Dillard University

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Dillard University

Dillard University, a historically black college located in New Orleans, Louisiana, grew out of two institutions, Straight College and New Orleans University. Straight College (originally Straight University) was founded by the American Missionary Association in 1869 to educate emancipated African Americans. Straight featured both secondary and undergraduate programs and briefly housed a Law Department. New Orleans University, created by the Methodist Episcopal Church, was originally called the Union Normal School. Following the end of Reconstruction, Union was transformed into an undergraduate institution, New Orleans University, while the Gilbert Academy was established under university auspices as a secondary school. Shortly thereafter, a medical department and nursing school were added, and the Sarah Goodridge Hospital and Nursing Training School (later Flint-Goodridge Hospital) was set up as a teaching institution. Although the medical school closed in 1911, Flint-Goodridge Hospital remained affiliated with the university until 1983.

In 1930 Straight College and New Orleans University merged. The new institution was named Dillard University in honor of James Hardy Dillard, a pioneering educator of African Americans in the South. Will W. Alexander, the director of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation and a leading southern white liberal, was named acting president. Following Alexander's departure in 1937, the distinguished educator Albert Dent became Dillard's first African-American president. During these years a student theater group, the Dillard Players, became nationally known. By 2003, Dillard had more than 2,300 students and nearly 150 full-time faculty directing 31 major programs of study. In addition to its academic and athletic programs, it sponsors a notable yearly conference on Black-Jewish relations.

See also Bethune-Cookman College; Bond, Horace Mann; Catlett, Elizabeth; Fisk University; Howard University; Lincoln University; Morehouse College; Spelman College; Tuskegee University; Wilberforce University


Dent, Jessie Covington. Reminiscences of Dillard University: The Early Years. New Orleans: Author, 1991.

greg robinson (1996)