In Memoriam

Joan Harris

Joan Harris, former associate of Linus Pauling, university professor, and executive of the American Sociology Association, died in late December of renal failure at a hospice in Boston. She was 77 years old. According to a report in the Boston Globe, when her minister asked her just before she died about the struggle she had with her health, Professor Harris responded, “I was a black woman in academia, so I know what struggle is.”

Professor Harris was a native of Chicago. Her father was a dentist and her mother a librarian. She enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio with the hope of becoming a physician but dropped out after getting married. She worked as an assistant to Linus Pauling at the California Institute for Technology when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

During the period Harris enrolled at California State University at Los Angeles. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at CalState. She then went on to earn a Ph.D. in sociology at Brandeis University. While getting her doctorate she taught at the University of Massachusetts and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After finishing her dissertation she took a position at Howard University. She finished her academic career in the department of sociology at Washington State University.

In 1988 she moved to Maryland to conduct research for the National Institutes of Health on racial disparities in health care. In 1998 she moved to Boston and joined the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement.

Alan Voorhees

Alan M. Voorhees, a celebrated civil engineer and a major benefactor of Voorhees College, the historically black college in Denmark, South Carolina, died in late December. He was 84 years old. Voorhees College was named after his great-uncle Ralph Voorhees.

Alan Voorhees, a white man, is largely credited with developing the mathematical model that predicted the flow and volume of automobile traffic. This model was used to design the Interstate highway system. He also designed the subway systems for many cities throughout the world.

In the late 1990s Voorhees donated more than $3 million to Voorhees College, with $700,000 earmarked to upgrade the college’s computer systems.

Lou Rawls

Lou Rawls, the legendary jazz, gospel, and pop singer, died from cancer this past Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 72 years old.

Rawls was also a talented actor and vocalist. He appeared in 20 films and did voiceovers in television commercials. He also was the voice for several cartoon characters.

It is to be particularly noted by blacks concerned with higher education in the United States that in 1980 he started the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars Telethon. This annual television event has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to benefit the United Negro College Fund.


Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.