Forming an alumni association was put into action in October 1972 when P. Vernon Armbrester, Assistant to the Dean and a 1951 graduate, sent a letter to the alumni of the college that indicated the desire to create such an organization. There were 3,000 invitations for expressions of interest mailed out with a total of 375 returned and 340 interested in the idea of forming such an association. In January, 1973, a meeting was held to discuss the possibilities and plans for forming and alumni association. There were thirteen people present for this meeting, and they concluded the meeting by creating two initial committees – Constitution & Bylaws and Program/Social Committees. Minutes written from one of the very first alumni meetings (February 20, 1973), reflect the success in the birth of the alumni association as there were fourteen people present and an established agenda for the creation of the by-laws for the association.
Initially it was with the monetary contributions of six men who shared the interest and intent to construct an organization to promote interest, guidance, and support for the college and to renew and promote friendship among the college’s alumni that made the association possible. The first public meeting for further development of the association was set for May 18, 1973, and approximately ninety college alumni and friends were present.
It was not long after the first few meetings that the first constitution and by-laws were drafted, and they were officially adopted one year after the first meeting on May 18, 1974. Charter members of the alumni association are considered those who have paid their dues on or before June 30, 1974. The first president of the Alumni Association was James S. Bennett, class of 1942, who served three consecutive terms (73-74, 74-75, 75-76). The very first alumni officers (1973-1974) consisted of President James S. Bennett; Vice President, Luther “Pete” Hartley; Secretary, P. Vernon Armbrester; and Treasurer, Blaine Beeghly. There were an additional six members who served on the board of directors during this term: J. Kenneth McDonald, Clem Teets, Kevin Britton, Issac Fetty, Carl Thomas, and Sherman Beard. At the time, the Dean of the college was R.S. Dunbar, and he took an active role in the formation of the association by reviewing the goals and objectives of the alumni association.
First row, seated left to right: James Bennett, Blaine Beeghley, Vernon Armbrester. Second row, standing, left to right: L.S. Hartley, I.N. Fetty, Sherman Beard and Clem Teets. Picture from an article printed pg. 5 in the Sun. Exponent-Telegram, Clarksburg, W. Va., Dec. 23, 1973.
As most of the alumni of the college are aware, throughout the years, the name of the organization has changed several times to match the changing name of the college. Along with the name changes of the college, the Alumni Association has had a number of new additions to their program such as special awards and recognition for members who have made a difference in the agricultural community. On January 24, 1985, the association became incorporated with one hundred thirty life members.
Our Association recognizes the achievements of its members who have met a certain criteria to be identified as an award recipient of Distinguished Alumni, Young Distinguished Alumni, and an Honorary Lifetime Member. In addition, the Alumni Association has developed a scholarship program and has given out scholarships to deserving students since 1985. The first Distinguished Alumnus award was presented in 1977 to Harry C. Trelogan. The Young Distinguished Alumnus award was first presented in 1995 to Connie Chico Merandi. The first member to be recognized as an Honorary Lifetime Member was Mrs. Clem (Ruth) Teets in 1974. There have been thirty-six scholarships distributed since 1985, when the Association began to give two scholarships per academic year starting in year 1999.
As the Association grew, they began to form and implement new ideas, one of which was to sponsor a “High School Day” BBQ (also recognized as “College Awareness Day”) for junior and senior high school students and first year college freshmen and their parents to have the opportunity to meet alumni and supporting members. This gave the students an opportunity to learn more about the college and what it had to offer. The first barbeque was held on Saturday October 31, 1981. This was something the Alumni Association continued until November 2004. Even though there is no longer a “High School Day,” the Alumni Association still takes part in a variety of college events. Examples of events the Alumni Association has been known to sponsor or participate in include:
- Two $1,000 student scholarships
- Trophies for the Block & Bridle Little Eastern Livestock Show
- Sponsorship of the Davis College Winter and Spring Convocation Receptions
- Awards to the Outstanding Divisional Seniors
- The Distinguished Alumni Awards
- The Young Distinguished Alumni Awards
- Association Newsletters
The history still runs through the veins of the operation as we look back to find details such as—all (13) of the 1929 graduating class became members of the Alumni Association. Encouragement to do the same was placed on other graduating classes to follow. Our younger generations of Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design graduates have a strong line of leaders in front of them, and they are encouraged to take after our founders’ example of determination which led them to the successful birth of our Alumni Association.
- by Jaclyn Hoover
written for the December 2010 Alumni Association newsletter