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Alumni Association

Association of Vanderbilt Black Alumni

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AVBA News and Announcements

Building on our legacy
The AVBA Celebrates 30 Years in 2014

Join us this year as we celebrate several milestones in black history at Vanderbilt including the 30th anniversary of AVBA!

1950s and 1960s

1953

Bishop Joseph A. Johnson,BD'54, PhD'58,  became the first African American graduate student to earn a Vanderbilt degree

1964

Eight African American undergraduates enroll at Vanderbilt

1969

The first black faculty members to gain tenure at Vanderbilt

1970s and 1980s

1974

Roslyn Jackson selected as the first black cheerleader at Vanderbilt

1970

Cathy Bender is the first African American female to receive a basketball scholarship

1984

The Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center is dedicated

1984

AVBA founded

1989

Posse Scholarship founded

1990s and 2000s

1994

Rhythm & Roots Founded

1999–2000

Vanderbilt chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. started.

AVBA Scholarship Fund

In October 2009, the Association of Vanderbilt Black Alumni celebrated its 25th anniversary. Gathered together were alumni whose achievements testified not only to their personal ability and character, but also to the quality of a Vanderbilt education. Our nation and the world need more leaders with such ability, vision and character.

The AVBA seeks a greater role in developing this group of alumni at Vanderbilt through the creation of an undergraduate scholarship. Supporting scholarships strengthens the AVBA’s bonds with Vanderbilt. The association already provides a vital link between black alumni and the university, promoting Vanderbilt while also championing the causes of African American students and organizations on campus.

Announcing the first AVBA scholarship

Now, as we celebrate our 30th year, we are delighted to announce that we will award the first AVBA scholarship to a first-year student in the Class of 2018! We couldn’t have done this without your help!

However, the journey doesn’t end here. We still have work to do. We encourage you to make the AVBA the place where you give back, allowing future students to continue the legacy you helped build. Think about your time at Vanderbilt and what an AVBA scholarship would have meant both financially and figuratively to you. Please consider making a donation to the AVBA Scholarship Fund and help pave the way for our future Commodores.

Connect with AVBA

The AVBA meets twice yearly and also plans a number of fun gatherings. We encourage you to get involved. The first steps are:

  • Update your email address to receive invitations to upcoming AVBA events. Visit the online alumni community, or contact Bethany Glass at (615) 322-4405.
  • Join our social media groups by clicking on the icons on the right panel.

How Do I Become a Member of AVBA?

  • All black Vanderbilt alumni are regular members of the AVBA.
  • All black students who attended Vanderbilt University for at least one semester are regular members of the AVBA.
  • Present and former black faculty and staff of Vanderbilt are designated associate members.
  • Any other persons who are interested in and supportive of the purpose of the AVBA are eligible for associate membership, following their recommendation by any regular member of the AVBA.
  • Regular members have voting rights. Only regular members hold elected offices. Associate members may serve on standing and ad hoc committees.

For more information about AVBA, please email Bethany Glass or call (615) 322-4405.

AVBA Wall of Fame

The AVBA Wall of Fame in the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center is a symbol of the success of African American students who contributed to the Vanderbilt community and earned a degree. All graduating seniors and alumni are encourage to submit their name through this form so it will be included on the wall by next Homecoming.


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Current AVBA membership: 3,846


Shared Interest Groups

Upcoming events

AVBA Logo

Jan. 20, 2014

MLK Commemoration Keynote Address with Danny Glover
"Do Justice"

7 p.m.
Check back for a link to the live stream

May 8, 2014

Commencement Event
Black Graduates Recognition Ceremony and Reception

Oct. 9–11, 2014

AVBA 30th Anniversary Celebration during Vanderbilt Reunion/Homecoming
Check your mail and email for a complete list of events during this anniversary celebration

AVBA Photos


AVBA Leadership

WyattPresident - William Wyatt, BE'95

William graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering. He currently works as an independent software consultant in the Workforce Management software industry. While a student at Vanderbilt, William was actively involved with Vanderbilt Voices of Praise, Black Student Alliance and National Society of Black Engineers.


DuncanVice President - Damien Charley, BS'99

Damien graduated from the School of Engineering in 1999 with a B.S. in Engineering Science. Along with playing on the football team he studied abroad at Cambridge University his final semester. Since graduating he has worked for US Bank, Pepsi Co, and The Greater Nashville Church. He's married to the former Christina Penn (BS'96) and they reside in Nashville with their five children.


MaulSecretary - Charity Hemphill Frierson, BA'10

Charity Hemphill-Frierson graduated from Vanderbilt in 2010 with a double major in Communication Studies and Spanish as well as minor in Corporate Strategy. She currently works for the Mayor of Indianapolis where she serves as a financial performance analyst in his Office of Education Innovation. While at Vanderbilt, Charity was a residential advisor and was a mentor through the L.I.F.E. project. She also took advantage of Vanderbilt's study abroad programs in both Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, and London, England.

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