LSU, Baton Rouge Mourn the Loss of Huel D. Perkins
Services scheduled for Saturday, April 20, at 11 a.m. at Hall Davis & Son Funeral Service
BATON ROUGE – Retired LSU Professor Emeritus of Humanities Huel Davis Perkins, one of Baton Rouge’s most beloved civic leaders and educators, passed away on April 15. He was 88 years old. Services for Perkins will be held on Saturday, April 20, at 11 a.m. at Hall Davis & Son Funeral Service, 9348 Scenic Hwy. in Baton Rouge.
Perkins, who served as assistant vice chancellor of Academic Affairs, executive assistant to the chancellor and special assistant to the chancellor during his 27-year career at the university, was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from LSU in 2005 for his service to education and the university. He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Thelma O. Smith Perkins; a son, former Baton Rouge news anchor Huel Alfred Perkins, and his wife, Priscilla Daigle Perkins; and two grandsons, Huel Jared Perkins and Vincent Perkins.
“The LSU and Baton Rouge communities lost a great ambassador with the passing of Huel Perkins,” said LSU Interim System President and Interim Chancellor William Jenkins. “Dr. Perkins has done so much for higher education in Louisiana, and his mark will be felt by many for years to come. He will be sorely missed.”
A native of Baton Rouge, Perkins graduated with honors from Southern University in 1947. He then earned both his master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University in 1951 and 1958, respectively. He began his career in education at Lincoln University in Missouri as a music instructor in 1948. From 1951-1960, Perkins was an associate professor of music at Southern University. From 1968-1978, he was the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Southern before being appointed deputy director of education programming at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C.
Perkins came to LSU as assistant vice chancellor of Academic Affairs in 1979. Perkins served as assistant vice chancellor at LSU until 1990, when he became the executive assistant to the chancellor and special assistant to the chancellor, where he served until 1998.
In 1988, Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer appointed him to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. In 1996, President Bill Clinton appointed him to the board of advisors of the J.W. Fulbright foreign scholarship program, where he served until 2002. Perkins also founded his own consulting firm and speakers bureau, Huel D. Perkins & Associates Inc.
In 2005, LSU named the Huel D. Perkins Doctoral Fellowship Program in his honor. The fellowship program “supports LSU’s goal to create an inclusive, respectful, intellectually challenging climate that embraces individual diversity in race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, age, spirituality, socio-economic factors, disability, family circumstances, life experiences, educational background, opinions, and ideas.”
The LSU Black Faculty and Staff Caucus also presents the Huel D. Perkins Leadership Award annually to an LSU student who exhibits outstanding leadership qualities during its annual Black Scholars Awards Program.
“Dr. Perkins was a national treasure,” said Katrice Albert, LSU vice provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach. “He was exemplary in his dedication to higher education, the arts, community engagement and diversity. He was especially passionate about creating access and raising the educational levels of all.
“Dr. Perkins made a significant impact on each of the lives he touched. His warmth and generous spirit was a joy to be around. Through his example of visionary leadership and service, Dr. Perkins leaves behind a legacy of great character and integrity. He will certainly be missed.”
Perkins has been honored with the Humanist of the Year award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities as Humanist of the Year, the Brotherhood Award by the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Outstanding Educator award by the LSU Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, the Brotherhood Award by the Baton Rouge Human Relations Council, the Citizen of the Year award by the Istrouma Area Council of Boy Scouts of America, the A.P. Tureaud Award by the Louisiana Chapter of the NAACP, the Award of Merit by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and received the Centennial Award given by Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He was also listed in the 57th edition of Who’s Who In America.
Perkins served as a member of the president’s board of advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and served on many additional boards, including the Baton Rouge Symphony, Louisiana Public Broadcasting Corp. and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Perkins was the first African-American elected to the United Way and the first African-American admitted to the Baton Rouge Rotary Club. He was also the recipient of many public service awards for his achievements throughout his life.