McCain’s address “inspiring.”

“The fact that he stuck with his ministry after a lot of persecution and hardships must have been really challenging,” Beers said.

The Homecoming Weekend also included a Recent Alumni Recognition Chapel. Shirin Taber, Eli Fader, Carey Schlieke, Anne Gallagher, Emily Hall and Matt Simmons were the alumni honored this year for their success in their respective fields of work after graduating. 

Hall, who graduated in 2010, and Simmons, who graduated in 2001, were present in Chapel and shared how they got to where they’re at and the lessons they learned along the way. 

“I surrounded myself with mentors and people who were wise counselors in my life,” said Hall who is a writer for the missions organization Pioneers. “I was just so thankful for wise counseling from somebody who took the time to listen to my questions and answer them with a lot of wisdom and discernment.” 

Meanwhile, at the annual President’s Banquet, Dr. Mark Smith reviewed the many blessings of the past year, including a record enrollment. He then looked to the future as he discussed plans for a Nursing program.

“Around the world the #1 need in missions is medical,” said Smith. “We can train students who know Jesus Christ, take the Good News, and be a missionary while they are a nurse.”  

The weekend also included a music showcase, a global networking event for alumni and students, a disc golf tournament, fireworks and the annual CIU Bowl football game — a long established tradition. There was one completely new event. The Physical Plant employees marched in a Homecoming parade in front of the Administration Building decorating their equipment for the occasion.  

-Bob Holmes contributed to this article

With record enrollment in 2020, BestColleges.com ranks Columbia International University the 2020 Best Online College in South Carolina, and CIU is #2 in the state for Best College Campus. CIU also consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South and a Best Value Regional University in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Request information on enrollment at CIU and Columbia Biblical Seminary or call (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024.