EWC Alumni Host Convention to Mobilize Membership

The Edward Waters College (EWC) Alumni Association hosted its national convention September 5 – 6, 2009, on EWC's campus. Several hundred alumni and friends of the College flocked to the four-day event, attending activities that included an opening reception, white linen soiree, outdoor picnic, and educational workshops.

For more than three decades, the biannual convention has reconnected EWC graduates and provided information on fundraising, organizational structure, and student recruitment. Despite the Alumni Association's long history, its membership had dwindled during the past decade to approximately one hundred people.

"We estimate that four thousand EWC graduates live on the First Coast alone. While this convention was designed for fun and fellowship, it had a very serious underlying purpose," said National Alumni Association President Marguerite Warren (Class of 1965). "We hoped to motivate alums to participate and make sure EWC continues to provide deserving students with a quality education."

The convention achieved its purpose as EWC alumni came from as far as New York City and Washington, D.C. Ken Francis, a member of the Class of 1969, said, "I loved the atmosphere. The camaraderie has been great."

A highlight of the convention was a recognition luncheon honoring five former EWC faculty and staff members. The honorees were: Argenia Anderson, Willye Dennis, Dorothy Gaither, Geraldine Orr, and Bishop Robert Webster. The luncheon also featured candlelight and libations ceremonies and a special tribute to two former EWC Presidents – Drs. Leonard Morse and William Stewart.

"There were advisors, teachers, and mentors at EWC who took a real interest in us," said Roy Singleton (Class of 1963), an adjunct professor at EWC and retired University of North Florida department chair. Singleton, who was the recognition luncheon master of ceremonies, said, "They encouraged, challenged, and saw the best in their students."

The conference closed with a $10,000 donation to the College and a formal banquet that honored members of the community and EWC graduates who have made significant contributions to the College. The honorees were: Eric Johnson (Class of 1988), who created the alumni's Internet-based networking site; keynote speaker Frederick Harper (Class of 1965); CSX Chairman and CEO Michael Ward, who donated one million dollars to EWC; and Bishop McKinley Young, Chairman of EWC's Board of Trustees.

Harper, a Howard University professor and award-winning author and editor, said that EWC gave him the tools he needed to succeed. "I received the best possible education at EWC. It's important that we maintain our commitment to our alma mater because of what she has done for us."