Benedict College National Alumni Association History
Lula J. Gambrell
During the late 1940’s, Miss Lula J. Gambrell, a long time 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 1940’s. 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.
During the 1950’s, students were organized with the assistance of Dr. 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.
During the 1960’s, 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.
The General Alumni Association adopted its first Constitution of record on May 9, 1970. It was during the 1970’s, 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 Dr. Milton Kimpson, Rev. Dr. John C. Williams, Senator Frank Gilbert and other outstanding elected leaders, the Association continued its upward development path and support of its rapidly growing Alma Mater.
The Association experienced major growth in membership and reorganization during the 1980’s. 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 1990’s 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 were increased beyond 60, and the Association organized committees and clubs into a more structured effort to recruit students for the College.
It was the beginning of the 2000’s (new millennium) that ushered in a renewed emphasis on strategic planning, increasing membership and growth in giving. A goal of raising over one million dollars annually for the College was targeted and achieved in 2014 and has continued in subsequent years.
The Benedict College National Alumni Association continues to grow because of the dedicated and loyal commitment of the many Benedictines who have served in a leadership role, while recognizing the faithfulness of its dedicated alumni members.