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winter 2018

Black Alumni Summit

Successful Black Alumni Summit opens communication and builds momentum

When Vickie Muller ’83 stood before the group of nearly 90 black alumni and friends during the Black Alumni Summit on Oct. 23, 2014, she set the tone for the event.

“Today is about conversation,” she said. “We’re here to communicate the fact that we have a vested interest in Wofford College, and we want to ensure that the pathways are open for future students.”

In a single day, they did that and much more.

After hours of listening, talking and claiming Wofford as a crucible for their development into the professionals and civic leaders that they have become, black alumni pledged to support the college financially, develop an enduring black alumni presence on campus and enhance the Wofford experience for all students, especially those in the minority.

“It’s been nearly 20 years since Wofford last sponsored a significant gathering of Black Alumni on campus,” wrote Joyce Payne Yette ’80 in a letter that went out to all black alumni. “Our total population has grown to approximately 646 graduates out of the 45 classes that have matriculated since 1969. … The Summit is intended to be the first step toward developing the plans for achieving our goals.”

The idea of the 2014 Black Alumni Summit started during Homecoming 2013 and the Class of 1983’s 30th reunion. During the weekend, a group of black alumni met for dinner. They shared memories—both good and bad—of their time at Wofford and decided that they wanted to take a more active role in the leadership of the college and the mentorship of current black students.

A year after that first informal gathering, the summit ended with pledges of financial support and a commitment to stay connected to Wofford and each other. 

“We are interested in formalizing something that will impact students and alumni, something sustainable that will impact the fabric of the college. We want to find individual and collective ways to contribute our time, talents and treasures,” said Robert Mickle ’85 as he closed the Summit.

Wofford President Nayef Samhat called the Summit one of the most significant events he has participated in since joining the Wofford community.

“The reception at our home was deeply meaningful, and Prema and I were both moved by the group’s commitment and the announcement of financial gifts to start the 1854 Campaign. It was a marvelous surprise and a joyful way to cap off a memorable and important day.”
For current students, a highlight of the day was the opportunity to meet and share both common and unique experiences with black alumni.

“I want to have more Black Alumni Summits,” says Kaila Washington ’17. “It’s great for us to see black alumni who have graduated and are successful. It gives us something to work toward.”

Groups of black alumni are continuing to meet on a regional basis. If you would like to get involved, please contact Susan Gray, director of donor relations, at 864-597-4200 or

Black Alumni Summit Steering Committee
Ellis Colvin ’83
Joyce Yette ’80
Stanley Porter ’89
Robert Mickle ’85
Vickie Muller ’83
Milton Kimpson ’83
Debora Johnson-Ross ’81
Erin Bradley ’04
Loretta Deaner ’83
David “Buddy” Saunders ’90
Lenoid Best ’92

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89