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Alumni Profiles

Bea Forniss
President, ASU National Alumni Associaton; B.A. 1972; M.S. 1974
Bea Forniss

Bea Forniss

When it comes to her alma mater, Alabama State University alumna Bea Forniss truly personifies the verse in the University hymn, “We proudly hail thy name.” Forniss doesn’t hesitate to tell anyone she meets about the debt of gratitude she holds for ASU.

“I owe everything to the University. I can compete with the best; it doesn’t get any better than that,” Forniss said. “At ASU, I developed a strong background in elementary education and strong public speaking skills. And when people ask me where I got my degree, I am so proud to tell them I went to Alabama State University. ”

Forniss currently is the director of REAP (the Governor’s Resources and Economic Assistance Programs) at the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). She has been the director of REAP for six years, and she has been with ADECA for 15 years. Forniss was a schoolteacher for many years before she began working for ADECA.

Forniss earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education in 1972 from ASU, as well as her Master’s degree in counseling in 1974. A native of Mobile, she broke with family tradition when she chose to attend ASU. Her mother attended ASU’s chief rival, Alabama A&M University, but Forniss did not follow in her footsteps because she said she has always felt she “was born to be a Hornet.”

During her matriculation at ASU, Forniss’ favorite instructors were Mrs. Thelma Glass and Mrs. Rice, whom she affectionately remembers as “Mama Rice.”

“They taught us how to be ladies; they gave us responsibility and challenged us,” Forniss said. “Mrs. Glass really showed us that the world was out there, and we could go get it. She was very nurturing.”

Forniss was very involved as an ASU student. She was an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., she was a member of the Theatre Guild, and she worked in the library as a work-study student. Forniss also recalls residing in Bessie W. Benson Hall dormitory, which also kept her busy with many activities.

Today Forniss continues her involvement with the University as the president of the National Alumni Association. She also is chair of the ASU Foundation and is an active member of ASU’s Montgomery Alumni Chapter.

Forniss encourages current and future ASU students to get involved and take advantage of everything the University has to offer.

“Make the best of the moment. Get involved in everything,” Forniss said. “Embrace the University because it has a lot to give, not only to students, but to the community. Embrace the culture of ASU, and just grow and soar.”

Forniss is married to Leon Forniss. The couple has two daughters, Dana Holmes and Taryn Forniss, and two grandchildren.


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