W. Robert Crigler'56 and the 1956 Ursinus Baseball Team

Dr. W. Robert Crigler ’56

When Dr. W. Robert Crigler ’56 enrolled in Ursinus College in the early 1950s, he was expected to become the first African American in his town to graduate from college. He also made history at Ursinus College, becoming its first African American graduate in 1956.

Crigler was a talented student-athlete, competing in both baseball and football, while studying psychology. After college, he earned his PhD. from Claremont Graduate University and spent much of his career addressing public health crises that specifically impact children. When the college’s Bridge Program was renamed in 2011, Crigler became the program’s new namesake because of his strong bond with Ursinus and his commitment to leading his local community. The Crigler Program continues to support and mentor first-generation college students as they begin their journeys at Ursinus.

W.R. Crigler, the first African-American to graduate from Ursinus in 1956, along with Carol Lynne Clark ’73 and Deborah A.C. Bumbry ’73 first African-American women graduates, reminds us that excellence is possible as a result of of every stride made from the love and toil of those that came before us. The IIE, Crigler program, and students honor these trailblazers. In turn, it is our duty and birthright to advocate, take up space, and make room for those in which society overlooks and undermines.

Ashley Henderson, Director, Institute for Inclusion and Equity 

I wouldn’t be the student and person I am today if it wasn’t for the Crigler program. It was and still is helping me become the best version of myself.

— Deborah Diaz, Class of 2022


One of the most valuable parts of Crigler for me was being able to make connections with students, upperclassmen, and even professors that I could relate to. This helped ease away all of the nerves and worries I was struggling with coming into college. I was also able to prepare myself for the type of work that I would be doing throughout my time here. I was able to challenge my reading analysis skills and writing during Crigler, which helped set the tone for how I proceeded in my future classes.

— Joshua Walker, Class of 2022

My time in the Crigler program has been nothing but remarkable. My first friends came from the Crigler program. I love how we get a sense of college before starting college. Because of the Crigler program I feel a lot more confident in my time management skills, study habits and going out and meeting new people.

— Dayna Milner, Class of 2024