Department of African and African American Studies renamed

March 16, 2012

Penn State’s Board of Trustees approved a name change and reorganization for the Department of African and African American Studies (AAAS) in the College of the Liberal Arts. The renamed Department of African American Studies reflects a focus on African American topics. The African Studies Program will be created as a separate entity.

The Southern African Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association is launched

December, 2011

The Southern Africa Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association was launched in Soweto, South Africa.  This is the first chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Shartaya Mollett announced as Penn State’s 2006 Homecoming Queen

October 20, 2006

Shartaya Mollett, a Pittsburgh resident and a human development and family studies major, becomes the third African American to hold the crown. 

Beverly McIver

Beverly McIver was born in Greensboro, NC in 1962. She is the youngest of three girls born to Ethel McIver. She is legal guardian to her eldest sister Renee, who is mentally disabled. McIver’s efforts to balance her career with the challenges of her role as caretaker are chronicled in the HBO2 documentary, Raising Renee. 

McIver is widely acknowledged as a significant presence in contemporary American art in general and has charted a new direction as an African American woman artist. She is committed to producing art that consistently examines racial, gender, social and occupational identity.
 
Her work is in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the NCCU Museum of Art, the Asheville Museum of Art, The Crocker Art Museum and the Nelson Fine Arts Museum on the campus of Arizona State University.
 
She is currently the Suntrust Endowed Chair Professor of Art at North Carolina Central University. Prior to this appointment, McIver taught at Arizona State University, Duke University, North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University. She has also held residencies at many of the nation’s leading artist communities and has served on the board at Penland School of Arts and Crafts and currently serves on the board of directors at YADDO in Saratoga Springs, NY.
 
McIver’s work has been reviewed in Art News, Art in America, and The New York Times and a host of local newspapers.  She has received numerous grants and awards including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard University.

In 2010, McIver received the Penn State Alumni Fellow Award, which is the highest award given by the Penn State Alumni Association and is presented for outstanding professional accomplishments.

McIver earned a bachelor’s degree in art from North Carolina Central University, a master of fine arts degree in painting from Pennsylvania State University and an honorary doctorate from North Carolina Central University.

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Guion S. Bluford

Guion S. “Guy” Bluford (BS Eng 1964) was the first African American to go to space on August 30, 1983, as a member of the crew aboard the third flight of the space shuttle Challenger.

After graduating from Penn State in 1964 with a B.S. in aerospace engineering, he entered active duty with the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a pilot during the Vietnam War. He earned an M.S. in aerospace engineering in 1974 and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and laser physics in 1978, both from the Air Force Institute of Technology. Bluford earned an M.B.A. in 1987 from the University of Houston, Clear Lake.

Bluford was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1978. Bluford’s 1983 mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger included the deployment of an Indian communications satellite and the first launch and landing of a space shuttle at night.

In November 1985, Bluford again flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger on a mission dedicated to German scientific experiments. Bluford’s third spaceflight was aboard the space shuttle Discovery in April 1991.

In 1993, Bluford resigned from the Air Force and NASA to become vice president of the Engineering Services Division of NYMA Inc. in Greenbelt, Md. In 1997, he became vice president of the Aerospace Sector of Federal Data Corporation, and in 2000, Bluford became vice president of Microgravity R&D and Operations for the Northrop Grumman Corporation. 

Bluford has served on numerous boards including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, the Aerospace Corporation, and the Space Foundation. He is currently president of the Aerospace Technology Group in Cleveland, Oh.

Guion Bluford was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997, and he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on June 5, 2010.

He received the Pennsylvania Society’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement. Each year, since 1909, the Society presents its Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement to a prominent person in recognition of leadership, citizenship and contributions to the arts, science, education and industry.  Past recipients have included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Joe Paterno, Bill Cosby, and Henry Ford.

(First flight footage courtesy of NASA)

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Adam Taliaferro

Penn State freshman cornerback Adam Taliaferro (BS Lib 2005) was seriously injured in a nationally televised football game against Ohio State on September 23, 2000. Despite being told he might not walk again, within a year Taliaferro completed a determined and courageous recovery. Though he would never again play college football, on September 1, 2001, Taliaferro miraculously led the Nittany Lions onto the field to start a new season.

On November 8, 2011, Taliaferro won a seat on the Gloucester County (NJ) Board of Freeholders.


Edward N. Thompson, Penn State director of development for the Office of Educational Equity, dies

October 23, 2011

Edward N. Thompson, Penn State director of development for Office of Educational Equity, died from a heart attack while running the Tussey Mountainback Relay in Rothrock State Forest (PA). Thompson, 58, had bypass surgery 13 years earlier, but was a lifelong athlete.  The former president of the Forum on Black Affairs spent most of his Penn State career raising funds to allow more minorities, veterans and disabled students to attend the university. Thompson was a very proud member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

Roland Fryer is recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award

September 20, 2011

Roland Fryer (PhD Bus 2002), professor of economics, Harvard University, is named as a recipient of the 2011 MacArthur Foundation Genius Award.  MacArthur Fellows each receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support over a five year period.  The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Fryer is an economist illuminating the causes and consequences of economic disparity due to race and inequality in American society. Through innovative empirical and theoretical investigations, Fryer has opened up a range of topics to quantitative analysis, offering new insights on such issues as the cognitive underpinnings of racial discrimination, labor market inequalities, and, in particular, the educational trajectory of minority children.  In January 2008, at age 30, he became the youngest African American to receive tenure at Harvard University.  He has been the recipient of a number of honors, including a Sloan Fellowship, the Calvó-Armengol International Prize, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He was listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2009.

Source: The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Photo courtesy of The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

2.8% of the faculty and 2.7% of the staff at Penn State are African American

September, 2011

2.8% (171) of the faculty and 2.7% (342) of the staff at Penn State are African American.

5,781 African American students enrolled at Penn State.

September, 2011

5,781 (6.0%) African American students are enrolled at Penn State.

New Black Student Union is established

August 15, 2011

A new Black Student Union, founded by Jasmine Rushum, was official established.  The primary goal of the organization is to promote unity among Black students.  “The organization will also work towards reducing a gap between students and careers by providing information on scholarships, encouraging further education and organizing student friendly events,” indicated Rushum.

Cary Fraser appointed president of the University of Belize

August 1, 2011

Cary Fraser, an associate professor of African and African American Studies and former interim director of the Africana Research Center, was appointed president of the University of Belize in Central America. 

Yvonne Carter Williams receives the Paul Robeson and Zora Neal Hurston Celebrated Elder Award

March 20, 2010

Yvonne Carter Williams (BA Lib 1953), longtime professor and administrator at The College of Wooster (OH), received the Paul Robeson and Zora Neal Hurston Celebrated Elder Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service in the Promotion of Black Studies. The award, which is presented annually by the National Council for Black Studies, recognized her contributions to the development and promotion of Africana Studies at The College of Wooster, DePauw University and the Great Lakes Colleges Association Black Studies Conference. On October 7, 2003 she was honored by being inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. Carter was also a founding member of the Penn State chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in 1953.

Black Caucus hosts the first annual Ashe Awards

December 6, 2009

The Black Caucus hosts the first annual Ashe Awards. Over 300 students packed the Paul Robeson Cultural Center’s Heritage Hall for the event.  Black Caucus vice president Travis Salters said the award show was named the Ashe Awards because of the word’s positive meaning,“in agreement with.”  Students were given the opportunity to vote for other students and organizations online. The categories ranged from fun nominations such as the Smooth Award, Classy Award and Fly Girl, to Service to the Community, Best Greek Program of the Semester, and Best Sorority and Best Fraternity. The idea for the awards originated from similar programs held at a few commonwealth campuses.

Helen Darling presented with the WNBA Community Assist Award

May 31, 2003

Helen Darling (BS H&HD 2001) was presented with the 2003 WNBA Community Assist Award in recognition for the passion that she demonstrated in serving her community.  Darling, a guard for the Cleveland Rockers and mother of infant triplets, had served as a national spokesperson for the March of Dimes, and touched many young lives in the Cleveland area through her numerous local school lectures and basketball clinics. 

Darrell Flood becomes the head coach of the cheerleading squad

July, 1994

Darrell Flood, assistant manager for the Office of Housing and Food Service Operations, is named as the first African American head coach of the University’s cheerleading squad.  Flood, a Little Rock, Arkansas native and Grambling State graduate, had been hired by the university in 1992.

