Dr. James J. Bishop, chairman of the National Annual Fund Campaign, considers the generosity of the LeMoyne-Owen College alumni pivotal to the college embracing its future. (Courtesy photo)

Students, faculty, local alumni, and community supporters convened on the grounds of LeMoyne-Owen College to launch “The 2020 Inaugural National Annual Fund Campaign” last Friday, to raise an unprecedented $1.2 million.

The rally-styled event featured rousing numbers from the school’s band, inspiring, Negro-spiritual standards by the choir, and enthusiastic votes of confidence from Interim President Carol Johnson-Dean and Campaign Chair Dr. James J. Bishop.

“This is such an exciting day for all of us,” said Dr. Johnson-Dean, “and it is truly an honor to stand before you in support of this great inaugural, national campaign. Raising the right amount of funds is tough work, but we want to see LeMoyne-Owen students change the world. Today is the beginning of many positive things.”

As the city’s only Historically Black College (HBCU), the institution has seen its share of financial woes in recent years, even to the point of jeopardizing its accreditation. While that level of fiscal deficit has been staved off in more recent years, low enrollment and student retention challenges persists.

LOC, like many HBCUs around the country, was established just after the Civil War as a teachers’ college to educate newly freed slaves and their children. Nearly 100 years later, LOC students were key protest figures in sit-ins and marches resulting in the integration of buses, parks, department stores, and other public places. Its long and storied history was recognized and deemed worthy of preserving.

Dr. Bishop said the $1.2 million is reasonable and quite attainable.

“This $1.2 million is an achievable number,” he said over applause. “It is a realistic number. And we’re asking all the regional chairpersons, the state chairpersons, the SGA, the alumni associations to all strive together in this fundraising campaign. We have information now on 5,500 alumni who don’t give. And the reason they don’t give is because we have not asked them to. But the reason we had not asked them to is because we didn’t have a way of contacting them.”

Dr. Bishop indicated that the use of social media outlets continues to help locate alumni and establish contact with them. Goals for the campaign include raising alumni participation from 8 percent to 30 percent by June 30, 2020, when the campaign officially ends.

Campaign organizers said the effort would “enhance the college’s teaching and learning experience, build a culture of giving for students and alumni, and provide more unrestricted donations to aid the operational budget.”

Dr. Bishop is a member of the graduating class of 1958.

“We have always been poised for growth, success and economic impact,” he said. With the generosity of our LeMoyne-Owen community, we will be prepared to embrace our future.”

Campaign donations are being accepted online, by phone, and through the mail. For additional information and to make contributions, contact Dr. Bishop by phone at: 614-421-2973, or by email:  [email protected]: 614-421-2973