Two Prestigious Universities Bestow Honors on African American Scholars

The black box theater in Roble Gym, home of the Stanford Univerity department of theater and performance studies, has been named in honor of Harry J. Elam, Jr. Historic Roble Gym underwent a $28 million renovation in 2016 that included the creation of the state-of-the-art theater. Elam was the artistic director of the first production in the new space

Earlier this year, Dr. Elam was appointed the sixteenth president of Occidental College in Los Angeles after teaching at Stanford sine 1990. He joined the university’s faculty as an associate professor in what is now the department of theater and performance studies. Dr. Elam also served as vice provost for undergraduate education, vice president for the arts, and senior vice provost for education at the university.

A graduate of Harvard College, Dr. Elam earned his doctorate in the dramatic arts at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author and co-editor of seven books, including the award-winning The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson (University of Michigan Press, 2006).

Rice University in Houston, Texas, has it will name part of its campus central quadrangle The Reverend William A. Lawson Grove in honor of the esteemed community leader’s contributions to the university and the city of Houston. The grove is a beautiful shaded area that sits at the heart of the campus, situated between Herring Hall and Brochstein Pavilion and flanked by live oak trees.

As the founding pastor of the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Rev. Lawson has been one of the city’s most influential civic voices for more than half a century. He helped orchestrate the civil rights movement in Houston, marched with Martin Luther King Jr., and worked to peacefully integrate schools and other institutions.

Lawson was born in St. Louis but grew up in Kansas City. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from what is now Tennessee State University in Nashville and continued his studies at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Kansas, where he received a master’s degree in theology and a bachelor’s degree in divinity. He moved to Houston in 1960 to become director of the Baptist Student Union and professor of bible at Texas Southern University. Rev. Lawson founded Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in 1962 with only 13 members. Today, its congregation has grown to more than 19,000 members.

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