Over the years, I have learned that some Carolina alumni continue to carry with them — and to impart to others — myths about our Alumni Association. I want to share with you a few of the most frequently repeated misunderstandings:
The General Alumni Association cares only about raising money for UNC. It is true that in 1952 the GAA started Alumni Annual Giving and that Alumni Secretary J. Maryon “Spike” Saunders ’25, who held that post from 1927 to 1970, also was the first director of AAG. However, the GAA quickly turned over AAG to the University. It also is true that the GAA raised more than $12 million for the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. However, it is the University’s central development office and Carolina’s school-based foundations that are responsible for raising the much-needed private support for Carolina. We join our development colleagues from across the campus in celebrating the record-breaking $130-plus million raised in the past academic year. We believe that our GAA records, publications, clubs, reunions and many other programs provide the essential foundation for this continuing success. However, the GAA is a dues-based organization. Alumni annual dues began at $1 and were first collected more than 100 years ago.
The GAA serves only “former students” who no longer attend Carolina. Unfortunately, this was largely true for too long. But in 1980, Alumni Secretary Clarence Whitefield ’44 convinced the GAA Board of Directors to form the Order of the Bell Tower as the official student alumni association. In addition, our student membership program began in 1995. The GAA knows that it is the experience students have while at Carolina that determines whether they will be active alumni. We offer a wide range of student programs and have been encouraged by the enthusiasm of Carolina students to participate in GAA programs. (To receive a brochure describing our many student programs, please contact Anita Walton ’92 at (919) 962-3582 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Anita also can provide you details on how you can purchase a student membership-just $15 for your son or daughter, granddaughter or grandson, or nephew or niece.)
Only members of The Carolina Club may use the facilities in the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. We are delighted that more than 3,600 alumni, UNC faculty and staff, and friends of Carolina have become members of The Carolina Club, and we receive daily compliments about what a wonderful addition to the University community the Club has been. However, more than 14,000 alumni, faculty, staff and friends of Carolina made gifts ranging from $5 to $3.5 million to build and furnish what is viewed by many as among the finest alumni centers in the country. We have a number of public rooms that are available to visiting alumni. Among these is the Koury Library, which has all copies of the Yackety Yack, bound volumes of the Carolina Alumni Review dating to its first issue in 1912, and books by UNC faculty and Carolina alumni. (You may take a virtual tour of the Alumni Center by accessing the GAA web pages at alumni.unc.edu.)
Only Carolina alumni may become dues-paying members if the GAA. The GAA welcomes membership from Carolina faculty and staff who are not UNC alumni as well as friends of Carolina. Presently, we have more than 3,000 non-alumni members who receive this magazine and are active participants in one or more of our GAA programs. (During this holiday period, you may wish to consider giving a Carolina fan who may not have attended Carolina a membership in the GAA. For details, please call Diane Padgett ’91 or Glenn Gillen ’88 at’ 1-800-962-0742 or reach them by e-mail at membership@ unc.edu.)
Carolina’s class reunions and local Carolina Clubs are run by the GAA or the University. From the beginning, with the first Carolina reunion in 1843 and the first local club meeting in 1880, Carolina reunions and local clubs have been volunteer-led. There was no full-time GAA staff until 1922, and even then the staff consisted only of the alumni secretary, Dan Grant ’21, and a secretary. The GAA staff provides needed logistical support by coordinating mailings, developing enrichment programming, and providing advice and guidance. However, with more than 673 GAA-sponsored programs in 1997 involving more than 31,000 Carolina alumni and friends, we; depend heavily on volunteers to lead our local clubs and reunions. (If you would like to become more active with your class or affinity group reunion, please contact Laura Cartner ’93 at (919) 962-7053 or by e-mail at laura_cartner@ unc.edu; if you would like to assist your local Carolina Club, please contact Linda Rainey ’95 (MA) at (919) 962-3576 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Who really knows where myths are created? Working together, we can shed light on our Alumni Association and our history for the advancement of our University.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70