Southwest Tennessee Community College

For Immediate Release

Date: January 16, 2009

For More Information: Brenda J. Rayner, 901-333-4247

Former U.S. Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Slated to Speak at 37th Annual SAEOPP Conference

Former U.S. Congressman Harold Ford Jr. will be the opening speaker for the 37th Annual Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (SAEOPP) Conference scheduled in Memphis from January 24 to 28. SAEOPP members from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee will convene at the conference site, The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.

The conference will kick off with the 2009 TRIO Day Celebration on January 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ford will address members of SAEOPP at the opening session on January 25. He is currently the Democratic Leadership Council Chairman, a news analyst for NBC and MSNBC, and a visiting professor of public policy at Vanderbilt University. He was described by President Bill Clinton as "the walking, living embodiment of where America ought to go in the 21st century."

A longtime proponent of federally funded educational programs, Ford will likely express optimism for the future of education under the new administration and the role of those who work with first-generation college students. Events scheduled from January 25 to 28 include workshops and speakers.

Willie D. Clark Jr., director of Southwest Tennessee Community College's Upward Bound Program and coordinator of the TRIO Day celebration on January 24, views former Representative Ford's opening speech as the highlight of a spectacular celebration of endorsement of higher education. "The Memphis TRIO programs are not only happy to host the 37th Annual SAEOPP Conference, but see Chairman Ford's participation as the highlight of a great event," said Clark.

SAEOPP is the umbrella support organization for the following federally funded TRIO programs: Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math/Science, Veterans Upward Bound, Student Support Services, Talent Search, Education Opportunity Centers, Ron McNair, and Gear-UP. SAEOPP's purpose is to bring together into a work and study community those persons who have an active interest in or who are professionally involved in broadening accessibility to and success in formal postsecondary education. With the primary office in Atlanta, Georgia, SAEOPP works to promote the interest of TRIO programs in eight states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Currently, nine TRIO programs serve Memphis: Girls Incorporated – (two) Talent Search programs; LeMoyne Owen College – Student Support Services/ Gear UP/ Upward Bound; Southwest Tennessee Community College – Education Opportunity Center/Gear-UP/Upward Bound; and University of Memphis – Student Support Services.

For more information regarding the 37th SAEOPP Conference, contact Clark via e-mail at or by phone at (901) 333-5119.


Cutline: Harold Ford Jr.