President Roderick J. McDavis and awardees

President Roderick J. McDavis stands with the 2014 Trailblazer Award winners: Patricia Ackerman and Ralph Hopper. The award recognizes EBN pioneers for their boldness and forward-thinking.

Photo courtesy of: Ron Woodson

Cecil Walters and Tiera Evans

Cecil Walters, director of the Office of Multicultural Access & Retention (OMSAR), CHSP 2013 graduate and former Urban Scholar Tiera Evans reconnect at the Ebony Bobcat Network Alumni Weekend in Cleveland, Ohio.

Photo courtesy of: Ron Woodson

Dinner with 12 Strangers

Kelly Perez prepares for the Dinner with 12 Strangers event held for the first time this year at EBN. The event has previously been held during the Black Alumni Reunion, and is a networking opportunity for alumni and current students.

Photo courtesy of: Ron Woodson

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Ebony Bobcats celebrate “Trailblazers,” give to Urban Scholars

Philanthropic Ohio University black alumni gathered in Cleveland, Ohio, for the Ebony Bobcat Network’s (EBN) 4th Annual Alumni Weekend from Aug. 14-17 to reconnect, raise funds in support of OHIO’s Urban Scholars Scholarship and recognize those among them who have paved the way for their fellow Bobcats.

The EBN Scholarship Gala drew the largest attendance of any of the weekend’s activities. Hilton Smith, Cleveland NAACP president, delivered the keynote address during the Gala.

The Ebony Bobcat Network Urban Scholars Endowment was heavily promoted throughout the weekend, raising $16,030.35 from the Ebony Bobcat Network and $13,533.80 from The Soulful Bobcats to total nearly $30,000 in support of OHIO’s Urban Scholars Scholarship, a need-based scholarship program that benefits graduates of Ohio’s urban school districts.

Also at the Gala, two distinguished alumni received the 2014 Trailblazer Award for their boldness and forward-thinking: Patricia Ackerman, 1966 alumna of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Ralph Hopper, 1963 Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education alumnus.

EBN established the award to recognize those who “set the bars for others who will follow behind them,” Connie Lawson Davis, 1967 graduate of The Patton College and vice president of EBN, said. “They are pioneers who prepare the way to something new.”

Patricia Ackerman, a retired public school educator, has assisted with several Ohio University initiatives including the establishment of the Urban Scholars and Appalachian Scholars Programs, and is the founder of the African American Alumni Heritage Wall in Templeton Blackburn Memorial Auditorium. The library in the Multicultural Programs Office in Baker University Center is named after Ackerman.

The second recipient, Ralph Hopper, is a retired recreation/activity therapy administrator and correctional officer for both medium and maximum security facilities. Hopper is the past president of the Dayton alumni Chapter, has served on the Ohio University Alumni Association Board of Directors, and is a founding member of EBN.

“Thank you, this honors me,” Hopper said. “Most of us here are trailblazers, with our families, with our kids, and especially for those folks who came through OU in the 50s, 60s and 70s. For those of us who were there, it was a different feel… We were a real tight group. As trailblazers, we paved the way for those who would come after us. Although we are where we are now, we continue to reach back and to do what we can, while we can.”

The weekend began with a wine-tasting reception and book signing featuring Carl H. Walker, 1956 graduate of the Patton College of Education and author of Soulful Bobcats: Experiences of African American Students at Ohio University, 1950-1960. Weekend events also included Conversations With Your Decade, a Dinner With 12 Strangers at Habachi Grill, and the annual “Sip and Soul” Show Your Colors Dance.

“This undertaking was very ambitious of EBN. The 2013 [Black Alumni Reunion] BAR was the impetus for an extended EBN Annual meeting,” said Tyrone Carr, who works in OHIO’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. “Generally, there are two events over 24 hours: a Friday night Sip-and-Soul and a business meeting over breakfast on Saturday. Everyone worked hard to put together four or five major events over a three day period. This created some wonderful experiences for alums from all decades, current students as well as future Bobcats.”