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History of the National Hampton Alumni Association, Inc.

At a meeting of graduates of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, held in Saratoga Springs, NY, on August 20, 1877, the following preamble and resolutions were adopted:

“As in the providence of God, our alma mater will have been in successful operation 10 years at the close of this session. As it is the custom of the graduates of well established schools and colleges to assemble within the walls of their alma mater, we think it will be fitting to hold a reunion, in the decennial year, composed of all the graduates or as many as can make it convenient at this time, for the purpose of forming the Alumni Association of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. Therefore be it resolved:

I.  That there be a letter published in the “Southern Workman” for March inviting the graduates of different classes to attend such a reunion;

II.  That the Committee of Arrangements be composed a lady and gentleman from each class.”

One hundred years ago, the above quotation was indeed a part of the Original Constitution of the Hampton Alumni Association. The writing of this document was one of the preliminary steps leading to the origin of the Association. Its pre-planning and final organization were carefully guided by the following farsighted alumni: David Evans, 1875; George W. Davis, 1874; L. B. Phillips, 1874; R. B. Jackson, 1876; W. T. Greenhow, 1874; W. L. Coleman, 1877; G. W. Latimer, 1871; A. M. Hamilton, 1877; A. W. McAdoo, Secretary, 1876; N. B. Clark, Chairman, 1877.

The Hampton Alumni Association was partially organized in May 1878. George W. Davis, 1874, was elected the first president and Alice S. Harris, 1877, became the organization’s first secretary. In May 1881, at the first triennial meeting, the Association was fully organized and a constitution, including the opening quotation and provision for triennial meetings, were adopted. As this first 1881 meeting, the following officers were elected:

President Booker T. Washington, 1875
Secretary William H. Diggs, 1878
Corresponding Secretary William M. Reid, 1876

The original constitution provided for triennial reunions. In 1925, the beginning of biennial reunions were adopted, followed by annual reunions which began in June, 1942. With the strong belief that the Association could better serve itself and its alma mater, the Association became Incorporated on May 7, 1986 under the 1950 Code of Virginia, with its registered office being the Office Of Alumni Affairs, Hampton University. The purposes are exclusively charitable and educational and are stated in the 1986 Official Charter and amended By-Laws of 1993. Specifically, the purposes of the National Hampton Alumni Association, Inc. are to raise monies for Hampton University, to recruit students to attend Hampton University, to propose and manage an annual program budget, and to work cooperatively with University personnel in order to develop and implement programs that will benefit Hampton and the National Hampton Alumni Association, Inc.

The Association sought and obtained a more intimate relationship with the University in reference to its policies. A quote from the “Southern Workman” in July, 1923, states that, “It (the Alumni Association) requested the appointment of a colored man on the Board of Trustees, which resulted in the selection of Robert R. Moton, Class of 1890, for that position.” Dr. Flemmie P. Kittrell was the first Black female to be elected to the Board of Trustees. She was elected as an Alumni Trustee in 1945. James “Babe” Henderson was the first alumnus elected to that position in the mid 1970’s. Presently, there are twelve alumni on Hampton University’s Board of Trustees.

Further quoting from the July, 1923 “Southern Workman”, Dr. James E. Gregg (then principal in 1920) suggested that the Association appoint a committee of visitation. “This committee was appointed at the 1920 meeting and was charged with the duty of visiting the Institute at least once a year for the purpose of observing methods and making constructive suggestions based upon experience and a real knowledge of existing conditions which the alumni have to deal.” This tradition continues today with joint meetings between the Hampton University Administrative Council and the National Hampton Alumni Association, Inc.‘s Board of Directors. Also during Dr. Gregg’s administration, Hampton alumni published a quarterly journal. The journal was a medium of communication which enabled the alumni organization to concentrate its power on accomplishing the following objectives: to bind and continue the friendly ties formed during school days, to inform each other of the other’s work; and to comfort those laboring in lonely places. Faculty members and graduates wrote articles. In addition, the Journal carried articles on outstanding citizens connected with Hampton.

