African American Alumni Council Inspires Donations of $7.47 Million for Diversity
(Members of Pitt’s African American Alumni Council—(from left) AAAC President Tony Fountain and his wife, Lark Fountain, and former AAAC President Linda Wharton-Boyd—posed with Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg at the June 21 celebration reception. Photo by Mary Jane Bent)
University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg congratulated African American Alumni Council (AAAC) officers and members at a celebration reception June 21 recognizing their leadership in an unprecedented major gifts campaign to foster diversity at Pitt that inspired more than 1,400 private and institutional donors to give $7.47 million over the past five years for a wide range of diversity initiatives throughout the University.
The campaign’s initial target of $3 million, announced in 2009, was subsequently raised to $5 million, and the fundraising effort has now generated more than double its original goal.
The AAAC is led by a group of volunteer alumni who are dedicated to strengthening the connection of African American alumni to the University and to aiding in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Although the campaign, which was launched in July 2008, has supported more than 130 funds—including diversity scholarships, faculty chairs, program endowments, and other support mechanisms—the AAAC members have been especially committed to those funds that provide financial assistance to students from diverse backgrounds.
“We are very grateful for the commitment and leadership provided by African American Alumni Council former president Linda Wharton-Boyd (A&S ’72, ’75G, ’79G), who laid the groundwork for this campaign; current president Tony Fountain (A&S ’70); original campaign chair Doug Browning (A&S ’72); and current campaign cochairs Louis Kelly (EDUC ’77, ’78G) and Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew (NURS ’76, MED ’94), whose combined efforts to foster diversity have made an important contribution to the University’s continuing progress,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “The generosity of the many AAAC members who contributed to scholarships has provided essential funding to attract, support, and retain talented, diverse, and highly qualified students to the University of Pittsburgh.
“It is moving to think about the lives of impact and achievement that these scholarship students will be able to craft because of this generosity. On behalf of the entire University community—including, in this case, members of that community who have not even been born yet but who will be the direct beneficiaries of the council’s hard work and generosity—I wish to convey our gratitude,” Chancellor Nordenberg added. “Council members have been engaged in the noble process of enabling others to use the power of higher education to build better individual lives and to build a better society. That is quite a powerful combination.”
Fountain, who is a senior vice president of business opertions for URS Corporation, and his wife, Lark, have made a $100,000 commitment to fund a scholarship for students in Pitt’s College of General Studies. The scholarship honors Tony Fountain’s father, Morris Fountain, who, through his strong work ethic and commitment to higher education, worked at Pitt as a custodian while earning a master’s degree in education.
“Surpassing this campaign goal underscores a desire on the part of our alumni to not only give back to the University that provided the foundation for their own professional accomplishments, but to also give forward to students today so that they too will one day achieve their dreams and goals,” said Fountain.
Ludwick “Luddy” (A&S ’66, EDUC ’68) and Barbara (EDUC ’66, ’69G, ’78G) Hayden are among the earliest and most generous supporters of the AAAC campaign. In 2009, they established the Ludwick and Barbara Hayden Scholarship Fund, a pace-setting gift that continues to be an influential example of commitment to the AAAC’s campaign. Luddy Hayden is a former AAAC Distinguished African American Alumni Award winner and the president and founder of the consulting firm Luddy Hayden and Associates.
The Fountains and the Haydens, like many of the members of the AAAC, have also supported the AAAC Endowed Scholarship Fund, which was originally established in 1997 to support students from underrepresented populations in financial need who maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 and which to date has provided financial assistance to 28 undergraduate and graduate students from disciplines across the University.
The AAAC has encouraged alumni, friends, and members to support the AAAC Endowed Scholarship Fund as well as two other priority funds that will provide financial assistance to students: the Bebe Moore Campbell Scholarship Fund and the Jack L. Daniel Endowed Book Award.
Created in 2007, the Bebe Moore Campbell Scholarship Fund memorializes Pitt alumnus Bebe Moore Campbell (EDUC ’71), who passed away owing to complications from brain cancer on Nov. 27, 2006. The fund honors her professional achievements as a nationally acclaimed journalist, playwright, and author of nine books, three of which were New York Times bestsellers. She received a degree in elementary education from Pitt, was a schoolteacher, and served as a prominent spokesperson for race relations. In June 2005, she was elected to serve on Pitt’s Board of Trustees.
The Jack L. Daniel Endowed Book Award, which was established in 2007 to honor Distinguished Service Professor of Communication Jack L. Daniel, has received support from 38 donors. A Pitt alumnus (A&S ’63, ’65G, ’68G) and the University’s former vice provost for undergraduate studies and dean of students, Daniel was a Pitt student leader during the 1960s. In 1969, he and Hayden, who was then an assistant dean, played key roles in advocating the student Black Action Society’s interests to then-Chancellor Wesley W. Posvar.
Daniel, who has been a dedicated member of the AAAC steering committee, says that he is proud of the strides the University has made toward a more inclusive educational climate and voices his conviction that the AAAC scholarship funding will continue to work to improve diversity on all five Pitt campuses.
“The success of the AAAC campaign is an especially noteworthy example of an African American alumni group partnering with a historically white university for the purpose of advancing institutional goals,” said Daniel. “That partnership gives me great confidence in the future of this University. It is positive proof that we shall become all that we can be at Pitt. And lately I find myself humming, ‘It is well, it is well, with my soul.’”
The University’s Building Our Future Together capital campaign, which concluded on June 30, 2013, has exceeded its $2 billion goal and is the largest and most successful fundraising initiative in the history of Western Pennsylvania. More information about making gifts to diversity initiatives or other worthy causes at Pitt is available by calling 412-624-5800 or going to www.giveto.pitt.edu.
On the Freedom Road
Follow a group of Pitt students on the Returning to the Roots of Civil Rights bus tour, a nine-day, 2,300-mile journey crisscrossing five states.
Day 1: The Awakening
Day 2: Deep Impressions
Day 3: Music, Montgomery, and More
Day 4: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Day 5: Learning to Remember
Day 6: The Mountaintop
Day 7: Slavery and Beyond
Day 8: Lessons to Bring Home
Day 9: Final Lessons