Dickinson College Apologizes for 1940s Racial Slight

Esther Popel Shaw and her daughter Patricia

Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, recently bestowed a posthumous honorary degree on Esther Popel Shaw, who in 1919 was the first African American women to graduate from the college. Shaw graduated Phi Beta Kappa and went on to a career as a poet and a member of the Harlem renaissance. Shaw died in 1958 at the age of 61.

In presenting the honorary degree, Dickinson President William G. Durden apologized to Shaw’s descendents, several who were present at the ceremony, for a racial slight that occurred in the 1940s. Patricia Shaw Iverson, the only daughter of the college’s first Black woman alumna, came to Dickinson on the recommendation of her mother. The college admitted her but refused to allow her to live on campus. As a result, Iverson decided to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.

President Durden stated, “There was an injustice committed by the college leadership decades ago against this family. This action was plain wrong by any humane or moral standard. I wish to acknowledge publicly this wrong and apologize to the family members present on behalf of Dickinson College.”

Related Articles


Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Two Black Scholars Appointed to Faculty Positions

The new faculty are Esther Jones at Brown University and Dagmawi Woubshet at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision is Established at Bowie State University

"The new program will help to increase the number of counselor educators within the counseling field and the number of competent Black counselor educators," says Dr. Otis Williams, chair of the Bowie State University department of counseling and psychological studies.

Elizabeth City State University Partners With the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to Increase Representation of Black Graduate...

"We are excited by this partnership with UT Health Science Center and the opportunities this brings to our students who wish to pursue advanced degrees," said Kuldeep Rawat, dean of the Elizabeth City State University School of Science, Health and Technology.

Kimberly White-Smith Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education

“Through her leadership and scholarship, Dr. White-Smith inspires a new generation of teachers to serve students and approach their work with equity, compassion, and respect,” said Gail F. Baker, provost and senior vice president at the University of San Diego. 

Featured Jobs