Colgate’s alumni of color are working alongside University administrators to ensure that current students of color are supported by a community that is continually growing in equity and inclusivity. The Colgate University Alumni of Color Third-Century Endowment Fund provides one example of their joint efforts.
Shevorne Martin ’08 and former trustee Leroy Cody Jr. ’71 founded the fund to mark the University’s Bicentennial, honor alumni of color, and support future generations.
“Alumni of color (AOC) are deeply rooted in Colgate’s rich history. We first wanted to honor their legacy by planting a Bicentennial tree at the 2019 reunion. Conversations then evolved to ways we could provide a long-lasting impact within our Colgate community of color,” explained Martin.
Martin, Cody, and a group of alumni of color launched a campaign to establish a permanent source of funding for inclusive programming. Once active, the fund will support programming offered through the ALANA Cultural Center and the Mosaic Initiative to connect students and alumni of color and provide resources to help students reach their goals.
“The AOC Third-Century Fund will help build a more inclusive and, therefore, more equitable University by tapping into one of Colgate’s most important resources: its dedicated alumni body,” said Ron Burton ’69, a contributor to the fund.
Since its founding, 79 alumni and friends have contributed more than $100,000 to the fund, citing a variety of personal reasons, all centered around a desire for progress.
“During my 25th reunion, I went to a presentation about the history of African American students at Colgate,” recalled Laureen Tews Harbert ’93. “I was deeply moved as Black alumni described their feelings of isolation, of not belonging, of profound struggle, and of harm they suffered while at Colgate. And yet, the power, and the sense of community and passion in the room was palpable. Since then, I have directed my donations to support Black students on campus.”
In founding the fund, Cody says he was inspired by the Bicentennial and Into the Light, a book written by trustee emerita Diane Ciccone ’74, P’10, detailing the history of Black students at Colgate, as well as his own personal journey and perspective gained as a Board of Trustees member at Colgate.
“It is amazing to see the campus now, 50 years after I was a student,” said Cody. “It is so much more diverse in so many ways. Coeducation began in my senior year, and now female students outnumber the men. There are so many more students of color. And through all this change, Colgate has continued to be an elite educational institution. My hope for the University is that it will continue to become more diverse while maintaining its high academic standards, so that students from all backgrounds will be able to come to Colgate and achieve beyond their wildest dreams.”
When Cody entered Colgate as a first-year student in 1967, he was one of less than three dozen Black students on campus. This fall, Colgate welcomed the largest class of students of color in its 200-year history. Self-identified domestic students of color comprise 25%.
University leadership and community are committed to taking deliberate, robust steps to achieve a diverse and equitable Colgate and to combat racism on both the campus and national level. The University’s Third-Century Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan provides a framework for these efforts, and the most recent status update on the plan details progress and next steps.
“These initiatives are of the highest priority for the University,” said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Tracey Hucks ’87, MA’90, who is herself a supporter of the fund. “We view progress on these fronts as foundational to our ability to ascend. The Alumni of Color Third-Century Endowment Fund will help to provide programming that is essential to these pursuits. We are grateful to have so many alumni of color involved in strengthening our community.”
To contribute to the Alumni of Color Third-Century Fund, contact Jennifer Stone at 315-228-6928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Legal Notice: Funds contributed to The Alumni of Color Third-Century Endowed Fund will be used for the purposes described above. Pursuant to New York law, the University will expend so much of the Fund each year as it deems prudent in accordance with Section 553(A) of the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law.