Dillard University

Dillard University
Dillard University
Motto Ex Fide, Fortis
Motto in English From Confidence, Courage
Established 1936
Type Private, HBCU
Religious affiliation United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church
Endowment $38 million
President Dr. Marvalene Hughes
Students 800
Location New Orleans, Louisiana,
United States
Campus Urban
Address 2601 Gentilly Blvd
New Orleans, Louisiana
Colors Royal Blue and White
Nickname Bleu Devils
Website www.dillard.edu

Dillard University is a private, historically black liberal arts college in New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded in 1930 incorporating earlier institutions that went back to 1869, it is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

The campus is near Gentilly Boulevard and the London Avenue Canal, established in the 1930s.



Ancestor institutions: 1869–1930

Photo of an early building on the Straight University campus

The history of Dillard University dates back to 1869 and its founding predecessor institutions--Straight University (later to be renamed Straight College) and Union Normal School (which was to become New Orleans University).

Straight University

Responding to the post-Civil War need to educate newly freed African Americans in New Orleans, Louisiana and the surrounding region, the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Church founded Straight University on June 12 1868.

Straight University also offered professional training, including a law department from 1874 to 1886, and its graduates participated in local and national Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction era civil rights struggles.

Straight University was renamed Straight College in 1915.

Union Normal School/New Orleans University

The Union Normal School was established by the Freedman's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church on July 8, also in 1868.

New Orleans College, circa 1920.

In addition to Straight University, the AMA helped found several other Historically Black Colleges and Universities, such as Clark Atlanta University, Fisk University, Hampton University, Howard University (with Freedmen's Bureau), Huston-Tillotson University, LeMoyne-Owen College, Talladega College, and Tougaloo College. Straight University and Union Normal School later became Straight College and New Orleans University, respectively. Both schools offered elementary level education, but quickly enlarged curriculum to include secondary, collegiate, and professional level instruction.

New Orleans University operated a secondary school--Gilbert Academy. By the 1890s, the university offered professional medical training. It included a school of pharmacy, the Flint Medical College, and the Sarah Goodridge Hospital and Nurse Training School. After the medical college was ended in 1911, the Flint Goodridge Hospital emerged and continued nurse training.

"A Great Negro University in New Orleans": 1930–1935

University Presidents
Rev. Will W. Alexander 1935–1936
William Stuart Nelson 1936–1940
Albert Walter Dent 1941–1969
Broadus Nathaniel Butler 1969–1973
Myron Wicke 1973–1974
Samuel DuBois Cook 1974–1997
Michael Lucius Lomax 1997–2004
Bettye Parker Smith 2004–2005
Marvalene Hughes 2005 – Present

Local Black and White leaders felt there was a need for a larger, more notable African American institution of higher learning to emerge within New Orleans and the greater South. Due to economic hardships and rounds of negotiations between the two institutions, Straight College and New Orleans University chartered Dillard University on June 6, 1930.[1] Named after James H. Dillard,[2] the new university was created to "... offer a traditional liberal arts curriculum—rather than nonprofessional, vocational training" and emphasize a close engagement with the Black community through "various education extension programs, societies, and clubs."[3]

Despite the hope of this new charter, the building of Dillard University was tempered by its context of Jim Crow America. Many local Whites took concern with the possibility of a Black president presiding over White faculty members. Similarly, the increased numbers of African American bus riders in the Gentilly area disturbed some White sensibilities. As an influential and diplomatic member of Dillard's board of trustees, Edgar B. Stern suggested Will W. Alexander as a suitable compromise. Will W. Alexander, a white Southern preacher, was Dillard's first acting president (1935–1936), whose experience as the director of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation proved valuable. Dillard University opened its doors in the fall of 1935, and was able to attract a number of prominent scholars, such as Horace Mann Bond, psychology and education; Frederick Douglass Hall, music; Lawrence D. Reddick, history; and St. Clair Drake, sociology and anthropology.

Hurricane Katrina

In August 2005, the campus, not far from the lower levee breach of the London Avenue Canal, suffered extensive flood damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Nelson Hall was destroyed by a fire. A bus fire also destroyed belongings of 37 students who were in the process of being evacuated.[4][5]

In spring 2006, the students of Dillard University took their normal classes at The New Orleans World Trade Center and The New Orleans Hilton Riverside Hotel. As is tradition, Dillard held graduation on the Rosa Freeman Keller Avenue of the Oaks in July 2006. They returned to campus in September 2006.


