Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Black Milestones in Higher Education: Jayhawks Edition

November 22nd, 2007 by Ajuan Mance

Jayhawks

The University of Kansas opened its doors on September 12, 1866 to an entering class of 55. Ten years later KU admitted its first African American student. It was not until 1885, however, that the first Black enrollee would graduate from the University.

Today Black students make up between 3 and 4 percent of KU’s 28,890 undergraduates, and Black professors make up about 3 percent of the KU faculty. In 2006, the Black graduation rate at KU was 38 percent.

  • 1876 — Lizzie Ann Smith becomes the first African American student to enroll at the University of Kansas.
  • 1885 — Blanche K. Bruce becomes the first African American to graduate from the University of Kansas.*
  • 1936 — John B. McLendon, Jr. becomes the first African American student at the University of Kansas to earn a degree in physical education .
  • 1941 — Edward Vernon Williams becomes the first African American to graduate from the University of Kansas Medical School.
  • 1952 — LaVannes Squires becomes the first African American basketball player at KU. C. Kermit Phelps becomes the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from KU.
  • 1954 — Maurice King becomes the first African American starter in KU basketball history.
  • 1968 — Black Student Union is established on the KU campus.
  • 1970 — Elmer C. Jackson, Jr. becomes the first African American appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents. In 1975 he becomes the first Black Regents chair.
  • 1999 — Andrew B. Williams becomes the first African American to graduate from KU with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering.

*This Blanche K. Bruce is Blanche Ketene Bruce, not to be confused with Blanche Kelso Bruce, the former slave who went on to become the first African American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

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Posted in African American Professors, African American Students, Black Faculty, Black History, Black PhDs, Black Students, Jayhawks, Kansas, My Favorite Blogs

4 Responses

  1. Don Nanneman

    Blanche Ketene Bruce was nephew of Blanche Kelso Bruce

  2. twilightandreason

    Thanks for sharing this detail! For anyone who is unfamiliar with his place in history, Blanche Kelso Bruce was the first African American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate. Black Facts Online (http://www.blackfacts.com/) also reports that, “After serving in the Senate, Bruce held many government appointments, including Register of the Treasury (appointed by President Garfield), recorder of deeds for DC, and a second term as Register of the Treasury. Bruce was the first African American to be represented on US currency, in the form of his signature as Register of the Treasury.”

  3. Jacqueline Bruce

    I am pleased to see that someone knows who Blanche Kelso a Blanche Ketene Bruce are. I am Blanche Kelso’s great grand daughter. There is a dearth of information on African Americans’ contributions to American history. We need to makes some strides in changing that.

  4. vanessa

    Hi Jacqueline,

    I read the book Senator and Socialite, I wanted to know do anyone in your family have wedding photos of Blanche and Josephine Bruce. Also I wanted to know if your father and Clara and Bruce Burrill still living?

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