Benedict College National Alumni Association
A Brief History of the Benedict College National Alumni Association
Since the early existence of Benedict College, its alumni have answered calls to assist in meeting the needs of expanding its physical plant, recruiting students, and financial support to their Alma Mater.
During the late 1940s, Miss Lula J. Gambrell, a longtime faculty member, encouraged alumni to develop an alumni locator file to assist the College in keeping track of its growing alumni population. This information was used to help organize small groups of alumni in South Carolina, and in various cities across the country, into what was later to become known as the Benedict College Alumni Clubs.
It was during this period that Benedict’s alumni formally organized as a General Alumni Association. Dr. Horatio S. Hill served as its first president of record during the late 1940s. Its primary mission was to make substantial gifts to the College and recruit students. In order to meet the challenges facing the College, the Alumni Association encouraged clubs and alumni to: Make a gift of $10 or more, have at least one public program or activity for the benefit of Benedict College before Founder’s Day, have a Founder’s Day service and take an offering on a Sunday at a local church before the Founder’s Day Observance in March.
Dr. D. J. Dixon served as its second president from 1950-53. During the 1950s, students were organized with the assistance of Miss Gambrell to form one of the first Pre-Alumni Councils of the United Negro College Fund. This organization, which helped to mold future leaders for the Association, was formed to support Benedict College, build student ambassadors, and support the efforts of the UNCF.
Following her retirement from the faculty, Miss Gambrell officially became the first Executive Secretary of the Association in 1955 and served until 1968. Dr. Miles Bogan served as its third president from 1954-60. Its fourth president was Mr. Earl Reuben who served from 1960-62.
During the 1960s, the General Alumni Association embarked upon a new era -- an era which gave the body the privilege of recommending a member for the College’s Trustee Board.
Dr. Cyril Otis Spann, its fifth president, accepted the challenge to get an alumnus on the board, and served from 1962-66. With its growing number of alumni clubs, the Association continued on its mission to get:
- Each alumnus to make a gift ranging from $50 to $25 to $15.
- Each Benedict College Club to hold a Founder’s Day service in a local church.
- Each Benedict College Club to hold at least one public program or activity.
- Alumni and friends to remember Benedict College through wills and legacies.
- Alumni and friends to give moral and personal support to the College.
Mr. Thomas Jenkins served as the Association’s sixth president from 1966-70, and Dr. James N. Alston served as Executive Secretary from 1968-70. The General Alumni Association adopted its first constitution of record on May 9, 1970. Under the leadership of Dr. Milton Kimpson from 1970-72 and Mr. Curtis Way from 1972-74, the Association continued to transform itself into a more viable organization capable of making significant contribution(s) to the growth of its Alma Mater.
During the 1970s, the name of the Association was changed to the Benedict College National Alumni Association, and its first Annual Convention was held under the leadership of Rev. Dr. John C. Williams, who served as president from 1974-76. It adopted its second constitution on February 5, 1977, under the leadership of Mr. Frank Gilbert, who served from 1976-78. Mr. Samuel Goodwin was president from 1978-80.
The Executive Secretaries of the Benedict College National Alumni Association were 1996-Present, Mrs. Ada Brown Belton; 1976-1996, Mrs. Barbara C. Moore; 1974-1976, Mr. Jack Jones, 1972-1973, Dr. James Alston; 1970-1972, Mr. Winston Thomas, 1968-1970, Dr. James Alston; and 1955-1968, Miss Lula J. Gambrell.
The Association experienced its major growth in membership and reorganization during the 1980s. Fall meetings were held at various cities across the country instead of being hosted on the campus. The rationale was this provided the opportunity to increase the participation of alumni in the affairs of the Association. Alumni gifts reached the $100,000 level during this period. The leadership behind these efforts included Dr. Jasper Salmond (1980-82), Ms. Frances Wimberly (1982-84), Dr. Tony Minus (1984-86), Ms. Frances Wimberly (1986-88), and Dr. Albert Reid (1988-90). Ms. Wimberly was elected the first female president and the only individual to be reelected for a second term.
The 1990s challenged the Association to increase its financial gifts and support to the College. During this period, alumni gifts passed the $250,000 level, alumni clubs increased beyond 60, and the Association organized committees and clubs into a more structured effort to recruit students for the College. The leadership during this period included: Mr. Louis Gibson (1990-92), Mr. Robert Squirewell (1992-94) and Mrs. Pearl B. Cox (1994-96).
Mrs. Ruby Bellinger Sanders served as president from 1996-98, and Mr. Benjamin Qualls served as president from 1998-2000. During this period, the association experienced its greatest increase in life members from 2 to 79. Mr. Emory Waters served as president from 2000-02, Dr. Ethel Henderson Taylor served from 2002-04 and Mr. Jimmy DuRante served from 2004-06. Ms. Sheryl Good served from 2006-2008. Mrs. Thelma B. Salmond served from 2008-2010. Ms. Elsie King Hamler was installed as the 27th president at the 2010 Annual Meeting. Dr. Willie J. Hill was installed as the 28th president at the 2014 Annual Meeting.
The Benedict College National Alumni Association has grown because of the dedicated and loyal support of many Benedictines who have served as leaders.
Updated: September 2015