Towson University Honors First Black Graduates By Renaming Residence Halls

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Credit: Van Fisher/Patch - - Nine pillars for the nine historically black sororities and fraternities at Chapman Quad in Towson

TOWSON - Towson University announced on Saturday that it will be renaming two of its residence halls in honor of its first black graduates.

Marvis Barnes and Myra Harris were Towson University's first Black graduates following the 1954 supreme court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

Barnes and Harris both graduated in 1959 and later pursued successful careers as educators and managers in Maryland public schools.

Towson University President Kim Schatzel requested the name change and is thrilled to honor Harris and Barnes.

"Our institution has evolved much since Ms. Barnes and Ms. Harris graduated in 1959. I am very proud to say that the TU of today is a nationally recognized leader in inclusive excellence. A place where ALL students thrive and succeed equally," Schatzel said.

The university also unveiled its new National Pan-Hellenic Council tribute walkway. The tribute is made up of nine pillars lining Chapman Quad. Each pillar represents one of Towson's historically black fraternities and sororities.

Sometimes referred to as "the divine nine," the pillars honor Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Iota Phi Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Zeta Phi Beta. These greek life organizations were initially brought to Towson's campus by the university's first dean of minority affairs, Dr. Julius Chapman, over 50 years ago.

President Schatzel spoke to a crowd of around 900 as she remarked on Towson's progress toward becoming a diverse and equitable institution.

"We know that as an anchor institution that reflects the diverse population of Maryland, we must continue our efforts to ensure a more equitable and excellent future for the next generation of Tigers."

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