In 2003, Ray Charles added a provision in his will to endow a $1 million professorship of African-American culinary history at Dillard. It is the first such position in the country.[6]

Degrees and Majors

Dillard University offers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees in over 35 majors. The diverse major, minor, and course offerings create an opportunities for a comprehensive, global education. These majors are organized within six academic schools, and further subdivided by departments:

Undergraduate Research

In preparation for graduate and professional schools, Undergraduates are encouraged to work closely with a faculty member to produce a high quality undergraduate research projects. The university is a member of the Council of Undergraduate Research and the National Council of Undergraduate Research. Most departments offer courses in methodology, and the university's Office of Undergraduate Research organizes additional workshops on writing proposals, analyzing data, and using human participants. Students can participate in A Katrina Recovery Initiative (AKRI), Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation (LAMP), and the Undergraduate Research & Creative Work Competition. The university also produces the Dillard University Journal of Undergraduate Research (DUJOUR), which publishes the findings and articles of finished undergraduate research projects.

Institute of Jazz Culture (IOJC)

Nurtured in the "Birthplace of Jazz," Dillard University recognized the unique possibilities that is provided by this context. The Institute of Jazz Culture was established in 2002 by founding director, Irvin Mayfield at the intersection of community, jazz and education. Under the current leadership of Edward Anderson, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of the IOJC, the Institute is producing curriculum and programming on the collegiate and the secondary levels. It emphasizes the development of talent and promotes professional opportunities. Preservation, promotion and celebration through documentation, education, and performance of jazz culture are the central goals.


Dillard University campus on Gentilly Blvd.

Dillard University's campus is located on 55 acres (22.3 ha) in the suburban-like Gentilly neighborhood of the New Orleans 7th Ward district. The campus is anchored by Neoclassical architecture and live oak trees. The double tree-lined "Avenue of the Oaks" form the focal point of the gated campus.

Academic Buildings

DUICEF (Dillard University International Center for Economic Freedom) is the university's newest building, dedicated in 2004. It houses the offices of the Division of Education & Psychology and the Division of Social Sciences, and computer and language laboratories.

Howard House, built in 1936, was originally a guest house, but currently is home to the business program. The building was named in honor of New Orleanian native Alvin Pike Howard (1889–1937), successful businessman, former professor of Tulane University and former director of Hibernia National Bank; he is a noteworthy contributor to the development of Dillard University.

Rosenwald Hall is a hall at Dillard University. Dillard's first permanent building was originally the campus library. It was built in May 1934. The building is named in honor of philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, to whom the building was dedicated in June 1948. This building houses the university's administrative offices and was under construction due to damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It will be fully operational in the fall 2008.

Samuel DuBois Cook Fine Arts and Communications Center at Dillard University, New Orleans, was built in 1993. Building is named in honor of Dillard University's sixth president Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook. With his tenure came the start of the modernization of Dillard University's infrastructure. In the building are the Fine Arts Gallery and studios, state-of-the-art television and recording studios, the Music Department, the thriving Drama Department and a theater, and a radio station.

Stern Hall is a hall at Dillard University. Dillard's science building was built in 1952. It's named in honor of Edgar Bloom Stern, prominent financier and philanthropist of New Orleans. The building was renovated in 1952 and again in 1968. In the building are the Division of Nursing, Division of Natural Sciences, two computer labs, Biology, Chemistry and Physics labs as well as a learning center sponsored by the Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation (LAMP) program.


Will W. Alexander Library is Dillard University's library. It was built in 1961. The library was dedicated in honor of the first acting president of Dillard University, the Rev. Will W. Alexander on October 22, 1961. The library houses an extensive collection of books, journals, microform and newspapers, as well as such historical documents as the papers of the American Missionary Association of the United Church of Christ. The library was damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and reopened as a state-of-the-art facility in April 2008.


