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Blue and gold are in the air

It’s fall and that means the traditional colors of the season. In Albany’s case, however, the gold is accompanied by blue as Albany State University alumni come back to town for homecoming week.

In fact, Saturday has been declared Blue and Gold Day by local officials, who made the announcement Monday.

“It’s really one of the high water marks for the university each year,” Clifford Porter, vice president of institutional advancement for ASU, said of homecoming week. “It gives us a chance to reminisce about the past and plan for the future.

“It’s truly a celebration.”

Indeed, Albany State is worthy of celebration. ASU, one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, has been an educational force that has focused on an under-served population, elevating everyone in the process. It is important work that is done on the campus by the river, work that has improved our community, region, state and nation.

It’s no wonder, then, that ASU engenders the type of emotional ties and affection that brings more than 25,000 of its former students and supporters back each autumn to remember the times they shared on campus. The years that a person spends at college tends to be some of the most cherished times in his or her memory, focusing on friendships and triumphs. Even the long nights students often spend preparing for big exams such as finals gain a different perspective in retrospect, often drawing a chuckle of amazement about an event that, at the time, was full of anxiety.

That is what college homecoming does. It brings you back to what was familiar as you grew into adulthood. It brings you back to good friends and teachers who had indelible influences on your development. It is an opportunity to reconnect with an important part of your life.

The university, in addition to its work shaping young minds for future careers and success, is important to the community as well. The healthier Albany State is, the healthier Albany and Southwest Georgia are.

It’s easy to overlook the impact that a university has on a community. But homecoming week can be a reminder. Alumni who return to Albany generate $3.5 million to $4 million for the local economy, local economic officials say. That will be felt all through Albany and the region.

Albany’s relationship with ASU is one of mutual benefit, just as there is mutual benefit in the relationship between the university and its current student body and alumni. The stronger the bonds, the better for everyone.

And there’s nothing like seeing blue and gold salutes to ASU, its students and the alumni who are visiting our community this week to remind us of that.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board