Black Alumni Forming Association
By Ursula Thomas Miller
Anthony Hudson believes it is his duty to give back to Xavier and to rally other African-American alumni to do the same.
“In every facet of my life, I can tie it to Xavier,” says Hudson, a 2003 finance grad who is now a vice president at Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati. “I believe the success I’ve had professionally and personally relates to Xavier. I met my wife at Xavier, had my interview set up at Fifth Third at Xavier and a lot of my friends I met at Xavier. We have to make sure we’re assisting the next generation to have these same experiences.”
Hudson, a member of the National Alumni Association Board, is spearheading a fledgling group of enthusiastic supporters to “bring black alums together in a structured way.”
This network of approximately 85 black alumni began to coalesce more than a year ago and has since formed a steering committee that is meeting monthly to execute plans to engage Xavier’s African-American alumni in Cincinnati and nationwide.
“We have the same three goals for African-American alums as our National Alumni Association—recruitment, alumni engagement and donations,” Hudson says. “Those goals don’t change when you look at it through the lens of black alumni. The way we go about doing it might be a little different.”
If Hudson and company’s strong presence at Reunion Weekend 2009 is any indication, the group is well on the way to establishing itself. Black alumni represented the largest constituency at Reunion Weekend last November—an estimated 50 graduates from as far as away as Arizona attended. Others came from Washington, D.C., Virginia and Pittsburgh. If Hudson’s steering committee meets its goal for the upcoming Reunion Weekend, the number of black alumni in attendance this fall will at least double to 100 or more.
“I believe there are a number of alums here and nationally who would be more active if they understood what active looks like,” says Hudson, who manages two Cincinnati-area Fifth Third branches.
Being an active alum can take a wide variety of forms—it doesn’t necessarily mean an alum has to donate large sums of money, Hudson says. He would like more African-American alums to participate in Xavier’s Alumni Enrollment Ambassadors program to recruit prospective students, for example, and to create a vibrant professional network. He’s also envisioning a $25,000 endowed scholarship for undergraduate students of color.
In addition to their heightened participation in Reunion Weekend, black alumni have been working in other ways to raise awareness of their presence and serve as mentors to current African-American students.
A group of 15 black alums bought a table at the recent Antonio Johnson Scholarship Gala—a first in the 34-year history of the event that recognizes the contributions of Xavier’s African-American community through academics and leadership. A network of alumni focused on a particular constituency that has traditionally been underrepresented at Xavier is even more important in today’s bad economy, Hudson says.
“Especially in a tough economy, we have to help black students tweak their professional skills,” he says. “We have to work with Career Services to make them aware of the need for black students to network and take advantage of professional opportunities. I believe we have a duty to be actively helping in any way we can.”
Others on the steering committee include Xavier alums Keianna Matthews, Omari Aarons and Aaron Parker, and University staff members Steve Baker and Tekeia Howard. To get involved, go to xavier.edu/blackalumni.