Encyclopedia Brunoniana

Tougaloo College

Tougaloo College and Brown entered into a compact in the spring of 1964, in which Brown volunteered to assist the struggling black college. The plan was initiated by Providence businessman Irving J. Fain and Lawrence L. Durgin, pastor of the Central Congregational Church in Providence, both of whom were on the board of trustees of Tougaloo College. Tougaloo, a coeducational liberal arts college with an enrollment of 520, sought help in improving the academic standards of its faculty and students which Brown could provide by sending faculty to Tougaloo, organizing a development program, and receiving Tougaloo students at Brown to prepare for graduate education. The Brown-Tougaloo program was begun with two grants totalling $245,000 from the Fund for the Advancement of Education. Professor Harold Pfautz of Brown was named director of the program and went to Tougaloo in the fall of 1964. He remained until 1966. In 1965 George A. Owens, who had been acting president for a year, was named the first black president of Tougaloo.

Tougaloo began when the American Missionary Association bought 500 acres of land with an antebellum mansion north of Jackson, Mississippi, in 1869 and acquired a charter from the state in 1871. In the beginning the College educated black people of all ages who had been forbidden to learn to read or write while they were slaves. Then the focus of Tougaloo’s program turned to the education of ministers and teachers for the then segregated schools. In the first few years of the Brown-Tougaloo cooperative program there was considerable exchange of faculty and students between the two institutions. The curriculum at Tougaloo improved and more Tougaloo students were being admitted to graduate school. With the rise of the Black Power movement, Tougaloo no longer welcomed white students and the exchange ceased in 1970, and was not resumed until 1980. University Chaplain Charles Baldwin observed that the introduction of a linguistics program to teach standard English to Tougaloo students was a mistake which sent “a bunch of white Yankees to ... tell them, ‘You don’t know how to speak English,’” and caused resentment. In 1973 Tougaloo began a Health Services Summer Program for high school students. By 1975 there were forty Tougaloo graduates in medical school. An early identification program was initiated to select each year two promising Tougaloo sophomores who would be guaranteed a place in the Brown’s new medical program.

In the summer of 1987 Charles Baldwin, who had been involved with Tougaloo since the beginning of the Brown-Tougaloo agreement, was asked to serve as interim president of the College. He remained there for seven months, returning to Brown after the new president, Adib A. Shakir, took office. Baldwin reported that Tougaloo still had few resources and much debt, underpaid faculty and needy students, and little expectation of financial support from the alumni, many of whom had gone into teaching. In the mid-80s a development campaign had raised $750,000 from the community, and events held during Baldwin’s tenure brought about more community participation. Baldwin summed up the Brown-Tougaloo history:

“Perhaps the most important thing to recognize is that what Brown and Tougaloo share has been and is a “relationship” ... The Brown community has both benefitted from and contributed to this relationship in a variety of ways. Three Brown alumni – Peter Bernstein ’73 (a former exchange student at Tougaloo), Charles Shumway ’58, and Edward Sulzberger ’29 – and former Brown Provost Merton Stoltz are trustees. Twelve Brown faculty have taught at Tougaloo ... More than fifty Brown students have spent a semester at Tougaloo on exchange. ... What President Keeney saw at the outset has proven to be the case: This involvement with Tougaloo College has kept Brown alert to and involved in the larger issues of our society.”