In 2002, Harvard University allocated money to the Portraiture Project after it was revealed that of the hundreds of official portraits hanging on the walls of campus buildings, almost none featured women or members of minority groups. In 2005, the first six portraits commissioned under the project were unveiled. Three were of African Americans: Archie Epps III, the long-time dean of students, Eileen Jackson Southern, the first Black woman to hold a tenured faculty position at Harvard, and David L. Evans, an electrical engineer and senior admissions officer at Harvard.
The seventeenth portrait in the series was recently unveiled in the junior common room of Leverett House. The most recent honoree is Orlando Patterson, the John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard. Professor Patterson, who is a native of Jamaica, has served on the Harvard faculty for the past 47 years.
After studying at the University of the West Indies, Professor Patterson earned a Ph.D. in sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He joined the Harvard University faculty in 1969. Professor Patterson is the author of many books including The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth (Harvard University Press, 2015).