Board of Supervisors Votes to Honor Black Pioneers
December 09, 2022
I am pleased to share that the LSU Board of Supervisors met today and voted unanimously to honor several remarkable individuals whose immeasurable impact on LSU merits lasting recognition. Lutrill and Pearl Payne, Dr. Pinkie Gordon Lane, and Julian T. White were pioneers in Black history and in the history of our university. They demonstrated perseverance and resilience in breaking down barriers to shape LSU into the university we are today. Their stories—and names—should inspire us to work tirelessly toward the future we want to see.
We will name two academic programs and one building in their honor:
The Lutrill & Pearl Payne School of Education, housed within the College of Human Sciences & Education, honors Lutrill Payne and his wife, Pearl Payne, whose work to integrate the LSU Graduate School opened the door for many others to follow. Mr. Payne was initially denied admission to the LSU Graduate School because of his race. However, following a successful legal defense, he enrolled in 1951. Mrs. Payne enrolled soon after and became the first Black woman to earn a degree from LSU when she obtained a Master of Education in 1956.
The Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School honors Pinkie Gordon Lane, the first Black woman to earn her doctorate from LSU in 1967. An accomplished educator and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet and author, she was the first woman to serve as Southern University’s English Department Chair and was appointed by Governor Buddy Roemer as Louisiana’s first Black Poet Laureate.
Julian T. White Hall, formerly the Design Building, honors Julian T. White, the second Black licensed architect in the state of Louisiana. White was also LSU’s first Black professor who began teaching in LSU’s Architecture Department in 1971. In 2020, the LSU College of Art & Design unveiled a three-story mural of White in the atrium of the Design Building, which will now be named in his honor.
I encourage you to read about these men and women to pursue greater understanding of the forces that shaped our university. In the coming weeks, we will share more information about events to appropriately celebrate these pioneers and involve our entire community in the naming.
I know that for some students this step—while important—will not feel like enough, as it does not address the issue of other names that remain on buildings. I have given considerable thought to your concerns. Where I land is this: LSU has significant work to do to continue to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. I believe that our efforts must be forward-leaning, they must connect to and advance our broader strategic vision, and they must help us become a community that is ever-grounded in the values of truth, courage, and empathy. I believe that concentrating our efforts on honoring Black pioneers and remembering forgotten voices vital to our history best enables us to achieve these objectives as a community. In that spirit, and in addition to these naming efforts, we will also undertake a project that will provide details and context around many of our buildings on campus, as well as the Allen Hall murals.
In the past year, we have made tangible progress to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at LSU. This includes the hiring of Todd Manuel as vice president over the division; establishing pathway programs to help provide opportunities to more students from elementary school to Ph.D. levels; and establishing a new and unprecedented A&M agenda with Southern University. Such actions enrich our unique culture and strengthen the intellectual environment, and we will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure LSU remains an institution where all faculty, staff, and students excel.
I am inspired by our community’s continuous pursuit of excellence, dedication to scholarship, and appreciation for our university’s diverse history. As we move into the new year, I look forward to more conversations with our campus community around efforts to recognize our past and celebrate our future.
William F. Tate IV