University of North Alabama Honors its First Black Graduate

The University of North Alabama is awarding an honorary doctorate to Wendell Wilkie Gunn. He is the first African American to earn a degree from what is now the University of North Alabama.

On June 11, 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace made his infamous stand in the schoolhouse door defying the federal government’s order to integrate the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Wallace was forced to step aside by federalized National Guard troops and allow Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood to register for classes.

Wendell Wilkie Gunn, an African American student at historically Black Tennessee State University, was emboldened by the successful racial integration at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, and sought admission to the then all-White Florence State College. In a case that lasted only 10 minutes, Gunn, with the help of famed civil rights attorney Fred Gray, obtained a court order demanding that he be allowed to enroll. He did so on September 11, 1963. Gunn graduated in 1965 with bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemistry. Gunn went on to earn an MBA at the University of Chicago.

Gunn later became a vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank, director of investor relations for Pepsico, and an assistant professor of finance at Texas Southern University in Houston. In 1982, he was appointed by President Reagan as assistant director for commerce and trade in the Office of Policy Development at the White House.

Today, the University of North Alabama enrolls just over 6,000 undergraduate students. African Americans are 14 percent of the student body, according to the latest U.S. Department of Education data.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Winston-Salem State University and Wake Forest University Establish a Pathway Program for Aspiring Physician Assistants

Through their most recent collaboration, the physician assistant program at Wake Forest University will begin formally recruiting Winston-Salem State University students who meet admission requirements and have been recommended by Winston-Salem State University leadership.

Three African American Men Appointed to New Academic Positions

The three African American male scholars appointed to new roles are E. Albert Reece at the University of Maryland, Duane Watson at Vanderbilt University, and Steven Starks of the University of Houston..

Hampton University Launches Seven Online Degree Programs in Business and Theology

Historically Black Hampton University in Virginia has expanded its online offerings by launching a new one-year MBA degree and six degree programs from the School of Religion.

Angelo Moore Recognized for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Cancer Research

The American Cancer Society has presented its annual Fredda Bryan National Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award to Angelo Moore, executive director of the Center of Excellence for Integrative Health Disparities and Equity Research at North Carolina A&T State University.

Featured Jobs