The board of supervisors of Louisiana State University has voted to honor four African Americans who made significant contributions to the history of the university.
Lutrill and Pearl Payne will have the university’s School of Education named in their honor. Lutrill Payne was initially denied admission to the Graduate School because of his race. However, following a successful legal defense, he enrolled in 1951. Pearl Payne enrolled soon after and became the first Black woman to earn a degree from LSU when she obtained a master’s degree in education in 1956.
Pinkie Gordon Lane was the first Black woman to earn a doctorate from Louisiana State University in 1967. She was the first woman to serve as chair of the English department at Southern University in Baton Rouge and was appointed as Louisiana’s first Black Poet Laureate. The Graduate School at the university will be named in her honor.
The Design Building on campus will now be known as Julian T. White Hall. The second Black licensed architect in the state of Louisiana, White was also the university’s first Black professor who began teaching in the architecture department in 1971.
In announcing the honors, William Tate IV, president of Louisiana State University said that “LSU has significant work to do to continue to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. I believe that our efforts must be forward-leaning, they must connect to and advance our broader strategic vision, and they must help us become a community that is ever-grounded in the values of truth, courage, and empathy. I believe that concentrating our efforts on honoring Black pioneers and remembering forgotten voices vital to our history best enables us to achieve these objectives as a community.”
Dr. Tate is the first African American to serve as a leader of a university in the Southeastern Conference. Before coming to Baton Rouge in July 2021, he was the Education Foundation Distinguished Professor, executive vice president for academic affairs, and provost at the University of South Carolina. Professor Tate is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. He holds a master’s degree in mathematical sciences education from the University of Texas at Dallas, a master’s degree in psychiatric epidemiology from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and a doctorate in mathematics education from the University of Maryland College Park.