Mississippi's First Alumnae Association FAQ

(All references to MUWAeA, MUW or the W were written before Feb.6, 2009 and reflected the name of the historic Alumnae Association prior to that date.)

The historic Mississippi University for Women Alumnae Association has been disaffiliated by Claudia Limbert, president of the school, acting upon the advice of Perry Sansing, her key assistant.

This means that the association, in existence for 119 years and started by the W's first graduating class, is no longer the W's affiliated alumni organization.

Alumni associations traditionally are affiliated with, but independent from, their university's administration. Limbert has created a replacement alumni association with hand-picked officers.

WHY HAS THE ASSOCIATION CHANGED ITS NAME?
Our historic association which was affiliated with and supported Mississippi University for Women for 119 years was disaffiliated by President Claudia Limbert in February, 2007. The association challenged the decision and prevailed in Chancery Court, but the University appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. As part of the ruling from that court we are no longer allowed to use Mississippi University for Women, MUW or simply the W in our name.

DOES THE ASSOCIATION CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE UNIVERSITY?
Absolutely. Throughout the entire litigation process, the association continued to function as the independent organization it was chartered to be We continued working to fulfill our mission and to assure that the university maintains its focus on its raison d’etre….providing opportunities for the education of women.

IS IT TRUE THAT THE 119 YEAR-OLD MUWAeA NO LONGER EXISTS BECAUSE DR. LIMBERT DISAFFILIAATED IT?
No. The MUWAeA was legally chartered by the State of Mississippi as an independent organization and continues to exist as such and thrive. Though it is no longer the official university association and though it is henceforth to be named Mississippi’s First Alumnae Association, the historic association continues to function in every regard as it did prior to the disaffiliation. We hold elections, hold assets, collect dues, hold elections, create scholarships, support the faculty, recruit students, assist in mentoring students, conduct four regular board meetings a year, and hold annual celebrations and business meetings of the entire membership at Homecoming.

THEN WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES DISAFFILIATION MAKE?
The major difference is that while we continue to support the university, the University no longer provides the association any form of financial or human resources support . Since our work is no longer supported by the Alumni Office, all our projects and goals are driven by dedicated volunteers.

ARE THERE REALLY TWO ALUMNI/AE ASSOCIATIONS NOW?
Yes, the day after Dr. Limbert disaffiliated the original historic association, she began the process of selecting another one.

HOW DO THE TWO ASSOCIATIONS DIFFER?
One was created by Dr. Limbert and has served her since 2007. The other was created in 1889 by the first class to graduate from the W and has served the institution ever since. We elect our leaders. They do not hold elections. According to court testimony by their appointed president, they have no members. Our general membership base includes all alumnae/i who graduated from the W or completed at least 12 hours there, and our active member base is increasing daily.

Their leadership gave lip service to diversity that is not reflected in their composition. Diversity in race, sex, age, sexual identity and religion is reflected in the make-up of our Board of Directors and Officers of Mississippi’s First Alumnae Association. The association has completely revised its operational by-laws to broaden participation and assure diversity and complies both with its own by-laws and Robert’s Rules of Order.

In contrast to the other association, Mississippi’s First Alumnae Association operates in a manner that is open, accessible, and accountable.

I HEARD THAT ALUMNI CHAPTER MEETINGS ARE BEING HELD. HOW CAN THAT BE IF THE ASSOCIATION HAS NO MEMBERS?
Apparently, the appointed group is using the chapters chartered by the original association. They are sending representatives to chapter meetings of the historic MUW Alumnae Association without informing members of the change. We believe this is simply wrong and are doing everything we can to ensure our members attend these meetings and share the truth with our alums.

HOW DO I KNOW WHICH ASSOCIATION I WANT TO BE A PART OF?
One significant way to evaluate opposing positions on a controversial issue is to look at who supports each side. The 119-year-old Alumnae Association includes two former members of the Mississippi Supreme Court (one of whom was also interim president of MUW), a former member of the State Appeals Court, a former member of the IHL Board and hundreds of other women and men who hold important positions not only in Mississippi, but throughout the United States. At last count, a petition supporting the association’s position had almost 1,000 signatures. A petition supporting Limbert had 65 names. The Mississippi Legislature unanimously passed resolutions supporting our position.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP:
Become an active and participating member of the association. That will make you eligible to vote in the election of the Board of Directors and officers of the association. Come to Homecoming and attend our board and business meetings. Support local chapters or where there is no chapter make efforts to contact other alums in the area and start a chapter or a lunch bunch group. Let your local legislators know how you feel about changing the name or the mission of the W. You can also help by contacting your friends and former classmates and sharing information about our old association and our new name.

HOW MUCH ARE DUES? WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BEING AN ACTIVE MEMBER
Regular national dues are $40.00 per year. Becoming an active member will add you to our data base which will enable you to receive the Association’s newsletter, vote in associations elections (electronically or by mail), and keep you informed about Mississippi’s First Alumnae Association activities and projects.

Above all else it will make you a contributing member, along with hundreds of other volunteers, in supporting the mission, the traditions, and the current name of our proud alma mater, Mississippi University for Women. There is a lot of satisfaction to be derived for being a participating member of an association that has done so much to support and sustain the nation’s first institution of higher education through the historic Mississippi’s First Alumnae Association.

HOW DO I JOIN?
Visit our web site at www.msfirstalumnae.com. In the upper right hand corner, click “Join Now.”

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR MISSISSIPPI’S FIRST ALUMNAE ASSOCIATION?
Without financial and personnel support from the university, we must be a wholly self-sustaining organization, generating the funds necessary to carry on our work. To accomplish that goal we are becoming a tax exempt organization to facilitate our fund raising efforts.

We will continue to explore opportunities to create scholarships, preserve our most cherished traditions, expand support for chapter development, develop plans for a marketing model to recruit students, and zealously oppose changing the name or the mission of the institution.