Dr. Steven Conrad and Walter Imahara are the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s 2020 Outstanding Alumni.
My fellow alumni and friends of the University,
As my year as Alumni Association president ends, I will finish my year the way I started, feeling blessed and honored to have served you as president of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Alumni Association.
Before the pandemic disrupted our regular operations, the stage was set to execute an innovative plan and serve as president remotely from Atlanta, Georgia. Given the circumstances, I would like to believe that God established the right leadership playbook for a time such as this.
Going against the grain, embracing new norms, and remaining focused on the business at hand were the best courses of action for successful oversight of your Alumni Association. After the departure of the Association's executive director, the Association's executive board moved to appoint an interim director to ensure the stability of alumni affairs. The executive board remained steadfast, seeing this as an opportunity to focus on the Association's growth and sustainability.
The strength of any transitioning organization is the time it takes to look inward, embrace change and set strategy to catapult it to the next level. The executive board began identifying areas for growth and the long-term plans and solutions it will take to reach Alumni Association goals. A strategic plan will be put in place to carry out the Association's mission and serve our alumni worldwide better than ever. It is indeed an exciting and transformative time for your Association.
The Alumni Association also increased the use of digital platforms to stay connected with our alumni globally. Like many organizations in 2020, Zoom became our boardroom and a critical tool for conducting meetings across the organization. Executive board meetings, as well as alumni council meetings, were done virtually and successfully. We also hosted alumni club and chapter town hall meetings that included our chapter in Oman.
Board members attended newly-formed outdoor commencement ceremonies, giving them the distinct honor of welcoming graduating classes into the Alumni Association. Every year the Association awards thousands of dollars in scholarships, and 2020 was no exception, with $144,000 awarded to 72 deserving students.
Many of us may have missed the social gatherings the Alumni Association is known for in the past year. For the second consecutive year, plans were altered for Spring Gala, the Alumni Association's signature fundraising event. However, this allowed us to open auctions online to alumni and friends throughout the world last fall and again during the Alumni Association Celebration this spring. We are hopeful that our Homecoming events and tailgating will return in the fall as we enjoy a new season of Ragin' Cajuns football.
The UL Lafayette Alumni Association is the bridge that connects our graduates to beautiful memories and each other. I invite you to stay engaged and explore ways to participate in volunteer programs. Get involved by becoming a Loyalty Fund member, supporting scholarships, or participating in global engagement initiatives and events hosted by your local club or chapter.
My sincerest thanks to the Association's executive board, staff, and council members, University president Dr. Savoie, volunteers, and everyone who came alongside us to serve and make a difference.
This past year, many of our experiences have included disruption, heartbreak, loss, but hopefully blessed gains as well. I pray that we all seek gratitude and never give up on hope for better days. I am deeply grateful to have been chosen to blaze a new trail in alumni leadership and look forward to being of service for many years to come.
"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth"- Muhammad Ali.
In Ragin' Cajuns pride,
Beverly Black '86
UL Lafayette Alumni Association, 2020-2021
Photo Caption: Beverly Black speaks at the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Reception