Huntsville, Ala. ---- Alabama A&M University will be bustling with activities throughout the days leading up to its Spring Commencement set for Friday, May 3, and beyond. The flurry of programs also will encompass the school’s annual Founder’s Day convocation and related events.
Thursday, May 2
Coordinated by the Office of Alumni Affairs, the Golden Class of 1963 will begin registration for Founder’s Day weekend on Thursday, May 2, at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Huntsville. Returning class members will also pick up their caps and gowns.
Friday, May 3
The invitation-only President’s Community Breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. in the
Knight Center. The highlight of the breakfast will be a presentation by Judge Penny Brown Reynolds, an Emmy-nominated television personality and commentator on issues of law, politics, religion, as well as women and children's issues. The former prosecutor and assistant attorney general presides over the internationally syndicated television show, "Family Court with Judge Penny." Judge Reynolds is also an ordained minister.
The Founder’s Day Convocation will be held in the T.M. Elmore Building at 10 a.m. In addition to tributes to Dr. William Hooper Councill, AAMU’s founder and first president, new members of the Normal Legacy Society will be recognized, and awards of excellence will be presented.
Alumnus Bertram Orum will be the speaker. Bertram Orum received his B.S. in Accounting in 1977 and his M.B.A. in 1985 – both from Alabama A&M University. In 2012 Bertram was named Contracts and Compliance Manager for Alabama Power Company Public Relations. Prior to his current position, Bertram served as Assistant to the Vice President of Public Relations. Additionally, Bertram has served as Operations Accounting Manager-Wholesale Contracts, Southern Company Generation and as Contracts Manager, Southern Company Services.
Prior to Alabama Power/Southern Company, Bertram worked for Thermometer Corporation of America in North Carolina, Reynolds Metals Company in Pennsylvania, and Union Camp Corporation in Birmingham.
Bertram is past president of the Birmingham Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors. He is a Certified Fraud Examiner and is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Bert is very involved civically and serves on the board of Easter Seals of Birmingham; he is Chairman of the Board for the T. L. Hale, Sr. Scholarship and Benevolence Fund and past board member of the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District. He is Polemarch of the Birmingham Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and Senior Province Vice Polemarch, Southern Province of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
Bertram is the father of one son, Brandon K. Orum.
During the Convocation, AAMU will pay tribute to the 2013 Alumna of the Year. Karen Renea Epps, a native of Phenix City, Ala., is a 1982 business
administration graduate. She earned an MBA from Bowie State University in 2005.
Epps is a career civil servant who started her federal career with the U.S. Department of Defense in Chambersburg, Pa., as a cooperative education student. Upon completion of her studies at AAMU, she was later selected for the Supply Management Intern Program at the Defense Logistics Agency, which relocated her to Columbus, Ohio, and later to Memphis, Tenn. Shortly thereafter, Epps became an investigator with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Augusta, Ga., ultimately relocating to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
Epps is currently employed with the U.S. Department of Education and works in the HBCU Division, where she oversees a portfolio of over $50 million dollars of Title III funds awarded to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Historically Black Graduate Institutions, Predominately Black Graduate Institutions, and Predominately Black Institutions.
She completed a special assignment with the Federal TRIO Program and previously worked with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHI-HBCUs) and Federal Student Aid. During her tenure with the White House Initiative, she was instrumental in ensuring that AAMU’s fifth president, Dr. Richard D. Morrison, was recognized as a Protector of the Legacy during the 2009 White House Initiative on HBCUs’ conference. She was also influential in AAMU’s hosting of the WHI-HBCUs 2010 Technical Assistance Conference.
The Founder’s Day Convocation concludes with a gravesite ceremony in front of Prentice Hall and the Carnegie Building. The Board of Directors of the AAMU Alumni Association, Inc., will have a lunch/work session at 1 p.m. at the Office of Alumni Affairs Welcome Center on Chase Road. The meeting for the Golden Class of 1963 will be held at the Foster Complex student cafeteria at 1 p.m.
The Von Braun Center is the venue for Spring Commencement at 6 p.m., when hundreds will receive baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The speaker for the occasion will be Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell, U.S. Representative for
the 7th District of Alabama. The 7th Congressional District includes parts of the cities of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, as well as the counties of Alabama’s Black Belt – the heart of which is Congresswoman Sewell’s hometown of Selma.
Re-elected on November 6, 2012 to her second term, Congresswoman Sewell is one of the first women elected to Congress from Alabama in her own right. She is also the first black woman to ever serve in the Alabama Congressional delegation. Congresswoman Sewell sits on the House Financial Services Committee and brings to the committee her more than 15 years of experience as a public finance attorney.
She also serves as a Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Caucus. Congresswoman Sewell also serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence which is the House of Representatives key link to the Director of National Intelligence and the 17 agencies that constitute the Intelligence Community.
Prior to her election to Congress, Congresswoman Sewell was a partner in the Birmingham law office of Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C. where she distinguished herself as one of the only black public finance lawyers in the State of Alabama. Her clients included, among others, City of Selma, Dallas County Water Authority, Alabama State University, Stillman College, Jefferson State and Wallace State-Hanceville.
Saturday, May 4
The AAMU Alumni Association, Inc., will hold a 9 a.m. awards and scholarship breakfast Saturday, May 4, at the Ernest L. Knight Center VIP Room. The event
will feature AAMU alumna Adrienne Pope-Kelly Washington, formerly director of the Security Assistance Management Directorate (SAMD), U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM). She also serves as Southeastern Regional Director of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Among the honors to be presented will be the coveted “Alumni of the Year Award.” All students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to the breakfast. Tickets may be purchased for $25 each online at www.aamualumni.org or at the Office of Alumni Affairs, 116 Chase Road, Huntsville, AL 35811.
The Association’s General Assembly will meet in the larger Knight Center at 1 p.m. A 3 p.m. campus tour and picnic in the Clyde Foster auditorium (rain anticipated) will be followed by a dessert reception for alumni and friends at 6 p.m. at the Welcome Center.
Sunday, May 5
At 10:45 a.m. Sunday, May 5, Founder’s Day activities will continue at St. John A.M.E. Church in Downtown Huntsville. St. John was also founded by William Hooper Councill. Following worship services, a memorial walk will proceed from St. John AME Church to the Von Braun Center, the original site of Alabama A&M University.
The Hill’s 100,000-watt jazz and blues format radio station, WJAB-FM 90.9, will wind down activities and close out its 22nd annual fundraising Jazz-a-Thon. For additional information or to make a pledge, call (256) 372-8790.
- Jerome Saintjones