Timeline - 1970

Date: 1970
Title: Clifton Wharton becomes the first African-American president at MSU or at any major university in the US
Description: Dr. Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. when elected as the 14th president of MSU was also the first African-American to serve as president of any major university in the United States. His term of office was often a turbulent one, featuring student demonstrations in 1970 and 1972 as well as a National Collegiate Athletic Association investigation of the MSU football program. Fiscal problems resulting from budget cuts remained a constant problem throughout Wharton's tenure. His major achievements were his successful efforts to maintain the quality of MSU's academic programs despite budget reductions, his commitment to the education of the economically and educationally disadvantaged, and the integration of the School of Osteopathic Medicine with the other medical schools. Major innovations implemented under Wharton's tenure included the Presidential Commission on Admissions and Student Body Composition to study future enrollment policies and a Presidential Fellows Program to allow selected students and junior faculty members to gain experience in university administration. Wharton's most lasting contribution to the University was the completion of a new center for the performing arts. The building, dedicated in 1982, was named in honor of Wharton and his wife Dolores, in recognition of the strong support, which they gave the project. Wharton resigned from Michigan State University in December 1977 to accept the Chancellorship of the State University of New York. 

View the finding aid for the Clifton R. Wharton papers (UA 2.1.14).