Lawless Memorial Chapel is a Dillard University's chapel. It was built in 1955. Chapel was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alfred Lawless Jr. and his son Theodore K. Lawless M.D. on October 23, 1955. Now named Lawless Assembly Hall, it is the only building on Dillard's campus that did not suffer flood damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

On-Campus Housing

Camphor Hall is a hall at Dillard University, New Orleans. It was built in 1947. This female dormitory was originally a male dormitory. Building was named in honor of Louisiana native, educator and missionary, Bishop Alexander Priestly Camphor. Due to damage from Hurricane Katrina, only the first floor of Camphor-Hartzell annex is used for office space for the Division of Student Success. It is currently not in use as dormitory space.

Hartzell Hall is a dormitory at Dillard University. It was built in 1935. Hartzell is named in honor of Joseph Crane Hartzell, a missionary bishop for the Methodist Episcopal Church. Building was originally a junior and senior female dormitory, and is currently not in use as dormitory space due to damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Nelson Complex consisted of three modular buildings that served as undergraduate housing for students. Named after William Nelson, the first African American president of the university. It was destroyed by fire during Hurricane Katrina

Straight Hall is a dormitory at Dillard University. It was built in 1936 and renovated in 1957, Straight Hall was originally a female dormitory in its earliest days. The building is named in honor of Seymour Straight, president of the Board of Trustees of Straight College which opened in 1869 and later in 1930 merged with New Orleans University to form Dillard University. This dormitory is not in use due to damage following Hurricane Katrina.

Williams Hall is a female dormitory building located to the left of Kearny hall. Dedicated in honor of noted New Orleanian educator and philanthropist Fannie C. Williams(1882–1980) in June 1946. The building was renovated in 2000 and became a co-ed dormitory in 2004.

Gentilly Gardens

Off-Campus Housing

Dillard University Apartment Living (DUALs)

Elysian Fields Apartments

Athletic Buildings

Dent Hall at Dillard University, New Orleans, is the university's gymnasium. It was named in honor of Dr. Albert W. Dent, the university's third president. It was built in 1969 at the end of his service. Dent Hall is the home of the Bleu Devils and the Lady Bleu Devils basketball teams (Athletics Department). In this building are The Division of Campus Life, Career Services, Student Development, Student Government Association,the Honors Program, offices, classrooms, computer labs, a dance studio, a weight center and a newly renovated swimming pool.

'Henson Hall is Dillard University's old gymnasium, which was built in 1950 and renovated in 1990. The building is named in honor of explorer and co-discoverer of the North Pole, Matthew Alexander Henson. He was the first human of African descent to have reached the North Pole. The university's bookstore and temporary library are housed in Henson Hall due to space constraints following Hurricane Katrina.

Student Center and President's House

Kearny Hall is the student center at Dillard University. It was built in 1935 and renovated in 1966 and 1996. This building is named in honor of New Orleanian Warren Kearny, Trustee of Dillard University. Kearny Hall is located at the center of the campus. In the building are a lounge area, Post Office, cafeteria, food service offices, as well as the Student Government Association office.

President's House Built in 1936, the president's residence has been renovated three times; 1964, 1972 and 1997. It has been home to six of the seven presidents of Dillard University. It now serves as the Alumni House.

List of Dillard people


The following notable individuals are alumni of Dillard University, Straight University, and New Orleans University:

