Founders remembered during weekend of activities


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (April 6, 2014) – This weekend, the university community honored the legacy of Tuskegee’s fathers, Lewis Adams and Booker T. Washington. Alumni, students, family and friends united for Founder’s Day events to recognize Tuskegee’s past and celebrate the institution’s progress. Also, the alumni classes of 1934, 1939, 1944, 1949, 1954,1959,1964,1969 and 1974 marked their reunions.

Maj. Gen. (Retired) Charles E. Williams,
convocation speaker.

Acting Tuskegee University president,
Dr. Matthew Jenkins.

Student planting flowers during day
of service.
Activities this year included a lunch and information session with university deans and a State of the University address from Acting Tuskegee University President, Dr. Matthew Jenkins on Friday. 

In his address, Jenkins said he and his staff have worked diligently to address a number of areas of need at the university such as housing. He said his administration also assessed Tuskegee’s budget and expenditures and made changes, which resulted in more than $1 million in savings. He also said the university needs to capitalize on grant and research opportunities as well as expand certain academic areas.

“We have some positive possibilities in engineering,” Jenkins said. “There’s an opportunity there. We should think about doubling our capabilities.”

Giving back

Service and contribution were key themes this weekend and many events were dedicated to helping Tuskegee be better. Friday, the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs introduced two new donor campaigns. The TU 1881 Scholarship Drive allows donors to make contributions in honor of the university’s founding year. Contributions of $18.81 can be made monthly or an annual donation of $1,881 can be given.

The Graduation Year Scholarship Drive is based on giving a dollar amount that reflects donor’s graduation year. The contributions can be made monthly or annually.

Saturday, the Tuskegee National Alumni Associations joined students for a national day of service. This inaugural event celebrated Booker T. Washington’s birthday with community service projects all over the country. On campus, the associations and students planted flowers in front of the Lincoln Gates and Luther A. Foster Hall. The coordinators for the project were alumni, Edward Grime, Class of 1969, and Dr. Loretta Hicks, Class of 1975.

“Booker T. Washington gave this university to us,” Hicks said. “I consider service to be the foundation of what he passed on.”

Moving forward

Sunday, at the 97th Annual Founder’s Day Convocation, the reunion classes continued the spirit of giving back by making several donations to Tuskegee. The classes’ representatives presented a total of $409,655.93 in gifts to the university.

Convocation speaker, Maj. Gen. (Retired) Charles E. Williams, an alumnus and chair of the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees, said Tuskegee stands on a rich legacy that will help lead it to an even greater future.

During his remarks, Williams highlighted Tuskegee’s past successes and encouraged alumni to help Tuskegee continue to move forward. Williams also said fundraising strategies must be updated to be more competitive and entrepreneurial. 

“That leaves us with the monumental task of, aggressively and creatively, employing fundraising strategies that map well with the present circumstances, not those of the past,” Williams said. 

He told the audience in University Chapel that he believes the university is unwavering in its commitment to success and that alumni backing is vital.

“Stay strong. Mother Tuskegee continues to need your support,” Williams told alumni. “Don’t give up, keep fighting. Our students appreciate the legacy your support has guaranteed over the past 133 years.”

After his remarks, Williams was presented with an honorary Doctor of Engineering, Honoris Causa by Jenkins.

To see more from this year’s Founder’s Day celebration, go to Tuskegee University’s official Facebook page.

Alumus Nathan Johnson, TNAA President Wortham,Treasurer Robert Smith, Chaplain Barbara Cleveland and TU Board of Trustee Chairman General Charles Williams and Mrs. Williams participating in the first annual TNAA Day of Service in honor of TU founder Dr. Booker T. Washington.

Great Granddaughter of Booker T. Washington, Robin Washington-Banks, and Mayor of Tuskegee, Johnny Ford.

Acting President Jenkins addresses alumni.

Rep. Pebblin Warren and Dr. Cynthia Sellers-Simon present Class of 1974 donation.

Williams receives honorary Doctor of Engineering degree, Honoris Causa.

© 2014 Tuskegee University

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