In its 111-year history, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority has made black excellence its mission. This year, to close out Black History Month, the oldest historically African-American sorority made a major investment in black futures.
On Thursday, at the Alpha Kappa Alpha International Headquarters in Chicago, International President Dr. Glenda Glover presented $50,000 each to 32 historically black colleges and universities on behalf of the newly formed Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation, led by Executive Director Erika Everett. The $1.6 million is the first installment in a $10 million endowment gift the sorority has pledged over the next four years.
Speaking with The Root, Dr. Glover, who is the 30th international president of AKA, as well as president of the historically black Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn., (the largest and only state-funded HBCU in the state), spoke on the rallying cry answered by her sorors in response to the challenges faced by many of the country’s HBCUs, including the recently beleaguered Bennett College, one of the first beneficiaries of an endowment from the sorority.
“As part of our call to action, the membership has become excited,” Glover said. “We have joined in answering this call to help sustain the strength of our colleges and universities—to market HBCUs, promote HBCUs and make financial contributions to HBCUs.”
Glover’s ties to HBCUs are strong; she was initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha while an undergraduate student at Tennessee State. She also holds an MBA from Clark Atlanta University, has been the Dean of the College of Business at Jackson State University and Chairperson of the Department of Accounting at Howard University.
“You can just imagine how excited I am,” Glover said, calling it a “full circle moment” to lead two institutions she loves while contributing to the success of the HBCU community at large.
“As an HBCU president, I know firsthand the needs of HBCUs—the challenges that they encounter, the financial needs and the need for sustainability for HBCUs,” she added. “So, knowing that—and given that I’ve spent the better part of my professional life in the HBCU community, I knew it was time for us to take on an initiative that dealt head-on with sustainability, and that’s what’s why this endowment was important to us, because endowments represent sustainability. ... We’re answering the call on a daily basis.”
The 32 predominantly black institutions benefitting from the Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation endowment are:
Albany State University, Alcorn State University, American Baptist College, Bennett College for Women, Chicago State University, Coppin State University, Fayetteville State University, Florida Memorial University, Fort Valley State University, Grambling State University, Harris-Stowe State University, Le Moyne-Owen College, Lincoln University, Livingstone College, Miles College, Mississippi Valley State University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina Central University, Philander Smith College, Savannah State University, Shaw University, South Carolina State University, Southern University at New Orleans, St. Augustine’s University, Stillman College, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Voorhees College, West Virginia State University, Wilberforce University, Wiley College, Paul Quinn College and Edward Waters College.
The beneficiaries of AKA’s endowment were chosen based on perceived need, including existing endowments.
“For the most part, HBCUs are having challenges trying to build up endowments, and endowments represent scholarships to students,” she explained, “and that contributes to student success and graduation rates, and helps the school out, overall.
“I say the three most chilling words a college president can hear [from a student] are ‘I’m going home,’” she added. “So, we’re doing what we can to keep students in school.”
Glover again praised AKA membership for rising to the challenge of sustaining the many institutions that further the education and advancement of black students. “We’d like the country to remember that Alpha Kappa Alpha accepted the challenge,” she said. “I’m thankful to the members of the sorority for answering that call.
“You know, HBCUs are a vital part of the nation’s higher education community,” Glover continued. “Many people may not be familiar with the contributions that have been made by HBCUs, but we have staying power, and we produce such great individuals.”
To make a donation to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation and help sustain the future of HBCUs, visit their website.
Correction: 3/2/19, 4:29 p.m., ET: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the location of Tennessee State University in Memphis, which is the birthplace of Dr. Glover. The university is actually located in Nashville, and the article has been corrected to reflect this.