Name Class year Notability References}
James W. Ames 1882 Founder, Dunbar Hospital , the first black hospital in Detroit, MI
William Banks 1963 Professor of African-American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley
Harold Battiste, Jr. 1951 Accomplished jazz saxophonist, composer and arranger; musical director for Sonny & Cher, Dr. John and many others; arranger for Sam Cooke
Dr. Samuel L. Biggers, Jr. 1956 Chief of Neurosurgery, King/Drew Medical Center, Los Angeles
John W. E. Bowen, Sr. 1878 among first African Americans to receive a PhD
Jericho Brown Award winning Poet whose poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, jubilat, New England Review, Oxford American.
Cora Nelms Charles 1958 Nurse, Lead grant writer in developing the La. Genetics Disorder Div of Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospital ( formerly the Dept of Health and Human Services
Sherman Copelin 1964 Member, Louisiana House of Representatives
Dr. Karen Drake 1979 Perinatologist, Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Des Moines, Iowa; played a key role in the delivery of the Iowa septuplets – November 19, 1997
Joseph N. Gayles, Jr. 1958 former President of Talladega College; former Morehouse School of Medicine Vice President for Development
Sandra A. Harris-Hooker 1974 Associate Dean of Research at Morehouse School of Medicine
Francis C. Henderson 1958 Professor of Medicine and Special Assistant to the Director of the Jackson Heart Study – Jackson, Mississippi
Michael D. Jones 1982 Partner, Kirkland & Ellis; Georgetown Law Center Alumni of the Year Award (2010)
Warren A. Jones 1971 Distinguished Professor of Health Policy; Executive Director, Institute for Geographic Minority Health and Minority Disparities in the Delta Region, University of Mississippi Medical Center; the first African American elected President of the American Academy of Family Physicians; and a member of the Dillard University Board of Trustees
Harold Lundy, Sr. 1971 fourth President of Grambling State University
Larry Lundy 1972 President of Lundy Enterprises, LLC (a Black Enterprise Top 100 Company)
Glenda Goodly McNeal 1982 Senior Vice President, American Express Company and a member of the Dillard University Board of Trustees
Ellis M. Marsalis, Jr. 1955 accomplished jazz pianist and music educator; father of jazz artists: Branford Marsalis, Wynton and Delfeayo; retired Director of Jazz Studies, University of New Orleans
Garrett Morris 1958 comedian/actor (Saturday Night Live, The Jamie Foxx Show)
Khalid Abdul Muhammad 1970 National Spokesman, Nation of Islam
Alice Dunbar Nelson 1892 Women's rights activist and wife of Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Alfred Lloyd Norris 1960 Bishop, United Methodist Church
Revius Ortique, Jr 1947 the first African American to serve on the Louisiana State Supreme Court (now retired); a member of the Dillard University Board of Trustees
Brenda Marie Osbey 1978 Poet Laureate for Louisiana
Lisa Frazier-Page 1984 Staff writer, Washington Post
Louis Pendleton Dentist, businessman, and civic leader in Shreveport, Louisiana, who organized the civil rights movement in his city through the formation of the interest group known as "Blacks United for Lasting Leadership", which successfully lobbied for racial justice
P.B.S. Pinchback 1885 First African-American Governor in the United States; 24th Governor of Louisiana
Renée Gill Pratt local New Orleans politician. She was also Director of the Center for Student Retention and Success in Southern University at New Orleans.
Beah Richards 1948 actress of stage, screen and television. She was a poet, playwright and author
Joyce M. Roche 1970 President & CEO of Girls, Inc.; former President and Chief Operating Officer of Carson, Inc.; the first female chairperson of the Dillard University Board of Trustees
John Ruffin 1965 the first associate director for Research on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health
Ruth J. Simmons 1967 the first African-American President of an Ivy League University (18th President of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island) and the first African-American President of a "Seven Sisters" school (ninth President of Smith College)
Mitchell W. Spellman 1940 Founding Dean of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science; Professor of Surgery Emeritus of Harvard Medical School; director, Academic Alliances and International Exchange Programs at Harvard Medical International
Rodrick A. Stevenson 1981 Director of the Organ Transplant Department, Meharry Medical College
The Honorable Carl E. Stewart 1971 Judge, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana
William W. Sutton 1953 fourth President of Mississippi Valley State University
Dwayne Thomas 1980 CEO, Medical Center of Louisiana, New Orleans
Veronica White Former Director of Sanitation for the City of New Orleans
Jimmy Womack 1976 minister and a Member of the Michigan House of Representatives, 7th district

Honorary degree recipients

The following notable individuals are honorary alumni of Dillard University:

