University of Georgia Alumni Launch 1961 Club to Support Undergraduate Student Scholarships

February 1, 2018

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Members of University of Georgia’s Alumni Association have launched the 1961 Club, a giving campaign to support the institution’s Black Alumni Scholarship Fund. The Club aims to provide more need-based student scholarships while engaging the black alumni community.

The formation of the 1961 Club is part of a larger ongoing effort to recruit and retain African American students at the University of Georgia. According to a 2016 Hechinger Report analysis, African American students make up only seven percent of the student body despite comprising 34 percent of high school graduates in the state. It can be intimidating and isolating to be part of such a small minority on campus, but increasing the number of scholarships and support from active, engaged alumni may go a long way to help offset those feelings.

Students had the chance to meet and network with black alumni in Atlanta Jan. 9 at the 1961 Club’s launch event, “On the Shoulders of Giants.”

Students and Alumni at the “On The Shoulders of Giants” networking and 1961 Club launch. Seated on right is Dr. Mary Frances Early, (MMED ’62, EDS ’71), the first black graduate at UGA. Photo by Cerille Nassau.

According to Orobosa Idehen, a second year student and recipient of a Black Alumni Scholarship, the chance to connect with alumni has provided “a better and brighter idea of life after graduation.”

“I have the opportunity to speak with people who have been in my shoes- who lit the path that I am currently navigating, and it is extremely motivating. They are always reaching out to connect me with UGA graduates in my interest field. Through them, I see that I can accomplish the same things and yet, they still encourage me to reach higher and strive for greater success!” she told Higher Education Today. Idehen is majoring in health promotion and minoring in French and global health.

Both the 1961 Club’s name and the founding date are significant: they commemorate the desegregation of the university, which took place on Jan. 9, 1961, when the first two African American students registered for classes. This was a historic moment that prompted other higher education institutions in the Deep South to follow suit. To further mark the date, monthly donations of $19.61, or a one-time gift of $196.10 or $1,961 are encouraged.

—Carly O’Connell

At a Glance

ACE Member Institution: University of Georgia

Initiative: The 1961 Club: Donations benefit the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund, which grants $1,000 scholarships to freshmen students who exhibit “dedication to racial equality through previous experience, initiative, and creativity in improving race relations in the community.” The students also receive invitations to alumni affairs and multicultural events, and can renew the scholarship for up to three years as long as they maintain a 3.0 GPA.


  • Removing barriers and opening doors for students
  • Increasing the number of scholarships awarded annually
  • Supporting the mission of UGA Black Alumni to help retain students to completion of their degree

Become a member: As a member of ACE, you join nearly 1,800 organizations that collectively promote, protect and advocate for students, faculty and administrators in higher education. ACE is the most visible and influential higher education association in the nation, and we are at the center of federal policy debates concerning legislation that affects campuses across the country. See more on the ACE website.

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