The first records of an Alumni Association at Eastern Michigan University date back to 1872, with a continuing existence of the organization being documented from 1881-1899. Alumni Association initiatives include creating the Normal News, the predecessor of the Eastern Echo, in 1881. In 1921, the Alumni Association began a 10-year effort to create an alumni office and a student union. Fundraising for the Student Union began in 1924 and the building was dedicated in 1931. It was named for Charles McKenny, who served as president for 21 years and laid the cornerstone of the Union. McKenny Hall is once again the home of the Alumni Association and the Office for Alumni Relations.
Other Alumni Association initiatives included the chimes in Pierce Hall in 1953 to honor World War II veterans and the Keystone Campaign, which raised $1 million in 1967 to assist in the construction of new buildings to support the exploding student enrollment in the 1960’s. The Alumni Association began recognizing its outstanding alumni in 1957 with the first Distinguished Alumni Award. This was followed by the Alumni Achievement Award in 1968, the Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 1971, and the Porter Distinguished Service Award in 1987.
Today, the Alumni Association’s membership exceeds 169,000. Its purpose is to engage alumni and students in programs, events, and services that stimulate interest in, build loyalty for, and increase support of Eastern Michigan University. It is governed by a 25-member Board of Directors who are elected each spring at the Association’s Annual Meeting. The Alumni Association Board of Directors has seven standing and ad hoc committees and meets four times each year. All meetings of the Board of Directors are open to the public.