Name Class year Notability References
Benjamin E. Mays 1975 Doctor of Humane Letters
Albert W. Dent 1977 Doctor of Humane Letters
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. 1977 Doctor of Laws
Coretta Scott King 1978 Doctor of Humane Letters
Samuel D. Proctor 1978 Doctor of Humane Letters
David Spitz 1978 Doctor of Laws
John Hope Franklin 1979 Doctor of Humane Letters
Howard Thurman 1979 Doctor of Humane Letters
Robert Frederick Collins 1979 Doctor of Laws
Lerone Bennett, Jr. 1980 Doctor of Laws
Martin Luther King, Sr. 1980 Doctor of Humane Letters
Rosa Freeman Keller 1980 Doctor of Humane Letters
William Talbot Handy, Jr. 1981 Doctor of Laws
Terry Sanford 1982 Doctor of Humane Letters
Joseph N. W. Gayles, Jr. 1983 Doctor of Laws
Mitchell W. Spellman 1983 Doctor of Laws
Shirley A. Chisholm 1985 Doctor of Humane Letters
Charles G. Adams 1985 Doctor of Laws
Jerry H. Coleman 1986 Doctor of Laws
Joseph E. Lowery 1986 Doctor of Humane Letters
John L. Wilson 1986 Doctor of Humane Letters
George Bush 1987 Medal of Honor
Lou Rawls 1988 Doctor of Humane Letters
Robert E. Johnson 1988 Doctor of Literature
John Hurst Adams 1989 Doctor of Laws
Marian Wright Edelman 1989 Doctor of Humane Letters
Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr. 1989 Doctor of Music
Rhetaugh Graves Dumas 1990 Doctor of Laws
Gardner Calvin Taylor 1990 Doctor of Humane Letters
Spike Lee 2004 Doctor of Humane Letters
Shirley Franklin 2004
William H. Cosby, Jr. 2006 Ed.D.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. 2007 Doctor of Humane Letters
Roberta Flack 2007 Doctor of Humane Letters
Frank Mason 2007 Doctor of Humane Letters
Leah Chase[7] 2008


The following corporate, civic and religious leaders currently or previously served on the Dillard University Board of Trustees:

  • Herschel L. Abbott, Jr., Esq.
  • Jay Amestoy
  • Victoria Holloway Barbosa, M.D., M.P.H.
  • Edgar A. Bright, Jr.
  • Bruce K. Brown
  • Rudolph P. Byrd, Ph.D.
  • The Honorable Ruth C. Carter
  • Samuel DuBois Cook, Ph.D.
  • Bishop Finis A. Crutchfield
  • David B. Dillard
  • Arnold W. Donald
  • Marian Wright Edelman
  • Charles A. Ferguson
  • Joel L. Fleishman
  • Kent S. Foster
  • Robert W. French
  • Myron Gray
  • Michael G. Griffin
  • Beverly Guy Sheftall, Ph.D.
  • Anthony J. Hackett, Jr.
  • Eben Hardie, Jr.
  • Wesley A. Hotchkiss
  • Marvalene Hughes, Ph.D.
  • Bishop William W. Hutchinson
  • Michael D. Jones, Esq.
  • Warren A. Jones, M.D.
  • Arthur Johnson
  • Robert E. Johnson
  • Lester E. Kabacoff
  • Pres Kabacoff
  • Charles Keller, Jr.
  • Rosa Freeman Keller
  • Charles Kohlmeyer, Jr.
  • Hugh A. Latimer
  • Frank J. Mason
  • Homer C. McEwen
  • Glenda Goodly McNeal, MBA.
  • John Mendel
  • William R. Mendenhall
  • Deadrick C. Montague
  • R. King Milling
  • Steven Odell
  • Bishop William B. Oden
  • The Honorable Revius O. Ortique
  • Joyce M. Roche, Ph.D.
  • Howard E. Spragg
  • Edward M. Swan, Jr.
  • Harold W. Thatcher
  • Kenneth W. Thompson
  • F. Thomas Trotter
  • Margaret F. Washington, RN
  • Henry M. Williams
  • Andrew B. Wisdom
  • Ambassador Andrew J. Young, Jr.

External links


  1. ^ [Bernard, Louise and Radiclani Clytus. Within These Walls: A Short History of Dillard University. New Orleans: Dillard University, 1999. 10.]
  2. ^ http://www.blackpast.org/?q=aah/dillard-university-1869
  3. ^ [Bernard, Louise and Radiclani Clytus. Within These Walls: A Short History of Dillard University. New Orleans: Dillard University, 1999. 11.]
  4. ^ "Community Responds with Donations for Hurricane Evacuees from Dillard University at Centenary College". http://www.centenary.edu/news/2005/August/0018.html. Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  5. ^ "Hurricane Katrina Shelters Open". Shreveport Times. http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=D9&Date=20050828&Category=NEWS&ArtNo=828001&Ref=PH&Params=Itemnr=2. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  6. ^ Read, Mimi (February 23, 2005). "A Gift to Black Cuisine, From Ray Charles". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F00E0D91F3AF930A15751C0A9639C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  7. ^ http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/index.ssf?/base/news-28/12103969076970.xml&coll=1

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