Penn State NAACP Chapter Approved

July, 1987

The Penn State University NAACP college chapter charter was approved during the 78th annual NAACP convention.  This reestablished the organization that had been on campus, on and off, since 1948.  A formal presentation occurred on October 9, 1987 at the Paul Robeson Cultural Center.  Barton A. Fields (BA Lib 1954), NAACP Central Pennsylvania section director and Pennsylvania secretary of revenue, presented the charter. 
The first officers of the organization were: Seprinia Coleman, president, Yvette Dudley, vice-president,  Leslie Jones, secretary, Karl Romain, assistant vice-president, Wendy Washing, treasurer, and John Barnes, advisor.

Charles Janerette, Jr.

Charles Janerette, Jr., a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, became the first Negro to play against the all-white Alabama squad when the Penn State football team met the Crimson Tide in the inaugural Liberty Bowl, held in Philadelphia.  The Nittany Lions won the game 7-0. 

On October 26, 1984, Janerette was fatally shot by Philadelphia police, who accused him of attempting to steal a squad car.  Janerette, who had suffered from a mental illness for the twelve previous years, had played for four NFL teams in six seasons in the early 1960s. 

Barton A. Fields becomes Pennsylvania’s secretary of the Commonwealth

October, 1977

Philadelphia native Barton A. Fields (BA Lib 1954) graduated from Penn State University in 1954, then moved to Harrisburg to begin a career in state government. He started as the director of municipal pension and fire relief audits in the Department of the Auditor General in 1957 and rose to deputy secretary of the Department of State in 1971. Governor Milton Shapp appointed him secretary of the Commonwealth six years later, and Fields was reappointed by Governor Richard Thornburgh in 1979.

In 1987,  Fields was appointed as secretary of revenue by Governor Robert Casey, while serving as chairman of the Commission on Charitable Organizations.  Fields has served as president and board chairman of the Harristown Development Corporation and president of the NAACP’s Greater Harrisburg Branch.  In the latter capacity he helped to re-launch and charter the Penn State chapter of the NAACP in 1987.  While a student at Penn State, Fields was a founding member and a major driving force behind the chartering of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity on campus in 1952.

Source: Harrisburg Living Legacy

Charles Janerette, Jr.

Charles Janerette, Jr., a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, became the first Negro to play against the all-white Alabama squad when the Penn State football team met the Crimson Tide in the inaugural Liberty Bowl, held in Philadelphia.  The Nittany Lions won the game 7-0. 

On October 26, 1984, Janerette was fatally shot by Philadelphia police, who accused him of attempting to steal a squad car.  Janerette, who had suffered from a mental illness for the twelve previous years, had played for four NFL teams in six seasons in the early 1960s. 

Robert Beale earns a PhD in Chemistry from Penn State

May, 1942

Robert Beale earned a PhD in Chemistry from Penn State and would serve as a teacher and administrator at eleven different colleges during his career – including North Carolina A&T, the University of Maryland and Virginia Union. Beale retired in 1986.  In 1990, Beale returned to teaching in the Prince George’s County School District (MD) upon hearing there was a shortage of black male teachers at their facilities.

Diversity in Aquatics Program founded by alums Shaun Anderson and Jayson Jackson

April, 2008

Prompted by concerns about the global rate of drowning and the racial disparities found within the drowning statistics, the Diversity in Aquatics Program (DAP) was founded by Shaun Anderson (BS H&HD 2001) and Jayson Jackson (BS Sci 1999), two former Penn State athletes.  DAP has created a number of events such as International Water Safety Day which encourages all children to learn to swim, and communicates both basic water safety and advanced aquatic activities. 

Yvonne Carter

In April of 1952, Yvonne Carter was elected as president of the Mortar Board honorary society. She was also the organization’s first Negro member. Mortar Board, established on campus in 1935, offered senior women membership based on service, leadership and scholarship.  Carter would also serve as Chair of the Women’s Student Government Association (WSGA) House of Representatives, president of Delta Alpha Delta debate honorary society, secretary of the Hat Society Council, a member of the Liberal Arts student council, and feature editor of LaVie Yearbook.  Carter was a founding member of the Penn State chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in 1953.

John Amaechi

In 2007, John Amaechi (1994 graduate), All-Big Ten basketball player who had led Penn State to a “Top 10” ranking, revealed his homosexuality in his autobiography, Man in the Middle. The admission sparked national discussion over gays in professional sports.

Amaechi was awarded the Order of the British Empire by the Queen of England. An extremely high honor in Britain, the award is handed out to a select few individuals for their chivalry.  Amaechi, a native of Manchester England, was given the honor for his work with children and human rights.

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Walnut Building marker dedicated

April 15, 2011

A Penn State Alumni Association Historical Marker was dedicated at the site of the former Walnut Building.  The Walnut Building had been the center of minority student social, cultural and political life at Penn State from the opening of the Black Cultural Center in 1971 until the Paul Robeson Cultural Center moved to its current expanded facility in 1999.

Talor Battle breaks all time scoring record

March, 2011

In leading Penn State to a Big Ten Conference Basketball Tournament upset win over Wisconsin, Talor Battle eclipsed Jesse Arnelle’s 56-year old school career scoring record.  Battle would end the night with a career total of 2,141 points.

Omega Psi Phi earns highest grade point average

April 4, 1933

Omega Psi Phi fraternity is reported as achieving the highest grade point average of any social fraternity or sorority at Penn State during the 1932 fall semester.

John Settle

Retired veterinarian Dr. John Settle attended Penn State from 1957-1961, graduating with a degree in Animal Husbandry. Settle grew up in Petersburg, VA on the campus of Virginia State University, where both his parents were faculty members.

Settle attended veterinary school at Tuskegee University (formerly the Tuskegee Institute). He taught at Tuskegee University and Virginia State University and then went into private practice.

Settle ran his own veterinary practice for more than 30 years and retired in 2005. He currently serves on Penn State’s Educational Equity Advisory Board.

William 'Rick' Collins

William “Rick” Collins graduated from Penn State in 1969. Collins, who grew up in Philadelphia, was the first in his family to attend a University. Collins was actively involved politically while on campus and eventually became President of the Frederick Douglass Association. He runs a counseling center for veterans in California.

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Glen C.Moore

Glen C. Moore was the first known African American to serve as assistant coach for the Penn State Men’s Fencing Team. In 1980, Moore was selected as a referee for the NCAA Fencing Championships, which were held at Penn State.

Moore received his undergraduate degree at the State University of New York College at Oswego. He graduated from Penn State in 1980 with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

The University nominated Moore to take part in the Presidential Management Fellowship program. He was selected to participate and spent three years working in various Federal departments.

In 1998, Moore retired from the United States Department of Defense after twenty years as a member of the Senior Executive Service.


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President Obama visits Penn State to discuss energy innovation

February 3, 2011

President Barack Obama visited the University Park campus to meet with Penn State faculty and researchers regarding the University’s role as the lead partner of an Energy Innovation Hub. He also delivered remarks at Recreation Hall on the importance of investing in innovation and clean energy to increase employment and grow the economy.  This was the president’s first trip to Penn State since he was elected in November 2008.

Kenneth C. Frazier

Kenneth C. Frazier, became the chief executive officer (CEO) and president of Merck & Co. on January 1, 2011. Frazier was also elected to serve on the board of directors for the “Fortune 50” company. Frazier had previously served as president of Merck & Co. since May 2010. Frazier has also been a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees since May 2009.

Frazier joined Merck in 1992 as vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the Astra Merck Group. Prior to that, he was a partner with the Philadelphia firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath. He was elected vice president of public affairs in 1994 and, in 1997, he assumed the additional responsibilities of assistant general counsel, corporate staff. Ken was promoted to vice president and deputy general counsel in January 1999. In December 1999, he assumed the position of senior vice president and general counsel overseeing Merck’s legal and public affairs functions and The Merck Company Foundation. In November 2006, he was promoted to executive vice president and general counsel.

