1997 : Irving D. Reid, Wayne State University’s First African-American President

November 24, 2021 all-day

On November 24, 1997, Irving D. Reid took the oath of office to become Wayne State University’s first African-American president.

Dr. Reid served as Wayne State University’s ninth president from Nov. 24, 1997 to August 1, 2008.  Shortly after assuming office, he announced several initiatives that he believed would lead Wayne State University into “a new era of greatness.” These initiatives stressed the university’s commitment to student success, research, the urban environment, diversity and innovative technology, and have since formed the core principles of Wayne State’s strategic planning.
Under Dr. Reid’s leadership, Wayne State completed hundreds of millions of dollars in new construction, including a major expansion of the Law School complex, three residence halls, the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the Mort Harris Recreation and Fitness Center, and a Welcome Center Complex comprising the Welcome Center, the University Bookstore and a Retail/Parking Center Building. The most recent new construction project is South University Village, a $36 million public-private real estate development in Midtown Detroit. A mix of residential facilities, banking, shops, restaurants and parking accommodations, South University Village celebrated its grand opening in July 2008.
One of Dr. Reid’s most far-reaching achievements as president has been the creation of TechTown, a 43-acre technology park adjacent to the Wayne State campus. With more than 40 tenants, TechTown’s business incubator is a growing force in the revitalization of the economies of Detroit and Michigan.
Dr. Reid left an indelible mark on university fundraising, which grew from $27 million per year in 1997 to nearly $80 million per year. In 2001 he launched Wayne First, the university’s first capital campaign, with an announced goal of $500 million. The capital campaign attracted the largest gifts in its history in the Law School and the School of Medicine, and was punctuated by the university’s largest ever in-kind gift, nearly $408 million in the College of Engineering.  By the end of his tenure, Wayne First had exceeded its goal by nearly $300 million, and overall university fundraising totaled more than $1 billion.
Before coming to Wayne State University as its president, he served from 1989 to 1997 as the seventh president of Montclair State, which he took to university status from a college.
Dr. Reid has received many honors and awards including The Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award, (1994), the Austrian-American Council of North America’s Austrian-American Medal (1995) and Howard University’s Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement Award in Education and Administration (1999). In 2000 The Detroit News placed him among its 12 Michiganians of the Year. In 2002 he received the Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award from the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, and was named a Newsmaker of the Year by Crain’s Detroit Business. In 2003 he received an honorary degree from Montclair State University; in 2006 Dr. Reid was chosen Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the Central Great Lakes Region for his leadership in supporting spin-off businesses from university research while nurturing existing businesses in Detroit’s Midtown area.
Irvin D. Reid sits on the boards of the Mack-Cali Real Estate Trust (CLI) and its audit committee where he is past chair; Pep Boys and its audit committee; Michigan Economic Development Corporation; and A.Schulman. He previously served on the boards of Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Detroit Branch); First Tennessee Bank of Chattanooga, NatWest Bank New Jersey, NatWest Bank USA (chair of trust committee), Fleet Bank (New York; chair of trust committee) and the Handleman Company (HDL) and its audit committee.
Dr. Reid earned masters and PhD degrees in business and applied economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Howard University. He also holds a certificate in educational administration from Harvard University. He is married to Pamela Trotman Reid, president of Saint Joseph College in Connecticut.

Sources :

Detroit African-American History Project

Wayne State University Biography.

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