The First World Reunion is an extension of the annual First World Graduation ceremony, which celebrates the accomplishments of SUNY New Paltz's students of color during commencement activities. First World Graduation began with the graduating class of 1974, which was formerly known as EOP Graduation. In the spring of 1975, the EOP Graduation was held in a room called Shango Hall Lounge, which is now the Music Department Recital Hall.
Soon after, the EOP Graduation began to include general admission students.
As a result, in the late 1970s the name was changed to Third World Graduation, to be more inclusive.
In 1981, Shamas, also known as Herbert Green (along with his classmates), changed the name to First World Graduation to reflect accurately the reality of world history and demographics. Since that time, the graduations have been organized with assistance from EOP, and assistance from the Department of Black Studies
The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Minority Recruitment Program (MRP) and Department of Black Studies were formed and evolved during the administrations of Dr. John Jacobson (Acting President); Dr. John Neumaier (President); William H. Sample (Director of Financial Aid and Dean of Student; Joaquin Jimenez (Director of Financial Aid).
ABOUT FIRST WORLD
In 1968, without any SUNY funding, Eddie Bell was appointed founding director of Project A, the precursor of the Educational Opportunity Program. Project A’s 19 students were brought to campus during summer; the precursor to the EOP Summer Institute. The following year, Project A’s name was changed to EOP and it became an official SUNY New Paltz program with SUNY funding. EOP leadership was transferred to newly hired Assoc. Dean of Students, Rufus Newlin. From 1970-71, Purnell Kirkland served as the full-time director of EOP.
“PROJECT A” ORIGINAL STUDENTS
1. Angel Alamestica
2. Diane Bailey
3. Carla Ballentine (Deceased)
4. Juliet Byers
5. Robert Connor
6. Gerald Davis
7. Jose Diaz
8. Charles Eggleston
9. Deborah “Debbie” Hayes
10. David Jefferson
11. Gerard Loftin
12. Brenda “Bunny” Lewis (Deceased)
13. Thelma Morgan
14. Valerie Morrison
15. Susan Peters
16. Santiago Santana
17. Wayne Taliaferro (Deceased)
18. Mylum “Aisha Mike” Turner (Deceased)
19. Ronald Williams
In 1969, the Department of Black Studies was founded at New Paltz, where Dr. Marjorie Butler was appointed Chairperson by then President Dr. John Neumaier. The Black Faculty Association was subsequently formed and led by Eddie Bell who served as Chairman.
Currently known as the Scholars Mentorship Program, the Minority Recruitment Program (MRP) was established in 1972. Eddie Bell served as the Founding Director and MRP Taskforce member along with Eileen Farley, Vice President of Student Affairs. Three members of the MRP Taskforce still reside in the Hudson Valley: Angie Franqui, Kenrick Gilman, and Rhonda Thomas. MRP recruited and enrolled black and brown students who exceeded EOP financial guidelines, but with strong academic records.
The MRP Scholarship Fund was later established with the transfer of funds from the Black Faculty Association Scholarship program. During succeeding years funds for the MRP Scholarship Fund were raised through campus-wide MRP Dinner Dance events, supported by nationally renowned speakers: Olympian Wilma Rudolph (3 gold medals 1960 Olympics); Pam Grier, Hollywood actress; and Yolanda King, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter.