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Black Milestones in Higher Education: Columbia Lions Edition April 18, 2008

Posted by twilightandreason in Higher Education.
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In honor of primary season I’ve decided — at least momentarily — to focus my Black Milestones in Higher Education series on the undergraduate alma maters of the major presidential candidates up for nomination.

I began the series with the U.S. Naval Academy, alma mater of Republican front-runner John McCain. Next up in the series wasWellesley College, the alma mater of Democratic presidential hopeful. I am ending with Columbia University, the undergraduate alma mater of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

History and Overview: Columbia University was founded and began offering classes in 1754, called King’s College at the time, it was founded, “by royal charter of King George II of England” (Source: Columbia University Website). At the time, the enrollment consisted of eight students, all of whom were male. The College was forced to shut down in 1776, as a result of the upheaval of the Revolutionary War in the colonies. When it reopened in 1784, the institution had a new name, Columbia.

In 1983, Columbia became the last of the Ivy League schools to enroll women. Today woman make up a full 49.3 percent of the student body. As of the fall of 2007, University’s undergraduate programs enrolled 7,377 students, of whom 435 were Black.

Black Milestones at Columbia University:

  • 1908 — Pixley ka Ikasa Seme of South African becomes the first black student to earn a B.A. from Columbia. In 1928 he would go on to earn an LLD from Columbia, and would eventually become the founder of the African National Congress (ANC).
  • 1928 — Louis Wilson, Jr. becomes the first African American graduate of Columbia’s architecture school.
  • 1968 — Armed with guns, Black students take over Hamilton Hall to protest both the building of a gym whose entrance policies were considered racist and the University’s involvement in weapon’s reserach.
  • 1969 — M. Moran Weston (CC’30, GSAS’40, GSAS’69) becomes the first African American to serve on the Columbia University Board of Trustees.
  • 1972 — Kellis E. Parker becomes the first full-time African American professor at Columbia Law School.
  • 1976 — The Black Students’ Organization (BSO) is founded.
  • 1983 — The Institute for Research in African American Studies is established at Columbia University.
  • 1999 — The Winter 1999/2000 issue of the Journal of Black in Higher Education reports that Columbia has the higher percentage of Black faculty (7.2 percent) “among the nation’s 27 highest ranked universities.
  • 2004 — On October 26th of this year, Columbia University a plaza on its Morningside campus in the name of it’s first Black trustee, the late Rev. Dr. M. Moran Weston, a graduate of the class of 1930.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

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