Black alumni come together
The common thread woven throughout the second annual Black Alumni Brunch was community. “It was a great success,” says School of Leadership and Education Sciences PhD candidate Jessica Williams, who established the event in 2012. “Among our 84 guests were faculty, students, alumni and administrators, all partaking in great networking and fellowship.”
Held in March, the event included not just good company and good food, but recognition for good works. During the brunch, the Black Students Graduate Council, the Black Law Student Association, the Black Student Union and the Black Student Retention and Recognition Committee honored R. Donna and Allen Baytop with an award for their many years of commitment to the success of black students at USD.
The Baytops have a long tradition of involvement with the university. Dr. Donna Baytop, the corporate medical director for Solar Turbines, Inc., was a member of USD’s Board of Trustees from 1989 to 2012. Her husband, Allen, has served as USD’s director of special gifts and scholarship development since 2001.
The award presented to the Baytops read, “In recognition of your continued support of the success of the black student.” Williams echoes that sentiment: “Allen has been a great supporter of the Black Graduate Student Association since its inception. He’s attended our events, offered critical feedback, and has been a terrific resource.”
By all accounts, the couple has gone above and beyond for students over the years. College of Arts and Sciences Assistant Dean Pauline Berryman Powell recalls one incident in particular with great clarity: “I introduced an engineering transfer student to Allen, as the student had exhausted his financial aid options via loans and grants and was considering leaving the university,” Powell recalls.
“Allen knew a donor who was interested in giving toward a scholarship that would assist engineering majors; miraculously, when he connected the donor and the student … well, the rest is history. Recently, the student visited the campus and told me, ‘If it wasn’t for Mr. Baytop and the donor, I would not be a USD alum today.’”