This year was a busier one than anticipated, and I am happy about the progress we made. I attended the Yale Presidents’ Summit in March where I met club presidents from all over the world and reinforced our relationship with the AYA and our representative Bob Bonds. I returned home feeling proud of our club’s traditions and camaraderie, very hopeful for the future. Louisiana – not just New Orleans – stands apart from other regions in that we are an exciting option for young Alumni and growing. The future is bright.
Bulldogs in the Big Easy 2014 was a triumph, again, thanks to Scott Sullivan and Vic Chandhok. We had a swamp tour in Slidell, a ghost tour in the French Quarter, a dinner plus a few get-togethers at Scott Sullivan’s, a party at the Round Table Club, and a city tour led by Richard Campanella, Tulane’s resident celebrity geographer. And we ended the year with the by-now traditional pool party at Nikki Barranger’s on the North Shore – fun for all.
The program remains exceptionally rewarding for the students. Take this quote from one of this summer’s Bulldogs:
I was just really proud of myself for always doing my best work for evacuteer.org that I possibly could because unlike with academics, I felt like the work was directly benefiting someone other than myself – the residents of New Orleans, fellow Louisianans. It just made the whole experience bigger than myself. I hope to take this new zeal for work and channel it back into my academics, so that I can someday use my knowledge learned at Yale to help Louisiana again.
The program is still one that requires our support – financial and personal. If you’ve never been to an event, its time you changed that. Talking to an undergraduate, even for a young buck like me, is a blast. And the more contact these kids – young adults – have with Yalies who live in New Orleans, the more likely they will be to move here! They’re all thinking about it, and the city can only benefit from more of us, right? Right?! Our network here is strong, and all we have to do is show these undergraduates how meaningful a life in New Orleans can be.
Feb Club at the Bulldog in Mid City was a resounding success, thanks to Fran Olivier and Trina Beck. Attendees from as far away as Lafayette and Boston (!) rounded out the over 40 alums in attendance. We debuted the club’s very own authentic Mory’s Cup! The cup’s not yet engraved – suggestions welcome! Don’t forget, we are scheduled for Feb Club 2015 at the Bulldog on Thursday February 26th! Don’t miss it! We need our classicists to please come forward to collaborate on a motto to be engraved on the cup before then.
We also had a small showing of Yale Alumni in attendance at three Yale-LSU baseball games in February at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge. Yale dropped the first two to the Tigers, but we still took home the Sunday game against one of the nation’s best college baseball teams. Not too shabby for a rag tag group of Ivy Leaguers!
We were graced by the Whiffs on the rainiest Mardi Gras in recent memory at Patsy Hunter’s Uptown. A good time was had by all, despite the Whiff’s insistence on showing up three days before Mardi Gras under protest from every one of their contacts here. Many thanks to those members of the club who managed gracious hospitality anyway, especially Rich Look (our tireless Secretary) and Cassandra Sharpe.
We gave out Book Awards in April and May to 6 exceptional high school students. We are looking for a new Book Award Coordinator to double that number (or more!) in 2015. Please contact me if you’re interested in assuming that role. I had the pleasure of presenting 2 awards at assemblies this year and it’s a wonderful experience. The Book Awards are an opportunity to exercise a part our mission we often fall short of, namely, “to promote the welfare and influence of Yale University.” I would like to be able to spend time engaging with more schools to make sure we don’t miss students like the exceptional Leonard Galmon, who graduated from Cohen High School in the Spring. Leonard, Josh Cox (Calhoun ’08), and I had dinner together – he is an exceptionally talented young man who deserved the prize, but whom we missed.
We had a special event with Prospect.3 (or P.3, an international art biennial in New Orleans) in August at the May Gallery, celebrating one of the 5 exceptional Yale artists in P.3, Tameka Norris. The gallery was a bit tough to find, but once we were settled in, Tameka and the Executive Director of P.3, Brooke Davis Anderson, inspired the audience with reflections on their work. We have arranged a tour of the last weekend Prospect.3 on Sunday, January 18th, complete with a tour bus and our own personal docent! There are still a few spots left so please let me know if you are interested. (The tour begins at noon).
Despite our strong showing at Bayou Beer Garden to view The Game, Old Blue couldn’t pull it out against Harvard this year. The Bulldogs looked their best in a decade, but apparently didn’t hear the cheers from the Bayou. The event was a success, though, and we’re already on the books for next year.
We fared much better against Harvard in the annual Hunter Cup softball game this year, winning by a handful of runs. The Crimson didn’t stand a chance after Matt Lindsey, our fearless vice-president, crushed a dinger in the first inning. Matt is the keeper of the Hunter Cup until next fall, when Harvard will surely return with even more ringers.
We are hosting an event with Professor Ryan Brasseaux, Dean of Davenport College and Louisiana native, in April of 2015 as part of the Redpath Speaker Program. Exact details are still being worked out, but please prepare for a great talk (Lagniappe: Ryan used to make me gumbo while I was an undergrad & we’d casually chat about the Cajun diaspora & the value of hot sauce in a New England winter – this guy is for real).
We are also co-hosting an event with the University of Virginia Alumni Association at the Beauregard Keyes House Thursday April 16, 2015. Maurie McInnis, Executive Vice President and Provost of U.Va., will be speaking to our memberships about her work on the history of early history of U.Va. and slavery.
We’ve made some significant enhancements to the governance of the club this year:
We began an initiative to gather accurate contact details on all of our membership. The newly formed membership committee is composed of Fran Olivier, Brandon Rapp, and Rich Look. This is a critically important group that could use a few more helping hands in the next few months. Please contact me if you’re interested in lending a hand.
We have switched to a mass-emailing program which allows us to more easily send emails, track subscribers, and manage our membership contact information. Implementing this platform helped us discover how terrible our current data is.
Our new digital initiatives will allow us to communicate more easily with the membership – present hiccups notwithstanding – and will give our current and potential membership easier, electronic ways to find out about events, view calendars, connect with one another, and pay dues. Of course, we will still accept checks, cash, and barter (items subject to approval). We also have a section of the website dedicated just to Bulldogs in the Big Easy where potential employers as well as students can learn more about the program.
The board revisited our bylaws and reaffirmed our mission:
To strengthen the ties of Yale men and women to Yale University, and to foster friendship and goodwill among all persons interested in the welfare of Yale University.
To promote the welfare and influence of Yale university; to bring Yale to the attention of and within the knowledge and understanding of all persons in the state of Louisiana.
To assist qualified persons to secure a Yale education.
We codified the roles and responsibilities of officers, and began planning a better system for ensuring continuity between officers of the club.
We convened a Young Alumni outreach committee, tasked with the identification and evangelization of the young alumni in town who may not be aware of the Association’s existence. The committee – led by Brandon Rapp ’12, Kelly Payne ’14, and Kate Selker ’11 – has already identified pockets of BOLD (Bulldogs of the Last Decade) Alumni who are here but unaware of any Yale alumni presence in the region.
The Yale Alumni Association of Louisiana is still a 501(c)(3) accepting dues – and we need yours. Please send a check along with the attached form, or pay via our website at http://www.yalelouisiana.com/dues (handled by PayPal and 100% secure).
This year we made great strides towards a better, leaner club that will be, after plenty of hard work, more sustainable and more relevant to a broader swath of our membership. There have certainly been some hiccups, but in failing we’ve discovered where we are weakest and made plans to address those weaknesses. We must remain true to our traditions, but grow to include and connect with the city and our youngest members. Please let me know what you think of what we’ve done and what you think is missing.