In 2003, Frazier received the Distinguished Alumni Award from The Pennsylvania State University—the highest honor the University bestows on graduates whose professional achievements, personal qualities, and community involvement exemplify the goals of Penn State. In 2001, Ken also received the Alumni Fellow Award from The Pennsylvania State University—the most prestigious award given by the Alumni Association to those recognized as leaders in their professional fields who are committed to sharing their knowledge and expertise with the University community. Frazier earned a B.A. in political science from Penn State in 1975 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1978. He and his wife, Andréa, are longtime supporters of Penn State. In 1999, the couple established a scholarship in the liberal arts for students whose ethnic, cultural, or national background contributes to the diversity of the student body.

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Francis K. Achampong is appointed chancellor of Penn State Fayette

November 1, 2010

Francis K. Achampong was appointed permanent chancellor of Penn State Fayette, after serving as interim chancellor since March 22, 2010.

2.85% of the faculty and 2.68% of the staff at Penn State are African American

September, 2010

2.85% (171) of the faculty and 2.68% (342) of the staff at Penn State were African American.

5.52% of students in the Penn State system are African American

September, 2010

The racial makeup of the 95,833 students in the Penn State system, including all campuses, special-mission colleges, and World Campus, was 78.71% White & unknown, 5.52% African American (5286), 4.14 % Asian American, 4.39% Hispanic/Latino, 0.13 % Native American, 5.44 % international students, and 1.62% two or more races. 

4,986 African American students are enrolled at Penn State

September, 2008

4,986 African American students are enrolled at Penn State (5.4 % of total enrollment).

Warren Washington is awarded the National Medal of Science

October 5, 2010

President Barack Obama named Warren Washington (Ph.D. EMS 1964) as one of 10 eminent researchers to be awarded the National Medal of Science. Washington received his award—the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists, engineers, and inventors—at a White House ceremony on November 17, 2010.

Washington is a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). He earned his Ph.D. from Penn State’s Department of Meteorology in 1964 and is a Penn State Alumni Fellow, a Distinguished Alumni, and the 2010 recipient of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Hosler Scholar Medal.

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Lance Collins is named dean of the College of Engineering at Cornell University

July 1, 2010

Lance Collins, a former professor of engineering at Penn State, was named dean of the college of engineering at Cornell University on July 1, 2010. Collins was Cornell’s first African American dean. During his more than 11 years at Penn State, Collins was noted for making a discovery in powder manufacturing that generated a new area of study and helped to refine climate models.

“Penn State University Pioneering African American Faculty & Staff” is released

February 26, 2010

The research document “Penn State University Pioneering African American Faculty & Staff (1956 – 1970)” was released on February 26, 2010. In conjunction with the Africana Research Center, and the Office of the Vice-Provost for Educational Equity, researcher Tiffanie Lewis (B.A. Com, B.A. Lib 2004) identifies and highlights the achievements of the earliest Black faculty and staff members at the University Park campus. 

Anthony T. Leach is named Penn State laureate

April 27, 2009

Anthony T. Leach, associate professor of music and music education in the College of Arts and Architecture, was named the University’s second Penn State laureate. His yearlong duties included raising awareness of the arts and enriching the public’s cultural experience. Leach, a tenor vocalist, pianist and music educator, is best known as the founder and conductor of the Essence of Joy choir.

Courtney Brown and LaVar Arrington are drafted by the NFL

April 15, 2000

Teammates Courtney Brown and LaVar Arrington were selected as the first two players in the 2000 National Football League (NFL) draft, making them the only Penn State players to be drafted number one and two in the same year. Brown was picked by the Cleveland Browns, while Arrington was selected by the Washington Redskins.

Alisia “Lisa” Salters joins ESPN as a general assignment reporter

March, 2000

Alisia “Lisa” Salters became a general assignment reporter for ESPN in March 2000. One of ESPN’s most versatile reporters, Salters can be seen on the sidelines of NBA and major college football games. She is a featured correspondent for the ESPN news magazine E:60, a role which earned her a Gracie Award from the Association for Women in Radio in Television for best feature in 2009. In 2008, she was nominated for a Sports Emmy Award for the story “Ray of Hope”.

Salters’ reports have been regularly featured on ESPN’s award-winning series, “Outside the Lines.” She led the network’s comprehensive coverage of the murder trial of Carolina Panthers’ wide receiver Rae Carruth from December 2000 through January 2001. During the build-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom through the commencement of the war, Salters covered sports-related stories in and around the U.S. Central Command in Qatar for Outside the Lines, SportsCenter, and ESPNEWS.

Prior to joining the ESPN team, Salters worked for ABC News as a bureau correspondent out of Los Angeles beginning in the spring of 1997.  While at ABC, she provided news coverage for World News Tonight and other ABC News telecasts on such stories as the Oklahoma City bombing trials, the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and the crash of TWA flight 800. 

A native of King of Prussia, PA, Salters graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and played for the women’s basketball team. In the early days of her career, Salters served as a general assignment reporter for WBAL-TV in Baltimore.

*Information courtesy of espnmediazone3.com

*Photo courtesy of espnmediazone3.com

Charles Townes earns a Ph.D. in physics from Penn State

May, 1942

Charles Townes, from Petersburg, VA, earned a Ph.D. in physics from Penn State. He had also earned a M.S. in physics from the University in 1938.

Ralph Brock

Ralph Brock was admitted to the Pennsylvania State Forest Academy in 1903 (now Penn State Mont Alto). Brock was the only colored student to graduate in the class of six students in 1906 and became the first colored forester in the nation. In 2003 the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission dedicated a formal marker to Brock at the entrance to the Penn State Mont Alto campus.


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Eugene Harris

Eugene “Gene” Harris, basketball team captain, scored a Penn State record 46 points against Holy Cross during the Quaker City Tournament in Philadelphia.  Harris, a senior from Pittsburgh, eclipsed the previous record of 44 points scored by Jesse Arnelle in a 1955 contest against Bucknell.


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Francis K. Achampong is appointed interim chancellor of Penn State Fayette

March 22, 2010

Francis K. Achampong, director of academic affairs for the Mount Alto Campus, was appointed interim chancellor of Penn State Fayette on March 22, 2010, shortly after the unexpected death of Emanuel Osagie.

Kenneth C. Frazier

Kenneth C. Frazier, became the chief executive officer (CEO) and president of Merck & Co. on January 1, 2011. Frazier was also elected to serve on the board of directors for the “Fortune 50” company. Frazier had previously served as president of Merck & Co. since May 2010. Frazier has also been a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees since May 2009.

Frazier joined Merck in 1992 as vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the Astra Merck Group. Prior to that, he was a partner with the Philadelphia firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath. He was elected vice president of public affairs in 1994 and, in 1997, he assumed the additional responsibilities of assistant general counsel, corporate staff. Ken was promoted to vice president and deputy general counsel in January 1999. In December 1999, he assumed the position of senior vice president and general counsel overseeing Merck’s legal and public affairs functions and The Merck Company Foundation. In November 2006, he was promoted to executive vice president and general counsel.

In 2003, Frazier received the Distinguished Alumni Award from The Pennsylvania State University—the highest honor the University bestows on graduates whose professional achievements, personal qualities, and community involvement exemplify the goals of Penn State. In 2001, Ken also received the Alumni Fellow Award from The Pennsylvania State University—the most prestigious award given by the Alumni Association to those recognized as leaders in their professional fields who are committed to sharing their knowledge and expertise with the University community. Frazier earned a B.A. in political science from Penn State in 1975 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1978. He and his wife, Andréa, are longtime supporters of Penn State. In 1999, the couple established a scholarship in the liberal arts for students whose ethnic, cultural, or national background contributes to the diversity of the student body.

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Penn State is ranked 7th in African American student graduation rates

April, 2008

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education ranked Penn State seventh in African American student graduation rates among top state universities. Penn State’s 68% graduation rate was also significantly above the 44% national average of all colleges and universities

Emmanuel I. Osagie

Emmanuel I. Osagie, chancellor of Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, died unexpectedly from complications due to an illness on March 9, 2010. He was 58 years old. Osagie, a native of Nigeria, became chancellor of Penn State Fayette in February 2007.

African American Alumni Organization Scholarship Fund is established

August, 2003

The African American Alumni Organization Scholarship Fund was established in 2003. A major push by the 2008 and 2010 Black Alumni Reunions broadened the support.

Curtiss E. Porter

Curtiss E. Porter became chancellor at Penn State Greater Allegheny campus on June 24, 1999. He followed the retirement of Joanne E. Burley.

Beverly Lindsay

Beverly Lindsay was appointed Dean of the University Office of International Programs in 1997. The office serves as a catalyst to encourage Penn State to enhance its commitment to internationalization.  Lindsay served in the role until 2002.

