Dr. Gavin to deliver keynote address at Livingstone homecoming
By Laurie D. Willis
Livingstone College News Service
SALISBURY — Dr. James R. Gavin, III earned a medical degree from Duke University in 1975 and also has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Emory University in Atlanta. But the Mobile, Alabama, native got his collegiate start at Livingstone College, where he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in chemistry in 1966.
Today, Gavin returns to his alma mater to deliver the keynote address during the Alumni Convocation, which begins at 10 a.m. inside Varick Auditorium. The public is invited.
“We’re very pleased to welcome Dr. Gavin, his wife Dr. Annie J. Gavin and other Livingstone alumni back to campus for Homecoming 2016,” said President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. “And we’re especially grateful Dr. Gavin has agreed to deliver this year’s convocation address. He’s one of the foremost leaders in diabetes research in the country, and he’s also a member of our Board of Trustees. I’m certain he’ll deliver a wonderful message that will go a long way toward kick starting this weekend’s Homecoming activities.”
Immediately following the convocation, there will be a tree-planting ceremony and also a special unveiling of the Blue Bear mascot’s new look. At 12:30 p.m., the annual UNCF Soul Food Luncheon will take place in Aggrey Cafeteria. During this year’s luncheon, patrons will pay tribute to Livingstone alumnus and Trustee Emeritus Dr. Leslie Stokes, who died in April. Later at 3 p.m. inside Tubman Little Theater, Jenkins will deliver his annual “State of the College” message, and alumni awards will be given. At 5 p.m., there will be a President’s Major Donor Reception at The Events & Hospitality Center.
On Saturday, the Homecoming Parade begins at 10 a.m. Bishop Dennis V. Proctor, a 1976 Livingstone graduate who served as drum major in the Blue Bear Marching Band for four consecutive years and is a member of the Livingstone Board of Trustees, will serve as the Parade Grand Marshal. At 1:30 p.m., the Livingstone Blue Bears will take on the Shaw University Bears inside Alumni Memorial Stadium.
Saturday night at 9, the Livingstone College National Alumni Association Gala will be held at the institution’s School of Hospitality Management & Culinary Arts at 530 S. Jake Alexander Blvd. And on Sunday, in what Jenkins and others describe as the perfect way to round out Homecoming, a Sunday Gospel & Jazz Brunch will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school’s hotel on Jake Alexander. The event will feature music from local sensation Virginia Rush and food prepared and served by students in the institution’s culinary arts program. Admission is $35, and the meal includes a stir-fry station, an omelet station, a dessert station and an array of culinary treats.
“Each year the Sunday Gospel Brunch gets better and better, and it truly is a great way to culminate a weekend of Homecoming activities,” said Dr. Vivian Ray, director of Livingstone’s hospitality management & culinary arts program. “Our students work really hard to prepare delicious food for the event, and we always have top-notch entertainment. I hope hundreds of people in Salisbury and surrounding cities will come out on Sunday for scrumptious food and fantastic entertainment!”
Candice Johnson, interim director of alumni affairs at Livingstone, has worked tirelessly for several months to ensure Homecoming 2016, “For the Love of Livingstone,” is a hit.
“In some cases, Homecoming is the only time each year when alumni get a chance to return to Salisbury and to come back to Livingstone, so it goes without saying that we do everything in our power to ensure it is fun with a host of engaging activities,” Johnson said. “The members of Livingstone’s Homecoming Committee and those charged with maintaining the buildings and grounds have joined me in working around the clock, at times, to make this year’s Homecoming special. It’s exhausting to say the least, but our reward comes when alumni tell us how much they’re enjoying themselves and when we see the excited looks and smiles on their faces.”
Bishop George E. Battle, Jr., Senior Bishop in the African Episcopal Zion Church, Chairman of Livingstone’s BOT and a member of the “One of Kind Class of 1969,” said he’s always excited about returning to campus for Homecoming.
“It seems like every year Homecoming gets better and better,” said Battle, who in 2013 served as parade grand marshal with his wife, Iris Miller Battle. “Dr. Jenkins and his staff do a fine job of putting together great activities for alumni – both young and old alike. The weekend is filled with many exciting things to do, and I’m sure my BOT colleague Dr. Gavin will deliver an inspiring message this morning.”
During Homecoming, the Alumni Convocation is organized by the graduation class celebrating its 50th anniversary, and class members decide who to invite as the keynote speaker. In many instances, a member of the class is given the honor.
Gavin is one of Livingstone’s most famous alumni. He and his wife are stalwart benefactors to the college, and he was president of the American Diabetes Association from 1993-1994, becoming the first African-American to hold that prestigious post. Gavin is President, CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Healing Our Village, Inc., in Atlanta. He’s also a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.