During the one hundred and twenty-one year history, the Hampton Alumni Association (now theNational Hampton Alumni Association, Inc.) has pushed forward with momentum and direction designed to create in Hampton alumni an abiding sense of personal commitment and individual responsibility for the life and growth of Hampton Institute/University. The Association has operated in a spirit of family togetherness with other sectors of the University to insure its effective involvement in recruitment, fundraising, image enhancement and other activities of concern for the welfare of our alma mater. The Association has continued to function with strong alumni leadership and with an unbroken line of 24 presidents spanning the years 1878 to 1999. Under the banner of leadership, these presidents were blessed with the support of a viable Association that has kept the concerns of the University as top priority.

Through each decade the Association has continued to focus on student recruitment, fundraising, membership expansion and, more recently, technological innovations. Selected events occurring through these decades to address goals, issues and concerns are:

  • The Alumni Loan Fund ($5,000), established in 1935, providing loans with no interest charges to students
  • The first Hampton Alumni Award, presented to Miss Dorothy Maynor (1933), celebrated soprano, in 1941
  • The founding of the Hampton Institute Parent Involvement Organization in 1965 by Julia Macbeth Green (1943)
  • The founding of the Hampton Boosters in the mid 1960’s by Robert Anderson (1940)
  • Dr. W. Adrian Freeman’s promoting the 1966 Alumni Campaign Fund as a part of the Centennial Fund Campaign to raise $18,000.00 in celebration of Hampton’s 100th birthday in 1968
  • NHAA, Inc. History
  • Anne Laura Roberts Wims was a “Gold Medalist” in the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) “Volunteer of the Year Award”. This was a first for any predominately Black member institution of CASE (1987)
  • Alumni contributions of more than $1 million to Hampton University through the Alumni Giving Campaigns of 1996-97, ’97-’99 and ’98-’99 respectively
  • The inclusion of the National Hampton Alumni Association, Inc. on the “world-wide web”.

To support the concept that fundraising has from the beginning been a major goal of NHAA, Inc., we quote from the minutes of the Triennial Alumni Meeting, 1881:  “On motion it was decided to raise a fund to be devoted to the benefit of a student in Hampton.”  This was the beginning of the idea of raising money to aid students. The idea rapidly grew and expanded into the plan to raise permanent scholarships and funds for other aspects of Hampton’s program. In the last two decades Alumni Endowed Scholarships have rapidly increased and the Alumni Association completed its $5 million Endowed Scholarship Campaign presenting a check for that amount to the University President at the January 1999 meeting of the NHAA, Inc. Board of Directors.

The restructuring of the National Hampton Alumni Association, which involved incorporation, reflected a new era of the Association. The change produced a more inclusive structure with a President, Board of Directors, Alumni Council, Regions, Chapters and the accommodation of Professional Associations, all of which have evolved into the current organizational structure of the Association. The Association consists of seven regions and 104 chapters (74 active) with emphasis on chapter development and revitalization a continuing focus.

To provide the opportunity for Hamptonians to perpetuate their reunions beyond the 50th year, the Emeritus Class was founded and organized in 1974. The class was organized under the guidance of Alphonso Knight (1947) and Dr. W. Adrian Freeman (1922) was the first president. In 1999, under the leadership of Dr. Gladys Hope Franklin White, president, the Emeritus Class contributed in excess of $350,000.00 in alumni giving and in 2000, the Emeritus Class exceeded that number with $516, 295.48.

The National Hampton Alumni Association, Inc. and Hampton University continue their historical partnership. The University is known by its products – the Alumni. In support of the University, the Alumni and their Association, the National Hampton Alumni Association, Inc., provide supportive services such as recruitment, student scholarships, special sponsorship of college groups in respective areas, organization and guidance of parent groups, consulting with University officials, and representing the University at various official ceremonies.

Furthering the programs of the Association and providing an opportunity for more alumni to become involved in the business of the Association, to network professionally and socially and to learn through information sharing and training, the first biennial convention of NHAA, Inc. was held July 1994 in Dedham, MA. The second convention convened in San Antonio, TX in August 1996, the third in Crystal City, VA in 1998 and the fourth convention was held in San Diego, CA in 2000.

The responsibility for the continued welfare of our alma mater rests in a very large measure upon the shoulders of alumni today. Our challenge is urgent and irresistible. Alumni involvement must become more in-depth, more serious, and more self-sacrificing. Working in close unity with the trustees, administration and faculty must continue to be a reality. To this end, unity and action must take on special and meaningful significance to all segments of the Hampton family ensuring that the legacy continues. Quoting our founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, “Hampton must not go down! Hampton must not go down!”


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