Local Alumni Clubs

A reminder of campus life.

Nothing breaks up the daily grind like a conversation with someone you knew when life was all about mid-terms, football games, and pitchers of beer shared with friends, and social hour at the student union. It makes for an instant connection to a simpler place and time. Alumni associations are those magical touchstones, and Hilton Head Island has had the good fortune of being home to many.

“We’ve really focused our attention on philanthropic work,” said Dan Castro, an active member of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, which has donated considerable resources to low-income island residents over the years. The Fighting Irish alums are not alone in their good works, especially when it comes to offering scholarship money to local students looking to attend the alma mater of a particular alumni association.

“We’d like nothing better than to help future students of Indiana University,” said Joan Apple Lemoine, the president of the Indiana University Alumni Association’s Hilton Head Island chapter. “We can help with information, and of course with finances.”

Alumni clubs are good for their memberships as well, offering that common point of camaraderie and a built-in social and professional network. Below are profiles of several Hilton Head Island alumni chapters:

University of Notre Dame:

Hilton Head’s Notre Dame Alumni Association has approximately 90 members including alumni, their spouses, and Friends of Notre Dame. “We’re obviously a big football school,” Castro said, “so we love to watch the games.” Their primary focus, however, is on community service. “Our membership provides tax preparation services for low-income people, and we also have an internist come down to perform services at the local Boys & Girls Clubs.” A favorite meeting spot is Hinchey’s Chicago Bar and Grill. For more information call Dan Castro at (843) 363-5795.

University of Michigan:

Hilton Head Island has become home to a vast and proud population of University of Michigan alumni, 174 of whom regularly get together for games at Vic’s Tavern. Other occasions include Christmas dinner, wine tasting parties, and private cruises on Broad Creek and Calibogue Sound. This year the club is planning to give away three scholarships to Lowcountry students who will be attending the University of Michigan. Each will receive $1,500. For additional information please call Chris Larkby at (843) 227-1118.

Cornell University:

Graduates of Cornell University have made their way to the island over the years, and more than one hundred of them have coalesced into the Coastal Cornellians of South Carolina. On the first Friday of every month, they gather at the Yacht Club of Hilton Head Island near Palmetto Bay Marina. “The camaraderie is great,” said member Jim Vaughn. “People from all over the country and the world have gathered on Hilton Head Island, and it’s amazing that so many of them have this one connection to Cornell University. The Cornell Club has a full agenda of philanthropic activities, which includes assistance to prospective students and to the university in evaluating those looking to attend the alma mater. For more information call Jim Vaughn at (843) 842-2087.

Ohio State University:

Perhaps the largest of the area alumni associations is the Ohio State University Alumni Club of Hilton Head. The club’s 210 members typically get together at Mangiamo! restaurant, just outside Hilton Head Plantation, where they are surrounded by a sea of red jerseys. “We also do a good deal of philanthropic work in the area,” said Sue Oubenauf, a principal member. This includes a scholarship for Beaufort County students who plan to attend OSU and funding a reading program headed up by former OSU linebacker Ryan Miller. For more information call Sue Oubenauf at (843) 706-2209.

Indiana University:

“I really enjoy keeping in touch with what’s going on with Indiana University and with the Hoosiers,” said Joan Apple Lemoine, president of the Indiana University Alumni Chapter of Hilton Head. “And that’s something everyone in the organization has in common.” The group doesn’t have a set locale for get-togethers but chooses a local establishment for basketball and football games. The organization currently supports the “Ride for Kids” at the Boys & Girls Club and a wide variety of other philanthropic projects. For more information call Joan Lemoine Apple at (843) 682-3961.

University of South Carolina:

Although the University of South Carolina Alumni Association does not yet have an alumni chapter in Beaufort County, some alums are planning to establish one. “It is one of the top areas we are targeting,” said Kinsey Cooper, director of alumni programs. Any USC alumnus interested in becoming a club leader is encouraged to call the Carolina Alumni Association at (800) 476-8752.

It’s certainly evident that all of these groups go beyond memories and add to the Lowcountry through reaching out to meet community needs.