Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Faculty Response to Integration

Item #1867: This Annual Report for the Westhampton College History Department was submitted towards the end of the 1970-1971 academic year.

As discussed in another exhibit, George Modlin’s Segregated University of Richmond, many factors led to the University’s integration. Unlike popular belief, integration wasn’t inevitable following the Brown V. Board of Education.  It was met with sweeping backlash and defiance, particularly in the South.  For the University of Richmond, there was a host of factors, both external and internal, that lead to their begrudged integration.  These factors included Baptist organizations, alumni, the American Law School Association, and students.  The University of Richmond accepted Barry Greene, its first black student on the main campus in 1968. For the rest of this exhibit's time frame, there was a gradual shift on campus towards attempting to become more inclusive by both diversifying course offerings and pushing for an increase in the recruitment of black students.

While the country was beginning to inch more towards the side of equity with the Civil Rights Movement and other liberatory movements, academia began to shift as well.  Particularly for subjects like History and English, the equality movements of the latter half of the twentieth caused universities across the country to begin to rethink only teaching matters of the Western world.  At the University of Richmond, towards the end of the sixties, more and more departments across all colleges began to diversify their curriculum to make it a little bit more reflective of the world.  For instance, the Westhampton College History Department decided that it needed to continue recent efforts to offer more courses besides those like European and American history.  

In Item #1867, the Westhampton College History Department report claimed that to be an educated person, they believed that students should graduate with a basic knowledge of the "history of western civilization." The report explained how there had been a revolution in the teaching of history, and that the University of Richmond was behind.  With this, faculty members suggested the following additions in the Fall of 1969 catalog: American Urban History, Latin American History, History of India, Middle East History, The Immigrant in American History, and Black Studies. The department saw the distinct value in women majoring in history because they believed the degree set the women apart in the job market. They saw the need to increase the size of the department and to find a way to keep the Asian studies courses.

University faculty deciding to chip away at the white washed curriculum is important to note for this exhibit because it shows one of the many ways faculty used their power to resist against oppressive traditions.  Professors take on many roles but their primary one is in the classroom.  Therefore, it's crucial to note how and when they decided that they needed to make some changes to course offerings to be more equitable.  For this to happen, current faculty would have had to alter their courses, or the University would need to bring in folks to teach these topics.  As the University handled this issue, it was able to recruit faculty with a more diverse range of expertises.  

Outside of the classroom, faculty wielded their additional power on campus as well; particularly by examining the University's recruitment policy regarding black students.

Item #1848: This report from the Panel on the Composition of the Student Body includes a summary of opinions and recommendations from the annual departmental reports from the 1970-1971 academic year.

In Item #1848, this Panel on the Composition of the Student body found that faculty believed that the University needed to increase the budget for recruiting and make a more concerted effort to get students from outside of Virginia.  The University needed to also seek to admit black students, international students, and other ethnic and socioeconomic minorities. There was a point of convergence regarding gaining a more geographically diverse student body.  For example, students would benefit from interacting with students different from them and the image of the University could start to shift towards being more cosmopolitan.  However, some felt an obligation to serving the Virginian community.  

Along with diversifying course loads, many faculty members began to urge the University to recruit a more racially diverse student body. To do so, they even offered their suggestions on how to attract these students through scholarships.  According to this panel, the Westhampton History Department was the only department to advocate explicitly for recruiting black students.  The Religion Department suggested that University recruits any and all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic minorities. Interestingly, the Political Science and Speech and Dramatic Arts departments wanted the University to recruit “foreign” students. Finally, the Westhampton College History,  Ancient Languages, Westhampton College Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, and Sociology Departments believed that “Greater diversity of background and outlook in the student body is desirable.” (2)

This panel included different faculty members. However, it was meant to serve as a summary of all departmental suggestions from that year.  Within this four page report, on faculty feelings about the student body, only a few sentences were dedicated to black students.  However, a page and a quarter was dedicated to the pros and cons of geographical diversity.  Additionally, when minority students were mentioned, it was most likely to come from the Westhampton College History or Religion Department. We don’t know if these departments were always advocates for minority recruitment, but it seems as if at least for that year, they were some of the few standing up for these potential students.  It’s also intriguing that some departments mentioned wanting international students, but not American minorities.  The Political Science Department would have wanted to bring an international perspective to global politics, particularly with the Vietnam War underway. However, surely black Americans could’ve provided a unique perspective on the shifting racial politics of that time.   Either way, it’s still telling that faculty had so much to say about geographic diversity, but only a few sentences about racial diversity.  

Item #1840: This is the Annual Report on Westhampton College from the Director of Admissions and Placement, Mary-Allen Anderson, for the 1970-1971 academic year.

In Item #1840, the Annual Report on Westhampton College from the Director of Admissions and Placement, Mary-Allen Anderson, for the 1970-1971 academic year,  Anderson and the other admissions officers believed that interest would rise again once "the racially integrated school population becomes more stabilized."  Westhampton College students had pointed out their desire to have better racial and socioeconomic diversity, so a dozen Westhampton College students took it upon themselves to return to their high schools to recruit black students. Some students even asked if they could travel with admissions officers. Among that 121 were a black applicant and a Greek applicant who requested additional time to accept the offer to sort out their finances. That year, they enrolled 33 out-of-state and 88 Virginia women in the freshman class. Nine black women applied, three were offered admission, and one accepted the offer. The majority of applicants were Baptist. 7 Jewish women applied, however, only 2 were accepted and enrolled.

During this exhibit’s time frame, Westhampton college students were becoming more actively involved in fostering the more diverse student body they wanted to see.  They even organized a "Black Day" on April 27, 1971, with the intentions of having eighty black high school students visit campus for the day. Mary-Allen Anderson was "sympathetic" to their efforts but didn't want it to "jeopardize their academic programs."  Although Ms. Anderson wasn’t a professor, her role as Director of Admissions is rather noteworthy because she was in leadership during the University’s transition to an integrated campus.  By looking at this report, it seems as if she was rather indifferent to students trying to gain the interest of prospective black students.  She doesn’t come across as directly hostile, but it also doesn’t seem like minority recruitment was a priority for her.

For more information: 

Lassiter, Jay. "Blacks Seek to 'Become a Part" The Collegian. 31 January 1974.  http://collegian.richmond.edu/cgi-bin/richmond?a=d&d=COL19740131.2.2&srpos=1&e=--1968---1978--en-20--1-byDA-txt-txIN-Student+organization+for+black+awareness------

 

"The Absence Of A Black Social Life" The Collegian. 1 October 1971. http://collegian.richmond.edu/cgi-bin/richmond?a=d&d=COL19711001.2.8&srpos=6&e=--1968---1979--en-20--1--txt-txIN-black+student+union------ 

 

Faculty Response to Integration