In Memoriam: Gus T. Ridgel, 1925-2020

Gus Ridgel, one of the first Black students at the University of Missouri and a long-time administrator at historically Black Kentucky State University, died on August 1.

Dr. Ridgel most recently served as senior advisor to the president att Kentucky State. In announcing Dr. Ridgel’s death to the campus community, M. Christopher Brown II, president of Kentucky State University, stated that we “will remember and honor the excellence that Dr. Ridgel demonstrated throughout his life and career at Kentucky State with a commitment to our students and the institution. He genuinely loved all of Kentucky State. We will miss his presence and I will miss his counsel.”

Dr. Ridgel was a member of Concerned Student 1950, the first group of African-American students admitted to the University of Missouri. He was admitted to the graduate program in economics in 1950 after civil rights groups won a court ruling desegregating the university. He earned a master’s degree a year later, the first African American student to earn a degree at the university.

Dr. Ridgel went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Wisconsin. He retired in 1996 as vice president for finance and administration at Kentucky State after a long career in higher education. A scholarship program and the atrium of a residence hall at the Univerity of Missouri are named in his honor.


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