A founder of the Afro-American Cultural Center unveiled plans for an endowment campaign to create an annual lecture series at the 35th anniversary celebration of the House this weekend.
Craig Foster ’69, who announced the plans during Saturday evening’s gala event, said he hopes to raise $1 million by the spring of 2005 to establish the ORD Memorial Forum to fund an annual debate-style lecture series honoring the memory of and named after House members Donald Ogilvie ’65, Armstead Robinson ’68 and Glenn DeChabert ’70. Administrators said Yale will match funds donated to the campaign by alumni with the stipulation that the University’s money go toward Af-Am House renovations.
University President Richard Levin said the University was eager to help provide a solid foundation for the future of the House.
“The House has demonstrated its value,” he said. “If the House has a future of support from students here and support from alumni, that’s a very good thing.”
Foster said ORD lectures will not only be of interest to the black community, but will transcend race, and participants will “cut across all lines” — racially, politically and socially.
“[The Forum] can become something that’s looked upon as a major forum for the discussion of important issues,” he said.
Assistant Yale College Dean and Afro-American Cultural Center Director Pamela George said the House appreciates the University’s support of future projects and expansions. Yale has already given $500,000 to the House for external renovations of the building.
“Institutional support has increased exponentially,” George said. “The University at large sees it as an organization it should support.”
The University, which agreed to match alumni donations for the May 2002 “Five Years for the House Initiative,” a fundraising campaign to repair and technologically advance the building, also agreed to match donations for the ORD campaign. But, Foster said, matches from the forum donations will continue to go toward the restoration of the House.
Kathleen Cleaver ’84, one of the gala’s keynote speakers who was active in the House as an undergraduate, said the House’s “sophisticated” fundraising campaign is one of many ways the House has changed since the early 1980s. Through the initiative and the forum, she said the House will have a continuous source of funding which bodes well for its future.
“The idea of having an endowment is of maintaining [the House’s] permanence as a feature of Yale,” she said. “The University should continue to develop specific institutions that deal with leadership, [increase] communication with faculty and students, and integrate the New Haven community.”
Organizers of the forum hope the $1 million raised will create a “corpus” providing a continual source of funds for the lecture series, Foster said. While lectures will cost approximately $50,000 annually, the forum will continue to sustain itself by receiving an anticipated 5 percent return on the original investment.
Foster said organizers hope to hold an inaugural lecture this spring. George said the forum will eventually include mentorship and leadership programs which will offer internships and externships for Yale students.
Ralph Labossiere ’05, a House staff member, said he thought a lecture series was a “great idea.”
“It would be interesting to have a larger more school supported lecture series,” he said. “It would be a good opportunity to have a chance to have people who haven’t been exposed to these issues learn about them.”
The ORD Forum will honor the memories of three of the House’s early leaders, who played important roles in the foundation of the House, Foster said.
“[Ogilvie, Robinson and DeChabert] were instrumental in the acquisition of the House and the initiation of the African American Studies Program at Yale,” he said.
The weekend-long celebration attracted more than 300 alumni and included panel discussions and art exhibits. The weekend was also an opportunity for current students to connect with alumni through meet-and-greet events.
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