Joanne E. Burley

Joanne E. Burley assumed the position of campus executive (chancellor) for Penn State McKeesport (now Penn State Greater Allegheny) on July 1, 1992. She became the first African American to lead a Penn State commonwealth campus. 

Pittsburgh newspapers report on African American student enrollment at Penn State

February 13, 1983

The Pittsburgh Press ran a “special report” that heavily criticized Penn State for its low number of African American students (2.5%) and faculty (1.2%). On February 25 1983, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette printed a similar report. Both papers, which were jointly operated, cited that the number of Blacks at Penn State had shown little gain over the previous ten year period. A March 1st editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concluded that Penn State “cannot be considered a truly first-class university until it overcomes this shortcoming.”

Frederick E. Douglass Association

Founded in October 1967, The Frederick E. Douglass Association was first formed to petition for the creation of an Afro American History course at Penn State. The group would later press for increased Black enrollment and awareness.  Frederick B. Phillips, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, served as the group’s first President.  A course called “The Negro and the American Experience” was established in the spring of 1968 as a direct result of The Douglass Association petition.  On May 13, 1968 (about 5 weeks after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated), 100 members of The Douglass Association, led by newly elected President Wilbert Manley and Vice-President Vincent Benson, confronted the University Vice-President for Student Affairs, Charles L. Lewis, at his Old Main office with a list of 12 demands for changes in the University’s policies regarding Black students.  The meeting lasted almost 3 hours, and it was reported that Lewis was “visibly shaken” when he left.

The demands focused on the need for more Black undergraduate and graduate students, Black faculty and athletic coaches, and the creation of an African cultural study program.  The Douglass Association held several more demonstrations to continue to press for status on their demands. 

On April 5, 1968, the Douglass Association, along with a racially mixed group of students, forcefully lowered the United States and Pennsylvania flags in front of Old Main building to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King had been assassinated the previous day. The students used a crowbar to break the lock mechanism. As the flags were being lowered, a skirmish and arguing developed between the students, bystanders, and campus police, until the administration announced that U.S. President Johnson proclaimed that all flags should be flown at half-mast that day.

On January 13, 1969, five representatives from the Douglass Association gave University President Walker a list of thirteen demands aimed at making a stronger black presence felt on the campus. On the list were demands that a thousand Blacks be admitted within a year, a special recruiter for Black students be appointed, courses in Black history and culture be added to the curriculum, and more black faculty members be hired. The Douglass Association also wanted a special collection in Black literature to be established in the library and a new building to be named after Martin Luther King, Jr.

In February 1969, the Douglass Association, now led by William “Rick” Collins, lobbied the then Pennsylvania State House Majority Leader, K. Leroy Irvis for support.  As a result, Irvis convinced University President Eric Walker to include an extra $1 million in his budget strictly for the purpose of Black recruiting.

In April of 1969 the Douglass Association transitioned into the Black Student Union, but the mission remained basically the same.  Two years later, the then inactive Black Student Union was replaced by the Black Caucus. 

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Emmanuel I. Osagie

Emmanuel I. Osagie, chancellor of Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, died unexpectedly from complications due to an illness on March 9, 2010. He was 58 years old. Osagie, a native of Nigeria, became chancellor of Penn State Fayette in February 2007.

Jim Caldwell

Jim Caldwell, former Penn State assistant football coach, led the Indianapolis Colts into Super Bowl XLIV during his first year as head coach in 2010. Caldwell, Penn State assistant from 1986 - 1992, became only the fourth African American head coach in Super Bowl history. Despite an impressive 14 - 2 regular season, the Colts fell to the New Orleans Saints in the game.

James E. Walker

Southern Illinois University named James E. Walker (1972 graduate of Penn State and president of Middle Tennessee State University since 1991), as its new president on October 1, 2000. Walker, the first African American to serve as president of the two-campus, 35,000-student Southern Illinois University system, died in February 2006 after a long battle with prostate cancer.

Walnut Building is demolished

July, 2000

The Walnut Building was the powerful center of minority student social, academic, cultural, and political life at Penn State from the opening of the Black Cultural Center in 1971 until the Paul Robeson Cultural Center moved to its current expanded facility in 1999.

The former USO surplus building on an Army base in Lebanon, Pa, was transferred piece-by-piece in the fall of 1947 to the Shortlidge Road site at the University Park campus. The building later served as the Temporary Union Building, affectionately known as the TUB, for Penn State students in the 1940s and ‘50s. When the Hetzel Union Building (HUB), opened in 1955, it was renamed the Walnut Building and was used by the Division of Student Affairs and then the Department of Anthropology before becoming home to the student run Black Cultural Center (1971) and later the Paul Robeson Cultural Center (1972).

The building underwent makeovers in 1974 and 1986, including construction of a small art gallery, a library, conference room, and meeting spaces. One constant was the auditorium, a multi-function space, where the center sponsored speakers, dances, performances, meetings and receptions, such as one for Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Alex Haley, Nikki Giovanni, Julian Bond, Jessie Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire and many others. The building hosted over 500 events a year during the 1980s and 1990s.

The Walnut Building was demolished in the summer of 2000 to make way for the current Chemistry Building.

Barbara Toomer

Barbara Toomer, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, was featured as the first Black “LaVie Belle” in the 1969 LaVie Yearbook. LaVie Belles were selected by a committee of LaVie editors. Candidates were screened, interviewed and photographed. The candidates whose photos showed an inherited beauty and whose credentials showed the most interest in the well being of the University were selected.


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Charles T. Davis

Charles T. Davis joined the faculty at Penn State as an associate professor of English in 1961 after teaching at Princeton and New York University. He had also held visiting professorships at Yale University, Bryn Mawr College, and Rutgers University.

Davis was promoted to a full tenured professor of English in 1963. He was the first Black faculty member to become tenured at Penn State.

During the 1966-1967 academic year, Davis took leave to lecture on the “American Romantics” at the University of Turin (Italy) under the Fulbright-Hays Act Grant.

On November 4, 1968, Davis was elected a member of the State College Literary Club, an exclusive group (only 117 members since its founding in 1896) dedicated to the liberal arts, and the oldest campus faculty organization. He was the first Black elected to membership.

In 1969 Davis was elected chair of the University Senate Committee on Undergraduate Student Affairs.

He left Penn State in 1970 to head Afro-American Studies at the University of Iowa, and he later became the director of Afro-American Studies at Yale University. At Yale, Davis gained a national reputation as an influential literary critic, author, and scholar.

Prior to his death on March 26, 1981, Davis mentored and influenced young high profile scholars like Henry Louis Gates.

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Julie Cromitie

Julie Cromitie, a secondary education major from Philadelphia, was elected as the first Negro president for the Association of Women Students (AWS) in 1964. The AWS was the coordinating body for cultural, social, and educational activities for women at Penn State.

Cromitie, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, also became the first Negro selected as a Miss Penn State finalist later that same year. Judged on the basis of their activities, appearance, grades, personality, and poise, five finalists were chosen from among 38 entries.

In 1965, Cromitie was named recipient of the Ralph Dorn Hetzel Memorial Award, the most prestigious student award given by the university. Cromitie was the first Negro student to be honored with the award. Established in 1949, and named for Penn State’s tenth president, the Hetzel Award recognizes a combination of high scholastic attainment together with good citizenship and participation and leadership in student activities.


Charles T. Davis

Charles T. Davis joined the faculty at Penn State as an associate professor of English in 1961 after teaching at Princeton and New York University. He had also held visiting professorships at Yale University, Bryn Mawr College, and Rutgers University.

Davis was promoted to a full tenured professor of English in 1963. He was the first Black faculty member to become tenured at Penn State.

During the 1966-1967 academic year, Davis took leave to lecture on the “American Romantics” at the University of Turin (Italy) under the Fulbright-Hays Act Grant.

On November 4, 1968, Davis was elected a member of the State College Literary Club, an exclusive group (only 117 members since its founding in 1896) dedicated to the liberal arts, and the oldest campus faculty organization. He was the first Black elected to membership.

In 1969 Davis was elected chair of the University Senate Committee on Undergraduate Student Affairs.

He left Penn State in 1970 to head Afro-American Studies at the University of Iowa, and he later became the director of Afro-American Studies at Yale University. At Yale, Davis gained a national reputation as an influential literary critic, author, and scholar.

Prior to his death on March 26, 1981, Davis mentored and influenced young high profile scholars like Henry Louis Gates.

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Roger Kenton Williams

Roger Kenton Williams earned a PhD in psychology from Penn State in 1946. Williams, a native of Harrisburg and a magna cum laude graduate in sociology from Claflin College in South Carolina, went on to become vice president of academic affairs at Morgan State University. Williams was also an accomplished pianist.

Betty Love Gibbs

Betty Jean Love was born in Raleigh, NC in 1934 and began studying ballet in Pittsburgh when she was just four years old. 

At Penn State Betty served as president and featured dancer in the modern dance club. In April of 1953, Betty decided to try out for the Penn State cheerleading squad. She loved football and wanted to demonstrate her strong school spirit and gymnastics abilities. 

Unfortunately she was told by officials that colored students were not allowed on the squad.

Three years later, Betty made her competitive gymnastics debut as one of two women representing Penn State at the 1956 National AAU Championships and Olympic Trials.

After graduation, Betty accepted a position as physical education director at a YWCA in Ohio. She taught classes in dance, gymnastics, and swimming. She eventually accepted a similar position in New York City.

In 1964, Betty landed a role as a dancer in the gospel song-play “The Prodigal Son,” written by Langston Hughes and directed by Vinnette Carroll. The show opened in New York City and toured several European cities.

While on tour in Paris, Betty met and fell in love with U.S. serviceman Ray Gibbs III. The two were married in 1966 and had daughter, Cynthia Yvette, in Paris in 1965.

The family eventually moved back to Pittsburgh where Betty’s YMCA dance program evolved into Love’s Academy of Dance. She produced an award-winning competitive dance team in the 9-11 age category. Many of her students have gone on to pursue careers in the dance world.

On February 28, 2010, 75-year-old Betty Love Gibbs was named an “Honorary Penn State Cheerleader” by the Penn State Athletics Department.

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Dave Alston

Dave Alston and his brother Harry joined the freshman football team in September, 1941. They are reported to be the first Negro football players at Penn State.

On August 15, 1942, Dave died from complications following a tonsillectomy. The 20-year-old pre-medical student was a dominant halfback for the undefeated freshman squad and was expected to lead the varsity squad during the upcoming season.

Dave Alston was a triple-threat on the gridiron. He was a fast, exceptionally accurate passer, and he could kick more than 60 yards. He was often compared with greats like Jim Thorpe. Penn State Football Coach Bob Higgins called Alston “the greatest player I ever coached.” And Esquire magazine named Dave Alston the top sophomore football player in the nation and a preseason All-American just prior to his death.

Alston was exceptional off the field as well.  The son of a minister, he had been student council president and an honor student at Midland High School (Midland, PA).

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Blannie Bowen

Blannie Bowen is named Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. Bowen assumed the post on July 1, 2004.  He had previously served as the head of the University’s Department of Agricultural and Extension Education in the College of Agricultural Sciences from 1998 to 2004.

Roy L. Austin

Roy L. Austin is sworn in as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.  Prior to his August 31, 2001 nomination, Ambassador Austin was an associate professor of sociology, justice, and African American studies at Penn State. From 1994 to 1998, he served as Director of the Crime, Law, and Justice Program, and in July 2001 became Director of the Penn State Africana Research Center.

Cynthia Baldwin

Cynthia Baldwin received her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s degree in American literature from Penn State, and she earned her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law. At Duquesne she was a member of the law review and is now a board member emerita.

Baldwin served as the first African American president of the Penn State Alumni Association from 1989 to 1991. She was named a distinguished alumna of the University in 1995 and alumni fellow in 2000.

A 1995 gubernatorial appointee to the Penn State Board of Trustees, Baldwin was elected the first African American female chair of the board in January 2004 and served in that capacity until January 2007.

Baldwin was nominated by Governor Rendell to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2005 and retired from the position in 2008.

Baldwin has also been associated with several law firms and served as attorney-in-charge in the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Allegheny Bar Association, Homer S. Brown Law Association, and the Women’s Bar Association.

In January 2010, Baldwin was appointed to serve as vice president and general counsel of Penn State University. She is the wife of Arthur L. Baldwin and the mother of two adult children.

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Blondell Reynolds Brown

Blondell Reynolds Brown was born in Sumter, SC and is the oldest of seven children.

After graduating from the Philadelphia High School for Girls in 1970, Reynolds Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1974 and a Master of Science in Education with a focus on counseling and guidance in 1975, both from Penn State University. Following graduation, she taught elementary school in Philadelphia.

In 1982, Reynolds Brown began to dance professionally with the Philadelphia Dance Company, Philadanco. Following her company membership, she continued her affiliation with Philadanco as a dance instructor and later as a board member.

Reynolds Brown’s career in politics began in 1982 when she served as a committee person for the Third Division of Philadelphia’s 24th Ward. In 1991, she was hired as legislative director for then Pennsylvania State Senator and current Congressman Chaka Fattah. She went on to serve as community affairs director for State Senator Vincent Hughes. Reynolds Brown was elected to the Philadelphia City Council in 1999.

Reynolds Brown has been honored with many awards and distinctions including being named as a Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction and one of Pennsylvania’s most influential women in the book, VOICES. She was a national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellow in the area of Urban Health Initiatives, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Community Leadership Program and the Philadelphia Urban League Leadership Institute, and serves on the board of directors of numerous community organizations. Reynolds Brown is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

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Mahogany Magazine unveiled in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center

November, 1987

Mahogany Magazine, a publication designed by the Black Caucus Communications Committee, is formally unveiled by Essence magazine editor-in-chief, Susan L. Taylor, to 200 people at the Paul Robeson Cultural Center.  The magazine was initiated by editor-in-chief, Roceania Williams, a senior marketing major and a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Black Student Coalition Against Racism

The Black Student Coalition Against Racism (BSCAR) formed two days after the Board of Trustees voted against divesting its South African-related financial holdings.  Soon after, with the help of the Committee for Justice in South Africa, BSCAR erected South African style “Shanties” near Willard Building by the Black Student Coalition Against Racism (BSCAR) and the Committee for Justice in South Africa to protest the University’s business holdings in South African related companies.  The shantytown was meant to “demonstrate the living conditions of Blacks in South Africa” according to BSCAR Chairman, Carlton Waterhouse. Both organizations also occupied the office of the University President Bryce Jordan for 2 hours and 23 minutes to protest the University’s investments in South Africa. The University would wait until April 29 to remove the Shanties.

BSCAR, led by Chairman Carlton Waterhouse, organized thirteen African American student groups to boycott the University’s minority recruitment efforts in hopes of pressuring the Board of Trustees into reconsidering their decision.

Black Student Coalition Against Racism

The Black Student Coalition Against Racism (BSCAR) formed two days after the Board of Trustees voted against divesting its South African-related financial holdings.  Soon after, with the help of the Committee for Justice in South Africa, BSCAR erected South African style “Shanties” near Willard Building by the Black Student Coalition Against Racism (BSCAR) and the Committee for Justice in South Africa to protest the University’s business holdings in South African related companies.  The shantytown was meant to “demonstrate the living conditions of Blacks in South Africa” according to BSCAR Chairman, Carlton Waterhouse. Both organizations also occupied the office of the University President Bryce Jordan for 2 hours and 23 minutes to protest the University’s investments in South Africa. The University would wait until April 29 to remove the Shanties.

BSCAR, led by Chairman Carlton Waterhouse, organized thirteen African American student groups to boycott the University’s minority recruitment efforts in hopes of pressuring the Board of Trustees into reconsidering their decision.

The Black Student Union articulates their grievances at halftime of a Penn State football game

November 1, 1969

The Black Student Union articulated their demands and grievances at halftime of a Penn State football game. “Since we cannot reach you at any other place, we find it necessary to come to a football game to ask you to think as members of an academic community. We wish to express an analysis of our situation, and we ask you to join us in these thoughts,” stated the group spokesperson.  At the end of the 8 minute speech the Blacks marched off the field single file, with fists held high.

Louis A. Ivey

Commissioned through the Navy ROTC Program at Penn State, Ensign Louis A. Ivey (BA Lib 1953) reports as the first Negro officer aboard the USS New Jersey battleship.  After his first night aboard, his white roommate requested Ivey be reassigned another room due to his race.  Upon completing his tour of duty in 1958, Ivey went on to become a well respected surgeon in the Washington, DC area, and a member of President Jimmy Carter’s traveling medical team. Ivey was also a founding member of the Penn State chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity in 1952.

