September 30, 2021
Dear campus community,
I’m always proud to be part of the Western Michigan University community, but that pride was especially strong on Sept. 17, when our Board of Trustees approved the recommendation to establish Merze Tate College.
Merze Tate College, formerly known as University College, will honor the spirit of its namesake—the first Black graduate of what was then known as Western State Teachers College. Dr. Tate went on to become the first African American to earn a doctorate from Oxford University and the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in government and international relations at Harvard. She was one of the first two female history instructors at Howard University and taught at several historically Black colleges.
Dr. Tate exemplifies what it means to be a Bronco. She was resilient, adaptable, determined and refused to let others prevent her from reaching whatever goals she set for herself. She was a Fulbright Scholar, teacher, filmmaker, author and inventor. Fluent in five languages, she was an advisor to world leaders and a staunch advocate of fighting racism through education.
To say that Dr. Tate was an extraordinary woman is an understatement. Uplifting her as an inspirational guide for a college that invites students to explore their interests, embrace their potential and set goals in pursuit of a rich and rewarding future is an ideal tribute to her legacy.
Our entire Western Michigan University community is invited to celebrate the naming of our newest college during a special ceremony on Friday, Oct. 8 at 4 p.m. in the Bernhard Center Ballroom. We’ll honor Dr. Tate and commemorate the launch of the new college with her family and local leaders. There is no registration required for this event. Those who are unable to attend in person are invited to watch the livestream.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs