St. Lawrence University home dedicated to first Black graduate

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Photo: St. Lawrence University

CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — St. Lawrence University has dedicated a house on its campus to its first Black graduate.

The home that currently houses the St. Lawrence University Dean of Student Life now bears the name of Reverend Jeffrey Worthington Campbell, a graduate of the class of 1933. According to SLU, Rev. Campbell was a Unitarian Universalist minister and the first Black graduate to be ordained a Universalist minister by the former St. Lawrence School of Theology.

Campbell has also been noted as a “prolific writer,” highlighted for his career in social justice and education. He studied topics in American history, literature and theology. Jeffrey Campbell died in 1984 in Vermont.

This home on the St. Lawrence University campus was dedicated to Campbell after the SLU Black Laurentian Initiative, a coalition that formed after the death of George Floyd, proposed the renaming.

“I want to acknowledge that the origin of this dedication belongs to the students and alumni who came together to form the Black Laurentian Initiative to promote racial equity and justice,” SLU President Kathryn A. Morris said at the dedication ceremony. “I am grateful to them and to President Emeritus Fox and the University Trustees for identifying the Campbell House as a physical manifestation of the institution’s commitment to BIPOC people.”

“This commemoration attests to a legacy of Black individuals who have paved the way for me to even be able to stand here and give his speech,” SLI President Diamond McAllister added. “BLI has been inspired by Jeffrey Campbell since learning about him. We possess that same tenacious spirit for change. By naming this building after him, his legacy lives on, and therefore what he stands for [does] as well. We, as a Laurentian community, are proud to be part of his legacy and to have him be a part of ours.”

The now Jeffrey Campbell house currently is home to Vice President and Dean of Student Life Hagi Bradely, previously has allowed the house to be a place for students. Bradley has hosted Thanksgiving dinners for students and this year’s Sophomore Rewind orientation activities. Bradley shared what the dedication means for students.

“I learned a lot about Jeffrey Campbell Thursday night [during a presentation about Campbell’s life given by Steve Peraza ’06] and how much of an impact he had on St. Lawrence and others,” Bradley said in a press release. “It’s an honor to live in the house that bears the name of someone who is so instrumental in the history of St. Lawrence.”

The Jeffrey Campbell house was formally dedicated at a ceremony on September 25, 2021. This was a part of St. Lawrence University’s Laurentian Weekend.

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