Tufts Dormitory Renamed for Trailblazing Advocate for Inclusion, Diversity and Access in Higher Education

Former professor and dean Bernard Harleston, H98, (third from left) with his family in front of the newly renamed Harleston Hall. Photo: Alonso Nichols
September 23, 2016

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Kalimah Redd Knight

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE (September 23, 2016)—Tufts University dedicated one of its undergraduate residence halls today in honor of Bernard W. Harleston,  a pioneering former professor, dean and trustee who championed inclusion, diversity and access throughout an influential and accomplished career in higher education.

Harleston, a psychologist, was the first African-American hired to a tenure-track position at Tufts, where he helped launch the first program to recruit African-American students and students from under-resourced schools. He is a Tufts trustee emeritus.

“Higher education is a crucial step on the path to equity, and equity is everyone’s right,” said Harleston during his remarks. Harleston attended the ceremony with his family, and a host of alumni, faculty, staff and students.  

Tufts hired Harleston as an assistant professor of psychology in 1956, and he remained until 1968, when he became provost and acting president of Lincoln University, the oldest historically black college in the United States. Harleston was invited back to Tufts in 1970 to serve as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, a role he fulfilled until 1980. He went on to become the first black president of City College of New York, the first free public institution of higher education in the United States. Later, he served as a member of the Tufts Board of Trustees from 2002 to 2007. Currently, Harleston is a senior associate at the New England Resource Center for Higher Education at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

Throughout his 25-year career at Tufts, Harleston sought to attract more students of diverse backgrounds and to help them succeed.  In 1964, the university established the Tufts Precollege Enrichment Program to recruit minority and economically disadvantaged high school students. 

“Dr. Harleston left an indelible mark on Tufts as an institution, not only through his distinguished scholarship in psychology but also his profound commitment to inclusion and diversity,” said Anthony P. Monaco, president of Tufts University. “It’s only fitting that the university recognize his many contributions at this scale to ensure his legacy will be known for years to come.”

Harleston is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Frederick Douglass Medallion, the highest award of the New York Urban League, and the Psychologist of the Year Award from the New York Society of Clinical Psychologists. Tufts awarded him an honorary doctorate in humane letters in 1998.

Harleston’s accomplished career and contributions to Tufts are recounted in a profile on Tufts Now, the university’s news site.

About Tufts University

Tufts University, located on campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, Massachusetts, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.