Five Events HBCU Alumni Should Attend This Fall…

…that aren’t homecoming.

…that aren’t homecoming.

By: Jarrett Carter Sr. and Crystal A. deGregory, PhD

We regularly criticize each other for spending hundreds of dollars at homecoming, but not sending that money in to support endowments or scholarships. And partially, that may be true — HBCUs typically have between 2,000 and 5,000 people donating between $2-$5 million annually per institution, which pales in comparison to the 5,000–20,000 people who can show up on a campus during a weekend in October.

The truth is that we give to causes which personally resonate within each of us. For some, that’s our schools. For others, it’s our church, fraternities or sororities, or other charitable causes. There will always be an argument that HBCUs should be at the top of the black charitable food chain, because giving to them helps to create jobs for community members, create wealth for graduates, and to create strength for black political causes.

But enough of trying to shade or shame black college alumni into giving. They either are motivated to give or they are not, and very few things could convince them to do otherwise. But information is a key element to changing a mind or a heart. And annually, there are key events that black college alumni should attend beyond homecoming to get a broader sense of how our schools operate, fail and succeed in a variety of contexts.

Five of the must-attend events are:

5. The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Annual Conference — If you ever wanted to see the largest gathering of HBCU presidents and chancellors, and to hear about the ways the federal government works to support HBCUs (or falls short of the goal), this annual fall conference in Washington D.C. is the place to gather a very unique perspective.

4. Annual National Alumni Association Conference — Sometimes this meeting takes place during homecoming week, so you’ll get a pass for this one. But outside of that, its essential for HBCU alumni to attend the biggest convening of graduates, to get a perspective on just how much money is being raised to support an institution, how that work impacts corporate support, and the student lives which are changed as a result.

3. Fourth Annual HBCUstory Symposium — A conference linking the history and tradition of HBCUs to contemporary campus issues of leadership, diversity, sexuality, athletics and development, the conference has emerged as the nation’s best convening for scholarly exchange on HBCU research and culture.

2. The National HBCU Pre-Law Summit — The only national pre-law event created to address the unique issues and concerns of students and graduates of historically Black colleges and universities interested in going to law school and becoming lawyers.

  1. The fall meeting of your HBCU’s Board of Trustees — Seemingly, this would be self explanatory. But if you’ve never attended a meeting or participated in public session, it’s hard for you to tell anyone else what your school and its leadership is or is not doing effectively.