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Frederick E. Douglass Association

Founded in October 1967, The Frederick E. Douglass Association was first formed to petition for the creation of an Afro American History course at Penn State. The group would later press for increased Black enrollment and awareness.  Frederick B. Phillips, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, served as the group’s first President.  A course called “The Negro and the American Experience” was established in the spring of 1968 as a direct result of The Douglass Association petition.  On May 13, 1968 (about 5 weeks after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated), 100 members of The Douglass Association, led by newly elected President Wilbert Manley and Vice-President Vincent Benson, confronted the University Vice-President for Student Affairs, Charles L. Lewis, at his Old Main office with a list of 12 demands for changes in the University’s policies regarding Black students.  The meeting lasted almost 3 hours, and it was reported that Lewis was “visibly shaken” when he left.

The demands focused on the need for more Black undergraduate and graduate students, Black faculty and athletic coaches, and the creation of an African cultural study program.  The Douglass Association held several more demonstrations to continue to press for status on their demands. 

On April 5, 1968, the Douglass Association, along with a racially mixed group of students, forcefully lowered the United States and Pennsylvania flags in front of Old Main building to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King had been assassinated the previous day. The students used a crowbar to break the lock mechanism. As the flags were being lowered, a skirmish and arguing developed between the students, bystanders, and campus police, until the administration announced that U.S. President Johnson proclaimed that all flags should be flown at half-mast that day.

On January 13, 1969, five representatives from the Douglass Association gave University President Walker a list of thirteen demands aimed at making a stronger black presence felt on the campus. On the list were demands that a thousand Blacks be admitted within a year, a special recruiter for Black students be appointed, courses in Black history and culture be added to the curriculum, and more black faculty members be hired. The Douglass Association also wanted a special collection in Black literature to be established in the library and a new building to be named after Martin Luther King, Jr.

In February 1969, the Douglass Association, now led by William “Rick” Collins, lobbied the then Pennsylvania State House Majority Leader, K. Leroy Irvis for support.  As a result, Irvis convinced University President Eric Walker to include an extra $1 million in his budget strictly for the purpose of Black recruiting.

In April of 1969 the Douglass Association transitioned into the Black Student Union, but the mission remained basically the same.  Two years later, the then inactive Black Student Union was replaced by the Black Caucus. 

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Emmett Smith, Jr.

Emmett Smith, Jr. suited up as the first known Black member of the Penn State Marching Blue Band. From Pittsburgh, Smith, was selected as a tuba player, and would perform with the band for two years.  Andrew Jackson would follow in 1970 on the Bass Drum and Silks.  Both were members of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

Grace Hampton

Grace Hampton was appointed University vice-provost. She was the first African American female to hold the position. Before her appointment, Hampton served as director of the University’s visual arts program. Hampton previously served as assistant director of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., from 1983 to 1985.

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Eugene Richardson

During World War II, the only place African American pilots could receive training was Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Dr. Eugene J. Richardson, Jr. (1973 graduate) completed his training at Tuskegee in 1945; he now heads the speaker’s bureau for the Philadelphia chapter of Tuskegee Airmen.

Robert H. Davage

Robert H. Davage joined the Penn State faculty in 1957 as associate professor of psychology.

He surveyed Negro students on the prevalence of racial discrimination in the State College community. He released his findings in March, 1958.

The “Davage Report” was sponsored by the Centre County Layman’s League and acknowledged major problems in off-campus housing and personal services.


Frederick E. Douglass Association

Founded in October 1967, The Frederick E. Douglass Association was first formed to petition for the creation of an Afro American History course at Penn State. The group would later press for increased Black enrollment and awareness.  Frederick B. Phillips, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, served as the group’s first President.  A course called “The Negro and the American Experience” was established in the spring of 1968 as a direct result of The Douglass Association petition.  On May 13, 1968 (about 5 weeks after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated), 100 members of The Douglass Association, led by newly elected President Wilbert Manley and Vice-President Vincent Benson, confronted the University Vice-President for Student Affairs, Charles L. Lewis, at his Old Main office with a list of 12 demands for changes in the University’s policies regarding Black students.  The meeting lasted almost 3 hours, and it was reported that Lewis was “visibly shaken” when he left.

The demands focused on the need for more Black undergraduate and graduate students, Black faculty and athletic coaches, and the creation of an African cultural study program.  The Douglass Association held several more demonstrations to continue to press for status on their demands. 

On April 5, 1968, the Douglass Association, along with a racially mixed group of students, forcefully lowered the United States and Pennsylvania flags in front of Old Main building to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King had been assassinated the previous day. The students used a crowbar to break the lock mechanism. As the flags were being lowered, a skirmish and arguing developed between the students, bystanders, and campus police, until the administration announced that U.S. President Johnson proclaimed that all flags should be flown at half-mast that day.

On January 13, 1969, five representatives from the Douglass Association gave University President Walker a list of thirteen demands aimed at making a stronger black presence felt on the campus. On the list were demands that a thousand Blacks be admitted within a year, a special recruiter for Black students be appointed, courses in Black history and culture be added to the curriculum, and more black faculty members be hired. The Douglass Association also wanted a special collection in Black literature to be established in the library and a new building to be named after Martin Luther King, Jr.

In February 1969, the Douglass Association, now led by William “Rick” Collins, lobbied the then Pennsylvania State House Majority Leader, K. Leroy Irvis for support.  As a result, Irvis convinced University President Eric Walker to include an extra $1 million in his budget strictly for the purpose of Black recruiting.

In April of 1969 the Douglass Association transitioned into the Black Student Union, but the mission remained basically the same.  Two years later, the then inactive Black Student Union was replaced by the Black Caucus. 

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Marie Dutton Brown

Marie Dutton Brown is one of “the major African American players” in the publishing industry, according to Black Enterprise magazine.

Brown has been a bibliophile since her childhood years in Virginia and Tennessee. Following graduation from Penn State, she worked in Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles.

Now president of Marie Brown Associates, a literary services agency, she is one of a small group of African American literary agents and publishing consultants. A veteran of the book business for 43 years, Brown has worked as an editorial assistant and book editor, bookseller and bookstore manager, editor-in-chief of a magazine, book-marketing strategist, and literary agent. She has worked with clients like Susan Taylor, Faith Ringgold, Tom Feelings, and Carl Weber.

Brown’s father, Benson Dutton graduated from Penn State’s College of Engineering in 1933 and was the first African American to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1971.

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Frederick B. Phillips

Frederick Phillips is a native of Philadelphia and graduated from Penn State in 1968 with a B.A. in social welfare. He earned his master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970. Phillips served as captain and mental health officer in the United States Army through 1973, and he graduated with his Ph.D. in psychology from the Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA, in 1978. 

Phillips is a licensed psychologist and social worker and received advanced training and certification in hypnotherapy, forensic psychology, and executive coaching.

In 1983, Phillips founded Progressive Life Center Inc. (PLC), an African-centered human services firm with offices in Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Ghana. He served as president and CEO of PLC for 25 years and now serves as its senior advisor. 

Phillips is a pioneer in the development of NTU Psychotherapy, an African-centered, spiritually based approach to healing. He has served as a forensic expert witness in the areas of post-traumatic stress disorder, competency to stand trial, insanity defense, adoption, and child custody. He is a consultant to the Peace Corps and has served as an expert psychologist for local, national, and international media.

Among his many civic and community endeavors, Phillips has served as president of the Association of Black Psychologists, vice-chair of the Board of Trustees of Fielding Graduate University, and board chair of the Philadelphia African American Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Phillips is married to Iness Kalinda Phillips, a native of Lusaka, Zambia. They they have a blended family of four children and reside in Washington, D.C.

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Darryl Daisey

Darryl Daisey, 1983 graduate, is a life member of the Penn State Alumni Association and a member of the Golden Lion Society of the Alumni Association. In 1987, he received an outstanding service award from the department of business logistics.

Darryl, a Supply Chain Manager for American Water in Voorhees, NJ since 2003, has worked in the supply chain management field for Dow Chemical, DuPont, Dade Behring, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and IBM during his 27-year-career.

