by Jack Edgar ’15
This past Charter Day weekend, William & Mary celebrated its 324th birthday as the university recognized the anniversary of the granting of its Royal Charter. Looking ahead in 2017, William & Mary is also set to honor two relatively recent historic moments in the university’s history: 50 years of African-American residential students and the 25th anniversary of the Hulon Willis Association.
The upcoming 2017-2018 academic year will recognize 50 years of black residential students, beginning in 1967 when Lynn Briley ’71, Karen Ely ’71 and Janet Brown Strafer ’71, M.Ed.’77 arrived on campus as William & Mary’s first African-American female students, as well as residential students, and moved into the basement of Jefferson Hall where a plaque honors them today.
This year also marks 25 years of the Hulon Willis Association (HWA), William & Mary’s African-American alumni organization. The association’s namesake, Hulon Willis Sr. M.Ed ’56, enrolled in 1951 as the university’s first black student. Since its founding, HWA has remained “dedicated to encouraging fellowship among alumni, promoting the interests of the Alumni Association and the College and enhancing the quality of life for current African-American students at the College through scholarship opportunities as well as other avenues of involvement.” HWA’s scholarship, the Hulon Willis Sr. Memorial Scholarship Endowment, provides financial assistance for William & Mary students who work to contribute to the university’s multicultural community.
The Hulon Willis Association will recognize these milestones and more as part of its 25th Anniversary Weekend, set for June 23-25 in Washington, D.C. Thanks in part to a generous investment from the 50th Anniversary Committee, HWA aims to make this a weekend to remember and one that will kick off this exciting year of events. The weekend will feature social, intellectual and cultural events spanning from Friday to Sunday, including the centerpiece of the celebration, Saturday evening’s HWA Anniversary Gala. HWA hopes that all alumni and friends of William & Mary will save the date and join them in June in D.C. for a weekend to look back, celebrate, honor the African-American experience at William & Mary thus far and look forward to the next 25 years and beyond.