Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity commemorates 50 years at WMU

contact: Paula M. Davis
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO—The Epsilon Xi chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Inc. fraternity is celebrating its 50-year history at Western Michigan University, coinciding with WMU Homecoming Weekend 2012.

The Epsilon Xi chapter is observing this major milestone with several events, Oct. 4-6.  An alumni speaker series, a luncheon featuring Dennis W. Archer, play depicting experiences of black students on campus leading up to and following the founding of the Epsilon Xi chapter and a founders’ banquet are among the planned events. The deadline for all events requiring registration is Monday, Oct. 1. Register at

  • Speaker series: Most of the high-profile alumni speakers are scheduled to present at various times on Thursday, Oct. 4, with one alumnus delivering his talk on Friday, Oct. 5. The speakers are all accomplished professionals who will discuss their careers (List of the speakers and times below). No registration is required to attend.
  • Dennis W. Archer luncheon: At noon on Friday, there will be a luncheon featuring Dennis W. Archer in the North Ballroom of the Bernhard Center. Archer is a member of the fraternity, a WMU trustee, former Detroit mayor, former Michigan Supreme Court justice and served as the first African-American president of the American Bar Association. Registration for the luncheon is required at
  • Commemorative play: Also on Friday, Von Washington’s play, “Gathering,” will premier at the D. Terry Williams Theatre in the Gilmore Theatre Complex at 7 p.m. The $10 tickets will be available for purchase at the box office. The book, “A Mutual Destiny: The Story of Men Who Achieved King’s Dream Together,” is a companion work to the play. It will be available for purchase. For one hour prior to the performance, the Onyx Society is sponsoring a reception at the theatre, which will continue following the play.
  • Pregame tailgating: At noon on Saturday, Oct. 6, the fraternity is throwing a tailgating party ahead of the 2 p.m. homecoming football game. For $40, tailgaters will get a game ticket, lunch, soft drinks and adult beverages. To register and pay online, go to
  • Founders’ banquet: Following Saturday’s game, at 6:30 p.m. in the North Ballroom of the Bernhard Center, there will be a dinner and program celebrating the fraternity’s golden anniversary. Tickets are $65. Register and pay for the dinner online at

Speaker series

Thursday, Oct. 4

Alumni speakers series

  • Jonathan Blakley, foreign desk producer for National Public Radio in Washington D.C., Brown Hall's third-floor Humanities Resource Center, 9:30 a.m.
  • Dr. William Pickard, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Global Automative Alliance, 4010 Health and Human Services Building, 10:30 a.m.
  • Frank Ligon, owner of Ligon Engineering Consulting Service in Detroit, D109 Engineering and Applied Sciences Building, 11:30 a.m.
  • Dr. Calvin Williams, founding member of the WMU Alpha Phi Alpha chapter and retired associate vice president of student services at Washtenaw Community College; Edgar Watson, retired K-12 school system educator, 1920 Sangren Hall, 4 p.m.

Panel discussion

A "Billion Dollar Roundtable" panel discussion will take place at 5 p.m. in Schneider Hall. It will be moderated by Dr. William Pickard of WMU's Haworth College of Business. Panelists include:

  • Ron Hall, president of Bridgewater Interiors
  • Dennis Wright, retired executive vice president for human resources in the health care and manufacturing industries
  • John Ambrose, educator at Michigan State University specializing in recruitment and career opportunities
  • Ryan Smith, human resource consultant at Manpower

Friday, Oct. 5

Alumni speakers series

  • Capt. Donald W. Davenport, Michigan Air National Guard instructor pilot with the 171st Air Refueling Squadron, 105 Bernard Center, 2 p.m.