Bowdoin College Black Alumni Association
CONSTITUTION OF THE BOWDOIN COLLEGE BLACK ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
PROLOGUE: The Bowdoin College Black Alumni Association (hereinafter BCBAA” or “Association”) is founded in recognition of the impact that Bowdoin College and its faculty, students and staff have had upon our personal lives and that of our children, nation and world. We also recognize the pioneering social justice work of the first Black graduate of Bowdoin, John Brown Russwurm.
Russwurm was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica in 1799 and was brought to Portland, Maine by his father John Brown Russwurm, Sr. He matriculated at Hebron Academy before enrolling at Bowdoin in 1824. A member of the class of 1826, he gave a commencement address on the Haitian Revolution. Upon graduation, he moved to New York City where he formed the first Black owned and operated newspaper in the United States, Freedom’s Journal.
In 1829, he immigrated to Liberia, West Africa where he served as Superintendent of Education and edited The Liberia Herald in Monrovia. Later, he served as Governor of Cape Palmas Colony. In 1851, he transitioned to be with the ancestors and his body is interned in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.
This Association is guided by Russwurm’s commitment to the African diaspora, and the ideals of academic achievement, African liberation, and social justice.
VISION STATEMENT: To champion the flourishing of the African diaspora via engagement in social justice, cultural preservation and artistic expression, economic empowerment and viability, and ecological responsibility and leadership in association with all persons and entities earnestly so pre-dispositioned.
I-1: MISSION STATEMENT
Our Association will strive to correct the historic wrongs against people of the African Diaspora and obviate the inequities experienced by the Black community of Bowdoin College. We will provide and promote effective leadership regarding the well-being of the Association’s members, as well as the students, faculty, and staff of Bowdoin College and the greater common good of the African diaspora.
This endeavor will be accomplished through education, mentoring, advocating, pro bono initiatives, business development, and community building.
Membership in the Association shall be open to any person of African descent who matriculated at Bowdoin College. Each member shall have one vote on matters that pertain to the affairs of the Association. Students may be affiliate members, that is non-voting members, with all of the other rights and privileges of participation.
II-1: The Association is an internal alumni association of Bowdoin College.
The purpose of Association is to support and advance the mutually beneficial goals and objectives of Black Alumni of Bowdoin College.
III-1: PLACE OF MEETINGS
The Association will have three (3) General Membership meetings a year, preferably October, February and June, yet meetings of the Association may be held at such place, either within or outside of the State of Maine as may be determined from time to time by the Council. The Council may, at its sole discretion, determine that the meeting shall not be held at any place, but may instead be held solely by means of remote communications or combined remote/in person meetings. All meetings will be governed by Roberts Rules of Order unless expressly excepted by a quorum of attendees at such meeting.
III-2: ANNUAL MEETINGS
The Annual Meeting of Association, for the purpose of seating of the Coordinating Council and for such other business as may come before it, shall be held on such date and at such time as may be designated from time to time by the Council. This will usually be the October general membership meeting. A quorum for the Annual Meeting shall be deemed to be one half of the Association’s voting membership.
II-3: SPECIAL MEETINGS
Special meetings of the Council may be called, for any purpose or purposes, by (1) President of the Council, (2) or the Council pursuant to a resolution adopted by Council members representing a quorum of the Council.
- If a special meeting is petitioned by any person or persons other than the Council, the request shall be in writing, specifying the general nature of the business proposed to be transacted and shall be delivered personally or sent by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested or other facsimile transmission to the President of the Council or the Clerk/Secretary.
III-4: VOTING RIGHTS
- Each member of BCBAA shall be entitled to a vote at a meeting of members, or to express consent or dissent to Council action without a meeting and may authorize another person or persons to vote for in their stead by proxy, but such proxy shall be voted or acted upon within one year of its date. To be a voting member a member must have attended at least two of the last 4 consecutive Association meetings.
- If a quorum exists, action on a matter (other than the election of Council members) is approved if the votes cast favoring the action exceed the votes cast opposing the action. The Council members shall be elected by a plurality of the votes cast by members entitled to vote in the election (provided a quorum exits).
IV-1: COORDINATING COUNCIL
The governance of the Association shall vest in a Coordinating Council that is elected biennially by members. The Council shall consist of up to twenty-four members selected in such a manner as to insure representation from diverse classes and gender. A quorum for the Coordinating Council shall be deemed to be two thirds of its membership. The Coordinating Council will meet every other Month starting with the Annual Meeting.
The business and affairs of the Association shall be managed by or under the direction of the Coordinating Council.
IV-3: NUMBER AND TERM OF OFFICE
Up to twenty-four Council Members shall be elected by the members of Association. The initial members of the Coordinating Council will be elected at least 30 days prior to the 1st Annual Meeting and seated at such meeting. Subsequent elections will be held 30 business days prior to the Annual Meeting and seated at the Annual Meeting. All members shall be entitled to vote at the annual meeting, or by proxy. Each Council Member shall be elected for a term of two years until his or her successor shall be elected and qualified or until his or her earlier resignation or removal. There will be two representatives from every 5 years selected/elected by the alumni within said bands e.g. 65-69,70-74, 75-79 etc.
