TROY dedicates NPHC Plaza honoring historically African American Greek organizations

Troy University leaders, current students and alumni came together on Saturday for the dedication of the NPHC Plaza on the Troy Campus.

Troy University leaders, current students and alumni came together on Saturday for the dedication of the NPHC Plaza on the Troy Campus.

Troy University officially dedicated the National Pan-Hellenic Council Plaza, recognizing and honoring the historically African American Greek-letter organizations, on Saturday.

The plaza is comprised of nine markers, one for each organization at TROY: Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, Iota Phi Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Sigma Gamma Rho, Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and Zeta Phi Beta.

Located at the entrance to the walkway that leads to Trojan Arena and across the street from the site of the new home to the University’s Health Sciences programs, currently under construction, the Plaza grew out of the vision of the late Lamar P. Higgins, the first African American to serve as TROY SGA president and later a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. Higgins passed away April 15, 2021, exactly two years prior to Saturday’s dedication ceremony.

Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Troy University Chancellor, said the plaza grew out of the vision of the late Lamar P. Higgins, the first African American to serve as SGA President at TROY and a TROY Trustee for 25 years.

“This is the transformation of the vision that was had by the late Lamar Higgins, who was twice the SGA President – the first African American to serve in that role – and a member of our Board of Trustees for 25 years,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor. “He always saw coming together as a natural product of real leadership. I think that is what this plaza represents. It was the late Dr. Martin Luther King, who was a Greek himself, who said, ‘The essence of a real education is intelligence and character.’ That is the essence of this place. It is the right place at the right time and we are very grateful to be able to dedicate it today.”

Ed Crowell, retired United States Air Force General, Troy University alumnus and current Vice President Pro-Tem of the Troy University Board of Trustees, said the plaza celebrates the legacy of those who have come before, as well as future generations to come.

“The mottos of NPHC fraternities and sororities are filled with words such as merit, wisdom, friendship, achievement and service. I know from experience these are not merely words on a page but words to live by,” Crowell said. “My lifelong affiliation with Omega Psi Phi fraternity, coupled with my service in the United States Air Force, have shaped my life in ways I never thought possible when I was growing up in rural Russell County, Alabama. My fraternity introduced me to the power of brotherhood and the satisfaction of serving others. In similar fashion, thousands of Troy University students have benefitted from their affiliation with an NPHC organization over the last five decades. It will serve as a symbol to future students that NPHC fraternities and sororities hold a place of honor and respect at Troy University.”

Gen. Ed Crowell, a TROY alumnus and Vice President Pro-Tem of the University’s Board of Trustees, is interviewed prior to Saturday’s dedication ceremony.

TROY alumna Col. Felicia Burks, an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority member, said the day marked history, legacy, culture, honor and reflection.

“We thank Troy University for providing this opportunity,” Burks said. “For some, this plaza will be a place where new memories are made. For others, it will be a place where they come to reflect. There’s an African proverb that says, if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. Today, in this place, I see togetherness. I see one voice, one heart, one TROY. I envision this as a place of the present and the future. It will be a place that marks leadership, value, meaning and purpose.”

Sharing the perspective of current students, Joy Isom, NPHC President and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, called the plaza a wonderful new addition to campus.

“Since the first NPHC organization started on our campus in 1976, these chapters have been a vital part of our campus culture and history,” Isom said. “Members of our organizations have served as SGA Presidents, Sound of the South Band Directors, Board of Trustee members, academic and athletic All Americans, organization leaders, Homecoming Queens, Miss TSU, members of national championship teams, and members of the Troy University Hall of Fame. Today, this Plaza brings us together to celebrate the past, present and the future of Black Greek letter organizations on the campus of Troy University. It will serve as a place to educate the campus on the history each of the nine member organizations while offering a new, outdoor gathering place for community engagement, programming and celebrations.”

The ceremony also featured special music by Shelia Jackson and the Troy University Gospel Choir.

NPHC is the governing body of the nine largest historically African American Greek-letter fraternities and sororities, currently representing more than 1.5 million members internationally. Since its founding in 1930 at Howard University, NPHC has grown to more than 400 undergraduate chapters and many alumni chapters. In 1992, the first permanent national office was established at Indiana University-Bloomington, and, in 1993, opened its membership internationally. Its first international council was chartered in 1995 in Nassau, Bahamas and in 1996, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity became its ninth affiliate member.

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