HUAA History (as remembered by Dr. Ron Bowman, Alumni Affairs Director and proud alumnus)
The history of the Alumni Association is tied to the inception of Hodges University, founded as International College in 1990. The first graduating class only had three members, but by May 31, 1992, the first alumni newsletter was mailed to 95 alumni members. There were three editors, Eileen Evans, John Vunk, and Andrea Kennison. These earliest communications provided sound advice: "Many of you have learned that the secrets of success are not really secrets, they are easy to learn. Set goals, reach them and set new ones. Your power comes from education.”
In December 1994, Dr. Ron Bowman issued the International Link, alumni news and information, announcing an alumni association organizational meeting. Alumni service was located in the newly formed Student Development office, and it has returned there in 2010. Dr. Bowman, Vice President of Student Development, once more serves as the Alumni Affairs Director. He is a 1994 alumnus of International College, graduate in Health Information.
In 1994, computer technology was the new communication news, and we were gathering electronic addresses. Not many alumni had one. Questions like "have you ever visited a college on the internet?” or "gophered?” were cutting edge. The International Link was online, and Hodges University was hosting the Naples Freenet at the Naples campus, encouraging students to register in order to link.
The following Alumni newsletters covered graduations, alumni profiles, and growth. It was big news when we expanded our spaces in Fort Myers in Spring 1995 to 13,000 square feet in order to accommodate a growing interest in our medical programs. With meetings, pizza parties, beach outings, the alumni association was in gear.
The accreditation process with the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS) dominated the first decade with candidacy and then Regional Accreditation (a long five year process). We were also seeking our specific program certifications, and the future alumni were anxiously anticipating the announcements.
At the tenth anniversary, I was hoping that the college would be able to hire a full time person for the position of Alumni Affairs Director. It was not in the budgetary cards, but we did make a major investment for the betterment of our educational community as we opened our main campus at 2655 Northbrooke Drive. We also moved to the Edison University Center for completion opportunities for students, and now we are serving many off-campus learning sites, from Pasco and Hernando counties to Key West. We have a campus building in Immokalee. Our distance education programs are filled with students earning their degrees online, and the new campus in Fort Myers in 2005 is bursting at the seams with plans for a new building to accommodate the growth.
With the move to the new Naples main campus, responsibility for the Alumni Association was transferred to the University Advancement Offices. The alumni newsletter became the TORCH, and growth and support for the institution became a theme. We became a true community resource serving current students, international students, alumni, and retired adults in our Frances Pew Hayes Center for Lifelong Learning. The Torch continues to serve the alumni with news of the institution and opportunities for support. The eTorch is also distributed electronically describing giving and financial planning.
With the growth of the school and the generous donation of Earl and Thelma Hodges, International College became Hodges University. Some of our more recent alumni were able to receive diplomas with Hodges University inscribed; still earlier graduates, such as me, look proudly at their International College diplomas. We are all fellow graduates and alumni of the same institution.
In 2010, Hodges University celebrates its twentieth anniversary. It is a time for celebration, nostalgia, and advancement. The Alumni Association is once more in a revitalization period seeking alumni input and participation. Our numbers have grown to 6,800, and we will jump over 7,000 easily in June 2010 at the graduation ceremony. Our history and future are linked, and we seek a continued connection. You are our past and our tomorrow. Help us complete this story by your participation in the Hodges University Alumni Association. (Bowman)