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1872-1988, bulk 1914-1945 (Creation)
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The Dalhousie Alumni Association began when a group of Master and Bachelor of Arts students met after spring convocation on April 26th, 1871 to discuss the possibility of starting such an association. At that meeting, it was decided that the Association should be controlled by a committee consisting of a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Rev. J. H. Chase was selected as the first President, and J. J. Cameron was chosen as Vice-President. J. G. MacGregor was elected Secretary, and H. MacD. Scott, Treasurer. The Association’s stated purpose was to promote the best interests of the University and to foster affection for all students of Dalhousie. The Association was formally incorporated in April of 1876. Meetings were held every April between 1872 and 1885.
In 1886, the Alumni Association became enmeshed in the effort to find a new site for new buildings for a library, a museum, a school of medicine, a school of technology and art, residence halls, a gymnasium and society buildings. A Committee consisting of Dr. MacGregor, D. A. Murray and C. H. Cahan met with the Board of Governors for Dalhousie University in order to urge that a large site be chosen. The Board of Governors ignored the suggestions of the Alumni and this led to some hostility. In September of 1887, new college and university buildings were opened.
The Alumni Association continued to aid the University. In 1890, the Alumni Association co-sponsored a campaign to raise 50 thousand dollars for the university. In 1892, the Association donated 110 dollars for the newly formed Faculty of Science. In recognition for this, in 1893, the Alumni Association was granted two seats on the University Board of Governors. It was also that year that the Alumni Association was asked by the University Board to raise 4000 dollars per year over the following five years from among the alumni for the University. In 1896, the Alumni Association completed the raising of the Dalhousie Guarantee Fund. The Association continued to raise money during other campaigns: for example, in 1910, the Association voted to raise 1500 dollars for an assistant professorship for the Faculty of Biology. This amount was guaranteed again to the Board of Governors in 1912, 1913 and 1914.
Annual Meetings continued to be held every April. Besides this, the membership in the Association continued to grow. In 1903, there were 278 members; by 1907, there were 531. Branches of the Association were also forming: one in Cape Breton was operating by 1902 and another formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1907. In 1909 a sister Association, the Alumnae Association, was formed.
In 1914 to 1918, the Association had the task of ascertaining the names of those students who had gone to fight during the Great War, obtaining photographs of them from their families, and recording their services and fates. As well, the Association raised over 17 thousand dollars for the purpose of an Overseas Stationary Hospital Unit. The Association decided at its annual meeting in 1916 that a Memorial Hall should be built as part of MacDonald Library, then under construction.
The Association was heavily involved in the organization of the Centenary Celebration for Dalhousie University in 1918. Letters were sent out to all living alumni and lists of those attending were carefully compiled. The Alumni Association also invited many Canadian and American universities such as Cornell to send delegates and representatives to the event. Canadian political leaders such as the premier of Nova Scotia and Prime Minister MacKenzie King were also invited. The event proved to be very successful.
In 1920, the Alumni Association again organized a major campaign for the University, which was known as the “Million” Campaign. The effort continued for several years as the Association was responsible for ensuring all monies that were pledged were duly paid. The practice of charging annual dues was abolished in 1967, and donations to the Association became voluntary.
During the Second World War, the Alumni Association again kept records of students who were serving in the different branches of the armed forces overseas. Lists of those students who served were prepared and published in the Association organ, the Alumni News.
In 1947, the Dalhousie Alumni Association and the Alumnae Association merged into one, but the new organization created a Women’s division to advocate on behalf of female students of the University.
Between 1972 and 1974, the Alumni Association was involved with the possibility of Dalhousie University merging with the Nova Scotia Technical College. This effort was not successful. However, in 2000, the Dalhousie Alumni Association did merge with the TUNS Alumni Association. Presently, there are over 80 thousand members of the Association, with at least 20 000 living in Halifax alone. There are chapters of the Association in major Canadian cities such as Toronto and Ottawa.
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