'Reclaiming Alumni,' Fund Raising, Focus of UNCF Conference

Article excerpt

Reclaiming alumni and fund raising are just two of the issues that will be addressed at the National Alumni Council (NAC) of the United Negro College Fund's (UNCF) 59th annual meeting to be held Feb. 3-6, in Orlando, Fla.

The NAC-UNCF is made up of alumni of the 38 UNCF colleges and universities, current students or "pre-alumni," as well as interested supporters of Black higher education. The organization's mission, says Dr. Rubye Taylor-Drake, president of the NAC-UNCK is to raise funds for UNCF's member colleges and universities; recruit students for UNCF member institutions; encourage cooperation among Black alumni groups and friends of Black higher education; provide a national forum for educational issues; and stimulate public awareness and interest in UNCF colleges and universities.

With close to 800 attendees expected to attend, the annual conference is where the various groups that make up the NAC come together to report on their fund-raising progress for the year. The meeting also provides networking, motivational, education and strategizing opportunities for alumni, pre-alumni, UNCF staff, member schools and supporters of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Drake says it's important for those who have benefited from HBCUs to ensure that deserving Black students can continue to get a college education. And supporting HBCUs is a big part of that effort. "The Black schools have to remain a viable option for our kids," Drake says.

The theme of this year's conference, "Sustaining the Visions and Values of Our Historic Past," will serve as the focus of the workshops and seminars and will emphasize the legacy and future of HBCUs, which is part of the mission of the NAC-UNCF, Drake says.

"Because we have leadership of so many constituent groups here, the conference is an opportunity to share ideas about practices that have been effective as far as fund raising," Drake says. "The conference also focuses on preparing those who come mentally and emotionally to return to implement the programs and ideas that they have learned at the conference."

Featured speakers will include Dr. Lee Jones, dean of graduate studies, continuing education and summer session at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and founder and president of Brothers of the Academy, a support group for African American men in higher education; Michelle Viera, the director of alumni relations for Tennessee State University, who will speak on the topic of "Reclaiming Alumni," and Salome Thomas-El, a Philadelphia teacher and renowned chess coach, who will discuss his book, I Choose to Stay. …