Mack urges university family to become involved


David Campbell/University Photographer

Larry Mack, a 1993 alumnus of Alabama State University served as this year’s Founders’ Day speaker. Affectionately referred to as the “son of ASU” during the convocation, Mack currently serves as the deputy director of the office of Human Capital at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. He has held the position since 2015.

Nefsa'Hyatt Brown, Interim Executive Editor

In 1901, the Lincoln School of Marion emerged from the desire of nine former slaves in rural, west Alabama to educate their children and inspire them to pursue a better life. Now 152 years later, Alabama State University celebrated the vision of its founders to help people pursue their dreams of obtaining a college education with a Founder’s Day Convocation on Feb. 8.

Founder’s Day Convocation speaker Larry Mack began his speech by saying “how humbling and good it felt to be back home especially on what he calls the ‘most important day’ on our institution’s calendar.”

Mack urged the audience to appreciate the university and do whatever is necessary to continue to move the university forward.

“ASU was a necessary alternative because you couldn’t go anywhere else,” Mack said, urging every member of the Hornet family to get involved with the university. “This school has helped a lot of young people succeed, and in order for us to ensure that this continues, it’s incumbent to each and every one of us to make sure we assist, whatever that means whether it’s financial, getting your hands dirty, materials, whatever we have to do.”

“Today we pause to reflect on what nine people thought was important back when many couldn’t get an education. Pooling $500 dollars, they granted us the opportunity to be educated. We need to understand the significance of that. We need to know what it means,” Mack said explaining how important the contribution of these nine men was in developing so many young minds including his.

He talked about the effect that many of the university’s faculty had on him after leaving the university. He mentioned former professor of English Ralph Bryson, instructor Bernice Price and others.

Mack offered a prescription to the audience in order to succeed.

“Number 1: Purpose. We need to find and understand why ASU exits and what is the force behind that. Number 2: Passion. What makes us go above and beyond for this university. Number 3: Patience. The behavior demonstrated while waiting,” continuing with this list, Mack adds four more “P’s” perseverance, performance, privilege, peer pressure, procrastination, and prayer,” said Mack.

Embodying the spirit of the Marion Nine, the College of Visual and Performing Arts presented “From Marion to Montgomery” a combination of drama and dancing.

Along with honoring the Marion Nine, William Burns Paterson’s legacy and his connection were also honored by visitors who came all the way from Paterson’s birthplace, Tullibody, Scotland. Specifically, the university welcomed Christine Calder who is the chairwoman of the Tullibody Explorium History Group founded in 2001 and a dedicated historian of Tullibody history.

Calder who also runs the Tullibody Heritage Center which has a display about Paterson newspaper articles cataloging the many visits from ASU faculty and students attending the nearby university, brought many of Paterson’s extended family to the ceremony with her.

Outside of expressions, her excitement of being at the university and being able to be apart of the celebration Calder urged the students to “keep their feet turned down, stomp hard, and make the best of all the opportunities that come their way.”

To further honor the nine founders of our university the Spirit of Marion Award, which recognizes individuals whose professional endeavors reflect the spirit of the Marion Nine, was given to State of Alabama Senator Bobby Singleton.

As a further honor of Paterson, Joel Jones Ph.D was presented with the Spirit of Tullibody Award which is meant to honor a courageous and forward thinking pioneer that exemplifies Paterson’s fine qualities and notable contributions to the community and Alabama State University.

“Outside of the technical difficulties the convocation was nice,” said Orjul Pogue, a sophomore mathematics major. I enjoyed the speaker, his speech helped me value my institution more.”