In November 2007, Daisey began to research and compile the “Penn State University African American Chronicles.” This was the first comprehensive account of the African American experience at Penn State and was distributed to alumni at the 2008 Black Alumni Reunion. 

Daisey facilitates the Penn State Black History Project efforts, along with the Office of Educational Equity, Africana Research Center, African and African American Studies Department, Penn State Alumni Association, and the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. 

The project includes continued research and documentation of African American students, faculty, staff, and organizations, as well as multimedia preservation and presentation. The vision of the project is to create a “collective memory” that will help inspire and empower students and staff, as well as to reconnect African American alumni to each other and the University.

His twin brother, Darnell, is also a Penn State alumni.

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Cynthia Baldwin

Cynthia Baldwin received her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s degree in American literature from Penn State, and she earned her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law. At Duquesne she was a member of the law review and is now a board member emerita.

Baldwin served as the first African American president of the Penn State Alumni Association from 1989 to 1991. She was named a distinguished alumna of the University in 1995 and alumni fellow in 2000.

A 1995 gubernatorial appointee to the Penn State Board of Trustees, Baldwin was elected the first African American female chair of the board in January 2004 and served in that capacity until January 2007.

Baldwin was nominated by Governor Rendell to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2005 and retired from the position in 2008.

Baldwin has also been associated with several law firms and served as attorney-in-charge in the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Allegheny Bar Association, Homer S. Brown Law Association, and the Women’s Bar Association.

In January 2010, Baldwin was appointed to serve as vice president and general counsel of Penn State University. She is the wife of Arthur L. Baldwin and the mother of two adult children.

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Cynthia Baldwin

Cynthia Baldwin received her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s degree in American literature from Penn State, and she earned her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law. At Duquesne she was a member of the law review and is now a board member emerita.

Baldwin served as the first African American president of the Penn State Alumni Association from 1989 to 1991. She was named a distinguished alumna of the University in 1995 and alumni fellow in 2000.

A 1995 gubernatorial appointee to the Penn State Board of Trustees, Baldwin was elected the first African American female chair of the board in January 2004 and served in that capacity until January 2007.

Baldwin was nominated by Governor Rendell to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2005 and retired from the position in 2008.

Baldwin has also been associated with several law firms and served as attorney-in-charge in the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Allegheny Bar Association, Homer S. Brown Law Association, and the Women’s Bar Association.

In January 2010, Baldwin was appointed to serve as vice president and general counsel of Penn State University. She is the wife of Arthur L. Baldwin and the mother of two adult children.

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Cynthia Baldwin

Cynthia Baldwin received her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s degree in American literature from Penn State, and she earned her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law. At Duquesne she was a member of the law review and is now a board member emerita.

Baldwin served as the first African American president of the Penn State Alumni Association from 1989 to 1991. She was named a distinguished alumna of the University in 1995 and alumni fellow in 2000.

A 1995 gubernatorial appointee to the Penn State Board of Trustees, Baldwin was elected the first African American female chair of the board in January 2004 and served in that capacity until January 2007.

Baldwin was nominated by Governor Rendell to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2005 and retired from the position in 2008.

Baldwin has also been associated with several law firms and served as attorney-in-charge in the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Allegheny Bar Association, Homer S. Brown Law Association, and the Women’s Bar Association.

In January 2010, Baldwin was appointed to serve as vice president and general counsel of Penn State University. She is the wife of Arthur L. Baldwin and the mother of two adult children.

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Cynthia Baldwin

Cynthia Baldwin received her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s degree in American literature from Penn State, and she earned her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law. At Duquesne she was a member of the law review and is now a board member emerita.

Baldwin served as the first African American president of the Penn State Alumni Association from 1989 to 1991. She was named a distinguished alumna of the University in 1995 and alumni fellow in 2000.

A 1995 gubernatorial appointee to the Penn State Board of Trustees, Baldwin was elected the first African American female chair of the board in January 2004 and served in that capacity until January 2007.

Baldwin was nominated by Governor Rendell to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2005 and retired from the position in 2008.

Baldwin has also been associated with several law firms and served as attorney-in-charge in the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Allegheny Bar Association, Homer S. Brown Law Association, and the Women’s Bar Association.

In January 2010, Baldwin was appointed to serve as vice president and general counsel of Penn State University. She is the wife of Arthur L. Baldwin and the mother of two adult children.

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Tiffanie Lewis

Tiffanie Lewis graduated from Penn State in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and psychology. As a student, she participated in the Black Caucus chairing the Sankofa Committee and eventually becoming the group’s president in 2003.

Additionally, she was a director for the campus production of the Vagina Monologues and an active member of the Caribbean Student Association.

Lewis returned to New York after graduation, dedicating herself to youth involvement and advocacy. She worked for several years in high schools around New York City and traveled internationally with students to former conflict zones for cross-cultural dialogue on world peace.

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Lewis has since returned to Penn State to enroll in a doctoral program in Educational Theory and Policy. Her research interests are educational policy and school reform.

Black Wax Museum premiers at Penn State

February, 2009

“The Black Wax Museum” exhibit/program premiered at the Paul Robeson Cultural Center’s Heritage Hall on February 9, 2009. The collaboration between Penn State’s chapter of the NAACP and Phi Beta Sigma fraternity featured students posing as wax figures of historic African Americans. Maya Angelou, Charles Drew, Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes, and Jackie Robinson were among those noted.

Attendees traveled from one historical figure to the next throughout the hall, while performers recited brief biographies to the students. They used props such as poetry books and baseball bats to illustrate the life achievements of their characters.

Megan Hodge

On June 21 2010, Megan Hodge, four-time 1st team All-American volleyball player, became the first Penn State athlete to be selected top Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year by co-winning the Honda-Broderick Cup. 

Hodge won many awards while at Penn State, and she guided the Nittany Lions to an unprecedented third straight NCAA Volleyball title in 2009, while on a 102 match winning streak.

Hodge, a business major, was also named Academic All-American of the Year for volleyball.


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Christian Ragland

Christian Ragland and David Adewumi faced off for University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) president in March, 2010, marking the first time all candidates for the student government presidency were of African decent. 

On March 31, Christian Ragland was elected, becoming the fourth African American president of the Penn State student government. During his time as president, Ragland advocated for the student body, using his resources to tackle issues like campus safety, tuition, diversity, alcohol, and town and gown issues. Ragland was active in student government before taking on the presidency serving as the Student Life & Diversity Chairman and twice as a UPUA Representative. Ragland is a native of Egg Harbor City, New Jersey and a graduate of Absegami High School.

Ragland graduated from Penn State in 2011 with a degree in Political Science. He is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Walden University and taking on a new career as a Healthcare recruiter with Maxim Healthcare. With his master’s degree, Christian hopes to help numerous underdeveloped communities in the country gain the proper tools to be holders of great education systems, healthcare systems and social welfare institutions. Ragland will begin his law school journey after he completes his master’s program.

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Queen Nworisara Quinn

Queen Nworisara Quinn was among 29 American winners of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship awarded on February 16, 2010. The students selected were chosen from a field of 800 applicants. Each student selected receives full tuition for their master’s or Ph.D. studies at the University of Cambridge in England. Each student also receives a stipend to cover living expenses.

Quinn earned a bachelor’s degree in International Politics from Penn State in 2001 and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Harold E. Cheatham

The American Psychological Association recognized Harold E. Cheatham as a pioneer in multicultural counseling and development in July 1997.

Cheatham received a B.S. in psychology from Penn State University in 1961, a M.A. degree from Colgate University in 1969, and a doctorate degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1973.

He has held professorships and leaderships at Case Western Reserve University, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Penn State, and Clemson University. He has also served as education leader of mental health service delivery in the Soviet Union (1984) and China (1987), and as medical missionary to Zambia, Ghana, and Vietnam (2002 - 2004). 

Cheatham is an emeritus member of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), a distinguished member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and a member of Skull and Bones Society, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Beta Boule, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Phi Kappa Phi, and the Fulbright Scholars Association. He has served on the editorial boards of the Career Development Quarterly, Western Journal of Black Studies, Journal of Black Psychology, Journal of College Student Development, and as editor of the ACPA Media Board. 

Cheatham’s research addresses multicultural counseling theory and practice, cultural pluralism, and psychosocial development of African Americans in U.S. higher education, and he has received much recognition for his work.

