After participating in the spring 2016 meeting of the Vanderbilt Alumni Association Board of Directors, Tamara Baynham, BE’93, set a personal goal to become engaged with the AVBA, the Association of Vanderbilt Black Alumni.
By last fall she was meeting with Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos as the newly appointed AVBA president.
“I looked at the university’s diversity and inclusion report, and it addressed concerns black students expressed when I was at Vanderbilt,” says Baynham, who is a consultant for a medical-device research firm in Maryland. “I also met with vice chancellors and spent time with student campus leaders. Those meetings were influential in creating my vision for the AVBA. I knew that I wanted to be involved in both the recruiting and retention of underrepresented faculty and mentoring of minority students.”
Baynham’s meeting with Zeppos was particularly important. “That meeting validated my goals for the AVBA, and I could see that he really feels the university needs to foster an inclusive environment,” she says.
Baynham also wants to expand the AVBA’s philanthropic efforts. She plans to take advantage of Vanderbilt’s June 15 Giving Day to work toward endowing a second AVBA scholarship and encourage support for the Black Student Alliance, the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, and other resources important to AVBA members.
The AVBA will be reaching out to black alumni to encourage their involvement, especially in mentoring students.
“I hope they will consider the positives of their Vanderbilt experience and understand that we have an opportunity to impact the university for the next generation,” Baynham says. “Vanderbilt is our home. If you stepped on this campus and went to classes, then this is your place. It is our place.”