Music has always been a core component of alumnus Gerald Guilbeaux’s life.
My fellow alumni,
I feel blessed and honored to serve you as president of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Alumni Association. This is your association and I am committed to leading it with wisdom, integrity and a spirit of collaboration alongside the Alumni Executive Board, University leadership, and the Alumni Council.
The last few months have taken a toll on our alumni family. The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined our sense of normalcy. Our strength has always been in how we engage each other as a community through quality time shared with family and friends. This has also been a season of great loss. Sadly, for me that loss has come with the passing of two of my older sisters who died within five days of each other from complications associated with the coronavirus. Many of you have also lost loved ones and friends, and you have my sincerest condolences. Personally, I would like to thank members of the UL Lafayette alumni family who reached out to me to offer sympathy and support. Uncertain times such as these remind us to remain connected to one another and to offer love and assistance to those in need.
In addition to the pandemic, we have experienced renewed calls for social justice and equality. As a University community, this is an opportunity to remind ourselves of our long history of diversity and inclusion. We were the first University in the South to peacefully integrate in 1954. A lawsuit brought by a number of Black students who wanted to enroll here changed the course of University history. Then known as Southwestern Louisiana Institute, we helped make higher education in the Deep South more equitable and just.
We stand on the shoulders of those students, University leaders and community members who came together and showed how working for causes greater than ourselves lifts up not just one group of people but all of us. Please take time to read and learn about this history, and to follow the example of pursuing social justice with the same persistence and non-violent passion. You can read more here.
Life’s trials provide opportunities for us to grow and adapt. I am focused on ensuring that your association thrives even in difficult times. I’ve conducted a successful virtual board retreat where we discussed creating a strategic plan that will focus on engagement, recruitment, and donor development. We have also added three new standing committees – communication, multicultural engagement, and donor development. If you have an interest in joining any of these committees, please contact the Alumni Association office.
There is a lot of wonderful talent in our big, global alumni family and we need your support to be successful. This goes beyond financial giving to include supporting initiatives such as Cajun Compass, volunteering, or participating in student recruitment.
If you have family members or close friends attending the University, share your personal experiences with them about your own college experiences. Encourage them to become future members of the Alumni Association by getting involved before they graduate. More information can be found here.
Navigating these unchartered waters will require all of us to be intentional, respectful, and kind. I love this quote by the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel: “Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other.”
I am looking forward to a year of service filled with expectations and successful, innovative results.
In Ragin’ Cajuns pride,
Beverly Black, ’86
UL Lafayette Alumni Association, 2020-2021
Photo Caption: Beverly Black attends a 2019 alumni event in New Orleans. (Photo credit: Courtney Bergeron/University of Louisiana at Lafayette)