Wednesday, August 31, 2016

MEAC commissioner challenges alumni to take ownership of their institutions

Dr. Dennis Thomas
NORFOLK, Virginia -- There is no sugarcoating the state of HBCUs: Our institutions are hurting. Nationwide, state funding continues to decline, and our athletic programs are under tremendous financial strain to balance their budgets.

I know most HBCUs have strong alumni support. I see them at games and hear from them throughout the year. They are vocal and full of pride. I applaud this. But our institutions need more than a vocal and proud alumni base to survive, they need consistent financial support. If you venture to an institution’s development office and ask for a list of alumni who have given $1,000 or more, you’d be hard-pressed to find more than 5,000 alumni who have done so. That’s hard to hear, but it’s fact. Despite the lack of donors at that level, our alumni – the same ones who are proud and love their schools – are prone to criticize, even though they have not earned the right to do so. Which is why I have accepted the opportunity by The Undefeated to set the record straight – and to educate.

Let me be clear: We need more alumni to be financially active at their respective institutions. I certainly don’t mean to lump all alumni in the same bucket. I know we have thousands of alumni nationwide who consistently support the affairs of their alma mater. But we have a small number carrying the larger load, and frankly, it’s gotten too heavy for the faithful few to carry.


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