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For several years, Western Carolina University had an unofficial group of African-American alumni who stayed connected through a website and planned a biennial reunion and various events during Homecoming. But after a series of diversity-related events and concerns that took place on campus in recent years, Pam Degraffenreid ’80, director of the WCU Bookstore, felt it was time to form an official African-American alumni organization.

With the help of a few WCU co-workers, along with a host of African-American alumni, Degraffenreid put the wheels in motion, leading to the formation of the WCU African-American Alumni Society. Last July, the WCU Alumni Association Board of Directors approved the establishment of the WCUAAAS, and the election of officers took place in August. They are Michael Naylor ’82 MBA ’88, president; Lori “Kee Kee” Lattiner-Williams ’85, vice president; Eric Barnes ’84, secretary; and Rona Lockhart ’79, parliamentarian. Degraffenreid serves as campus representative, working with the WCU Office of Alumni Engagement. The association hosted its first activities as part of Homecoming 2018.

The group’s mission is to facilitate networking opportunities between African-American alumni and African-American students, faculty and staff by hosting academic, professional and social programming and encouraging support of WCU’s advancement and development initiatives. It also will serve as a resource for an exchange of career and related information.   

For more information on the WCUAAAS, contact Naylor at or the WCU Office of Alumni Engagement at 828-227-7335.

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