January 16, 2004 by

David W.D. Dickson

1 comment

Categories: Education

ddickson.jpgDavid Watson Daly Dickson, the first black president of a New Jersey state college or university, died on Dec. 10. Cause of death was not released. He was 84.
The son of Jamaican immigrants, Dickson received a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and a master’s from Harvard University. During World War II, he served in the medical division of the segregated Army Air Forces unit based in Tuskegee, Ala. When the war ended, Dickson returned to Harvard to earn his doctorate in English literature.
An educational trailblazer and scholar of Renaissance and biblical literature, Dickson spent 15 years teaching at Michigan State University, where he was the institution’s first black faculty member. He worked in administrative positions at Northern Michigan University, Federal City College and Stony Brook University in New York before becoming the first black president of Montclair State University in New Jersey.
From 1973 to 1984, Dickson raiseed academic standards and developed 30 new undergraduate and graduate programs. Student enrollment tripled and 11 new buildings were constructed during his tenure. The School of Humanities and Social Sciences building was named in his honor.
After stepping down from his post, Dickson became a distinguished service professor and taught at the university until his retirement in 1989. He won the Michigan State University’s first Distinguished Faculty Award in 1952 and the Distinguished Bowdoin Educator Award in 1971. He also published several books, including “Memoirs of an Isolate.”

One Response to David W.D. Dickson

  1. Jane L. Evanson, Ph.D.

    President David Dickson hired me in my first faculty/administrative position at Montclair State College in New Jersey in the early 1970s. He and Dean Ercell Watson were the finest mentors a young professional could have experienced.
    Dr. Dickson taught me how to humanize learning and promote social equality in all facets of life. In the autumn of my career, I realize that President Dickson, my first president, had the most profound impact on my life and on my career.

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