“All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion” kicks off

October 6, 2016

“All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion” kicks off with a public rally in front of Old Main. The event, which was livestreamed to all Penn State campuses, launched an ongoing University-wide initiative to bring students, faculty, and staff together to cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment. President Eric Barron and Vice Provost for Educational Equity Marcus Whitehurst addressed the crowd; the Essence of Joy choir provided entertainment.

Keagan-Michael Key wins Primetime Emmy Award

September 18, 2016

Keagan-Michael Key (MFA A&A 1996) wins a Primetime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Variety Sketch Show” for his Comedy Central TV show, “Key & Peele.” The show was ended after a successful 5-year run because Key and his co-star, Jordan Peele, wanted to pursue other opportunities.

Cumberland “Cum” Posey, Jr. inducted into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

September, 2016

Cumberland “Cum” Posey, Jr. (Sci 1911), who is recognized as the first known African American student athlete in Penn State history, was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Posey enrolled at Penn State in 1909 and played forward on the freshman basketball team (1909- 10) and the varsity basketball team (1910-11), while also playing on the freshman baseball team (1910). He left Penn State after just two years and joined the Monticello Athletic Association, which later became the Loendi Big Five. By the following year, Posey was the star player and operator of the club. Loendi won the Colored Basketball World Championship four years in a row from 1920 to 1923. He was widely regarded as the best African American basketball player of his time. Along with his 2006 induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Posey became the only person enshrined at both sports halls of fame.

Nate Parker receives Sundance Institute Vanguard Award for “The Birth of a Nation”

August 11, 2016

Nate Parker (Sci 2001) receives the Sundance Institute Vanguard Award for writing, directing and starring in “The Birth of a Nation.” The film, which received critical acclaim at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, centers on Nat Turner, a Virginia slave who used his fierce intellect, profound faith, and deep belief in his ability to change things to become a preacher and eventually lead a 48-hour rebellion in 1831—30 years before the American Civil War. Fox Searchlight acquired “The Birth of a Nation” for a festival-record $17.5M, The film also stars Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Aunjanue Ellis, Mark Boone Junior and Aja Naomi King. “The Birth of a Nation” opened nationwide on October 7, 2016. Parker had previously starred in movies such as “Beyond the Lights,” “Red Tails,” “The Secret Life of Bees,” “The Great Debaters,” “Arbitrage,” “Non-Stop ,” “Felon” and “Pride.” During his time at Penn State, Parker was a nationally ranked wrestler for two seasons. Following a 2001 trial and acquittal for sexual assault, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma.

Julian Francis Abele

Penn State Abington permanently honored a prominent African-American architect who earned little recognition during his lifetime but whose work impacts the campus to this day. Students, faculty, and staff dedicated a bronze plaque to Julian Francis Abele, the architect of the iconic Sutherland Building. Abele designed the structure in 1916 for the Ogontz School for Girls, which occupied the Abington site until the principal donated it to Penn State in 1950.


Julian Francis Abele

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Richard Ross, Jr. sworn in as Philadelphia police commissioner

January 5, 2016

Richard Ross, Jr. (BA Lib 1992) is sworn in as Philadelphia Police Commissioner, taking over the nation’s fourth-largest police department. He had previously served as deputy commissioner. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Ross had more than 27 years of service at the time he was sworn in.

Tanya R. Kennedy sworn in as a justice in the Supreme Court for the State of New York

December 10, 2015

Tanya R. Kennedy (BA Com 1989) is sworn in as a justice in the Supreme Court for the State of New York. Kennedy was a judge in the New York City Civil Court prior to her selection to the state supreme court. Kennedy is also active in a number of organizations including the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women, the NAACP, and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority

Holding History: The Collections of Charles L. Blockson premieres at the Paterno Library

December 4, 2015

“Holding History: The Collections of Charles L Blockson” premieres at the Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium. The documentary short tells the story of Charles Blockson’s (H&HS, 1956) lifelong journey to unearth, collect, and preserve the history, culture and contributions of people of African descent. The WPSU production was produced, directed and narrated by Cheraine Stanford. It was honored with a Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Award.

To view the documentary, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mns_wwH2U7M

Hispanic student enrollment surpasses African American student enrollment for the first time

September, 2015

Hispanic student enrollment (5,947 students/6.1%) surpasses African American student enrollment ( 5,556 students/5.7%) for the first time.

Marcus A. Whitehurst is named Penn State’s Vice Provost for Educational Equity

September 1, 2015

Marcus A. Whitehurst is named Penn State’s Vice Provost for Educational Equity after holding the position in an interim capacity for more than a year. He succeeded W. Terrell Jones, who died on August 19, 2014. Whitehurst had previously served as Assistant Vice Provost for Education Equity, a position he assumed in July 2007.

