TSU celebrates alumni presidents and directors at Homecoming

Homecoming Grand Marshals [l-r]: Robert Smith, Ada Jackson, Leonard Stephens, James Ford.

Homecoming Grand Marshals [l-r]: Robert Smith, Ada Jackson, Leonard Stephens, James Ford.

Tennessee State University’s alumni celebrate a century of excellence recognizing the achievements of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association and those who have led alumni efforts over the past 100 years. Established in 1915 in Nashville, the TSUNAA has undergone a number of changes in direction and leadership – all leading to the growth of the association with members across the globe.

As part of the important work of chapters across the country, Tennessee State University is gearing up to salute all alumni for their dedication and support. The university will pay special tribute to those who have given their time in key leadership roles, specifically the former TSUNAA presidents, who will be recognized during 2015 Homecoming as the official Grand Marshals, and the former TSU alumni directors, who will be recognized as honorees.

The Grand Marshals for the 2015 Homecoming who will attend the Oct. 16 Scholarship Gala include: Robert Smith, Esq., 1998-2002; James H. Ford, 2002-2006; Ada Jackson, Ph.D., 2005-2008; and Leonard Stephens, 2008-2012. Former TSU alumni directors who will be honored are: Leon King, 1979-1990; Margaret C. Whitfield, 1990-2001; and Michelle Viera, 2001-2011.

The idea of an alumni association began to take shape in 1913 when a group of summer-session students anticipated forming such an organization following their graduation. A resolution was drafted formulating the idea of a national organization with elected officers – one president, one general secretary and one treasurer – along with one vice president and one secretary for each town or city. The idea was implemented by 19 members of the 1915 graduation class and eleven members of the 1914 class – all forming the first Alumni Association in June. Meredith G. Ferguson served as the association’s first national president.

After the institution changed from normal school to college status in 1922, President William Jasper Hale established an Office of the Alumni on campus in 1923. R.B.J. Campbell (’18) served as the first executive and corresponding secretary. Under the reorganization, Christopher C. Purdy (’22) became president, leading the association until 1928.

“As an alum of Tennessee State, I am excited to celebrate the contributions of our alumni during the 2015 Homecoming celebration” said Cassandra Griggs (’93), director of the TSU Office of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. “Each day I have the opportunity to connect with some outstanding alumni who are making the university proud through their professions, in their communities and around the world.”

Over the years, the TSUNAA has grown into a network of more than 3,000 national members in 40 active chapters. The association has been instrumental in supporting the institution its graduates fondly call their ‘alma mater’ by volunteering their time to recruit students, raise scholarship funds, and help to promote the academic and social advantages of a TSU education.

“One hundred years is a milestone that we should embrace and be proud about,” Griggs said. “I challenge all alumni to give a little more time and resources to support the education of future alumni years to come.”