First Black Ursinus Graduate To Be Honored

Ursinus College is honoring its first African American graduate, Dr. Robert Crigler, by naming The W. R. Crigler Institute, which was previously called the Summer Bridge Program.“Bob” Crigler graduated in 1956. He was a psychology major and a student athlete at Ursinus. Much of his career was spent as the executive director of the Chaparral Treatment Center in Colton, Calif., a multi-disciplinary residential care therapy and education center for severely emotionally disturbed children.

First African American graduate of Ursinus College, Dr. Robert Crigler

L-R: Admissions Counselor Erin Dickerson 2003, Professor of Media and Communication Studies Dr. Lynne Edwards 1988, Dr. W.R. Crigler 1956 and Director of Multicultural Services Paulette Patton

Crigler will be honored at a reception on campus on Friday, February 4. He will also deliver an address in Bomberger’s Meditation Chapel on Feb. 6 at 11 a.m. as part of Ursinus’s Black History month programs. His scheduled talk “Here Am I, Send Me” is a reflection on Isaiah 6:8.

“Bob” Criger with former Bridge Program students.

Crigler was the first person from his family and the first African American from his hometown of Orville, Ohio to attend college. He excelled at Ursinus, lettering in both baseball and football. He is now retired and lives in California with his wife, Sheila. He had considerable success after graduating from Ursinus, receiving his master’s degree in public administration from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles and his Ph.D. in government from Claremont Graduate School. His work helping troubled families and children led Ursinus to award him the Alumni Association Professional Achievement Award in 1998.

“Whenever he is called to serve Ursinus, he asks, ‘When and how long do you want me?’” says Paulette Patton, Director of Multicultural Services, who has worked with Crigler over the years on behalf of Ursinus students. “In this same spirit of academic excellence, leadership and social consciousness, how appropriate it is to honor Dr. Crigler in this manner.”

The W. R. Crigler Institute is a three week summer, residential program which provides a unique opportunity for invited students to participate in the rigors of academic excellence, combined with leadership and social consciousness development. In addition to course work, students are given the opportunity to participate in a community service project, connect with Ursinus alumni and attend leadership workshops. — W.G.