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Howard University renaming College of Fine Arts after alumnus Chadwick Boseman


Howard University on Wednesday announced it will name its College of Fine Arts after alumnus and iconic actor Chadwick Boseman, months after the “Black Panther” star died of cancer at age 43.

The university announced it has commenced fundraising efforts, which Walt Disney Company’s Executive Chairman Robert Iger will lead “personally,” to construct a new, state-of-the-art facility that will serve as the home for the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts. 

The school said Iger will spearhead those efforts in honor of Boseman, who the university called “a cherished member of the Disney/Marvel family.” Those efforts will also include building an endowment for the Fine Arts college, the school said. 

During his time as a student at Howard, Boseman headed up a student protest “against the absorption of the College of Fine Arts into the College of Arts & Sciences,” the school said.

“Long after graduating, he, along with other alumni, continued to engage in conversations with Howard University administration — their efforts were not in vain. Plans to re-establish the College of Fine Arts were announced in early 2018,” the school said, the same year Boseman delivered Howard’s commencement address. 

“When Chadwick Boseman returned to campus in 2018 to serve as our commencement speaker, he called Howard a magical place,” Wayne A. I. Frederick, the university’s president, said in a statement. “During his visit, I announced our plans to reestablish the College of Fine Arts and he was filled with ideas and plans to support the effort in a powerful way.” 

“Chadwick’s love for Howard University was sincere, and although he did not live to see those plans through to fruition, it is my honor to ensure his legacy lives on through the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts with the support of his wife and the Chadwick Boseman Foundation,” he continued.

The announcement comes after the school also revealed earlier this month that it hired alumnus and acclaimed actress Phylicia Rashad to serve as dean at its College of Fine Arts. As a student at Howard, Boseman, who graduated in 2000, was also “trained and mentored by Rashad,” the school said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Rashad said Chadwick was “unrelenting in his pursuit of excellence” and “possessed with a passion for inquiry and a determination to tell stories – through acting, writing, and directing – that revealed the beauty and complexity of our human spirit.” 

Boseman’s wife, Simone Ledward-Boseman, said in a statement that she’s “extremely pleased” the school has chosen to honor her husband “in this way and elated that Ms. Rashad has accepted the role as Dean.” 

“Chad was a very proud Bison — both Howard and Ms. Rashad played integral roles in his journey as an artist. The re-establishment of the College of Fine Arts brings this part of his story full-circle and ensures that his legacy will continue to inspire young storytellers for years to come,” she said.

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who also attended Howard during Boseman’s tenure at the school, said “naming the College of Fine Arts after Chad” is “perfect” and “exactly what should be done.”

“His theater work, his movie work, his acting and his writing, this was a continuation of that activism. The arts for him were always about something more. We’ve had a long list of artists come out of Howard, but, in our generation, nobody can better articulate, by example or by artistry, what we learned at Howard and what the university gave to us,” Coates said, according to the announcement released Wednesday. 

Tags actors chadwick boseman college of fine arts Howard University

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