44th Annual NAA Convention: A Success

Dr. Jeannette H. Evans
August 04, 2014

The John H. Bias Alumni Chapter - Baltimore, Maryland hosted the 44th Annual National Alumni Association Convention in Columbia, Maryland on July 10-12, 2014. Matthew Coates ('88) is the chapter president. Approximately 125 local and national officers, along with Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) staff and supporters, attended the event, which kicked off on Thursday afternoon with conference registration and a Viking-Style Happy Hour. On Friday, following a series of workshops and sessions on young alumni involvement, fundraising, alumni membership, and student recruitment, Interim Chancellor Charles L. Becton delivered the State of the University address. In addition, Dr. George E. Cooper, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, gave an inspiring message on the continuing significance of HBCUs. "There are 106 HBCUs, and they account for 16.9 percent of bachelor degrees, 7.6 percent of master degrees, 8.1 percent of doctoral degrees and 17.2 percent of professional degrees awarded to African Americans. Approximately 300,000 students attend HBCUs; therefore, it's important for our communities to understand the positive impact of these institutions on building our nation's social and intellectual capital and strengthening our economy," stated Cooper. The host chapter capped the evening with a 50th anniversary celebration of the chartering of the John H. Bias Alumni Chapter and the inaugural Edna Gray Randolph Scholarship Gala. More than 200 guests attended. Ms. Randolph ('45) was the founder of the chapter and one of ECSU's most dedicated ambassadors. Donnice Brown, descendant of the university's second president, John Henry Bias, was the keynote speaker. Proceeds of more than $4,000 will be used to provide scholarships to ECSU students. On Saturday, Janice Baker and Dr. Darnell Johnson, co-chairs of ECSU's 125th Anniversary Planning Committee, along with Dr. Glen Bowman, ECSU history professor and author of the updated version of ECSU's history, gave a progress report on the plans for this celebratory event. At this session, attendees were asked to vote on four titles submitted by alumni. After the votes were tallied, the winning title, which was submitted by Ella M. Ivory ('65), was announced - Elizabeth City State University 1891-2016: The Continuity of a Historical Legacy of Excellence and Resilience. William G. Smith, vice chancellor for institutional advancement; J. Lin Dawson, interim director of athletics; Barbara Sutton, director of alumni relations, all reported on the status of their respective units. Throughout the convention, NAA President Jeanette H. Evans interspersed her remarks on leadership often referencing the quote from John Maxwell, which defined a leader as one who "knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." She highlighted the mission and goals of the NAA stating, "Our priorities will continue to support the mission and vision of the university. As leaders, we will be more diligent about using our resources, time, and energy to uplift our university and the students entrusted its care." The convention concluded with a picnic at the North Laurel (MD) Community Center. Next year's convention will be hosted on July 9-11, 2015, by the Raleigh-Durham-Wake Alumni Chapter. Jacquelyn Wooten ('80) is the president; Todd Twine ('92) is the regional director.