Yale Bulletin and Calendar

September 13, 2002|Volume 31, Number 2














Yale to honor life of Edward Bouchet

Edward Bouchet
The University will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of its noted alumnus Edward Bouchet -- the first African-American student to graduate from Yale College and the first African-American in the United States to earn a Ph.D. -- with a series of events taking place throughout the year.

The year-long sesquicentennial birthday celebration featuring lectures, seminars and special events will begin this month. Bouchet Departmental Lectures will also be given in various academic departments throughout the year, co-sponsored by the Yale Graduate School and Yale College dean's offices.

Bouchet was a member of the Yale College Class of 1874. He went on to earn his doctorate in physics from Yale in 1876.

On Wednesday, Sept. 18, Yale will celebrate the life and work of Bouchet with a program in Battell Chapel, noon-1:30 p.m. The keynote speaker will be Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), who will speak on the topic "Educating Minorities for Research Careers: Overcoming the Odds." He will be joined by Adolphus Toliver, director of the National Institutes of Health's Minority Access to Research Career Programs.

At the event, Bouchet Leadership Awards in Minority Graduate Education will be presented to Hrabowski and Dieter Söll, professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale. In addition, Yale a cappella singing groups will perform and a birthday cake will be served.

Hrabowski, president of UMBC since 1992, has spent much of his professional career addressing the question of why there are so few minority students and faculty -- particularly African Americans -- in the sciences, mathematics and engineering. He is co-author of "Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males" and "Overcoming the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Young Women." He is a consultant on these issues to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education, and universities and school systems across the nation.

Söll has been instrumental in the recruitment of minority students to higher education since the early 1970s, when he spearheaded a program that brought students from Tougaloo College, a historically black college in Mississippi, to Yale for a summer of research. Over the years, he has provided research opportunities for numerous minority students in his laboratory and has been "an untiring advocate for minority students here at Yale and through his work with the National Institutes of Health minority programs," says Liza Cariaga-Lo, assistant dean of diversity at the Graduate School.

The son of a 'body servant'

Edward A. Bouchet was born on Sept. 15, 1852, on Bradley Street in New Haven, the son of William Francis and Susan Bouchet. His mother was a Connecticut native and his father, born in South Carolina in 1817, came to New Haven as the "body servant" of a Yale College student. Freed when the student graduated, William Bouchet remained in New Haven, where he worked as a porter at the Palladium Building and at Yale.

Edward Bouchet attended the Artisan Street Colored School for his primary education and Hopkins Grammar School for secondary studies, graduating as valedictorian of his class in 1870. When he earned his bachelor's degree from Yale four years later, he was accorded highest honors and was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa -- the first of his race to be nominated to that society.

A portrait of Bouchet by Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Rudolf Zallinger is one of only three portraits that hangs today in the transept of the Sterling Memorial Library. Bouchet's photograph is also among the Yale notables whose images are displayed on the second floor of the Yale Bookstore.

A new Yale program

Bouchet's 150th birthday comes at a time of considerable growth in the number of minority students at the Graduate School.

"There was a 63% increase in the number of underrepresented minority students (African American, Hispanic/Latino and Native American) matriculating in master's degree and doctoral programs at the Graduate School this semester -- fall 2002 -- compared to last year," notes Cariaga-Lo. "Bouchet's birthday also coincides with the inauguration of the Yale Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program, a new initiative aimed at increasing the numbers of underrepresented minority students entering research careers in the biomedical sciences. Bouchet would have been gratified to know that his legacy of scholarship and research is being carried on."

Events celebrating Bouchet's birthday are free and open to the public. Other events honoring the Yale alumnus' legacy will take place in New Haven.

Future events at Yale include Bouchet Junior Faculty Seminars, which will provide an opportunity for junior faculty members of color to present their ongoing research. The first of these will be held on Oct. 16.

Graduate students of color will present their work in Bouchet Graduate Student Seminars beginning on Nov. 13.

The Yale chapter of Phi Beta Kappa will honor Bouchet this spring at its annual dinner and lecture. More information on upcoming events will appear in future issues of the Yale Bulletin & Calendar.

The legacy of Edward Bouchet to be celebrated at local events and sites

A musical program, worship services and a lecture honoring the sesquicentennial birthday of noted Yale alumnus Edward A. Bouchet will take place in the coming week at several New Haven sites.

The events coincide with the events on campus marking the opening of Yale's year-long celebration honoring Bouchet.

On Sunday, Sept. 15, four New Haven churches will honor Bouchet during morning worship services at 11 a.m. These are St. Luke's Episcopal Church at 111 Whalley Ave.; the Dixwell Avenue United Church of Christ, 217 Dixwell Ave.; Battell Chapel, corner of College and Elm streets; and the Episcopal Church at Yale and Christ Church Episcopal on Broadway, across from the Yale Bookstore.

At 1 p.m. on Sunday, the public is invited to attend a 150th birthday tribute to Bouchet in the historic Evergreen Cemetery, 769 Ella Grasso Boulevard (between Legion and Columbus avenues). The event featuring music and brunch will take place on the circle of the cemetery, where Bouchet and some of his extended family members are buried.

On Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 8 a.m., Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, will speak in the Walter Camp Athletic Center at the Hopkins School, 986 Forest Rd. in New Haven. Hrabowski's talk precedes his keynote address at Yale later that day. Bouchet was valedictorian of the Hopkins Class of 1870.


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