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)

by Dr. James. J. Bishop — 

During this unprecedented time, colleges and universities all across our nation are in transition, and are planning and preparing for what’s ahead. LeMoyne-Owen College (LOC) is doing the same. Even now, the faculty and administration are preparing for impending changes in summer school sessions and the fall semester.

As a Class of 1958 LeMoyne-Owen College graduate, former interim president and current trustee emeritus, I assure you that our college will make it through this.

Some of us remember the crises that rocked our nation and the College like the Great Depression in the 1930s, the World Wars, 9/11 and the economic downturn in 2008. Through those calamities, we’ve sustained and continued to educate and inspire our students. There is no secret to how we’ve done this – only by sticking together as a family, using our core values and history as guides to serve our students, faculty and community.

Our College is made up of leaders, doers and change agents, and at the core of them, most of them are our alumni. More than just graduates of LeMoyne-Owen, alumni are connectors and champions of the College, and this often comes by way of financial giving.

How does alumni giving help?

In addition to federal and state funding and grants, alumni giving plays an integral part in helping to meet the very specific needs of our students. For example, just last semester, our alumni nationally helped to purchase uniforms for students participating in our newly formed Magician Marching Band. Our 29th annual MLK Prayer Breakfast earlier this year, hosted by the LOC Alumni Association – Memphis Chapter, also helped to raise funds for overall College needs.

Last fall, we kicked our off inaugural National Annual Fund Campaign to raise $1.2M by June 30, 2020. More than raising money, our goal was to increase alumni engagement and involvement on all levels. Although the pandemic has presented challenges – the annual President’s Gala, a major fundraising event, was postponed – but the decision was made to continue the campaign.

As alumni, we must give now because the stakes are higher as the crisis is hitting the African American community harder. Our students need electronic devices and Internet access to complete coursework, and in some cases, additional funding to ensure they are able to return to school.

It’s my belief that we love our institutions, and it is our duty to give back to them as they’ve given so much to us. I’m happy to report that, despite the pandemic, our LOC alumni are engaged, even more so, by giving generously and consistently. To date, we have raised more than $650,000, a significant increase from last year’s giving, and alumni continue to contribute.

Thanks to the superb leadership of interim president, Dr. Carol Johnson Dean, the College is securing federal funding and dollars from education partners, such as the UNCF and others. However, there is so much more to do to ensure we advance our teaching and learning options for students. This is where alumni can help meet the need.

Unlike other colleges and universities, HBCUs are in and of the community. They demonstrate resilience in times of difficulty to students and encourage them to do the same. What LOC is doing now is preparing today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders, as was done by our recently deceased board of trustees’ members, Dr. Beverly Williams-Cleaves and Herman Strickland.

LeMoyne-Owen College is a family. If you know an LOC graduate, have been advised or assisted by one, then you are a part of our family, too. I encourage you, as well as alumni and friends, to give to our beloved institution at www.loc.edu. Every dollar given counts for our young people’s futures.

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