A professor, scholar and expert on United States diplomacy, Merze Tate was the first African American graduate of Western Michigan Teachers College, first African American woman to attend the University of Oxford, first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in government and international relations from Harvard University (then Radcliffe College), as well as one of the first two female members to join the Department of History at Howard University.
In 1990, she gave WMU a $1 million gift to establish the Merze Tate Student Education Endowment Fund, which provides support for student needs. At the time, she said she wanted to thank Western and the other institutions for helping her overcome the barriers of race and sex.
For more information, see Wikipedia entry
Mark Ranzenberger, “Merze Tate blazed her own trail”, Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun, December 29, 2009.
Sharon A. Hanks, Rediscovering Merze Tate: A remarkable African-American woman who grew up in our own backyard, Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council.