The mission of the BA of ND shall be to enhance the presence and experiences of African Americans across the Notre Dame family -- students, faculty, administration, and alumni/ae.
The Black Alumni of Notre Dame traces its roots to a historic meeting in October 1985 when Fr. Ted
Hesburgh, then University President, invited 25 black alumni back to the University. At the kick-off dinner of this three-day meeting, Fr. Ted asked the group to assist the University in the recruitment and retention
of black students. Multiple sessions involving the administration, faculty and students were then held,
the sum total of which presented a realistic picture of the admissions statistics, recruiting tactics, support
systems and black student life on campus. At the conclusion of the gathering, the alumni drafted a set of seven recommendations which documented what the group saw as the primary issues that the University needed to address relative to the recruitment and retention of black students. Item seven proposed that: "The Notre Dame Alumni Association should formalize a sub-committee of Black alumni to assist the University in:
- increasing the African American student enrollment in both the undergraduate and graduate programs
- enhancing the existing student support mechanisms
- significantly increasing the number of African Americans on the teaching/research faculty and administration"
Of the seven recommendations, only one (regarding the use of merit based scholarships to attract top black scholars) has yet to be implemented. Moreover, in keeping with its leadership traditions, and in response to the last recommendation, the Notre Dame Alumni Association supported and mentored the establishment of Black Alumni of ND as a recognized committee.
Black Alumni of ND was officially founded as a committee of the Alumni Association in June 1989. That weekend hosted the first reunion where over 100 Black Alumni participated in the development and acceptance of its by-laws and election of its first set of officers. Ben Finley '60, Herman Hooten '72 and Richard Ryans '79 are recognized as the founders of Black Alumni of ND. The group adopted the mission to enhance the presence and experience of blacks across the Notre Dame family; alumni/ae, students, faculty and administration. Additional reunions were convened in 1991, 1994, 1997 and 2000. Future reunions will be held triennially with the next one scheduled for 2003.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first African American graduate of Notre Dame, Frazier L. Thompson '47, the Black Alumni of Notre Dame selected 50 African American graduates for recognition as Distinguished Black Exemplars in May 1997. An additional 50 African American graduates were selected as Honorable Mentions.
Under its mission statement, Black Alumni of ND conducts a set of unique programs that have resulted in the establishment of an effective and on-going black alumni network; professional and geographical mentoring for the incumbent student body; provision of ethnic support to local club's Alumni Schools Committee; active recruiting for faculty and administrative job openings; support to graduate school minority student recruiting; and provision of support to the Alumni Association's quest for cultural diversity. Black Alumni of ND is also proud of having served as the benchmark for the establishment and organization of the Hispanic Alumni of Notre Dame and the Asian-Pacific Alumni of Notre Dame.
Black Alumni of ND and its sister minority networks have been organized in recognition and appreciation of the cultural differences that make up our University. Specifically, they recognize the asset value embodied in our differences. When properly cultivated, these differences result in a vibrant, heterogeneous University family whose students and alumni value cultural diversity for the multiple perspectives it offers to our daily business, academic, social and spiritual challenges and to the richness it brings to our lives.
We are ND!