Jasmin Wright is found dead in her West Philadelphia apartment

July 15, 2015

The dead body of 27-year-old Jasmin Wright (BS H&HD, 2011) was found in her West Philadelphia apartment. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled. Wright had just earned her master’s degree from Drexel University’s School of Public Health. Police eventually charged a 56-year-old former building handyman with the murder.

Devon Still accepts the Jimmy V. Perseverance Award on behalf of his daughter

July 15, 2015

Devon Still (BA Lib 2011), a former Penn State Football Captain and All- American defensive lineman,  accepts the Jimmy V. Perseverance Award at the 2015 ESPYS in Los Angeles on behalf of his 5-year-old daughter, Leah. Leah Still was diagnosed with cancer in June 2014; her story inspired countless football fans around the world to raise millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research. Her good spirits and “never give up” attitude earned her the nickname “Leah Strong.” She went into remission in March 2015, but due to complications with her medication, was not well enough to attend the award ceremony. Devon Still, a Delaware native who was then playing for the NFL Cincinnati Bengals, was introduced by NBA superstar, LeBron James. When he took the stage, Still was greeted by a standing ovation from his peers. “I would beg [God] to give me the fight with death rather than my daughter,” he told the crowd in a very emotional speech. He continued, “At the age of four, my daughter hadn’t even begun to understand what life was all about. She’s the toughest person I’ve ever met and she has the mindset that nothing will hold her down.”

Tina Q. Richardson becomes chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley

July 5, 2015

Tina Q. Richardson assumes the post of chancellor at Penn State Lehigh Valley. She previously served as associate dean of Academic Affairs at Drexel University’s School of Education.
Richardson earned her bachelor’s in psychology and master’s and doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Maryland.

Gregory Drane becomes first African American Blue Band Director

March 23, 2015

Gregory Drane is selected as the first African American Blue Band Director. Drane became the assistant director for the Blue Band in 2005, putting him in charge of the pep band for women’s volleyball, along with the Pride of the Lions basketball pep band.

Charmelle Green named Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman at Penn State

March 15, 2015

Charmelle Green is named Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator at Penn State. Green is responsible for the management, supervision, and evaluation of women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country and track and field, softball, and ability athletics.

Penn State students engage in “Black Lives Matter” protest at the HUB-Robeson Center

December 2, 2014

Approximately 80 Penn State students protest in support of “Black Lives Matter” by lying motionless on the HUB-Robeson Center ground-floor. The primary catalyst for the protest, which lasted for several days, was the decision not to indict a police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager, Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The Black Leadership Union was the main organizer with various student organizations also participating, including the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Black Caucus, and the National Council of Negro Women. University President Eric Barron was photographed giving the “hands up” gesture alongside the student protesters.

Kyle Godwin wins Emmy for “Outstanding Sports Documentary Series”

May 6, 2014

Kyle Godwin, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sports Journalism and Broadcasting in 2008, wins an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Sports Documentary Series” for his role as an associate producer of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. Godwin, a native of Philadelphia, is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He worked for ESPN for 6 years beforestarting his own film and multimedia production company entitled Marvalous Entertainment, LLC.

Kenya Crawford is elected 2014 Homecoming Queen

September 27, 2014

Kenya Crawford is elected 2014 Homecoming Queen, becoming the third straight African American to wear the crown. Crawford, a senior Human Development and Family Studies major, was active as a member of the Health and Human Development club and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. This Philadelphia native’s student involvement included serving as a research assistant for the Family Relationships Project and the Center for Healthy Aging. She also participated on the Women’s Leadership Initiative and Global Leadership Initiative Committees. As the president of Keep a Child Alive, a program designed to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Crawford received an Undergraduate Discovery Summer Research Grant and represented Penn State internationally as a counseling intern in South Africa. Crawford became the seventh overall African American, and first openly lesbian to be elected Homecoming Queen at Penn State. 

Michael Brown is killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri

August, 2014

Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, is shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in Ferguson, Missouri.

John Urschell Named Recipient of the 84th James E. Sullivan Award

April 11, 2014

John Urschell was named the recipient of the 84th James E. Sullivan Award, presented by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) to America’s top amateur athlete.  Urschel was announced as the winner of the prestigious award during an awards ceremony at the AAU National Headquarters in Orlando, FL.  Urschel was selected from a pool of 19 semifinalists vying for the honor in 2014. First presented in 1930, the Sullivan Award honors an athlete who demonstrates the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism.

