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Tony Dunlap’s Commitment to Youth Ranges from Girls Scouts in Cleveland to College Students in Cincinnati

Tony Dunlap came to the University of Cincinnati from high school in Louisville. He chose UC for its location, academics and one other thing: chess.

Date: 8/29/2005 8:00:00 AM
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
“It was important that UC was in another state but within 100 miles of home just in case I got home sick,” says Dunlap. “UC had a good reputation as a good university.”

Dunlap was especially impressed by UC’s business college. “But the one thing that sold me on UC was the fact that they played strong tournament competition chess at the YMCA on campus. I loved chess and was a tournament chess player in high school.”

When Dunlap graduated with an AA in accounting, he wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.

“I still want to make a difference in someone’s life but now I am focused on young people,” says Dunlap. “I currently teach chess as a volunteer to approximately 92 kids in six different locations in the Cleveland area. I am proud to say I have coached and am the coach of several individual and team Ohio State Chess Champions.”

Dunlap firmly believes in chess as a great educational tool and great alternative to other sports and activities for young people. This past April at the Super National chess championships in Nashville, the University of Texas gave out three $48,000 scholarships to the elementary, middle- and high-school champions.

“It’s more than just a game,” says Dunlap.

Dunlap is married to Deborah Travis-Dunlap, whom he met at UC in September 1977. Deborah is a native of Cleveland and a member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority at UC. They have a 15-year -old son, Tony Jr, and a 6-year-old daughter, Dominique. Dunlap is currently the director of information technology for the Girl Scouts of Lake Erie Council in Cleveland, Ohio. He has spent 22 years in the information technology field and has been with the Girl Scouts for 7 ½ years.

Like the Girl Scouts, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was founded on a sense of community and a sense of responsibility. Apha Phi Alpha originated at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., to help African-American students stand up to personal and academic prejudice. While continuing to stress academic excellence among its members, Alpha Phi Alpha also continues to recognize the need to “help correct the educational, economic, political and social injustices faced by African-Americans.” Since its founding in 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity has provided “voice and vision to the struggle of African-Americans and people of color around the world.” UC hosts the Alpha Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

“Alpha Phi Alpha is the oldest African-American fraternity at UC,” says Dunlap. As chapter president, Dunlap was able to meet and talk with comedian/activist Dick Gregory during Gregory’s two speaking engagements at UC. Besides Gregory, Dunlap also remembers being impressed with President Winkler, Dean Ron Temple, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who spoke at the 1979 commencement (and was awarded an honorary doctorate).

Alpha Phi Alpha reunion April 2005.
Alpha Phi Alpha reunion April 2005.

Members of the Alpha Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity reunited this April to refresh old friendships, renew old resolutions and recast their nets. When they met, their first tasks were to touch base with the current members and to plan the next reunion for October 2005.

Involvement of the alumni might be just what the chapter needs right now. The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity was suspended in 2003 for three years by the General Fraternity for “improper operating and membership procedures.” The suspension was subsequently lifted. The chapter is now on probation but fully functioning.

“The suspension of the college chapter reinforced the importance of why the alumni brothers need to come back to UC,” Dunlap says. He attributes the alumni’s lack of responsibility and commitment to the college chapter as contributing to the chapter’s poor judgment and “waywardness.”

“I was personally saddened when the news of the college chapter’s suspension reached me,” says Dunlap. “When they needed support and guidance we weren’t there. Had we paid attention, communicated or just visited the college chapter, what happened perhaps could have been avoided. I plan on doing what is necessary to help them turn things around. As alumni brothers, we plan on being at UC every six months to assist and strengthen the college chapter in selecting quality young men of character and moral fortitude. We have a committee of brothers that have promised to be additional advisors on an ongoing basis for the college chapter.”

Young college men still need mentors, leaders to look up to, and adult men to guide and support them. The alumni have committed to support the college chapter with establishing mentors for them within the chapter’s alumni.

“We have the college, career and life experiences to help them.”

Alpha Alpha Chapter members met to discuss old times and current challenges.
Alpha Alpha Chapter members met to discuss old times and current challenges.

“Our reunion gathering of Alpha Alpha Chapter at the University of Cincinnati in April 2005 was more than a group of men gathering to socialize,” says Dunlap. “It was an opportunity for men who love Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Alpha Chapter and the University of Cincinnati to recommit themselves to social goals and civil responsibilities. It was an opportunity to live up to the high standards of our Fraternity and follow our rich legacy. As Alpha men getting ready to embrace or embark upon our centennial anniversary, it was important to take a leadership role in continuing the great traditions of being the first African-American Fraternal organization.”

The gathered alumni of Alpha Alpha chapter and the University of Cincinnati made a commitment to establish a scholarship fund and meet semi-annually at UC.

“Establishing the scholarship fund will aid and assist individuals in their pursuit of a higher education. Alpha Phi Alpha and scholarship go hand in hand,” says Dunlap. “An Alpha man is first a college man, and his great boast is scholastic excellence in his chosen field of endeavor. Alpha Phi Alpha was founded with one thing in mind: ‘scholarship.’ The semi-annual meetings will allow us the opportunity to help and work with the current college brothers with their education and professional ambitions not only now but beyond college days. The main purpose in gathering together is to support each other, our college chapter and the university.”

“As a member of the oldest African-American fraternity our legacy is rich with leadership. Leadership is what we plan on re-establishing into the college chapter. ‘Manly deed, scholarship and love for all mankind’ are the aims of our fraternity and we plan on helping the college chapter get back on the right track.”

The next meeting will be the weekend of UC’s homecoming in the fall of 2005. Their stated goal is to not only support the chapter and its members but also the university.

Alpha Phi Alpha members on McMicken circle.

“As Alpha men we are well-rounded individuals who seek to carry out the aims of the fraternity. There is no better way to ‘live’ the aims of the fraternity than to take an active part or role in one’s community or the affairs of a particular locality in which we live, be these affairs civic, religious, political or educational.”

The Alphas are also taking a leadership role in challenging other African-American organizations to come back to UC and be contributors or participants in uplifting their individual organizations and the University of Cincinnati through actively recruiting and raising funds. They believe that homecoming is the ideal time to show their love and support for the university and community.

Alpha Phi Alpha members gather between Mick and Mack.
Alpha Phi Alpha members gather between Mick and Mack.

“I am not sure if alumni of college sororities and fraternities recognize or understand their role or obligation to their college chapters after they leave college. In Alpha Phi Alpha we believe in giving back to the community and the university through civic projects and programs. Civic projects and programs can range from food or clothing donor, to self-awareness, community awareness and scholarship programs. Supporting our college chapter is very important to us and I felt other African-American sororities and fraternities would feel the same way because we all have some of the same traditions, goals, and principals. Supporting the alumni association, UC’s fundraising and recruiting efforts are great avenues in helping our university and chapters at the same time.”

“I have talked to members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sigma Gamma Rho and Delta Sigma Theta Sororities, Alpha Angels (female support organization Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity had in the 80s) and other UC alumni about starting their own reunions at UC and meeting the Alphas at this year’s homecoming,” says Dunlap. “I hope to call it ‘Go back to and give back to UC’ or something like that. I think it’s very important and hopefully other African-American alumni will feel the same.”

When he graduated, Dunlap wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. Helping young men be responsible citizens and develop scholarship, good judgment and values would be considered making a difference.