42nd Annual National Alumni Association Convention held in Atlanta
Dr. Jeanette Evans
July 24, 2012
The Atlanta Metro Alumni Chapter welcomed more than 100 alumni to the peach state where they hosted the 42nd Annual National Alumni Association Convention July 13-14. The convention was touted to be one of the best ever. During the workshop sessions, alumni engaged in lively, but thoughtful discussions, on a variety of topics, including the band program, student mentoring programs, fund development and alumni giving. Chancellor Willie J. Gilchrist and ECSU Board of Trustees Chairman Adbul Rasheed gave university and board updates. They admonished the convention attendees to increase their support through their continued involvement and financial contributions. Other speakers included Sandy Purkett (’70), director of the P.I.L.O.T Program (Preparing Innovative Leaders of Tomorrow) Thomas Dortch, Jr., chairman and CEO of TWD, Inc. and founder of the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame John Morris, productions and events director for Urban Sports and Entertainment Groups. Each discussed the value of alumni participation, expressing the continuing significance of HBCUs in helping African-American students and other minorities achieve their dreams of a college education. Dortch, an author, entrepreneur, and community activist, acknowledged his appreciation for the excellent education he received at The Fort Valley State University, stating "Had it not been for the great leaders and faculty of my alma mater, I would not be the leader I am today." He also discussed his involvement as the national president for the FVSU National Alumni Association, having served several terms because of his commitment to preserving the FVSU legacy. ECSU Board of Trustees Chairman Rasheed spoke about the importance of ECSU to the economic viability of northeastern North Carolina and to Elizabeth City, N.C., in particular. He reported that according to a recently released economic impact study, ECSU contributed over $159 million to the local economy. Speaking passionately about the education he received at ECSU, Chairman Rasheed extolled the value of the university, noting, "ECSU gave me an opportunity that would not have been available otherwise the university created the pathway to my current success, and I am indeed grateful." Chancellor Gilchrist said the convention energized him. He is confident other alumni departed the same way. "The convention was stimulating. From my speech and the chairman’s, they were well educated on the value of the university to northeastern North Carolina. The university continues to play an important role in the region," Chancellor Gilchrist said. "All of the alumni are looking forward to reassembling at Homecoming 2012." "I challenged alumni in attendance, and I challenge those who could not attend, to attract 10 additional persons to join the alumni chapters. That will increase our participation in the National Alumni Association." The Chancellor described the alumni chapters as the university’s "best ambassadors." He recalled how alumni last year assisted with recruitment sessions, made scholarship donations and returned to campus to attend several events. "With their support last year, we were able to have a quality (Founders Day) gala, homecoming activities, additional scholarships, and they helped us purchase brand new band uniforms. They provided speakers at alumni functions and at campus events. The North Carolina principal of the year was a graduate of the university and will be a speaker for a convocation in the fall. We are happy to see the many ways our alumni support the university." Other speakers at the NAA convention included Tomisha Brock, director of bands William G. Smith, vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement Barbara B. Sutton, director of Alumni Relations Leroy Williams, president of the Viking Varsity Club and Jeanette H. Evans, president of the National Alumni Association, whose presentation focused on the role and responsibilities of the chapter presidents. Other highlights included soul food dining at "This Is It! B-B-Q and Seafood Grill" and "The Cascade Club," where alumni also had the opportunity to socialize and network. Atlanta Metro Alumni Chapter President Otis Strong and Vice President Bobby Riley, along with their planning team, expressed their excitement about having the convention in their city. The two said members of the chapter were energized by the presence of fellow Vikings. The Atlanta Metro Chapter looks forward to helping the NAA increase membership, enhance fundraising, and improve student recruitment. It was the second time the Atlanta Metro Chapter has hosted the NAA conference. Next year’s convention will be hosted by the Elizabeth City Area Alumni Chapter on July 19-20, 2013, in Elizabeth City, NC.