Ed Ruth Becomes First Three-Time NCAA Champ

March 22, 2014

Nittany Lion wrestler (184 lbs), Ed Ruth, becomes Penn State’s first three-time NCAA champ.  In the finals Ruth beat previously undefeated Maryland senior Jimmy Sheptock 7-2.  Ruth had a record of 136 wins to just 3 defeats in his 4 year career at Penn State.  The victory also helped lead the Nittany Lions to their fourth straight NCAA team championship.

Black Student Union Launches “WE ARE BLACK” Campaign

February 3, 2014

The Black Student Union, hoping to battle different stereotypes facing African Americans, launched the “WE ARE BLACK” campaign.  Secretary of BSU Chantelle Beachum said they painted the exposed skin of different volunteers with common stereotypes and photographed them for the campaign.  “We hope to combat these stereotypes by presenting them to the Penn State community and creating a more accurate, untold perception of African Americans that we all strive to be,” Beachum told the Daily Collegian.

James Franklin Hired as Head Football Coach

January 11, 2014

James Franklin hired as Penn State’s sixteenth head football coach, succeeding Bill O’Brien.  Franklin, 41, a native of Langhorne, Bucks County, had led Vanderbilt to three successful season prior to becoming Penn State’s first African American head football coach.

James Franklin

John Urschel Wins William V. Campbell Trophy

December 10, 2013

John Urschel, Nittany Lion offensive lineman, wins the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy, given to college football’s top scholar-athlete. Sometimes called the “Academic Heisman,” the award specifically recognizes “an individual as the absolute best in the country for his academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership,”
With the award, Urschel received $25,000 to go toward his post-graduate work. Urschel graduated in three years with a degree in math, later earned his master’s degree in math, and continued to work toward a second master’s in math education. The lineman plans to pursue a Ph.D. upon completion of his football career. Urschel was Penn State’s first recipient of the award.

Rhonda Bates Elected 2013 Homecoming Queen

October 12, 2013

Rhonda Bates is elected 2013 Homecoming Queen. Originally from Philadelphia, Rhonda was majoring in Human Development and Family Studies. She served as president of the Student Minority Advisory and Recruitment Team (SMART) and as co-director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Day of Service.  Rhonda became the second straight African American to be elected Homecoming Queen at Penn State, and the fifth overall to wear the crown.

Miles Chamley-Watson Wins Senior World Fencing Championship

August, 2013

Miles Chamley-Watson, (2013), made history by becoming the first man from the U.S. to win a Senior World Fencing Championship title.  The 2013 world championships were held in Budapest, Hungary.  Chamley-Watson had represented the U.S. during the 2012 Olympics, and was an All-American fencer at Penn State. 

Jalon Alexander Elected President of the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments

April 14, 2013

Jalon Alexander elected president of the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSC).  Alexander, a student in Letters, Arts, and Sciences had served as president of the Penn State Mount Alto Student Government Association, and was tapped in January 2013 to serve as the student representative on the University Presidential Search and Screen Committee.  Alexander would expectantly resign the CCSC presidency on January 27, 2014

Tracy Edouard Elected Homecoming Queen

October 5, 2012

Tracey Edouard, a senior – public relations and advertising major, is elected 2012 Homecoming Queen.  The Huntington, NY native becomes only the fourth African American woman to hold the crown.  A violinist and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society member, Edouard was involved in a wide range of campus activities including orchestra, a resident assistant, and head of the women’s volleyball student section

David Alston Bust Unveiled

April 21, 2012

A bust of alumnus David Alston was unveiled at the Nittany Lion Inn.  Penn State’s first African-American football player, Alston played on the 1941 freshman team, along with his younger brother, Harry. Alston died from complications following minor surgery on Aug. 15, 1942, six weeks before the varsity season began.  The bust, sculpted and donated by Penn State Professor of Art Blake Ketchum, is on displayed at the Penn State All-Sports Museum

State College Historical Marker Dedicated at “Lincoln Hall”

April 20, 2012

A State College Historical Marker is dedicated at “Lincoln Hall,” the former boarding home for colored male students from the late 1930s to the early 1950s.  Lincoln Hall served as an unofficial colored dormitory and sanctuary for early African American Penn State students. The ceremony was held at the119 North Barnard Street location, and included two of the three surviving former Lincoln Hall residents, Clayton Wilson III ‘49 and Wally Triplett ‘49

State College Borough Council Renames Fraser Plaza to “Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza”

April 17, 2012

The State College Borough Council voted 5 to 2 in favor of renaming Fraser Plaza to “Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza”. Borough Council president Don Hahn expressed his full support, saying that the more diverse population of Penn State and State College were a reflection of King’s success.

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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