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Event Honors Crigler Legacy

Ursinus alumni of the Crigler program reflected on the contributions of W. Robert Crigler ’56, the college’s first African American graduate, who passed away in October.

The event also celebrated the founding of other underrepresented student groups throughout Ursinus history.  

In his introduction to the event, Terrence Williams, presidential advisor for inclusion and equity explained, “we glance backward in order that we can move forward.”  

Having made important contributions to the college as a student, Crigler went on to serve Ursinus as an alumnus. Paulette Patton, former director of multicultural services, described him as a “counselor, adviser and mentor to many students.” She shared, “I called upon Bob many times during my tenure and his answer was always, ‘Yes, my dear. When and for how long?’’’ She asked the students and alumni in attendance to remember his story.

Speakers also included Lynne Edwards ’88, a professor of media and communications studies, who shared her experiences as the first resident advisor for the Crigler program. The Crigler program, she said, does the “dirty dance of diversity…where the real work is done” when students interact outside of the classroom.

In his formal remarks, President Brock Blomberg said, “I am honored to speak to you as we recognize the legacy of one of the most significant members of the Ursinus community.” He described Crigler as “committed to the betterment of his community and creating a more just and inclusive society for each of us to live.”

Observing that Ursinus has come a long way and that there is still more work to be done, Blomberg thanked the people present for their work to make that progress possible. He added that the speakers at the event were able to “show you the kind or arc we have seen in the area of diversity.”

There was also a surprise in store for Patton, who was honored by President Blomberg with the presentation of a commemorative photo of Unity House for her “dedication and continued friendship to the college.”

Blomberg told Patton, “You mean a lot to this institution. Those who have any contact or connection to you have only wonderful things to say about your professionalism, and the dedication that you showed to our students and the college.”

In reference to her current role as a volunteer he added, “I know that your commitment has not waned,” citing her contributions to both the Crigler and the Martin Luther King exhibits on campus. “We are pleased to honor Paulette for her own impact on Ursinus and generations of Ursinus students, as well as her contributions to the Crigler program.”

The evening’s theme was one of firsts and founders. A musical tribute was performed by Voices in Praise Gospel Choir, followed by a reminiscence of its founder Michael Adenaike ’00.

Speakers also included Sabrina Clark ’09, who founded the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students and Domique Adger-Thomas ’01, founder of the Association of Latinos Motivated to Achieve. –By Monique Kelly