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The history of the Lane College National Alumni Association, Inc. is just as notable as the college itself. The institution was founded by Bishop Isaac Lane in 1882 as the Lane Christian Methodist Episcopal Church High School and later became Lane College in 1895. It is over 140 years old and one of seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Tennessee. Even though the first college graduating class was not until 1906, the Alumni Association can trace its roots to 1895, when normal graduates of the institution first organized themselves.

The officers of the first Alumni Association were: Nelson Caldwell Cleaves, President; S.W. Broome, Vice President; Mamie Grimes, Secretary; Fannie Boyce, Corresponding Secretary and Joseph Mims, Treasurer. Alumni held their annual meeting during Commencement weekend when they held an annual banquet and a pilgrimage to Bishop Isaac Lane’s gravesite.

The Alumni Association was engaged in fundraising as early as 1915 when an endowment fund was established with $1,000 from the James Ritchey legacy. Alumni also took the lead in contributing funds for the football stadium (located on campus), furnishings for Smith Hall, Jubilee Hall, and the Kirkendoll Student Union Building.

The first clubs to be organized were Detroit and St. Louis. By 1959, there were eleven clubs organized in the following locations: Jackson, Memphis, Fayette County, and Humboldt Tennessee; Detroit Michigan; Little Rock Arkansas; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; St Louis, Missouri; Indianapolis, Indiana; and New York City. A few years later, a club was organized in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1964, the alumni association was divided into geographical regions with Vice Presidents selected for each region. To date, Regional Vice Presidents continue to be a part of the alumni association.

The Pre-Alumni Club had its beginning on Lane’s campus in 1957 and worked closely with the alumni association in order to stimulate and encourage future alumni at UNCF institutions to begin supporting the annual campaign. The first Pre-Alumni President was Helen Johnson Owens.

During the 60’s, alumni began returning to campus in greater numbers for the Homecoming Celebration and it quickly became thought of as the alumni reunion. The local alumni club initiated the national alumni dance and that tradition continues today.

Over the next several decades the alumni association maintained the activities of a typical alumni association, meeting annually and supporting the college. Today, the Lane College National Alumni Association has 16 chapters around the country. It serves the nearly 10,000 living alumni who reside around the world and hold leadership positions in virtually every profession, and who enjoy the ongoing programs of Lane College. The alumni association’s chief mission is to support Lane College and serve as a vehicle for the College to continue to enrich the lives of its students, alumni, and associates; and unite in an association of men and women with shared educational experiences, interests, and ideals.

The LCNAA, Inc. is not just concerned with the needs of alumni but works to enhance the experience of current students. In 2020, the LCNAA developed a comprehensive strategic plan aimed at supporting our students. As a part of the strategic plan, the alumni association is very intentional about engaging with current students from their freshmen year through graduation, by participating in freshmen orientation, serving as mentors, getting chapters involved with students from their cities and conducting a rite of passage ceremony during graduation for our newest alumni.

The LCNAA supports three student scholarships each year during Honor’s Convocation. In recent years, the LCNAA has made significant contributions to the college. Each year, these include gifts totaling more than $100,000 during homecoming and $10,000 during the Founder’s Day Scholarship Gala.

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