Cheatham is Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of counseling and education leadership at Clemson University. He also achieved Professor Emeritus status at Penn State.

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Seth Williams

On March 23, 1988, Black Caucus President Rufus “Seth” Williams was elected president of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), becoming the third African American to be elected to head the Penn State student government. 

In his tenure, Williams pushed for an open university budget, an elected student representative on the board of trustees, student control of the student activities fund, the creation of a vice provost for underrepresented groups, and an increase in the recruitment of African American students, faculty, and staff.

Williams left his most notable mark as a second-generation Penn State student activist. He marched to Harrisburg to oppose apartheid, challenged Penn State for inappropriately disposing of low-level radioactive waste, and was twice arrested for demanding racial equality on campus. 

The Telecommunications Building arrest of 1988 landed Williams on national television with Dan Rather of CBS News. And during his terms as both Black Caucus and USG President, Williams received multiple death threats. 

After graduating, Williams attended Georgetown University Law Center and went on to serve ten years as a Philadelphia assistant district attorney. Following an unsuccessful run for Philadelphia district attorney and a two-year stint in private practice, Williams was appointed Philadelphia inspector general in 2005. 

In January 2008, Williams joined Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP in its litigation practice group.

On November 3, 2009 Williams scored a decisive election victory to become Philadelphia’s District Attorney and made history as the first African American elected D.A. in Pennsylvania.

Seth lives in west Philadelphia with his wife Sonita, and is the proud parent of three girls: Alyssia, Taylor, and Hope.

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Seth Williams

On March 23, 1988, Black Caucus President Rufus “Seth” Williams was elected president of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), becoming the third African American to be elected to head the Penn State student government. 

In his tenure, Williams pushed for an open university budget, an elected student representative on the board of trustees, student control of the student activities fund, the creation of a vice provost for underrepresented groups, and an increase in the recruitment of African American students, faculty, and staff.

Williams left his most notable mark as a second-generation Penn State student activist. He marched to Harrisburg to oppose apartheid, challenged Penn State for inappropriately disposing of low-level radioactive waste, and was twice arrested for demanding racial equality on campus. 

The Telecommunications Building arrest of 1988 landed Williams on national television with Dan Rather of CBS News. And during his terms as both Black Caucus and USG President, Williams received multiple death threats. 

After graduating, Williams attended Georgetown University Law Center and went on to serve ten years as a Philadelphia assistant district attorney. Following an unsuccessful run for Philadelphia district attorney and a two-year stint in private practice, Williams was appointed Philadelphia inspector general in 2005. 

In January 2008, Williams joined Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP in its litigation practice group.

On November 3, 2009 Williams scored a decisive election victory to become Philadelphia’s District Attorney and made history as the first African American elected D.A. in Pennsylvania.

Seth lives in west Philadelphia with his wife Sonita, and is the proud parent of three girls: Alyssia, Taylor, and Hope.

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Kahdeejah Herbert

Kahadeejah Herbert was the first Lady Lion basketball player to score over 2,000 points in a career, and she is only one of three to do so in Penn State history.

Herbert grew up in a hostile environment in Willingboro, NJ and became a mother at the young age of 16.

Herbert had not participated in organized athletics prior to her daughter’s birth. Bill and Evelyn Lewis, neighbors of Herbert and parents of gold medalist, Carl Lewis, encouraged her to participate in track and field and play basketball during her final two years of high school.

Herbert excelled on the basketball court and graduated from high school in 1981 before going on to play at Penn State.

“The team was my first real family experience, and coach (Rene) Portland was like the mother I never had,” Herbert said.

The Lady Lions also had success on the court during Herbert’s career. During her freshman campaign, Penn State went 24-6 and played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Lady Lions played in the NCAA Tournament all four years of Herbert’s career.

Herbert still holds several Lady Lion records. She was the first in program history to score 2,000 points in a career. She is the all-time leading rebounder with 1,103, and she holds the record for field-goal percentage in a season (.764 ) during the 1983-84 campaign. 

Herbert currently works for AT&T as an engineer and project manager and played a major role in developing U-verse, the company’s new digital television service. Herbert’s daughter finished nursing school in 2009.


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Guion S. Bluford

Guion S. “Guy” Bluford (BS Eng 1964) was the first African American to go to space on August 30, 1983, as a member of the crew aboard the third flight of the space shuttle Challenger.

After graduating from Penn State in 1964 with a B.S. in aerospace engineering, he entered active duty with the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a pilot during the Vietnam War. He earned an M.S. in aerospace engineering in 1974 and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and laser physics in 1978, both from the Air Force Institute of Technology. Bluford earned an M.B.A. in 1987 from the University of Houston, Clear Lake.

Bluford was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1978. Bluford’s 1983 mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger included the deployment of an Indian communications satellite and the first launch and landing of a space shuttle at night.

In November 1985, Bluford again flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger on a mission dedicated to German scientific experiments. Bluford’s third spaceflight was aboard the space shuttle Discovery in April 1991.

In 1993, Bluford resigned from the Air Force and NASA to become vice president of the Engineering Services Division of NYMA Inc. in Greenbelt, Md. In 1997, he became vice president of the Aerospace Sector of Federal Data Corporation, and in 2000, Bluford became vice president of Microgravity R&D and Operations for the Northrop Grumman Corporation. 

Bluford has served on numerous boards including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, the Aerospace Corporation, and the Space Foundation. He is currently president of the Aerospace Technology Group in Cleveland, Oh.

Guion Bluford was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997, and he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on June 5, 2010.

He received the Pennsylvania Society’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement. Each year, since 1909, the Society presents its Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement to a prominent person in recognition of leadership, citizenship and contributions to the arts, science, education and industry.  Past recipients have included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Joe Paterno, Bill Cosby, and Henry Ford.

(First flight footage courtesy of NASA)

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Guion S. Bluford

Guion S. “Guy” Bluford (BS Eng 1964) was the first African American to go to space on August 30, 1983, as a member of the crew aboard the third flight of the space shuttle Challenger.

After graduating from Penn State in 1964 with a B.S. in aerospace engineering, he entered active duty with the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a pilot during the Vietnam War. He earned an M.S. in aerospace engineering in 1974 and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and laser physics in 1978, both from the Air Force Institute of Technology. Bluford earned an M.B.A. in 1987 from the University of Houston, Clear Lake.

Bluford was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1978. Bluford’s 1983 mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger included the deployment of an Indian communications satellite and the first launch and landing of a space shuttle at night.

In November 1985, Bluford again flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger on a mission dedicated to German scientific experiments. Bluford’s third spaceflight was aboard the space shuttle Discovery in April 1991.

In 1993, Bluford resigned from the Air Force and NASA to become vice president of the Engineering Services Division of NYMA Inc. in Greenbelt, Md. In 1997, he became vice president of the Aerospace Sector of Federal Data Corporation, and in 2000, Bluford became vice president of Microgravity R&D and Operations for the Northrop Grumman Corporation. 

Bluford has served on numerous boards including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, the Aerospace Corporation, and the Space Foundation. He is currently president of the Aerospace Technology Group in Cleveland, Oh.

Guion Bluford was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997, and he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on June 5, 2010.

He received the Pennsylvania Society’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement. Each year, since 1909, the Society presents its Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement to a prominent person in recognition of leadership, citizenship and contributions to the arts, science, education and industry.  Past recipients have included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Joe Paterno, Bill Cosby, and Henry Ford.

(First flight footage courtesy of NASA)

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Cyril E. Griffith

Griffith was appointed assistant professor of history at Penn State in 1970. He became an associate professor in 1976 and taught African history at Penn State for 26 years, retiring as an associate professor emeritus in 1993. He served as the first director of the Black Studies Program from 1975 to 1979.

Born in Bermuda on September 5, 1929, Griffith earned a bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in 1963, a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University in 1965, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1973.

He was the author of The African Dream: Martin R. Delany and the Emergence of Pan-African Thought (1973) and a founding member of the Black History Advisory Committee of the Pennsylvania Historical Commission. He was cited for his “deep commitment to the promotion and preservation of Black history and culture in Pennsylvania.” He was also a member of the African Studies Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and the Penn State Faculty Senate.

Griffith died of a sudden heart attack on July 22, 1994. The “Cyril Griffith Papers,” housed in the Archives and Special Collections of the Penn State Libraries, include his extensive research into African American history, religion, and culture, including detailed work on A.M.E. churches.


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