Tony Meyer ’49 is a legend in the College of Charleston community. To say Meyer held many positions at the College (including administrator, coach and faculty member) would be an understatement.
He dedicated over half a century to the CofC community by serving as the chairman of the Department of Health and Physical Education, director of athletics, director of intramural sports, director of college relations, director of student relations, director of student activities, director of counseling, dean of men and varsity coach.
He also chartered the College of Charleston Student Alumni Associates (SAA) in 1984. As an organization of undergraduate students dedicated to promoting and preserving the history and traditions of their beloved alma mater, SAA has grown into one of the most distinguished leadership organizations on campus.
Eileen Ray ’85 also played a large role in the founding of SAA, serving as the organization’s first student president. Student alumni associations were fairly new in the ’80s, so when Meyer asked Ray to lead the group, she was honored, but she admits she wasn’t quite sure how significant the organization would become. She says she’s really proud of how the group has grown.
“I am delighted that from such humble beginnings it has grown to be such a strong organization,” says Ray, who majored in biology at the College before pursuing a career as a physical therapist. “I am also pleased to see how SAA has developed its own identity. When I recruited the first group of SAA members, I chose people I knew who were active on campus, and who I thought would do a good job giving campus tours. Besides being personable, there was not much that the members had in common. I realize now that the diversity of the group is actually part of its strength. From the beginning it has not been composed of students from just one particular group (Greeks, non-Greeks, scholars, athletes, artists and more). Rather, SAA brings together students whose common trait is that they are proud of their college and want to be involved.”
On the 35th anniversary of SAA at CofC (and the 250th anniversary of the founding of the College), Ray and Meyer met up to reminisce about their time starting the organization. The duo have stayed in touch over the years, as they’ve attended each other’s family gatherings and celebrations.
Throughout those years, dozens of SAA Cougars have assisted with important annual ceremonies, including Convocation and Commencement, as well as volunteered at campus and Alumni Association events throughout the year, including Accepted Student Weekend, Orientation, alumni weekends, career fairs, the College Ring Ceremony, among many others.
Students interested in serving the College of Charleston’s Student Alumni Associates, can submit an application during the new member fall recruitment period held each year.
“For me, SAA helped me realize my leadership style,” says Ray. “I knew that I liked to encourage people and I liked being involved on campus as a peer mentor and a tour guide for the admissions office, but I did not think I was a leader. So when Mr. Meyer asked me to help start SAA I was worried that my enthusiasm had been mistaken for leadership. Turns out that enthusiasm and encouragement can be effective ways to lead. This has helped me as a physical therapist, as a volunteer and definitely as a wife and mother.”