The University of Missouri on Wednesday mourned the death of the first African-American professor to be hired on the Columbia campus.
History professor Arvarh Strickland, 82, died Tuesday in Columbia. He started his career at MU in 1969, a time when the nonviolent resistance portion of the civil rights movement had begun spreading across the country. Today, MU has 57 African-American faculty members.
“He was a huge deal for us in terms of civil rights,” said Christian Basi, a university spokesman.
As a pioneer on campus, Strickland, a nationally known historian, is credited with helping increase African-American enrollment and for transforming MU’s culture, school officials said.
He taught at MU for more than 26 years before retiring in 1996. As a professor emeritus, he continued to serve the university in a variety of capacities.
MU officials said his classes were always packed.
“Arvarh Strickland was most well known for the countless number of students he mentored over the years, both in their academic pursuits and in their personal challenges,” Deputy Chancellor Mike Middleton said in a statement.
“Because of his contributions, MU’s history department is noted as one of the nation’s leaders for doctoral degrees granted to African-Americans.”
In 1998, the Missouri Endowed Chair and Professorship Program, with the state’s General Assembly, created the Arvarh E. Strickland Distinguished Professorship in African-American History and Culture.
Six years ago, MU renamed its General Classroom Building as Arvarh E. Strickland Hall.