The Bennett College National Alumnae Association (BCNAA) is a finalist for National Alumni Association of the Year in a contest sponsored by The HBCU Digest, an online magazine that caters to the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Bennett is competing against Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama, North Carolina Central University in Durham, Spelman College in Atlanta and Texas Southern University in Houston for the award.
The HBCU Awards are the first and only national awards ceremony honoring individual and institutional achievement at HBCUs throughout the country. Winners are selected by a panel of previous winners, journalists, HBCU executives, students and alumni for the merit of accomplishment and for generating positive coverage for HBCU campus communities.
HBCU Digest Founder Jarrett Carter, Sr. said Bennett College’s National Alumnae Association was nominated by someone who touted the amount of money the Association has raised during the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30.
According to records, Bennett Alumnae have raised over $1.5 million with one month left in the fiscal year.
“It is quite an honor to be nominated for our efforts and to be a finalist among HBCU alumni associations,” said BCNAA President Gwendolyn Mackel Rice ’61. “Bennett Belles have, for many years, demonstrated their love and support for their alma mater and are consistently ranked among the top HBCUs in alumni giving.”
For the past several years, in rankings by U.S. News & World Report, Bennett has placed second or third in HBCU giving. While the national average for alumni giving at HBCUs hovers around a dismal 11 percent, Bennett Alumnae nearly triple that by giving back at a rate of 32 percent – a figure that’s approaching 40 percent this year.
Audrey Demps Franklin ’72, Bennett’s executive director of Alumnae Relations, said she is proud of the way her sisters have stepped up to the plate this year to strongly support the Institution.
“Bennett women have truly dug deep this year to give to the College at extraordinary levels,” Franklin said. “And many of them have given without being asked. I always expect contributions to pour in during Alumnae Weekend, which coincides with Commencement Weekend, and as we approach June 30th, but this year Bennett Alumnae have given consistently since July 1 of last year when the fiscal year began. I’m extremely proud of my Bennett sisters for the way they have evidenced their commitment to Bennett this year.”
Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins echoed sentiments expressed by Rice and Franklin, saying she has never seen such a strong support system at an HBCU.
“When we ask Bennett Belles to come through for us they always do,” Dawkins said. “Since the day I came to Bennett as provost back in 2015 and, especially once I became president, I have been impressed with just how much Bennett Belles love their alma mater. I’m happy that Bennett’s most deserving Alumnae Association is being recognized in this way.”
The 2018 HBCU Awards will be held on June 22 at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel. The event begins at 6 p.m., and Dawkins, Rice and Franklin will attend along with the BCNAA Fund Raising Chair, Maxine Womble Bakeman ’62, and BCNAA officers from the Baltimore area.
North Carolina HBCUs secured 25 finalist spots in this year’s balloting, the most ever for one state in the eight-year history of the awards gala, Carter said.
Win or lose, Rice said she’s proud of the Association she leads for being named a finalist.
“More recently, as new strategies are implemented to engage more Alumnae with the College and in the National Alumnae Association, we are giving more and exceeding our goals,” Rice said. “We deeply appreciate this finalist nomination and will use it as an incentive to continue excelling as an Alumnae Association.”