All members of the Council must serve on at least one of the Association’s Standing Committees.
Any vacancies in the Coordinating Council occurring by death, withdrawal, removal, disqualification, inability to act and/or serve, or resignation shall be filled by the majority of Council Members then in office. Any Council Member may resign at any time by giving written notice to the Council or the Clerk/Secretary. Any replacement of a Council Member should be with a representative from the same 5-year band as the member replaced.
Any Council Member may be removed from office at any time for cause by the affirmative vote of a majority of the Council Members or a vote of no confidence by their electing time band cohort.
The Council, by resolution may create one or more committees, each consisting of one or more Council Members and members of the Association. Each such committee shall serve at the pleasure of the Council.
A quorum of each committee for conducting any and all of its business shall be one half of its membership. Each Committee will meet every other month. Each committee will have a Chair who will be responsible for establishing the meeting agenda, conducting the meeting and assuring that meeting minutes are prepared and disseminated to the committee members. The Chair shall send said minutes to the Sec’y of the Council. Each Committee will annually elect its Chair at the Annual Membership Meeting and may elect to also have a co-Chair to serve in lieu of the Chair should the Chair not be able to do so for any particular meeting.
IV-7: STANDING COMMITTEES
In addition to committees so established by the Council, the following standing committees shall carry out responsibilities that serve and benefit the Association:
A. BBAO Role in Society
A. Community Service
B. Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee; and Mentorship Committee
• Care Packages
• Fundraising (in collaboration with the Bowdoin Office of Development)
• A formal liaison (rotational position) with Black student groups (i.e. Black Student Union)
• Championing the Mellon-Mays program at Bowdoin
• Professional Development (fireside chats, workshops, panels, etc.)
C. Diversity, equity, and inclusion liaising with the College
• Reviews the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion activities of the College with a particular focus on how the strategy, plans, and initiatives address and focus on the Black diaspora members of the Bow-doin Community and Bowdoin ecosphere
D. Co-sponsorship committee (e.g., the committee that liaises with reunion committee, alumni council, career services, etc.)
• Black Men’s Forum, formerly led by Benjamin Harris
• BMAN – Bowdoin Multicultural Alumni Network
• Black Girl Brunch (BGB)
• Black Alumni Directory
• LinkedIn Group: B.I.N.D (Bowdoin's Initiative for Network Diversity)
E. Event planning committee (one for each big event)
• Support sustained Black unity on campus
• Promote Black Bowdoin Alumni Pride
• Regular calendar of events including a marque annual event o Induction/welcome ceremony for new alumni during their senior week
• One-year commitment from everyone who volunteers to serve on this committee
• All media: external/internal facing communications, digital/electronic, Newsletters and/or direc-tory compilation
• A robust online platform/directory with complete info including hometown, resume, current city and contact info. Also, functionality to include highlighted stories.
• an email listserv
• Receive updates and information from the College pursuant to current and/or ongoing racist events/activities occurring on the campus
At the first meeting of the Coordinating Council following their election, the Council shall select the following officers: President, Vice President, and Clerk/Secretary. The Council may assign such additional titles to one or more of the officers as it shall deem appropriate.
V-2: TENURE AND DUTIES OF OFFICERS
All officers shall hold office for a two-year term, be eligible for one consecutive term and serve at the pleasure of the Council and until their successors shall have been duly elected and qualified, unless sooner removed.
- The President will have overall responsibility and authority for management and operations of the Association, will preside at the meetings of the Council and Association and shall ensure that all resolutions of the Council are implemented.
- The Vice-President will be the official liaison with the diaspora student groups on campus and assume the duties and responsibilities of the President, when and if so required due to the inability of President to perform as determined by the Council.
- The Clerk/Secretary will attend all meetings of the Council and record all the votes of the Council and minutes of all its transactions in a book and/or electronic media to be kept for that purpose, and shall assure the performance of like duties for all committees of the Council when required.
VI-1: BYLAW AMENDMENT
This Constitution may be amended at any regular meeting of the Coordinating Council or the Membership, or at any special meeting called for that purpose, provided that written notice of the proposed amendment shall have been given at least ten days prior to such meeting. Such Amendment shall require an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Council Members present at a duly constituted Council Meeting. A voting member may propose a Bylaws amendment at any Membership meeting and the amendment would need to be approved by a 2/3rd majority of the members at the next duly authorized Member Meeting.
The undersigned President of the Association, hereby verifies that the foregoing Constitution of the Bowdoin College Black Alumni Association was adopted at the initial meeting of the Council.
Name: Michael H. Owens, M.D., M.P.H.,VFACPE, CPE
Title: President BCBAA