COMING BACK TOGETHER: AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINO ALUMNI REMAIN A UNIVERISYT PRIORITY
n 1982, Robert Hill, then vice president and special assistant to the Chancellor for affirmative action, set out to make a difference for SU African American alumni. With a loosely defined charge from Chancellor Melvin A. Eggers and a few ideas of his own, Hill created the Office of Program Development and became its vice president. "The bottom line was to develop programs that reach this influential population so they and the University benefit one another," says Hill, now vice president for public relations.
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications graduates Angela Robinson '78, left, and Jackie Robinson-Melchor '78 participate in a CBT V workshop in 1995. They will return to campus in September to share their broadcast journalism knowledge and commemorate their 20th anniversary as alumni.
Today, under Hill's leadership, the three-person Program Development team maintains the University's bond with African American and Latino alumni. Larry Martin, executive director for Program Development, feels that were it not for this program, many African American and Latino alumni would have lost their connection with SU. "Through our various activities, we are saying, 'This is your University and you play an integral part in its growth and development,'" Martin says.
Coming Back Together (CBT) is the office's major event. Introduced in 1983, CBT gives alumni a chance to reconnect with Syracuse University. "The University community is grateful for CBT's longevity and powerful influence," says Hill. "It is truly a testimony to the commitment from alumni and the University."|
The CBT weekend event includes days filled with career workshops on various disciplines, evening social activities, a black-tie awards dinner on Saturday night, and a closing worship service and brunch on Sunday. Meeting the Challenges of the New Millennium is the theme for CBT 6, which will be held September 17-20 on campus. "It's the last CBT reunion of this century, so we are hoping for a large turnout," Martin says. "This is a matchless experience that has achieved a lot in keeping alumni connected with one another, with current students, and with their alma mater."
Angela Robinson '78, CBT 6 co-chairperson, says that her association with SU would have been limited were it not for CBT. "CBT is an exciting, unique, and empowering thing," says the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications broadcast journalism graduate. "It allows me to come back and serve in many capacities." Robinson, the recipient of the 1995 Chancellor's Citation for Distinguished Achievement in Journalism, is a Newhouse advisory board member and has endowed an SU scholarship in her name.
In 1986, Program Development introduced the Our Time Has Come scholarship fund to the CBT program as a way for more alumni to give back to the University community. In its first phase, which ended in 1995, alumni and friends helped raise $1.2 million for 11 individual scholarships that thus far have helped more than 70 students earn degrees. Now in its second phase, the campaign's new goal is $3.2 million. According to Hill, participation from African American and Latino alumni in Our Time Has Come has increased 200 percent since the scholarship fund was first introduced.
Independent of CBT, African American and Latino alumni return to campus to speak to students, serve on University-wide boards and committees, and receive awards. Says Hill: "Program Development helped SU reclaim ownership of these alumni and helped these alumni reclaim ownership of SU."
For more information contact the Office of Program Development at http://sumweb.syr.edu/progdev or call 315-443-4556.