Bring Albany together for better future

Clifford Porter Jr.

Clifford Porter Jr.

'All for One and One for All" was the theme for the 2011 ASU homecoming celebration. Imagine if our community and friends would take this theme and make it words in action, instead of a theme for posters and T-shirts.

For 108 years, Albany State University has been making a positive impact on this community, changing the lives of thousands by providing them with a solid education to improve their station in life.

Now take the $180 million annual impact and $5 million homecoming impact and it's easy to see that ASU impacts more than just its students. But consider the proposition that we can make this impact bigger, I mean really bigger, if we would consider being All for One and One for All.

Should those in the business community who benefited from homecoming decide to contribute just 5 percent of their earnings this weekend back to ASU to say thank you, we would have $250,000, which we could use to help educate more students, thereby increasing our enrollment. Those new students would make an immediate contribution as they shop to outfit their dorm rooms or apartments, purchase food at local restaurants and clothing from the mall. Perhaps a contribution could be used to enhance an already successful homecoming celebration, attracting widely known entertainers or competition from larger institutions, with a fan base that would surely travel to Albany to see their team battle the Golden Rams in the coliseum.

The fall 2011 enrollment at ASU was more than 4,500 students, who on refund day, directly infused more than $15 million into the local economy on a routine business day. Imagine if that was 10,000 students. The 2011 homecoming celebration saw more than 25,000 people. What if we could work together to grow that number to 50,000 with an economic impact greater than $10 million in a single weekend? Do you think it's possible? I think it is. If the city of Albany, the business community, this region of the state and Albany State University would embrace each other and say let's be "All for One and One for All."

Now what I am suggesting would require many to do more than just cross the Flint to meet each other in the middle. It would have to be a fundamental change in the way we view each other. When we fold our arms and close our hands to each other, nothing comes in and nothing goes out. But the power to grow this community is squarely within our hands.

Investing in ASU and Albany's other educational institutions can do nothing but create positive returns. The fourth-poorest community could become one of the most intellectually and economically powerful communities by simply working together. I call upon our Chamber of Commerce, civic organizations and elected officials to sit down and consider the possibilities that investing in ASU will make. I guarantee you that the yield will be greater, more secure and more sustainable than any investment in the stock market. Invest in ASU today and reap the rewards for years to come.

Clifford Porter Jr. is vice president for Institutional Advancement at Albany State University.